Seeds are a little time capsule, like miniature beautiful sculptures waiting to come to life. They’ve always held a fascination for me - growing something from seed is so exciting and wondrous.
When it germinates and starts its new life, it feels like a small miracle and is actually quite empowering. Take the sunflower seed for example. That little boat-shaped seed we’ve all sown at primary school and nurtured, and hopefully planted out and grown into a giant flowering plant, towering above us six or more feet tall. This then turns into a plate-shaped head full of seeds that we can then save or just enjoy watching the birds eat.
It’s not just the joy of watching a seed grow, they’re also cheaper than plants or seedlings. You have more control over your food supply in that you know what compost you are using, what fertilisers have been added and whether the seed has been treated with chemicals or not. While there is a limited choice of seedlings (garden centres often only offer one or two varieties), seed catalogues have many different types to choose from, making it far more tantalising.
Over the last few weeks I have been doing my crop plan for the Field Kitchen’s restaurant garden and polytunnel at Riverford. This involves me doing a stock take of seeds I’ve saved or have left over from last year and then looking through catalogues and websites, and choosing new seeds to order.
My favourite seed suppliers are Tamar Organics, Real Seeds, a new local company called Vital Seeds, and Chiltern Seeds, whose catalogue is interesting and amusing. Call me boring, but I think they make great bedtime reading! I then have great dreams of a jungle like paradise dripping with flowers and fruit. What’s not to like?
Once you’ve got the seed bug you may want to consider letting some of your veg go to flower and then saving your own. Saving seed is all part of the cycle and is easy and extremely satisfying. It can also become quite a social thing if you share and swap with other gardeners.
Growing food from seed is a bit of a learning curve, but it's a journey well worth taking. Knowing how to do this seems like a very basic survival tool that we should all embrace. It’s also said to be very good for you, offering an antidote to the fast-paced, hectic and stressful life that many of us lead these days. Being outside, breathing in fresh air, being more physical, listening to and noticing the birds and insects around us and watching things slowly grow and produce food seems like a pretty normal thing for me – after all, it's what I do every day. But I know full well it’s not like this for the majority. So try growing something from seed this spring and maybe you’ll find your own little corner of joy.
Here’s a few easy seeds to start with:
Basil - pot
Chilli plant - window sill
Tomatoes - grow bag
Salad or radishes - garden