Seeds don’t have to come from a store; you just need to follow some rules for harvesting from your own garden, whether vegetable or flower. That said, it can get a little tricky. Some plant species’ seeds have to be cleaned, some fermented, some frozen; Suzanne Ashworth’s Seed to Seed is a good reference. But once you’ve secured them, store the bounty you’ve gathered until you’re ready to use them. Sound like a lot of work? Hook up with like-minded pals at Ohio Valley Seed Swap, held annually on the second Saturday of April (oeffa.org) and organized by Vicky Tewes of Thistlehair Farm.
Your little garden won’t single-handedly save the planet, but every little bit helps. “Plants are healthier if they come from that local genotype,” says Tim Osborne, manager at Shaker Trace Seed Nursery, a local operation that reclaims native prairies using hand-harvested seeds, fighting the good fight against invasive species. Left to their own devices, those tracts would be overrun with non-native honeysuckle and Callery pear trees, which would then push out native bugs and other species. “When you introduce nonnative plants, you interrupt the cycle,” says Osborne. “The sustainability of the ecosystem is broken.”