// Twitter Cards // Prexisting Head The Biologist Is In: My Seed Archive

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Seed Archive

A central concept in my gardening philosophy is that anyone who grows plants from seed should save seeds, rather than just buy more seeds to grow the next year. It really doesn't take much effort to save seeds from some garden favorites, like tomatoes and peppers, and in doing so you will be ensuring that your favorite varieties of vegetables remain available as well as developing a stronger connection to your food.

I've written on this topic before, so this time I will go a different direction.

I like seeds.

They're small, come in interesting shapes/colors, and embody the potential for future growth. Most of the seeds I've collected are for edible (even if only marginally so) plants, so the seeds also represent potential future meals for myself and those I care about.

Over the years, my seed archive has grown from a few seed packets to the volume of nearly two cubic feet it now occupies. This volume includes hundreds of distinct seed samples, spread across over 130 species.

I usually have specific plans for the seeds I collect...
  • The rose (Rosa spp.) seeds are for a project to breed one which produces large fruit.
  • The squash (Curcurbita spp.) seeds are for a project examining the genetics of fruit shape.
  • The melon (Cucumis melo) seeds are for a project to breed single-serving sized melons.
  • The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) seeds are for a project to breed interesting shapes/colors into micro (~6in tall) tomato plants like "Tiny Tim".
  • The pepper (Capsicum spp.) seeds are for a project to combine different interesting shape traits into one plant.
  • The carrot (Daucus carota) seeds are for a project to breed some locally adapted carrots for my garden.
  • The cotton (Gossypium spp.) seeds are for a project to develop colored-cottons that can be raised in Minnesota.
  • The California radish (Rhaphanus sativus-x-raphanistrum) are interesting because it is a recently evolved species (<100 years), while the sea radish (Rhaphanus maritimus) interests me as a potential new food plant because of its succulent leaves.
  • Various weedy species (Alliaria petiolataArctium lappaCarduus nutansSolanum dulcamaraS. nigrum) interest me as targets for UV-mutagenesis in order to generate  selectable variations useful in  domesticating the species for garden/food use.
  • Some are pretty flowers for my yard (Baptissa australisChamaecrista fasiculataDatura inoxiaVerbascum thapsus).
  • Some are for the woodland garden (Actaea pachypodaArisaema triphyllum).
  • Some are just plants that I find interesting (Abutilon theophrastiCarnegia giganteaGymnocladus dioicus).
  • There's also the seeds that aren't on this list, because I don't know what they are. I collected them so I could later grow them up and identify the plant which produced them.
…though, sometimes I gather seeds simply because they look interesting.

Since I recently moved into a new property, with a nice large yard, I decided that it was about time for me to make a full accounting of what was in my seed archive so I could begin sketching out garden ideas. The list below represents the large majority of what I found.

There's a few bulbs/tubers/etc. in the following list. Even though they aren't seeds, they do fit the theme of small things that can grow into bigger things that make food or are otherwise interesting…  so, I'm going to let them stay.