Spring arrives quite early in Southern California, and I am always excited when I feel the new welcome warmth and the smell of the newly turned earth...
When mankind discovered that seeds fed him and his family, and also could be saved to insure another year of planting and survival, he achieved a great step forward for us all. All peoples save seeds, and without them we would not have our heirloom vegetables. I have saved seeds since I was ten years old when my grandmother gave me a handful of Four-o-Clocks, and I continue to save most of my vegetable seeds to this day. Grandmother, like all Sicilians, was a great seed saver.
The Norwegian government and other enlightened countries and agencies are aware of the wisdom of saving seeds. If a world catastrophe occurs, we humans would be hard put to go on eating and living. It is for this possible event that a wise decision has been made resulting in the creation of SVALBARD, the international seed bank on one of the Svalbard Islands halfway between Iceland and Norway at the largest island of the group. “Svalbard” means cold coast or cold edge, and it truly is. Even the Vikings did not stay there for very long periods. Svalbard is a world Seed Ark for the preservation of plant and animal life, as well.
The seed vault is kept at zero degrees F and is 430 feet above the sea to insure dryness; yet, Svalbard is embedded deep into the sandstone bedrock. As of 2010, there were 500,000 seed samples.
I have had a Seed Ark-Svalbard in my refrigerator for over thirty years, and have benefited greatly from it, saving seeds for my own garden and sharing them with friends.
Begin your seed bank by placing well dried seeds in little plastic, sealable bags. With wet seeds such as tomatoes and squash, wash them first; then dry them on sheets of newspaper for two weeks. Place the seeds in little airtight, plastic sealable-packets. Be sure to label them with an indelible marker. Or, you can use tiny plastic or glass jars to hold the seeds. I use both plastic packets and tiny jars. Now, place the jars in a tupper-ware sealable container. The seed packets could also be placed in a large plastic ziplock bag. The main concern is to keep the seeds dry (think Svalbard). Your refrigerator temperature will hold the seeds at about 35F which is sufficient to save the seeds for a long time, far beyond the following year when you will want to plant them. I have seeds from 15-20 years ago, and many are still viable.
Remember that dryness and cold are of key importance. It is that easy.
This spring nurseries did not carry my favorite Ananas Noire (Black Pineapple) Belgium tomatoes. Oh, they are so very beautiful and delicious. So, I went to my own Ark-Seed-Bank and took out the seeds, and now I have plants to share with friends and family.
Everybody collects and saves seeds. We were gatherers. Once when I was in Sicily, I peered into an old China cabinet, and there they were; cuccuzza seeds, lovingly placed in a tiny glass jar and covered with a string tied-on piece of paper. Certainly they would survive one season, but they would last even longer in a refrigerator.
Just try buying cuccuzza seeds if you don’t save them yourself!