Friday, January 31, 2014

Seeds as medicinal superfood

Organic high quality seeds can be powerful healers - if you keep them away from heat and prepare them in a way that makes their nutrients available to your body.
Be it sprouted, like in the how-to card below, ground, soaked or as cold pressed oils.
Just don't cook or roast them - and while sunflower and sesame pate are wonderful, check that they are not made from roasted seeds.

If you are knew to seeds as medicinal food, I would recommend to start with this article about "the ten healthiest seeds" as inspiration to explore more.

Aside from their medicinal effects, seeds are also super-tasty! This allow us to integrate them creatively and step by step into our diets.
I thought you will probably like new recipes for new powerfoods at hand - so I have listed the seeds below, then their effects, shortened, followed by a link to a search on pinterest.

This list will be updated with other articles and links over time - selected articles are always welcome in the comments !

Chia seeds are strong energizers and very effective for weight loss plans, a powerful inflammatory, high in Omega 3 fatty acids ( "short-chain") and antioxidants; (chia recipes)

Hemp seeds, peeled , split or as hemp seed oil, both contain virtually no THC, but powerful immune system regenerators and anti-cancer nutrients. (hemp seed recipes)

Pomegranate seeds, again full of antioxidants,  preventative & for treatments of arthritis and arteriosklerose, powerful youth keeper. ( pomegranate recipes)

Flax seeds, preferably ground without heat for balancing hormones and also as powerful anti-inflammatory medicinal; ( flax seed recipes)

Pumpkin seeds, as oil or ground seeds, l-tryptophan as mood booster, can prevent kidney stones, fight parasites + especially for men. ( pumpkin seed recipes)

10 apricot kernels a day ( ground) as powerful protection shields where new to me ! Amygdalin atacks cancer cells, it is bitter and also active in bitter almonds -  (Apricot kernel recipes)

Sesame seeds as oil or cold treated seed paste, tahini, especially for skin power and thus consumed to slow down symptoms of aging; (sesame seed recipes, hummus)

Sunflower seeds and oil, high in Vitamin E ( neutralize free radicals, phytosterols and magnesium, reduce asthma, reduces cholseterol levels, help to prevent migraine and heart diseases (sunflower seed recipes),

Cumin seeds for digestive balance, immune-system booster, antiseptic effects, high in iron - liver protection, against asthma and arthritis ( cumin seeds recipes)

Grape seeds are said to prevent heart diseases through lowering blood pressure and kill cancer cells. (grape seed recipes )

It is a wonderful awareness ride to collect more health knowledge - where-ever we are born, nature has prepared a pharmacy directly in front of our doors, supposed there is some healthy nature around.

Some of you might feel overwhelmed when you start to learn about medicinal plants from zero: Again, I would recommend pinterest: It allows you to collect all those links which arrive in your stream once you have liked some facebook pages or other outposts of inspirational free education streams with interesting updates. Pinterest is ideal here because such posts and articles are nearly always image-based. By and by you will learn to know single plants better, until you reach the point where you realize that you know remedies more and more often - but are still at the start :)

I collect my links in a folder (board) "Natural Health" - being still new to the topic, but it is soon time to divide it into subtopics, i guess. That is the moment when you can re-check how much you still know about the plants mentioned and re-read some articles.

And here is your simple How-To card for growing sprouts ! 

Sprouts are really easy and super-healthy, but be sure to rinse well and take your time to read about the specific seed variety you are going to sprout online before you start as there are some differences to be aware of.
Sproutspeople offer you tons of valuable information - and though a strainer and a pot are in principle enough - maybe you enjoy some fancy equipment for sprouting.

To stay on the very, maybe overcritically safe side, read this wikipedia article before you start your sprouting journey - and avoid to eat more than 550 g sprouts a day on a regular basis.
Something that is unlikely to happen to me - though i love sprouts, and yes, start with small amounts of seeds for sprouting, unless you plan to cook with them.

They are also a nice present for friends, in a nice glass, from the fridge through the winter night, for a dinner salad - ideally with healthy oils !

Enjoy sprouting and to explore more healthy seed recipes !

(Update: 3.2.2014: some corrections)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January (1) Before you order online: Open Pollinated Plants, Heirlooms and Hybrids

Post updated in September 2014: now you can put yourself on a map and if all of us do it, soon find other seed savers !

PART 1/2

 Which seeds to order, grow and save - which to avoid for seed saving. 
(In basic terms)

Oh, those seemingly endless varieties - it is still seed ordering time !
As you plan to save seeds from the plants you will grow:
choose only seeds which are marked "OP".
No matter if you want to save money, take control over your food quality, be part of a peaceful revolution or all of them: only seeds from "open pollinated" plants will grow true-to-type and thus work for seed saving.

If you can, take some time to explore and select seldom tasty varieties, and grow them to be part of maintaining them:


The third description you often find in seed catalogs or on seed packets, is "hybrid" - avoid them for a start.

Hybrids are crossings between two not closely related parent varieties and often very prolific plants.
Nature can produce hybrids too, when bees cross your broccoli with your cauliflower, for example. 

But for seed saving, hybrids are not suited, as the following generation grown from saved seeds from these plants will not carry the same, if any harvest at all.

This is why saving pure seeds requires protection from cross-pollination for many plants once they start to flower, which is explained on the "April" calendar sheet. This again is the reason why many people hesitated to go deeper with seed saving - but with the calendar you will realise that all methods are simple and can be realized from cheap materials;  And once you got infected by the magic of re-connecting and co-creating toward abundance, you will see that it is big fun.

You will even learn to cross plants and create your own hybrids, but if you want to choose plants to save from, and don't plan to experiment for a start, skip hybrid plants if you order seeds.


