Monday, April 12, 2010

Confessions of a seed thief

I am a seed thief, and I come from a long line of seed thieves. Well, to be more accurate, more like a band of demented horticultural gypsies.

The seed thief is an elusive breed, the tricks of the trade usually passed from one generation to the next. My training began at a very young age as my grandmother would rattle off latin names for plants. The good intentions were there, but a bit over a 5 year old's head. Pointing out what plants were going to seed and ripe for collecting I soon became her favorite seed retriever.

Who suspects a little old german lady and her little granddaughter? Not many, and back in those early years Oma was pretty dang nimble. She could make Wesley Snipes look like a novice as she hopped over a stone fence to kindly deadhead some plants. In her 70's, gracefully hopping over those low stone walls and at the same time still keep her hair perfectly styled, her skirt wrinkle free and never a run in her hose. As fast as she was over, she was back again carefully depositing her stolen treasures into little bags in her purse and noting bits of info... plant name, location, sun, bloom color, bloom time, etc.

Some people take pictures, she takes seeds. Her garden literally is a scrapbook of her adventures. The touch, color and smell of these plants vividly bringing memories to the forefront. She passed that on to me, the need to collect seeds.

I have unintentionally already infected my daughter who also wanders home with seeds in her pockets. Her thing is trees. Apple seeds from lunch, maple tree pinwheels from her walk home, pine cones and acorns... in every seed she sees a forest yet to be.

Birds of a feather flock together... or they wear a well equipped fishing vest and take carefully timed routes through neighborhoods. I have a friend who opts to wear a modified fishing vest on her collecting sprees. She's like Victory Garden meets Inspector Gadget. Lots of pockets, little baggies, labels, pens, small scissors, clippers, water vials, garden pins, small hand trowel. This woman is die hard into guerilla style gardening.

Now where I am not above lifting snapdragon pods, hollyhock wheels, and the occasional hydrangea trimmings... I haven't gotten so far as liberating lilac suckers.

My Grandmother liked flowers, my daughter likes trees and shrubs... I like herbs and veggies. heirloom tomatoes from Farmer's Markets, various peppers, garlic, potatoes, rooting fresh basil, thyme and mints, I will experiment with them all. Well, except for C. Pepo (spaghetti squash, some pumpkins and the like) as that species crosses like crazy with the bees behaving like crazed floozies for their pollen.

A great book is "Seed to Seed" by Suzanne Ashworth. Seriously is the garden vegetable seed saving bible. It is an awesome gift for a vegetable gardening geek.

Right now my vermicompost bins are calling. I need to harvest from some of them and make sure they are going strong.

1 comment:

  1. "Hello, my name is Janice, I am a seed-collect-aholic." My mother is one too, snag a little verbena sprig from the Garden Centers...