Seed Saving

Greg painted lady 4Painted Lady‘ (Phaseolus coccineus) seeds are the beans from a past year’s crop.

These runner beans trellised in the Triebel Lot Garden (shown below) present a colorful summer display at the corner of Academy and Salt Streets.

painted lady(1)For more information about Old Salem’s Program Preserving History through Seed Saving(PDF)

cockscomb seedLate summer cockscomb (Celosia cristata) flowers are dried and then handled to release the tiny seed.

Cockscomb grows with perennial sunflower in the Leinbach Garden on Salt Street (shown below). The brilliant red blooms resemble the comb on a rooster and are aptly named.

cockscomb Leinbach 4 Bill Crow

The Old Salem Horticulture Program is committed to sustainability through growing heirloom and open-pollinated plants and saving the seed.

Thousands of years of human existence produced a vast biodiversity, and traditionally seed saving was part of every growing season; however, lifestyle changes have diminished this ancient practice. As a result, not only are we losing agricultural diversity, but a safe and healthy food supply is threatened as well. In America, many historic fruit and vegetable varieties once available are now extinct.

Seed saving and seed banking are responses to the threat, with approximately 1,400 seed banks throughout the world working to preserve genetic and cultural diversity. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway is the most ambitious. In America, Seed Savers Exchange is the largest non-governmental seed bank.

The vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruits and grain grown in Old Salem are heirlooms, those old-fashioned kinds that frequently have stories associated with them and often surpass modern hybrids in beauty, fragrance and taste. Many heirlooms, like the Hinklehatz hot pepper (shown below), are rare and listed on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste.

Slow Food Ark of Taste 100x100

hinklehatz hot pepper in Triebel

Old Salem’s Horticulture Staff plants and maintains only those varieties believed to have been grown in Salem, or the area, before 1850. Plants may be allowed to “go to seed” and then the seed is collected and saved for future use and is also shared with Seed Savers Exchange.

Learn to save your own seed — it’s easy!
Resources and Links for Seed Saving(PDF)

Annual Slow Food
Seed Swap
in Old Salem!

cabbage Greg in Miksch

“Seed with Stories”
Do you have or know of seeds that have been passed down from previous generations? Old Salem Horticulture is collecting “Seeds with Stories.” Please contact Eric Jackson, Heritage Gardens & Outreach, or (336) 201-5174.