Author: Bruce Coetzee Self-sufficiency and the stark reality we faced on a global scale during quarantine over the past few years has given rise to a determined, profound awakening in the hearts of many individuals, setting about on the quest for a natural state of living. Food gardens have become a must, as opposed to a pastime enjoyed only by those seeking refuge from modern life's daily hustle and bustle. For those new to the technicalities encompassed by a considerable variation of choice and variety, it seems only fitting to begin with the essential principle of good growing practice.
Soil and many other environmental factors can and will determine the quality of your harvest or the impact of floral displays. In truth, one can only achieve optimal results by selecting a seed of sound lineage backed by proven breeder results. When embarking on the complex yet highly rewarding journey every gardener undertakes with nature, it stands to reason that preference and expectation play a pivotal role in choosing store-bought, or Heirloom seed, as opposed to seed harvested from existing plants or produced organically, void of pesticide or fertilisers.

There are "pros and cons" to each if you will. However, some pertinent facts may help you select which is better suited to your needs. Suppose one intends to grow in volume for family and community consumption. In that case, consideration must be given to the number of seeds required to produce the expected yield and maintain product consistency. Heirloom seeds will produce crops that maintain the integrity of the source plant, allowing the grower to produce plants of the same stock and value confidently. When you opt for organic seeds from previous harvests, you will only need one or two fruits or vegetables to provide the seeds for future plantings. As a result of hybridisation, there are often discrepancies in fruit and vegetable taste, size, and malformations passed on to the next generation.
Store-bought seeds offer gardeners reliability as a ground measure through selective breeding, and genetically modified plants able to withstand disease more effectively in many cases. Further benefits include offering a synopsis of detailed growth data, which becomes invaluable in large-scale production processors. While many feel that genetic alteration reduces the quality of produce, in the case of fruits and vegetables, farmers and those relying on agriculture as a means of income have welcomed the development of genetically modified crop strains over the past few decades as an effective means to reduce losses. Resilience to pest and microbial pathogens like fungi, and certain bacterial infections, has provided farmers with substantial crop yield increases. This has helped curb the gradual decline of reusable, arable land and assists in reducing deforestation globally by minimising repeated scenarios of soil-born infections attributed to specific organisms.
Collecting seeds from one's plants has a certain sense of nostalgia, which can only be understood by those who have had the privilege to do so.
Allowing plants to reach the point of seed production naturally may require a sacrifice in terms of yield; however, this does not affect or diminish the flavour and overall quality of future crops. Hybridisation is more common among certain plants, and for the food gardener, these include members of the pumpkin family, and for fruit farmers producing citrus varieties, has opened a universe of endless possibilities, some of which have combined genetic traits of subspecies, offering a constant supply of new citrus variations for demanding consumers.

Collecting and storing organic seeds is vital in successful plans for the gardener. Common errors plaguing organic growers include inadequately dried seed and incorrect humidity or temperature control during seed storage. Selecting store-bought seeds may give one a sense of peace that seldom comes from a questionable source plant, which may or may not retain the preferred qualities of its predecessor.

Plants provide more than just food and facilitate gas exchanges which result in the production of oxygen; they allow us, as sentient beings, to connect with a greater self through building a bridge between our consciousness and the great spirit of Mother Nature.
Choosing the right seeds is often a case of how we view our place on that bridge and, more importantly, the miracles contained within every seed!

Trailblazing Partners - Issue 6


Foreword - Issue 6


Issue 6 - Cover

Issue 6 - Cultivation