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Seed presentation held at library

By Staff | Apr 25, 2014

Bryce Berginski/PCT Attendees of the seed presentation at the Heart of America Library on Wednesday partake in a seed viability experiment.

Ann Gibson knows a thing or two about seeds.

The Arizona transplant learned quite a bit from Native Seed Search, an organization dedicated to keeping viable vegetable seeds that have been cultivated for decades. After moving to the Pierce County area, she started a company called Bohan Seed and Supply. The company specializes in open-pollinated plants that grow in higher latitudes and in short-season, cold climates.

Gibson was the guest speaker at a seed presentation Wednesday at the Heart of America Library. She discussed the pros and cons of three major seed varieties: open-pollinated, hybrid and genetically modified.

Gibson also stressed the importance of saving and keeping open-pollinated seed varieties alive. She said there are currently 800 varieties of open-pollinated seeds, versus 8,000 in years past. She calls the disappearance of seed varieties a “global”, “silent” crisis.

“Those 7,200 varieties are gone forever,” Gibson said.

Gibson discussed how to obtain seeds from grown plants to save. For tomatoes, she said, cut one and find seeds in the pulp. Then put the pulp in a jar of water, and the good seeds will sink while the bad seeds will rise. She also said that when handling pepper seeds, particularly hot pepper seeds, it is best to wear gloves. Seeds can be dried with a cotton tea towel and stored in a cool, dry place.

Gibson discussed how to control cross pollination. Some of the tips she gave included not putting plants in the Cucurbitaceae family (squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, etc.) so close to each other, wrapping flowers with cheese cloth, and taking pollen from the stamen of male flowers and applying to female flowers with a cotton swab. She stressed the importance of selective breeding.

Those in attendance were invited to partake in an experiment to determine whether seeds are viable. Using bell pepper seeds, participants soaked coffee filters, put seeds in them, and dabbed them dry with folded newspaper. They were then supposed to plant them. If anywhere from 75 to 80 percent or more sprouted, the seeds were viable.

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