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Meet the seed-saving couple living entirely off the land (except for salt)

Kay and Ngaio Te Rito check the Pukekohe Long Keeper onion crop in the main seed garden.

You won’t find anyone in Kotare Village who doesn’t have brown hands. It’s not because they’re out in the sun all day or that they don’t wash their hands thoroughly, but because the human-soil connection is the most important factor in growing organic vegetables and fruit, fodder trees and pasture, seeds and tubers and it’s stained into their skin at a cellular level.

The village is home to the Koanga Institute, founded by organic and permaculture gardening guru Kay Baxter.

Her life for the past 30 years has been dedicated to developing a precious collection of heritage seeds and fruit trees, first in Northland, then on leased land near Wairoa. But just over a year ago Kay, her husband Bob Corker and their team faced the biggest challenge of their lives: eviction.

in the gloom of a quiet bedroom in the main Koanga homestead is a room full of treasures that money cannot buy €“.
TESSA CHRISP
in the gloom of a quiet bedroom in the main Koanga homestead is a room full of treasures that money cannot buy €“.

The development company that owned the land was foundering, the first mortgage holder was demanding a sale and everything they’d ever worked for was suddenly facing the auctioneer’s hammer.

“It’s been a really, really big journey holding the seeds for such a long time and the thought of starting again was too much,” says Kay.

Supporters like chef Peta Mathias got behind what would eventually be a successful nationwide campaign to raise the money to purchase the first mortgage on the property, although there’s still more financing required and a campaign to raise that money is now underway (kotarevillage.org.nz).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

This is the Year to Save Seed! Here’s How

This is the Year to Save Seed! Here’s How

If ever there was a year to learn to save seed, I think this is it. So many people planted coronavirus gardens this spring that many seed sources ran out. Some seed-selling establishments considered seed “nonessential,” and restricted sales even when there was ample stock, simply to discourage people from unnecessary shopping.

In my book, seed is one of the most essential supplies. Saving them is just part of my ordinary round of gardening tasks, and doesn’t need to be intimidating. Of course there are some I don’t save yet, such as carrots. And there are some I can’t, such as new varieties I’m planning to try in the never-ending quest for a paste tomato that doesn’t get blossom end rot. But many of the beautiful things I grow in my garden are grown from seed I saved.

Field pea pods and seed on the left, asparagus (or yardlong) beans and pods on the right, and cantaloupe, watermelon and tomato in the middle.

If this is your first garden ever, pick something easy to save and give it a go! If you usually save a few varieties, I challenge you to save something new this year. And if you’re a semi-experienced seed saver like me, I suggest you save a larger quantity than usual. I’m planning on giving lots away come spring, whatever the state of the world. Even if seed is plentiful, free seed makes gardening cheaper and more accessible for my friends and neighbors.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Seed Saving, Part 2: Practical Ways to Save Seed

Seed Saving, Part 2: Practical Ways to Save Seed.

Having learned some background knowledge on why you would want to save seeds in the first place (see Part I), you may now be wondering how to go about doing it.

There are many ways to do this, and though it can be as simple as keeping a few leftover tomato seeds from your salad, you can gain a lot more success in growing and certainty of what you are actually saving if you understand a few basic practical techniques.

Thanks to the Heritage Seed Library (1), run by Garden Organic (2), UK, I now feel equipped to share these basics in a guide which hopefully will help you to preserve biodiversity and encourage more plant growing.

Choosing your seeds: sourcing and spacing

First, it is important to decide what it is you want from your seeds. Where will you grow them? How much space will you have? Do you want them to crop/flower early in the season or later on, or a mixture?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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