Protecting The Future, One Seed At A Time

September 3, 2009 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

wheat

As a new gardener, I’ve been quickly learning about different plant varieties I can grow, in what seasons they grow best and how to take each plant from seed to maturity. The first seeds in my new garden have sprouted and are well on their way to maturity. The layout of the garden has been planned, and seasonal, organic vegetable and fruit seeds have been chosen. Everything seems to be in order, or so I thought it was.

A fellow gardener and I were looking over my plans and plant choices when he noted I did not have enough biodiversity in my selections. I had evidently chosen plants that would increase pests in my plots, and I had none that would keep them away. Additionally, some of the plants I wanted to raise together for seasonal and ornamental reason would kill each other if left on their own for too long. This might sound like bad news, but this is why I asked him for help. I wanted to have the right information before I began planting my sprouts into the ground. Now I have a better understanding of what to plant, where to plant it and in what seasons I should start sowing.

After our conversation, I promised to plant a variety of seeds that would not only produce a tasty product, but would help protect my garden and the gardens around the neighborhood. I was able to source a fantastic nursery near my home that specializes in seeding heirloom vegetables and fruits. I found this curious as I did not know what they meant by heirloom. Evidently, an heirloom vegetable is a plant that was commonly grown during earlier years in human history, but is not commonly grown at present for one reason or another. I became fascinated by these vegetables and quickly learned as much as I could. I discovered that many heirloom vegetables are becoming extinct. I was quite appalling to me.

There are a vast number of wonderful and beautiful vegetable and fruit varieties I was blissfully unaware of until now. Knowing of them now is bittersweet as many of them are endangered. Right then I made a promise to myself, and vowed to grow a number of endangered varieties in my garden. One might suggest we simply let nature run it’s course, but I disagree. The more common vegetables and fruits are ones you see at the supermarket. These varieties were often selected because of their tolerance to pesticides, frost and drought. Nutritional value and flavor was usually a secondary concern if at all. I am certain there are exceptions, however, the homogenization of our horticultural world is only increasing the number of heirloom species that are becoming extinct ever year. I might be an in-experienced gardener, but common sense told me this probably isn’t good.

Cary Fowler, a biodiversity advocate and member of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, gave an excellent TED Talk on this issue. I certainly recommend giving his talk a listen. It is incredibly fascinating, and he highlights some very important arguments for maintaining the biodiversity in the Earth’s crops.

I would like to think I am doing my part by deciding to grow a number of heirloom vegetables along with more common varieties in my garden. I have great hopes and expectations for my plot as I have meticulously planned every detail. However, I do realize that the best gardens always come with time and dedication. It is going to be a long process, but I am very excited for the outcome. The most exciting part for me is knowing that I am aiding in the continued existence of endangered vegetables and fruits. That in itself, is all the drive I need to continue with this endeavor.

Video via TED Talks

Image by Carmen Dirica

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Entry filed under: Eco-News, Ideas, It's Ok, It's Eco-Friendly. Tags: , , , , , .

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