The Organic Seed Grower - A Farmer's Guide to Vegetable Seed Production

Deano Martin | Monday, 30th September 2013
Deano Martin finds a new seed saving book for gardeners and farmers that has become his favourite on the subject on his extensive bookshelf. See our special offer.
Author: John Navazio
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishers
Publication year: 2013
RRP: £28.00

This is a sumptuous book, with a lovely hard cover, and beautiful pictures. Thankfully, my enjoyment of it didn't end there. After a very short introduction to plant biology, and a useful guide to preparing biennial seed crops, the book launches into chapters of practical information on seed saving, grouped by plant family, and divided down into individual species. In this section, which constitutes the majority of the book, the pictures are a real bonus. As it's an American book it contains information about species that an English author may leave out, which is great news for growers with greenhouses and polytunnels.

The book ends with a couple of really useful chapters. One divides plants into their climactic preferences, and discusses the implications of that for seed production. The other deals with seedborne diseases. I found this very informative, as it puts crops into a table, lists the seed diseases relevant to each crop, gives an indication of how severe an infection of this type is for a subsequent crop, and finally gives any organically allowed treatment for the seed. Sadly those treatments are limited. My only criticism here is that with the rest of the book so lavishly endowed with pictures, adding them here to show what each disease looks like would have been of real benefit.

The book does not cover the use of isolation cages, and introduced pollinators like blowflies, which suggests that the target audience may be people looking to set up for medium to large scale seed production, or start their own seed business. Whilst other seed saving books may include these techniques, none that I have read so far appeal to me as much as this one does, and it is the one that I would choose to give to somebody that I was trying to encourage to start saving seed. Luckily I'm not restricted to just one seed saving book, so this will join the others, and I suspect will be taken off the bookshelf frequently this winter.

Further resources

Collecting summer seeds

EU seed law update and why grow heritage seeds

Watch: Seed and food freedom fortnight

Free eBook: A guide to seed saving, seed stewardship and seed sovereignty

Buy it now from our Green Shopping site at a reduced price of £28 or if you are in America you can buy it from Chelsea Green Publishing for $49.95.