Tag Archives: Seeds

The Seed Library of the Kent Free Library

The Kent (Ohio) Free Library is starting a seed library and the Snarky Gardener is helping out!

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As the founder of Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns, I’ve been giving gardening talks at our local library – the Kent Free Library. My last presentation covered seed saving including the why’s and how to’s of saving seeds from one’s garden. I used several of my previous blog posts to develop my content, including tomatoes, peppers, mustard/kale/turnips, and beans, as I’m nothing if not lazy. For me, seed saving is a very important cause as it’s one of our most basic rights as human beings. Seeds have been saved and exchanged by individuals for thousands of years (no, they haven’t always been sold at big box stores or online). Seeds saved from your garden have been selected just by the very fact they survived and thrived at your location with your soil and environment. Add choosing the best specimens year after year (for taste or drought tolerance or color), and it turns the backyard gardener into a local plant breeder. Pretty cool and powerful stuff if you think about it.

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A blurry picture of the Snarky Gardener giving his seed saving talk. Trust me – it’s really him.  Or maybe Bigfoot.

Over this summer, the Snarky Girlfriend and I have been working with the KFL to start up a seed library. In a nutshell, a seed library is a central location for seed storage that allows community members to “check out” seeds. These usually come from donations, either from professional seed companies (like Johnny’s Selected Seeds), seed non-profits (like Seed Savers Exchange or the Cleveland Seed Bank), or preferably local amateur seed savers. Borrowers are encouraged (but not required) to return twice as much seed as they borrow, thus increasing the seed library’s inventory. Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns (KOFNL) has made a commitment to assist the library in maintaining the Seed Library and offering advice to gardeners who plan to save donated seeds. We held several seed repackaging parties this year to help KOFNL break down donated seed into business card size packets for distribution during our presentation events. I got the idea of seed packaging parties from my time spent with the Akron Seed Library earlier this year. The Seed Library of the Kent Free Library currently has a call out for seed donations and we should start organizing some repackaging parties this fall and winter. If you have donations (especially ones saved from your own garden) or want to participate in our “parties”, please send me an email at don@kofnl.org.

Here’s more information on the Kent Free Library seed library. 

How to Save Tomato Seeds

The Snarky Gardener shows you how to save tomato seeds using a 5 step process

1. Let the tomatoes ripen. The riper, the better. I usually seed save from tomatoes that are too far gone to eat. Remember, every year tomatoes fall off into the garden and “volunteer” the following season. What we are doing is speeding up the process by fermenting them in the house.

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2. Cut open the tomato and scoop out the seeds. A spoon will be of good use to you here.

Cut tomatoes with seeds to save

3. Put the seeds (and the pulp that will be with them) into a glass, mug, or jar. Add water. Cover with something that will let a little air in and keep the fruit flies out. For me, that means plastic wrap with a few holes poked in it. You will also want to mark each vessel with a label or write directly on it with non-permanent marker. It’s really easy to mix up multiple cups with tomato seeds in them.

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4. Let sit for 3 days or so on a windowsill or somewhere else warm, swirling the “gunk” around once a day. You might notice some mold forming on the top. That’s to be expected.

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5. After the 3 days, pour the liquid through a strainer and rinse the seeds carefully with water. Put the seeds at the bottom of the strainer onto a plate to let dry for a few days. For me, this usually takes a good “smack” to get the seeds onto the plate. I use plastic covered paper plates so the seeds don’t stick and so I can write on the plate what the seeds are. Again, it’s very easy to mix up your seeds, especially when you have 5 or 6 plates going at once. During the drying phase, you may want to break up any seeds globs that form so they don’t all stick together. The end result should be seeds that look like the ones you buy from a commercial seed house.

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Food Not Lawns, Cleveland Fourth Annual Seed Swap

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Saturday, January 25, 2014 – 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Grace Lutheran Church

13001 Cedar Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH

If you are interested in gardening, community, food security, permaculture, seed saving and sharing, this is the place for you!  Bring seeds (purchased or saved) if you have them, or consider what you might swap for seeds in goods or service, but come anyway.  We have a good collection and lots of information to share.  This year, we have signed the Safe Seed Pledge and will not knowing share GMO/Monsanto owned seed.

