Benefits of using seeds in the garden

Pauline from CLEAR writes how growing your own vegetables from seeds is better for the climate in her latest blog.

Since CLEAR became involved in Climate Action Fife growing project, I have become much more aware of the effects of climate change, CO2 emissions, erratic weather and types of plants required for our garden to aid nature and biodiversity.

What I have also noticed is that there are no commercial Scottish seed growers anymore.  The trend has been to buy from other areas in the UK or Holland especially.  The last Scottish seed merchant business was Alexander and Brown based in Perth and they operated from 1897 to 1981. Seeds and plants are steeped in the history of Scotland as there were so many Palaces, Castles and Estates, where gardens and gardeners were revered.  Botanical collections became famous and still can be seen today for example Falkland Palace, Dawyick Gardens and RHS botanical gardens in Edinburgh to name but a few.

Many of these collections had tree arboretums and from there heritage varieties of apple trees are continuing to be popular today.  Here at CLEAR Buckhaven growing space, we have over 111 trees with 26 varieties of apple trees alone.  Several thousand more are planted in other areas throughout Buckhaven and Methil.

There is a dearth of vegetable seeds produced here in Scotland though, which is strange as hundreds of vegetables grow well in Scotland.  Mike Small [Fifes Diet] has suggested: “that many individuals and community groups have been desperate to get hold of Scottish seeds”.  Statistics from 2009 shows that there has been a rapid increase in home growing, from 40% [2005] to 70% in 2009.  These figures I am sure will have significantly increased due to the current pandemic situation.  We know that many vegetable seeds have been named because of their connections to Scotland eg Musselburgh Leeks, Ailsa Craig Tomatoes and Kelso onions.  Many varieties of potatoes are also famous and these are now also heritage ones.  The islands of Scotland have their own breeds of vegetables and barley crops grown to survive the particular climates of these areas.  Shetland cabbage, Bere barley and small oats on Uist for example. 

There are many individual growers, all over the country saving their seeds and developing their own variety of plants.  Scotia Seeds specialise in Wildflowers and are based in Mavisbank in Angus.

Everyone should be encouraged to come together in the Autumn and Spring to do seed swapping.  Community gardens and organisations such as The Common Good Food and Fife Diet have been recommending this practice for many years.  It is much more environmentally friendly to grow your vegetables from seeds than from plug plants as this involves the use of plastic trays, transport mileage and water and chemical use which impacts the environment greatly.

At CLEAR we are trialling a Plant stall where we can sell on our surplus seedlings to the public, and it’s very seasonal and environmentally friendly.  Details of the plant sales can found on our Facebook page and our website, or get in touch with our partners at Greener Kirkcaldy, Eats Rosyth or PLANT Tayport.

Climate Action Fife is a Fife wide partnership project, bringing together individuals, communities, local government and businesses to tackle the climate emergency.  It is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund.  #ClimateActionFife

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