Seeds have a story to tell. And their stories are often unique. A few gardening seasons ago, I purchased some vegetable seeds from the Iowa-based Seed Savers Exchange. Along with seeds grown on their own property, the SSE has a network of seed-saving gardeners around the United States and the world for the purpose of sharing saved seeds. This is how I have acquired most of my seeds in the past few years. With each packet of seed I receive in the mail, I become acquainted with another seed saver and often learn the stories of the seeds they have sent me.
One of my favorite seed stories came with some English pea seeds purchased from a gardener in Little Mountain, South Carolina. A note explained that these seeds were “from the Lindler family of Little Mountain, SC. It is said to have been grown in this area since Colonial times, thus the name ‘English pea’.” Reading this, I realized I had been given more than just seeds – I had been given a story. A history. No, I don’t know all the details. But I do know this – there has been a hard-working attentive gardener planting these English pea seeds in his/her garden each year from the earliest days of our nation. Back when plows were pulled by horse or mule and water was drawn by bucket from a well. Back when saving seeds was their only guarantee of a garden the following year. Through the Civil War, two world wars, drought, floods, industrialization and technological advances, farmers in Little Mountain, South Carolina have faithfully and attentively grown these English peas and saved its seeds, not just for their own future garden, but for folks like me who want to do the same. My motivation to keep this story going, to preserve and persevere in my own part of the world, inspires me to garden for more than just a desire to grow food. I want to have a small part in this history and keep this seed story going into the future.
My first season (2016) of growing these English peas was moderately successful. For the most part we picked the pods and ate the sweet-tasting peas right in the garden. They were delicious! I intentionally left some pods to dry and saved the seeds for the following year. However, due to family circumstances, I have not been able to garden again until this year. Unsure of the viability of my saved peas, I gave them a try indoors in some peat pots. I am excited to see these English peas have begun sprouting!
To add to my excitement for gardening again, I am happy to be sharing these same English pea seeds with my son and daughter-in-law for their new garden. And I will be passing along this seed story to them as well. What will your first seed story be?
Note: The website for the Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa, due to overwhelming demand for seeds, is temporarily not accepting new orders. However, if you click on the “Exchange” title on the top bar, it will take you to the gardener exchange site, where you will be able to search for seeds and request them from the specific gardeners you see listed. Seeds from this exchange are free – you will pay shipping. Most of the time I have received my seeds in the mail within a week. Please read each gardener’s profile for specific information. Happy gardening!