In the late 1980's I did my first story on heirloom seeds for the Medina County Gazette. Bob Janca was my source and when we finished, he gave me a little packet of 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' bean seeds.
It's been my favorite pole bean ever since. The vines are eight feet tall producing lots of green bean pods which turn purple as they mature. The bean has a unique, nutty flavor which I love.
In this week's Digging with Doug video, I resurrected all my seeds from the basement in an effort to organize them for planting and thin the herd so to speak.
What I found was thousands of saved 'Trail of Tears' seeds. The bean has a sad history as the Cherokee were evicted from the east coast in the 1800's and then sent on a forced death march towards the west. They took their bean with them and over the years shared it with others.
It was wonderful to see all the old seeds I had saved, traded for and was given by other gardeners. It was also cathartic to get them organized. The seeds were removed from the 25 or so glass jars they had been stored in and separated into plastic bags. They were organized by the best time to plant them. Direct sowed vegetables, indoor sowed flowers ect.
I even found a jar of scarlet runner beans I saved with my son when he was five, he's almost 30 years old now!
The most important thing about saving seeds is to keep them dry. Once a seed gets wet and dries out again, it's usually useless. The video shows how I test old seeds to see if they are viable.
I'm looking forward to filling my unheated greenhouse with the seed treasures I've found.