Curiouser and Curiouser

June 21st

I’ve been bugging Finny lately with more and more gardening questions. (You know, she’s a super star garden student now, right? Running her own gardening business, going to vegetable school. I’m fairly certain she even has some “hydro basil expert” business cards or something.)

Lately, these have been questions on seed saving. I have been reading more and more about Monsanto’s reach and power, and I find it very bothersome. I come from farming stock, and I am certain my great grandparents would be horrified by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the company’s favor. In turn, I want to grow a garden — and live a life — as Monsanto/GMO-free as possible.

I know. This is a huge rabbit hole. Hang in here with me, and I promise we won’t spend too long staring into the hippie looking glass.

Seed saving

When I am curious about a new hobby, may it be gardening, knitting or cooking, I learn in dribs and drabs. Mostly, I learn from trying, failing and trying again. As such, I’ve been gardening for the better part of a decade without saving seeds, or considering soil amelioration. These both seemed a bit too difficult when I started, and I haven’t returned to the subjects until this recent Monsanto news. And let’s be honest — I’ve been using crap Monsanto seed that wouldn’t have been worth saving anyway. These seeds have been genetically modified so they are infertile, meaning gardeners (or farmers) have to buy them annually.

Brilliant, business-wise. Ridiculous nature-wise.

In my mind, seed saving is like knitting cables, or baking bread from scratch.

First you have to learn how to plant a garden for where you live, nurture it, harvest it and want to do it all over again before you have the energy to figure out how to tinker with what is already working. How can I get better seeds? How can I plant heirloom vegetables that carry on a family’s story? How can I avoid messing up the entire food chain by planting seeds that don’t allow proper pollination?

With knitting, I needed a decade to master simply keeping the stitches on my needles before I learned how to intentionally let a few fly free, twist them around, and cable them to glory.


And baking bread — well, let’s just say I had to learn how to not burn toast. (While I boldly showcase a lot of meals gone right around here, let me reassure you there are still gobs of failures too. Last night, we cut into bloody, undercooked chicken. Gag.)  I love to bake bread, especially in a warm kitchen where the natural yeast makes it an easy process. This recipe has made the entire process far easier.

Great Harvest Bread Company Baking Class

As such, I’m saving seeds, and reading this book. I’m plotting the next garden more carefully, with heirloom seeds from well trusted sources. I’m going through lists of Monsanto products online and bit by bit riding our home of this nonsense. I’m looking into seed-swapping organizations.

The next jump in education in each of these categories: soil amelioration, intarsia, baking challah.

“For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.”
― Lewis CarrollAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass


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8 Responses

  1. Living vicariously through you 😉 I have yet to bake my own bread or knit cables.

  2. Ok so after you write the cookbook, write the gardening book…hey if Martha can do it so can you! 🙂

  3. Check out Baker Creek Seed Co. Mansfield, Missouri, baby!

  4. Rachel June 21, 2013

    Boy- I hadn’t realized the extent of this Monsanto nonsense was until watching Food, Inc. and seeing the way they prosecuted the seed cleaners. It was unbelievable. Sad to say, until that point I only knew of them as a company that manufactured some of the yarn I crochet with. The things we city folk take for granted…

  5. Larissa Stretton June 21, 2013


    Cables are easy….really…I’ll help if you need it! In the way of heirloom seeds, remember I used to work at that living history museum??? They sell heirloom seeds from the plants they grow at the Village…I can get you some…the drive is only 1/2 from my place and I still have lots of friends to visit there. Along those lines, one of my friends from there lives on the farm that was once her grandmother’s. One year she gave all of us a packet of morning glory seeds (and a lovely story about her grandmother and the morning glories). This gift meant a great deal to me and I have been saving those seeds every year to replant in the summer. I realize they aren’t food, but they are beautiful. If you’d like, I’d be happy to send you some. Let me know and keep up the good work…with practice all will come!

  6. Look into Native Seed/SEARCH in Tucson. Great stuff!

  7. Great post! I didn’t get to doing a garden this year (running took over this spring). It’s amazing how much stuff goes on with our food “behind the scenes”. It’s also amazing to me that the government knows what is going on and supports it and yet blames other things on childhood obesity. In my perfect mind my family would eat all home grown foods and clean meats and such but I just haven’t got that far yet. It takes so much time and devotion to eat how our ancestors did.

  8. Be aware with Monsanto in Italy it’s well known for transgenic food….