Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Co
The Organic Seed Grower is a comprehensive manual for the serious vegetable grower who is interested in growing high-quality seeds using organic farming practices. It is written for both serious home seed savers and diversified small-scale farmers who want to learn the necessary steps involved in successfully producing a commercial seed crop organically.
Detailed profiles for each of the major vegetables provide users with practical, in-depth knowledge about growing, harvesting, and processing seed for a wide range of common and specialty vegetable crops, from Asian greens to zucchini.
In addition, readers will find extensive and critical information on topics including:
The reproductive biology of crop plants
Annual vs. biennial seed crops
Isolation distances needed to ensure varietal purity
Maintaining adequate population size for genetic integrity
Seed crop climates
Seed storage for farmers
and more . . .
This book can serve as a bridge to lead skilled gardeners, who are already saving their own seed, into the idea of growing seed commercially. And for diversified vegetable farmers who are growing a seed crop for sale for the first time, it will provide details on many of the tricks of the trade that are used by professional seed growers. This manual will help the budding seed farmer to become more knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in producing a commercially viable seed crop.
With the strong demand for certified organic produce, many regional seed companies are increasingly seeking out dedicated seed growers to ensure a reliable source of organically grown seeds for their farmer and gardener customers. This trend represents a great business opportunity for small-scale commercial growers who wish to raise and sell vegetable seeds as a profitable part of their diversified small-farm operation. Written by well-known plant breeder and organic seed expert John Navazio, The Organic Seed Grower is the most up-to-date and useful guide to best practices in this exciting and important field.
Where to get it?
This book is for the farmer that is serious about saving seeds. It could be simply saving high quality seeds for their own use, or as a seller of seeds, either way, this book is a must have.
This is not the book, however, for the casual seed saving gardener type. Nor it is really suitable for beginners.
Organic growers have a big problem acquiring high quality seeds that grow well in organic conditions. Navazio aims to solve that problem in his book The Organic Seed Grower, by providing in depth instruction on how to grow seed crops that will do well in an organic setting.
At first, I wondered what is the problem with organic seed, and how can it be so bad that the solution could fill this hefty tome? According to Navazio there are several problems, the two biggest ones being that seed crops are often not grown in organic conditions, and that many seed growers allow for too much genetic drift.
Navazio addresses the first problem, talking about the difference in selection and genetic diversity between high input agriculture (ie, lots of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, &c) and seeds raised using organic agricultural methods. This book looks these problems squarely in the face and offers possible solutions (and the knowledge needed to carry them out).
The other problem is genetic drift. Over several generations of seed savings, lots of things can go wrong. The environment or person may select out the necessary genetic diversity for the crop to thrive. Sometimes there is genetic contamination, maybe from a wild relative or from not observing isolation distance. This book teaches us about foundation seed, how to observe and maintain the desired traits for a specific cultivar. This includes updated isolation distances for organic growing conditions. Because of the increased number of pollinators in a system that doesn't use pesticides, the isolation distances in organic growing is considerably different than most 'normal' seed saving books suggest.
The book also walks us through some of the more common vegetable families, providing all the necessary information for saving organic seeds on a large scale.
A useful book for crops where I wish to save seeds and maintain cultivar purity, especially for selling seeds. Not the book for beginners or those who like to be a bit more creative with their seed saving ventures.
The book is one of the seed saving guides that those interested in this specific practice have to keep in their homes, be them market farms, seed selling farms, homesteads, or even family gardens. It's not about the extension of our land, it's about the seriousness we are as organic growers for selecting and maintaining the quality of our veggies, and the independence of our farms in the reproduction of seeds.
The book is a view on seed saving for organic growers but can be read, and can teach a lot, even to those that are starting to get close to seed saving and still have to get to the core of the problem.
John Navazio has done a good work dividing the book in three sections. One is an interesting, brief, general historical starters walkthrough to seed selection and saving. Then we have the practical section with the vegetable families and here we start seeing the quality of the book. And at the end the section on specific problems seed saving presents. The author had a very clear view in his mind that the editor has well understood: give to the reader clear, direct information with a box section for single vegetables that are grouped by families. The reader gets a double possibility quick reference box info and into depth text, so you can use the book in different ways.
It is true the book is not for starters, but can be read with ease, because it’s not so much about theory at a certain level, but practice, trials and errors on the field. So we may be newbies or elders in seed saving, this book will follow us in our growing experience.
I don't think any of us has only one of these books in our homes, but actually these sort of books are field manuals, reference guides. I have two and probably they will become a big section in my library, but for sure Navazio’s book is one that has its space.