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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #274

The Organic Seed Grower by John Navazio, 2012

Reviewed by: Brian Thompson
Review date: 2016-07-01

The Organic Seed Grower cover

If you are already an avid veggie grower, and especially interested in organically grown, open-pollinated varieties, I recommend you read “The Organic Seed Grower” by John Navazio. This is not a beginner’s book, but it will build on the experience you have, especially if you decide to save your own seeds.

This is also one of the best books for learning about the biology of vegetable crops. The encyclopedia section is not in the expected alphabetical order but instead is grouped by families, each with an introduction to the broadly shared characteristics within the family. A detailed natural and cultivated history of each plant is included along with the growth habits and reproduction methods (I didn’t realize that so many of our favorite vegetables are biennials) with the emphasis, as the title suggests, on growing some plants on for seeds.

Navazio writes for a national audience but he is a local writer, living in Port Townsend, Washington. Many of the examples and photographs are from the region, including those of small scale farmers you may meet at local farmers markets. Some advice is impractical for home gardeners (it’s hard to provide a mile of isolation between squash varieties on an urban lot), but reading this book will give you a depth of understanding and greater appreciation of the fascinating plants you are growing for your salads and stir-fry recipes.

Why write a book like this? Navazio sums this up in his introduction: “My hope is that I have been able to deliver this information in a simple enough fashion to be easily understood and used, while at the same time remaining scientifically based...I’ll know that I’ve been successful in this when I see a dog-eared, dusty, and smudged copy of this book on the front seat of a seed farmer’s pickup truck.”

Excerpted from the Summer 2016 Arboretum Bulletin.

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