A few years back, I was sitting out in my garden in the Springtime feeling incredibly grateful to the plants for all the things they do for me. I used to feel that plants in my garden only existed to fulfill my needs: shade, cover, color, beauty, food. That day I wondered, if my plants could speak, what would they ask of me in return? A home? A place in my heart? Maybe just soil, water, and a bit of sun? A chance to live and start a new generation? To travel the world? Then, last year at work, I came across a surprising article. A seed library! As a long time seed saver (and reluctant librarian), lending seeds at the library struck me as a really good idea. I sent out requests for start up seeds and within a few months, the donations came pouring in. Renee's Garden, High Mowing Organic Seed, Seed Savers Exchange, and Southern Exposure Seed all sent very generous and diverse collections of seed to help begin our local seed library. I decided to make using the seed library an enjoyable and uncomplicated experience so that our patrons wouldn't be intimidated.
Our library is a two drawer file cabinet with vegetables in the top drawer, and herbs and flowers in the bottom. Participation requires a small initial donation of seed. Patrons are then allowed to select whatever they would like to grow with the understanding that some of the seed they save comes back to the library to be available to others.
We provide bead bags and adhesive labels for the seed that goes out. We also provide a free booklet,
and all the books you can carry!
I made up a little brochure that tells how to use the library and a bit about seed saving which you are welcome to copy. (I'd be happy to e mail you the original word document. Then you'd just have to change the library name.) The artwork is from FCIT and is free to use for educational purposes. Our community is delighted with the seed library.
Looking through the files, you will encounter all kinds of things. Here's a bejeweled baggie of mystery sunflowers. The description tells you all you need to know!
Last year's garden was extra fun, knowing that I would finally have someone to share the seed with. Here are a few garden highlights:
|Young peas reaching for the trellis.|
|Red Salad Bowl lettuce flowers|
|Dwarf Grey peas. Such pretty purple flowers! Thanks Mary|
|Provider bush beans|
|Eden's Gem melons|
|Japonica striped corn that would have been beautiful had my bad dog not chewed it up.|
|Mexico Midget tomatoes|
Tomato seed fermentation process:
Squeeze the seed into a glass and add a little water. Then let it mold.
Change the water every few days. When the mold breaks down the gel coating around the seeds, rinse them well and dry on paper towels for a month or so.
Getting the seed nice and dry before storing doesn't take any special supplies. My favorite tools are paper sacks and paper towels.
|Dry melon seed ready to be bagged up.|
Here's the library's portion of seed from my garden so far this year. Hope the next people to grow them enjoy and love them as much as I did...
And still am! This is the first generation of lettuce from the seed I grew this year. I'll keep choosing seed from the best plants each year. As the years go by the plants will adapt to the local climate.
Here are a few of the mothers of next year's seed library contributions:
|Di Cicco broccoli|
|Purple Dragon carrots|
|Rooster Spur pepper|
If you like the idea of having a seed library in your community, I encourage you to talk with your local librarian. A space in a community center, school, or church would work fine too. I'm happy to offer you any help I can. I'm also happy to share seed with anyone who would like some whether you start a seed library or not. I will gratefully accept and disburse any donations you wish to send us as well.
You can contact me at:
My seeds want to be shared. So do yours.