Sunday, December 11, 2011

Varieties of Vegetable Seeds I Believe Should Be Saved

SLOLA Volunteers Check-in Seeds
A year ago I drew up a list of seeds I thought would be the ones to save – I asked around for others to suggest varieties that I might have missed, but there haven't been a lot of responses.

I was explaining to someone the other day that SLOLA has something like 200 varieties of vegetables in our bank and how I would rather have fewer varieties with larger quantities of each. He suggested that I was postulating the same lack of diversity I decry in the world of seed today.

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I think I have an answer to that accusation: It is better to save a fewer varieties of seed and save them well than to have hundreds of different varieties and save them poorly. I would like SLOLA to save all the seeds that will grow here successfully, but that could easily be more seeds than SLOLA can handle at present.

It is more important that we start where we are (we can't really start somewhere else, can we?) and begin to learn how to save seeds of several major varieties and have them on hand. At present, there aren't that many members who are experienced at growing out to seed. Those who can reliably grow plants out to seed need to apply themselves to growing out the difficult seeds and grow enough out to insure a supply on hand for the rest of our members.

Last year, compiling my list of seeds to save, I was heading east on I-70 through Illinois on into Indiana ending up at Ft. Wayne to celebrate Christmas. I was in the back of a car with my little Netbook and using a Blackberry to be online. This year, I'm at home and surrounded by seed catalogs, including the two most often cited as 'veggie porn' catalogs (Seed Savers' Exchange and Baker Creek Heirlooms) and was able to use their listings to create the following list of seeds to save.

I'd like to hear from everyone who reads this and has suggestions for varieties of veggies to save. The Seed Savers Of Los Angeles need a list of seeds to save – a 'target' for us to shoot for. Email us via the blog or bring your list to any SLOLA meeting – I’ll be willing to add your suggestions to my list. Let's see if we can double this in the coming year!

Here are my choices:  

      Green Globe

      Aquadulce (Fava)
      Broad Windsor (Fava)
      Cannelini Bush Bean (Dry/Bush)
      Christmas (Lima/Climbing)
      Dr. Pineschi's Grandfather Bean (Vigna unguiculata)
      Envy (Soybean)
      Golden Wax Bean (Wax/Bush)
      Henderson (Lima/Bush)
      Hutterite Soup
      Pencil Pod (Wax/Bush)
      Royal Burgundy Bean (Purple/Early)
      Scarlet Runner (Phaseolus coccineus)

      Bull's Blood
      Crosby's Egyptian
      Burpee's Golden Beet
      Chioggia Beet
      Detroit Dark Red
      Yellow Cylindrical

Brussels Sprouts
      Long Island Improved

      Copenhagen Market Cabbage
      Early Jersey Wakefield
      Glory of Enkhuizen 
      Mammoth Red Rock
      Perfection Drumhead Savoy
      Premium Late Flat Dutch
      Scarlet Nantes
      Chantenay Red Core
      Danvers Half Long
      White Belgian

      Early Snowball

      Five Color Silverbeet Chard (AKA Rainbow Chard)
      Fordhook Giant

Celery and Celeriac
      Giant Prague (Celeriac)
      Utah Tall (Celery)

      Country Gentleman Corn
      Golden Bantam Corn
      Stowells Evergreen

      (You know, I don't really LIKE eggplant - but I'm open to listing suggestions from those of you who do!)

Grains Etc... (The library is not saving any of these seeds, but it is important to keep these in mind for the near future - I've already started to grow out the Federation Wheat trying to get a supply of seed on hand, there'll be another blog post about this one soon.)
      Quinoa, Shelly 25 Black
      Sesame, Light Seeded
      Wheat, Federation 126

      Blue Curled Scotch

      Blue Solaise
      King Richard 
      Black Seeded Simpson
      Brune d'Hiver 
      Drunken Woman Frizzy Head Lettuce
      Tango Lettuce
      Merlot Lettuce
      Merveille des Quatre Saison Lettuce
      Parris Island Cos Lettuce
      Red Romaine
      Rouge d'Hiver
      Rouge Grenobloise
      Tom Thumb
      Webbs Wonderful
      Yugoslavian Red

      Green Nutmeg
      Hale's Best
      Metki White Serpent (cucumber)

      Clemson Spineless
      Star of David

      Red of Florence

      Harris Model

      Little Marvel
      Tall Telephone
      Oregon Sugar Pod
      Sugar Snap

      Corno di Toro 
      Italian Pepperoncini
      Jalapeno Early
      Jimmy Nardello Italian
      Red Marconi

Squash – Summer
      Lebanese White Bush Marrow
      Zucchini – Lungo Bianco

Squash - Winter
      Black Futsu
      Marina di Chioggia
      Queensland Blue Squash
      Sweet Meat

      Amish Paste
      Big Rainbow 
      Black Cherry
      Black From Tula
      Black Icicle
      Cherokee Purple      Copia
      Cream Sausage
      Orange Banana
      Orange Icicle
      Roman Candle
      San Marzano
      San Remo
      Striped Roman
      Wapsipinicon Peach

      Purple Top White Globe

That totals 113, this year.  Maybe we'll top 200 next year!  Let us know which ones are missing and help us to find those really good varieties to save!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Seed Library of Los Angeles Turns One Year Old!

Many of the original Board of Directors braved the cold.
It was probably one of the coldest days of December 2010.  About 35 people met at 1:00 on the patio of The Learning Garden at Venice High School.  By the time we'd all said hello and established the purpose of the meeting, we had dwindled down to about 20 people (and by the time all was said and done, we were even fewer).  

Those that stayed that December 4th agreed to create a thing called the Seed Library of Los Angeles and began to form the organization to save and store seeds for loaning out to members.  The members agreed to grow them out to preserve the genetic integrity of the seeds and subscribed to the Safe Seed Pledge.  Then a portion of the harvested seeds would be returned to the seed bank for future gardeners to check out.  We settled on a lifetime membership fee of $10, making it affordable to everyone. Most of us there that paid our $10 and SLOLA was on its way! 

As I write this now, the Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA) has about 250 members with about 280 varieties of seeds available to loan.  We have a web page ( and email addresses for our officers.  We have won the South Bay Business Environmental Coalition's SEED Award for Preservation of Natural Resources.  We have sent speakers all over the Greater Los Angeles area to speak on saving seeds - not just how, but why.  We have at least four good qualified speakers available and we've sent them to Covina and Orange County to speak about the world of seed saving.  At our November meeting, we voted in a basic bylaws  - in this upcoming, December meeting, we will elect our first officers under those bylaws. 
We have had a heady first year.  But this is just the beginning.  With the lofty goals we have put our sights on, we have much to do.  The first thing to do will be to find officers to serve for the coming year.  We need more organization, more bylaws and more of that work that makes an organization viable.  Our next meeting will be December 17th.  Please take a few minutes out of your holiday schedule to come on down and lend your hand to our plow.  

It's not only important work - it's exciting work.  It's work knowing you are making a tangible difference and fighting the spectre of all seeds being GMO or all commercially available seed being owned by just a few multi-national corporations.  

Come, be a part of the legacy of 'those who fought back!'

Inaugural Chair