Summary This book is divided into four parts, all part and parcel of my urging you to partake in the responsibility and the joy of saving seeds.
Part 1 is a personal overview of how seed affairs have gotten to be what they are. This section is an encapsulation of twenty years of observing the seed world while participating in it as a mail order seed company.
Part 2 has some thoughts I now have about seeds and some of the background experiences that led to those thoughts. I'm hoping this section excites you to the possibilities of what might be in store for you if you take The Seedy Road.
Part 3 is a beginner's guide to saving seeds. Saving seeds is simple, easy and straightforward.
Part 4 lets you know that the revitalization of seeds is already a social movement. Beyond actually growing seeds, there are many ways to participate effectively in the preservation of our seed heritage.
This book is probably worth 10 acorns, but I don't give that much unless the book is life shatteringly good, or the author comes over to my place and washes dishes.
I'm reviewing the sixth edition. Jason seems to add an extra afterword to each edition, so your copy may be shorter or longer than mine.
This is the book I recommend to anyone expressing interest in learning how to save seeds. Hearty tomes are well and good once you've learned how to dibble and hoe, but for an introduction to seed saving in all it's glory, this is the book that will inspire. At only 69 pages, it's short, sweet, and covers topics from the politics to practicalities of seed saving.
Dan discusses why saving seeds is relevant in our modern world, techniques for saving seeds, and details on a few different plant families - focusing on those plants that are easier to work with and keep pure. For example, spending a lot more time on an inbreeder like tomatoes than on a more troublesome plant like chard.
Whenever I get overwhelmed by the pressures of keeping seed varieties 'pure', I reach for Saving Seeds. It's comforting to be reminded that, although there are times when keeping seeds pure is useful, it's not necessary for everyone. Purity, Dan says, is merely one aspect we can select for when saving seeds. People have been successfully saving seeds for the past ten thousand years, without fancy training or laboratory equipment. Dan reminds us that purity of a variety does not necessarily mean quality. "Land races", Dan tells us, have a much broader genetic diversity and are able to survive in situations where pure and monoculture crops fail (like storm, pests, &c).
Annuals, Biennials, Perennials, Self-pollinated Plants, and Cross-pollinated Plants are introduced in a way that is friendly to new gardeners with tips and tricks on how to grow some of the more common vegetables, and what to consider when growing these for seed. He also talks about grains like Amaranth, Quinoa, barley, wheat, oats, &c.
Saving seeds also has a section on sharing seeds within a community. From Seedy Saturdays and exchanging with friends and neighbours, to seed sanctuaries and seed exchanges, Dan addresses almost everything you need to know about sharing seeds. Except, I didn't see him mention seed libraries. At least not in this edition.
The collection of afterwords are well worth a read. He writes a new one per edition, it seems. It's fascinating to see how the political climate has changed in the few short years since this books first publication.
On the whole, a good refresher for experienced seed savers, and a wonderful introduction to the world of food independence for those interested in learning to save their own seeds.
The more I think about it, the more I realize how much this book has changed my life. It trigered a chain reaction that lead me here, to Permies.com and permiculture in general. Maybe I should have given it 10 acorns.