The founders of Australia's Seed Savers' Network show how gardeners can protect the global food heritage - and eat it too. The seeds and growth cycles of 117 vegetables, culinary herbs and edible flowers are described in detail. The book begins with eight chapters on the issues around seeds globally and the practicalities of saving your own seeds. Three quarters of the book is on 117 food plants, mostly vegetables, with the remainder culinary flowers, herbs and spices. Each plant has a description, its wild origins, how to cultivate it, save its seeds or otherwise propagate it, storage of the seed and its medicinal and culinary uses. Permaculture, biodiversity, organics and companion planting are the principles that underlie the contents of this book. This has been a reliable reference book not just on propagating and breeding your own vegetables, but also for how to grow and use both common (corn, tomatoes, beans, cabbages, etc.,) and unusual vegetables, such as tumeric, peanuts and several species of gourds. Included are many Asian and South American vegetables, herbs and spices. 60,000 sold wordwide with 30,000 of the original Australian edition sold and the rest another 30,000 copies of translations and adaptations sold around the world.
Part 1 The issues: the Seed Savers' Network - why collect?, beginnings, Seed Savers at work; background to biodiversity - seed homelands, life in a freezer, green non-revolution, anyone for hybrids?, designer genes. Part 2 The practicalities: what seeds to save - a variety of sources, plants move, plants adapt, only connect; purity and production - pollination, keeping them pure, annual, biennial, perennial; selecting and collecting - criteria for selection, how many to select, when to collect; after the seed harvest - cleaning, drying, diseases, storing, germination tests; planting and planning - seed starting, rules of thumb for planting, planning a seed garden, permaculture, principles of practical permaculture; a special family - cucurbits - characteristics, pumpkins and squashes, hand pollination, planting the seeds. Part 3 The plants: simplicity rating: amaranth, artichoke, asparagus, basella, basil, bean, beetroot, bitter gourd, borage, broad bean, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, calendula, Cape gooseberry, capsicum and chilli, cardoon, carrot, cassava, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, celtuce, chervil, chicory, chilacayote, Chinese cabbage, chives, choko, collard, coriander, corn, corn salad, cowpea, cucumber, dandelion, dill, eggplant, endive, eschallot, fennel, garland chrysanthemum, garlic, garlic chives, ginger, gourd, gramma, guada bean, hibiscus spinach, hyacinth bean, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, korila, leek, lemongrass, lettuce, lima bean, luffa, marigold, marjoram, mint, mitsuba, mizuna, mustard, mustard greens, nasturtium, New Zealand spinach, oca, okra, onion, orach, oriental cooking melon, pansy and violet, parsley, parsnip, pea, peanut, Peruvian parsnip, poppy, potato, pumpkin, Queensland arrowroot, radish, rhubarb, rocket, rockmelon, rosella, rosemary, runner bean, sage, salad burnet, salsify, silver beet, snake bean, sorrel, soya bean, spinach, spring onion, squash, sunflower, sweet potato, taro, tarragon, thyme, tomato, tree onion, tumeric, turnip, water chestnut, water spinach, watercress, watermelon, wax gourd, winged bean, yam, yam bean. Appendices: pollination table; list of plants by family; index of alternative names.