February 20, 2024 11:45 am

As we approach spring, I, like most gardeners, am dreaming of my garden and planning to start seeds indoors to eventually transplant into beds. Seed catalogues cover my coffee table; with orders placed, I wait in eager anticipation for their arrival.

Seeds are the end result of the life cycle of plants, they allow for the continuation of the species. They are formed by the process of pollination by which pollen is deposited from one flower to another by pollinator insects, birds, animals, and in some cases by the wind. Pollen fertilizes the ovules and seeds take form and mature inside the ovary of the flower.

Seeds are made up of three parts – the embryo which develops to the point of eventual germination, becoming the next generation of plant, the endosperm which is the stored nourishment needed for the seed to mature, and the seed coat which surrounds and protects the seed.

Many seeds are edible, making up a considerable proportion of human and animal diets, notably the cereals, legumes, beans, nuts and spices. When we consume oats, rice, corn, millet, barley, and wheat, we are eating seeds which have been husked and processed to varying degrees. When I grow beans, peas and lentils, some go straight to the kitchen for consumption and others are dried and saved to plant the following spring. 

Snacking seeds such as sesame, flax, chia, pumpkin, and hemp offer significant nutrition in the form of healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Sesame seeds offer more calcium than milk, try sesame butter, aka tahini on your toast, with molasses – yummy!

Some seeds are referred to as spices, they bring flavour to our food and drinks, notably cumin, caraway, cardamon, celery, mustard, fennel, and anise. These same spices are used medicinally; they make yummy teas to settle indigestion; cardamom and anise seeds can be used to treat cough; both go into my homemade cough syrups. Milk thistle is a notable medicinal seed used to protect and stimulate liver function. Milky oatseed offers nourishment and support to the nervous system, helping to restore burn-out.

It is fair to say that two seeds in particular are the near-universal favourites – coffee and cocoa beans. 

Preparations: due to the tough seed coat, seeds need to be crushed and/or soaked to release their medicine. 

Seeds can be prepared as decoctions, (or infusions of volatile oil rich seeds), tinctures, syrups, glycerites, powder, poultice.

Whilst handling seeds, whether they be destined for seed starter trays, or in the kitchen, take a moment to marvel at their journey to reach you; they represent beginnings and endings, symbolizing the cycles of life. Tiny seeds become majestic trees; great things come from humble beginnings.