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Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition Paperback – March 1, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Suzanne Ashworth is an educational administrator living in Sacramento, California, whose spare time and large backyard are completely devoted to gardening. Suzanne has donated the text of Seed to Seed to help support the work of the Seed Savers Exchange, a genetic preservation organization with 8,000 members who are working together to maintain and distribute heirloom varieties of vegetables, fruits, grains, flowers, and herbs.



Kent Whealy is the cofounder of Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit organization committed to saving heirloom garden seeds from extinction. Founded in 1975 by Kent and Diane Whealy, Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) now has nearly 8,000 members around the world. Its headquarters are at Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"An estimated 60 million Americans grow a portion of their own food in a vegetable garden. Their planting needs are supplied by 255 mail order seed companies, countless local outlets for seeds and plants, and the ever-present grocery store seed rack . . . There have always been a substantial minority of gardeners, however, who bypass the garden seed industry completely by saving their own seeds from year to year. Some of these seed savers, remnants of a recently lost peasant agriculture which purchased nothing that could be produced at home, are still planting the same vegetable varieties that their great-grandparents grew. Other new converts to seed saving may be trying to save something special discovered along the way, or to obtain unique plant material not available commercially. Still others have simply been touched by the powerful satisfaction that comes from a garden which is genuinely self-perpetuating."--from the Introduction

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Seed Savers Exchange; 2 edition (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882424581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882424580
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

287 of 287 people found the following review helpful By Shelly Sutherland on March 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is very practical and easy to understand. It's more encyclopedic in style rather than conversational, so if you aren't sure that you'll be saving seeds from your garden this year, you'll probably find it kind of boring. If you are slightly interested but unconvinced, I would recommend Carol Deppe's "How to Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties" instead. Her enthusiasm for the subject carries over into her writing style, and she includes lots of entertaining anecdotes and information that will be useful even if you don't decide to save seeds.

But if you know you want to start saving seeds, or enjoy saving seeds and want to get better, this book will be indespensable.

The book is mostly about vegetables, with a few grains and herbs also described. For each type of garden plant, several topics are covered:

--A general description (where it originated, how it is used in different cultures, etc.)

--Botanical classification

--Pollination (such as wind vs. insects), crossing and isolation

--Seed production and harvesting

--Seed statistics (% germination, how many seeds in an ounce, how many varieties offered in major catalouge)

--How to grow the plant from seed

--Regional growing recommendations for 5 very generalized regions (Mid-Atlantic, Southeast/Gulf Coast, Upper Midwest, Southwest, Central West Coast, Maritime Northwest) These are very brief, but useful.

I wish I would have gotten the book sooner, because I don't have too much gardening experience and I would like to have a big garden (well, as big as my yard will allow...) The regional recommendations often include when you should plant a vegetable indoors and when to transplant or direct seed outdoors. It would have been nice to do the last few week's seed starting with a little less guesswork.
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135 of 137 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Williams on February 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the complete and definitive seeds saving guide for 160 non-hybrid vegetable crops, with detailed information about each vegetable. It is technical but clearly written so that the reader can understand the intricacies of maintaining varietal purity and proper seed harvesting, drying, cleaning and storing of seeds. Botanical classification, flower structure, pollination method, isolation distances, caging, and hand pollination techniques are included. If you're looking for information on saving ground cherry seeds, you'll find it here. Sources for supplies and seed saving organizations are listed in the back.

This is the definitive source on seed saving and is invaluable to growers interested in conserving unique vegetable varieties. This book should sit on your shelf next to a copy of Carol Deppe's "Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties" because saving seed is the basic method of plant breeding. When you save the seed of your biggest tomatoes rather than your smaller ones, you are practicing plant breeding by selecting what genetic material to perpetuate. The seeds from your big tomato will produce plants that also will produce big tomatoes.
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251 of 282 people found the following review helpful By Eric Brown on January 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
I don't know if there's a better book on the subject of seed saving, but I've found this book frustratingly incomplete. There's certainly a lot of information, but it seems like a lot of really important basics were left out. I would say for a majority of the plants I would like to save seed from this year I can't figure out from the book whether the plants will cross with other things I'm growing or how far to isolate them if they would. I'm trying to figure out right now, for instance, if tabasco peppers (Capsicum frutescens) will cross with bell peppers and other Capsicum annum. The book has about a half a page of information on C. frutescens, which I think is a lot for such a minor species, but it still fails to give me that most basic information. I'd also like to know how many plants of each type I should grow to maintain adequate genetic diversity. The author mentions the importance of this, and there are a couple plants where numbers are given, but in most cases the reader is left without any numbers. I wish all this kind of information were covered more systematically, maybe with a simple chart or short paragraph at the beginning of each of the 20 plant families covered in the book.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Fields on August 24, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book presents a very holistic view of heirloom plants available by seed saver exchanges. The first few chapters enlighten the reader to the devastating aggricultural practices of commercial farmers. The main point I got was that seeds bought from major big box retailers are "infertile" after one season, forcing you to return next year to buy more seed. What an abhorable practice as this may be the only way to grow in the future if techniques from this book are not practiced. The rest of the chapters/sections are very well organized and present detailed descriptions for various popular varieties of plants on how to grow and subsequently harvest their seeds. The appendix gives further resources on how to obtain heirloom plants and contacts who might be able to help with your struggles and success.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lisa VINE VOICE on August 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's wonderfully complete for seed saving. I've saved my own carrot seeds now! And the squash from last years saved seeds looks just like it should. This book covers all the techniques, issues and risks although I think it's very much geared towards multi-generation saving of entirely pure seed - you don't need to be quite so careful on the isolation if you just want to grow one generation of kale for your own use (mine came out okay in spite of only minor control of nearby brassicas), and saving seed with only two chard plants, not enough genetic diversity to preserve a variety for long, can by themselves produce enough seed so you'll eat chard every day for 5 years.

It's also a great reference for unusual vegetables, it's amazingly complete; you can find out about 4-sided bean or other tropical type vegetables. And it sorts out the different squash and pepper species very well.

The gardening information in each section hasn't impressed me much as useful or accurate; but we are in-between the zones they provide.
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Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition
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