Advice about Seeds

It may sound rather obvious to say, but seed is the very basis of everything we grow and therefore choosing our seed carefully is important. The vast majority of farmers in the world sow seed that they have saved themselves from previous harvests, we used to do the same in the UK until about 50 years ago or so.

While modern varieties have bought a great many benefits, they have also limited our options of what we can grow, meaning that some seed that you buy over the counter in the garden centre may not be the best for your garden, allotment or community gardening project.

This is because:

  1. Most commercial varieties are bred with large scale farmers in mind - with a focus on producing a large crop that can be harvested in one go. Most smaller scale growers will prefer a 'cut and come again' approach, where rather gluts at one time, you get a sustained harvest over a longer period.
  2. Seed production is labour intensive so most seed sold in this country will have been grown where labour is cheaper in areas like China, seed that is adapted for the conditions in such places may not do so well here in the damp north west.
  3. The standardisation of the seed market around a national seed list has reduced the options available to us as to what we can grow, meaning we are loosing traditional local varieties. This is important not only in maintaining local distinctiveness, but also maintaining a genetic diversity so that we are more resilient to future challanges such as climate change.

But, also consider plant swaps which are often run by community groups or alloment associations.