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Seed-saving secrets revealed in Woodstock

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This particular type of saving seeds does not make use of tiny life preservers or rafts. Find how to save seeds yourself

DAVID F. ASHTON - During her class Introduction to Seed Saving, Portland urban farmer Jennie London sows the idea of stewarding, instead of buying, seeds. For many backyard vegetable gardeners, all the seeds they plant come from colorful packets purchased from a store.

"Today in our class, 'Introduction to Seed Saving', we're teaching people how seed saving preserves plant diversity, and creates plants well-suited to their environment," began the instructor, Jennie London from "Grow Portland", as she prepared for the two-hour workshop to follow, in the Woodstock Branch Library on Tuesday, November 1.

Before she became an educator, London told THE BEE, she was – and still is – an active farmer for eleven years in the greater Portland area.

"We also talk about seed stewardship, and seed supremacy," London said. "It's about stewarding, and preservation of our heritage and cultural biological diversity."

London defined the core of the term "diversity" as "connection". "Going out into the garden, you're connecting with your environment; learning what your soil, weather, and plants are like.

"Learning about seeds is being able to see that full cycle of the plants," London reflected. "It's another 'observation process' in the garden, and is another way for people to connect with their food.

"And also it's about having control, or a voice, and how your food looks and tastes, based on how you select your seed each year, and what you want to grow, and why," this professional farmer told us.

During her class, London revealed the three most important concepts in seed saving and stewardship:

1. Know where your seed comes from. This means starting with good seed, which means selecting your best fruit or vegetable, and preserve those seeds.

2. In the Pacific Northwest, be being aware of when the seed is ready and forming. This means if it's ready in the fall, you want to make sure that you harvest it before the rains come, so it doesn't get mold or fungus on it that's going to make it rot while stored all winter. Be sure to keep your seeds dry, and in a nice cool and dark storage place with low humidity during the winter.

3. Grow what you enjoy eating. For example, some people use cilantro leaves to make salsa; others use the root for Thai cooking; and still others enjoy the flowers in salads. Choose the seeds based on how you'll use the plant.

"Overall it's about thinking about what you want to use your garden for – in the kinds of things you enjoy eating," London said.

More information on all this is online: www.growportland.org