"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison
Sunday, January 23, 2011
On Storing Seed
"Alexander Stchukin died at his writing table, holding in his hand a packet of his most prized peanuts that he had hoped to send off for a grow out. The custodian of Vavilov’s many oat collections, Liliya Rodina, died of starvation, as did Dimitry Ivanov, who as his own life failed, stowed away thousands of packets of rice. … There were others as well — Steheglov, Kovalevsky, Leonjevsky, Malygina, Korzun — some who perished by starving, some riddled by sickness, others by shrapnel. Wolf, the herbarium curator, was hit by a missile shell fragment, and bled to death. Gleiber, the archivist of Vavilov’s field notes, died in the midst of those papers rather than leave his post.” ~ Pavlovsk seed and gene bank
Throughout history people have gone to extraordinary lengths to protect and store seed for the future as is depicted in the above comments from the book Where Food Comes From that tracks the footsteps of Russian seed scientist Nikolay Vavilov across five continents, amassing a collection of over 200,000 plant seeds during his lifetime. A true agricultural hero who ironically died of hunger in Siberia's Saratov prison on January 26, 1943.
One of the most important facets of seed saving is the storing of those seeds as a garden's success partially depends on the quality of the seeds that are planted. We have had great success storing our seeds in airtight glass or plastic containers, preferring glass, they are kept in a cool back room of our house. Sometimes people will add silica gel packets, grains of dry rice, or even powdered milk wrapped in a tissue paper to help absorb moisture and prolong the life of these seeds. Fortunately for us our wood heated house has very dry air so we don't normally have to use any of these desiccants.
We love using these old glass salad dressing bottles to store seed.
Temperatures right around 40°F are perfect for retaining stored seeds viability which is why you will hear of keeping seeds in the refrigerator, although I do question this a bit as it would seem to be such a humid environment for long term storage and I would definitely consider using one of the aforementioned desiccants for extended periods of refrigerated storage. Although, some seeds do require a period of cold stratification in order to break dormancy and germinate properly...certain perennial herbs, flowers, and fruit tree seeds would be a good example of this. Also, when removing the seeds from a cold area it is advisable to allow the container to reach normal room temperature before opening to prevent condensation from forming on the inside.
All of our seeds are stored on (or around:) this shelf in a dark, cool, and dry back room.
A fellow blogger also made mention of a very important point in that if you choose to freeze your seeds for long term storage it is advisable to remember that when freezing seeds the moisture content has to be exceptionally low. If there is too much moisture in the seeds they will form ice crystals which will rupture the cells and ruin the seeds. Also, I have read that one should not to use ''frost free'' freezers for seed storage unless you use very airtight containers, ones with gaskets, because they have periodic warming cycles to remove ice build-up that might evaporate the small amount of moisture that a seed does need to survive. I would love to hear others thoughts on the freezing of seeds as it is not something I have much experience with.
Storing seed is relatively easy, high temperatures, large temperature fluctuations, and humidity are the main enemies of seed, too much light, especially direct sunlight, can also be an issue. That said, even seed stored in less than ideal conditions will most likely last for a number of years. There are many different and varying thoughts on how to best store seed, the important thing is to pick the one that works best for your given conditions and go for it.:)
Please consider submitting a new or old post on the Kebun Malay-Kadazan girls blog during this "seed week" that will run from the 22nd~29th of January in which anyone interested participates by blogging about their experiences as they are related to seeds, bulbs, tubers, rhizomes or cuttings including the collecting, propagating, growing, and/or how to keep them in tip top shape. There is a "linky" to link your post to at the bottom of her blog post. Join in on her seed week so we can all learn from each others experiences.:)
This is a picture of our Painted Mountain corn, a variety that we have been growing the past couple years and seems to do well in our climate and shorter growing season.Corn seed will normally have good germination for 2 years and some of ours seems to be fine even after 3 years.
“Everyone who enjoys, thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed. - Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
Weary of the world and its illogical ways my wife and I have chosen a path towards self-reliance in all aspects of our lives. Our main focus is on growing and gathering our own food. We hope to use this blog as an avenue to share with and learn from others with similar interests.
The Good Life (click↓)
"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." M. Gandhi
"Deep inside everyone of us is a call to the wild. Much of the impatience, discontent or violence around us is due to a lack of opportunity to reconnect with where we came from. For sanity and generosity of spirit, we should be able to witness nature at its unceasing, rejuvenating work." - Abdul Kareem
On Permaculture, Edible Landscaping and Garden Plants
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." - Justice William O. Douglas
First They Came For My Seed..▼
"Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine" - Thoreau
Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw was only fear and no foretelling, for I saw the last known landscape destroyed for the sake of the objective, the soil bludgeoned, the rock blasted. Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.
I visited the offices where for the sake of the objective the planners planned at blank desks set in rows. I visited the loud factories where the machines were made that would drive ever forward toward the objective. I saw the forest reduced to stumps and gullies; I saw the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley; I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city. I saw the passages worn by the unnumbered footfalls of those whose eyes were fixed upon the objective.
Their passing had obliterated the graves and the monuments of those who had died in pursuit of the objective and who had long ago forever been forgotten, according to the inevitable rule that those who have forgotten forget that they have forgotten. Men, women, and children now pursued the objective as if nobody ever had pursued it before.
The races and the sexes now intermingled perfectly in pursuit of the objective. The once-enslaved, the once-oppressed were now free to sell themselves to the highest bidder and to enter the best paying prisonsin pursuit of the objective, which was the destruction of all enemies, which was the destruction of all obstacles, which was the destruction of all objects, which was to clear the way to victory, which was to clear the way to promotion, to salvation, to progress, to the completed sale, to the signature on the contract, which was to clear the way to self-realization, to self-creation, from which nobody who ever wanted to go homewould ever get there now, for every remembered place had been displaced; the signposts had been bent to the ground and covered over.
Every place had been displaced, every love unloved, every vow unsworn, every word unmeant to make way for the passage of the crowd of the individuated, the autonomous, the self-actuated, the homeless with their many eyes opened toward the objective which they did not yet perceive in the far distance, having never known where they were going, having never known where they came from.