Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Urban Land Scouts--Saving Seeds

7 - The Urban Land Scout plants and cares for seeds.
Seed saving is an important gesture of both hope through the winter and self reliance. It is how generations of growers have preserved heirloom varieties or hybridized new strains with combinations of desirable traits.

Last year, our CSA share included Sungold Tomatoes. I don't know what it was--I usually prefer a slightly tart tomato, and love Green Zebras--but the Sungolds won my heart. I would dig them out from the half-bushel basket as soon as we would get into the car to drive home, and eat a few right then and there. I tried rationing them throughout the week, but quickly found out that when ripe, these little golden spheres don't last long; I knew that I'd been saving them for too long when a few of the Sungolds' skins broke. It was then that I decided that I must save some of the seeds and plant them in the spring, rather than just composting the tomatoes.
I know that because we're signed up for the same CSA this year, we'll probably get more Sungolds, but I don't care--I could eat these tomatoes every day. Besides, there are rumors that the Sungolds make a beautiful tomato jam, and I'm itching to try to make a few pints of this, knowing how much I like home-made ketchup. So, about a month or so ago, I started some of the tomato seeds inside. We haven't had as much sun as I'd hoped for, and our window sills aren't the best for tomatoes, but they seem to be doing well. I have a couple plants of few different varieties, but I'm most excited for the Sungold tomatoes.

If you've never saved tomato seeds before, you should try it; it's not difficult, and very satisfying. Even if you just grow one tomato plant, the work is worth it; and it's completely worth it to know exactly where the seeds came from, too!

I would also like to encourage you to consider Urban Land Scouts. There are several workshops coming up, and all of them are a great way to sharpen awareness of the natural world and to meet some wonderful folks. Being a part of the Urban Land Scouts has challenged me personally to do more, to be involved in the community, to be aware of my environment. As I expressed in my essay for the ULS blog, the program is a positive "response to fragmented communities, and people's dissatisfaction of being alienated from their surroundings." The steps it encourages you to take may be small, but they have deeper reverberations in your life and the life of others.

Of course, I later learned that saving seeds from the Sungold tomato is not advisable, as it is a hybrid. You can see my post about heirloom seeds and John Coykendall here.

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