Enjoy to explore trusted sellers online , in search of special plants you want to grow, dreaming up your garden over the year.

If you want, get inspired by "Ark of Taste " and the slow food movements' list of especially tasty threatened culinary varieties, all of them heirlooms - old varieties which have been around since more than 50 years. Regional varieties, but the movement is international.


#together: Inspire friends to grow special varieties

Humanity is at the start of becoming aware of the importance of seed saving, so it is likely that there is no seed bank or seed library next to you yet. You will learn in March, that several species require a quite large plant population to save from, which can easily be done if you convince some friends to plant the same variety and save from their best plants, too.

When I created the calendar I deeply desired a platform that would allow to find everyone who grows and saves from the same variety and facilitate exchange. It would make the movement increasingly aware of its size on a global level, and once it has grown ( become well-known) allow us to find others on a local level too. 

When I update this post (September 2014), Growstuff already provides you with embedded maps, to see on a global scale who else is growing and saving form the same species. This is an important development for the seed saving movement, especially as they go open source. But you can not search for specific varieties yet. We should absolutely share what we grow and save from there though, to empower the developments and find others who grow close to us soon ! 

Yet, I still recommend to convince your gardening friends to organise your seed saving, mixing and sharing of specific varieties through Facebook groups, or similar simple social tools, but I will be happy to update the calendar once our desired platform is ready for convenience !

Tell your friends, who are or might be interested in growing their own food, medicine - or other flora - about your most recent "gems": the more of you plant a variety, the better you can start local seed saving.   

#share & inspire each other:  Create (shared) visual online bookmark lists 
for your plant wishes and choices  

Once your friends are interested, a visual bookmarking tool becomes kind of necessary... pinterest is indeed a handy tool: curious gardening friends instantly love it because they  can find a lot of pre-selected content for related topics.
And you can create shared folders there.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January (1) Quick start: Save seeds from ripe organic tomatoes...


 Action 1 : Save Tomato Seeds (Quick start)

First, find some super-tasty organic, open pollinated tomatoes to kick off your seed saving journey - from a friend, a local organic farmer or farmer's market. Preferably a seldom variety, to support its maintenance and continuous improvement. 
Once you have found your seed tomatoes: Let them become really ripe to save their seeds.
Nearly over-ripe - soft, but still edible.
If they are truly organic, that should not take too long, some days at room temperature.

How-to cards are meant as "all-you-need summaries" for your actual saving process .

At the end of this post you find an additional abstract about "Organic or not ?" A discussion that reaches wider, but is relevant for seeds. Please take your time to read it, decide your path ( plus a  suggestion to label sources as clearly and openly as possible. ) 


Quick intro to seed saving: example tomato seeds

(text that is cut is focussed in a following image)

Tomato seeds are fermented, a special wet harvest treatment. 
Basically: set aside for some days before rinsing and drying to invite and host a beneficial fungus. 
Experts agree that you should do this for two vegetables: cucumbers and tomatoes for two reasons: 

1. It breaks down the germination inhibiting gel sack. 

2. It prevents some seed-borne diseases.

Quick tip: Margaret from "a way to garden" (see links below) describes that you can also dry enough single seeds without removing gel sacks - and probably sow more - and some fine plants will emerge. But you will miss the benefits mentioned above)  

They look beautiful - let's embrace the smelly part some days later, and decant...

Cucumber seeds can not be harvested from the green fruits we eat -  seed cucumbers need to be left on the vine far longer.

Funnily our statistical favorites are actually more cumbersome for saving their seeds than all others, where it is not smelly and just about some different cleaning procedures, and off to dry. 
But on the other hand....both tomatoes and cucumbers are very easy to grow....
And altogether, saving their seeds takes just some minutes. Just some more breaks in between.


..and: I wish you a joyful creative cooking experience and delicious meal 
from your deseeded tomatoes ! 



Articles, selected:

Inspired gardening:
awaytogarden: How to save seeds from heirloom tomatoes

Urban / small space gardening #seed saving:
VerticalVeg: How to save tomato seeds (includes video)

( select from playlist)

A necessary discussion:

Organic or not ??
For those who want to grow organic:

An honest word here: It might happen, that you buy vegetables which are labeled organic, but turn out to be: not organic.  

The further away we live from trusted farmers, the more saving seeds from ripe "organic" fruits can become a testing, trying, and experimentation field. Unless you know your source is 100% trustworthy and that the variety you choose is open pollinated, be prepared to be an explorer in the field of testing organic promises.  
You might find out that your organic tomatoes where grown from hybrid seeds, after growing them, because they don't carry a lot of beautiful fruits like the ones you saved from. 
This should be less probable if you choose heirloom varieties.
If you are in doubt about the quality of your organic food and the explorer in you is not excited by easy experiments to test-grow, eventually in parallel to growing organic varieties from surely organic and open pollinated seeds:  

It is better to invest in some packets of organic seeds from trusted sellers to start from, if there is no seed bank or seed library close to you yet.

If you can convince some friends & neighbours to grow the same varieties, it becomes really simple to maintain healthy populations: all of you save from your best fruits, then you just need to meet up, mix and share your saved seeds.

Your organic traders should ideally sell fruits grown from such seeds too, if they are truly organic -  and for very sure fruits free of any chemical treatments, be it to slow down the ripening process or inhibit germination. 

But generally, views differ strongly about chemical treatments and purity questions as to my "on-ground research" -  I personally want my seeds to be 100% organic. 

It seems appropriate that we all stick to one rule: 

Let us label very clearly and be honest about our sources. 
This helps altogether to save truly organic seeds separately from e.g. necessary compromise approaches.

Post has been updated in September 2014