This comprehensive guide to saving vegetable seeds contains the kind of high-level, technical information needed by market gardeners and self- sufficiency practitioners to refine their seed saving techniques. With rising seed prices and increasing demand for heirloom varieties, the carefully trialled and reliable techniques detailed in this book will allow producers to develop their product lines; they will be able to deliver improved flavours and textures to consumers.
The Manual of Seed Saving by Heistinger is an introduction to seed saving.
It begins with a short bit on why one should bother saving seeds and touches on the importance of genetic diversity. 'Though the author quite rightly wastes little time on this discussion, as anyone reading this book is probably already interested in seed saving.
There is the basic section on growing plants for seeds, including Open Pollinated varieties, isolation techniques, a bit about how plants reproduce, roguing, how to prevent seed born diseases, and a small rant about genetically modified crops tagged on at the end. There is little to no discussion on saving seeds from or creating one's own hybrid plants. The focus of this book is strictly maintaining existing OP varieties.
The bulk of this book is an encyclopedia style reference of many of the different food plants people might grow in a home garden. With many beautiful colour photos of seeds, plants, flowers and fruits, this reminds me more of a coffee table book than a reference. Instead of giving a lot of information on a few main crops, this book provides a large selection of different crops, with minimal amount of information on each one. There is the basic information on isolation distances, how to grow for seed, how to harvest the seeds, and common diseases and pests. This is written in a way that a novice gardener would find it easy to use and understand, but might be a bit tedious for the veterinary seed saver. Although I enjoyed the historical notes on each crop, the part I found most interesting was the criteria for selecting which plants to save for seeds. It's very useful for those attempting to maintain an existing variety.
This book is a good reference in it'self, but I hesitate to recommend this book to anyone as there are better seed saving books out there. Perhaps I'm being a bit uncharitable with this review, but to me there simply isn't anything special about this book. It regurgitates old information in a overly simplistic way and gussies it up with some glossy pages and colour photographs.