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The Compost Pile, Issue #005 -- Landrace Gardening Seed Saving
April 22, 2022

Introducing Landrace Gardening — Learn the Ancient Art of Plant Breeding and Seed Saving

Let me tell you a little story — it’s my story and starts back in 1993. And it's why I love and recommend that everyone check out this course.

I grew a tiny crop of Sundak sunflowers in my community garden plot in Vancouver. Everyone else in the garden grew sunflowers too and each plot pretty much had a different type in their plot. Nevertheless I harvested the seed and in my seed company’s trial garden we planted a row of that seed and forgot about it.

One day while weeding the basil we heard a cacophony of noise from the sunflower row. Half expecting a bear or some other predator we crept over to see what was happening.

The sunflower row was hosting the equivalent of a keg party for the birds. Every possible variation of sunflower was represented. Short, tall, single flowered, multi flowered, all shades of yellow, reds, rusts. You get the picture. And feasting on those sunflowers was every seed eating bird in the neighbourhood. All were served. The big birds on the big flowers with the strong stems, the little birds on the smaller flowers. It was a raucous party.

I’ve carefully packed up and moved these two jars of sunflower seeds to every place I've lived for almost 30 years.

The one on the left shows what looks like a uniform seed from the Sundak sunflower. The seeds are dark grey with a white edge and an occasional white stripe. The jar on the right is a collection of the seed we harvested from that party row. The seeds are white, grey, black, striped, big, small.

The jars were a reminder of my question. And the Landrace Gardening Course turns out to be the answer.

It struck me that the genetic diversity in the sunflower seeds I collected from my community garden plot was obviously massive and that it so served nature. I mean every seed eating bird was fed. And by the way that harvest would be what’s known as a grex a first step in landrace making.

But that kind of seed wasn’t really one I could sell. It didn’t serve the seed business. What served the seed business was a careful isolation between varieties, removing any plants that were off type and then selling those ‘true’ types.

For me genetic diversity was in many separate varieties of tomatoes for example. Each one needed to be grown in carefully isolated situations so they would breed true. It did not occur to me that this type of diversity might be problematic, that what we had was actually hundreds of carefully inbred varieties and we were preventing them from evolving to be able to thrive in the kinds of changing conditions we face with climate change and oh everything…

So I love this course, I love this method, for so many reasons. I’ve helped the course creators by putting together a free version of the course to give people a taste of what’s offered in the full version.

You can find more detailed information about the courseon this landrace gardening page.

I highly recommend this course. I am an affiliate for the course which means if you decide to buy the course I would receive a commission.

Check out the course. Here's a link to the landrace gardening course home page where both the paid and free version are shown.

Happy Earth Day People Leslie

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