Joining us will be: Elle Addams of City Rising Farm, Judi Strauss, of The Charmed Kitchen, with herbs, books and more for sample and sale, Chris McClellan, of Natural Cottage Project, will demonstrate a rocket stove, gardeners of the Grace Lutheran Community Garden, and many more.

Refreshments are potluck.  Please bring a dish to share.  Also, collecting non perishable food donation for Hts’ Emergency Food Bank.  There will be a Freecycle table available to bring or take useful items.  Residue will be donated.

If you bring saved seeds, please label them with as much pertinent info as possible.  We will have envelopes and labels available.  New this year:  Seed Savers, who are willing, will be with their seeds at tables, to discuss traits, growing conditions, stories about them, and aspects of seed saving.  Donated seed will be available and asked to be considered a “loan” to be returned, if possible, the fooling swap.  The completed Saved Seed Inventory will be available for perusal, or check it out online at:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AhK_fFhk3xBNdFQxaHNGRF8zXzk1TU5DR2xzb0c1UXc&usp=sharing#gid=0

Freecycle info:   Please bring gently used ( or new) items to donate/swap.  If you have items left at the end of the day, take them home or leave them for donation pick­up Monday morning.

This event is free (donations gratefully accepted), child­friendly, on a bus­line and handicapped accessible.

Volunteers are needed to help set up and clean up.

Please contact Mari Keating @ beanpie55@att.net for more information

and visit foodnotlawnscleveland@yahoogroups.com

Food Not Lawns, Cleveland  Facebook group

http://www.meetup.com/Kent-Food-Not-Lawns/events/156126052/

Safe Seed Pledge

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Because of my seed saving efforts, the Snarky Gardener has signed the Safe Seed Pledge, which states:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative,

We pledge that we do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants.

The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.”

This does mean I’ve stopped my evil experiments to create plants that are actually snarky (with snide remarks and sarcastic attitudes), but I think we’re all better off this way.

Let It Snow (twice)!

This fall we’ve had serious snow twice so far (several inches each time) here in Northeastern Ohio. While most people have not even thought about their gardens since the first freeze back in October, the early snow had me worried. Many of my fall duties were incomplete, including digging up and bringing in my rosemary herbs (they died out there last winter – sniff). Also, the fall leaves I gathered into big honking piles did not get as distributed as I would have liked. I found out this summer that some plants (lettuce, spinach, kale, turnips, peas, corn salad) could be covered with mulch 5 or 6 inches deep in the fall to “overwinter” them. Then in mid-March, you just pull off the leaves and viola, they will start growing again. Nifty trick having food producing plants when other unsnarky gardeners are still planning for the summer.  Anyways, I was finally able to finish these tasks on 12/4/2013 with most of my fall babies no worse for wear.

If you look at the pictures below, you will notice some of my plants didn’t do as well by December (especially the sad Swiss chard in the middle foreground). In the back left, my mustard is going to seed, which is good because I needed more for cooking and next year’s crop. But you will also see that there’s quite a bit of green considering it’s December in Ohio. On the right foreground, my purple top turnips are looking great. I will thin these out (yum) and mulch the rest in the next week or so. Also, near the Swiss chard, you should be able to make out bright green areas near the ground. That’s my corn salad and onions, all ready to eat. We used them plus mustard greens, carrots, and kale to make a wonderfully fresh salad (again, in December in Ohio).

P.S.  I don’t think “unsnarky” is a word, but with use it will soon become one.

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Snow on 11/12/2013
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Snow on 11/12/2013
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Melted snow on 11/16/2013
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Snow melted on 11/16/2013
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Snow again on 11/30/2013
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Snow again on 11/30/2013
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Melted snow again on 12/04/2013
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Snow melted again on 12/04/2013