Our local public library has just started a seed library of organic, heirloom, non-GMO seeds. I went to a presentation on seed saving and got first picks of the seeds to be offered, along with a number of other people. The presenter was a local gardener who is a member of the Seed Savers Exchange of Decorah, Iowa. She brought some seeds she had saved to share as well. (I got some yellow sheep’s nose peppers from her that I will start and save this year.) She also provided good information, handouts, and a free magazine.
Here’s how the seed library works:
- Each individual is allowed to chose a certain number of packets of seed. (I chose Tolli’s Sweet Italian pepper, Arugula, Ella Kropf lettuce, Golden Sweet pea, and Hillbilly Potato Leaf tomato.)
- Each person’s choices are recorded and kept on file at the library.
- The seeds are grown without chemicals by the individual and saved by them.
- At the end of the gardening season, each person who borrowed seed brings back a portion of what they have saved to refill and expand the seed bank.
I chose some varieties that I have already grown. I had been saving seed but had a crop failure due to drought and was unable to save seed to replace what I had planted, as was the case with my Golden Sweet Peas, a type of flat, edible pod pea. In other cases, I had used up all my seed and needed more. I have never saved tomato seed before–it requires fermentation–but I want to try it this year with Hillbilly Potato Leaf.
I also picked some varieties that were new to me. The peppers and lettuce I chose were interesting for their color or texture in the garden as well as how they would fit into the family menu.
The number of seeds in each packet varies form 10 tomato or pepper seeds to 20 or 30 arugula or lettuce seeds. The idea is to get as a many people possible saving seeds, resulting in the number of seeds returned to the library multiplying exponentially by the end of each growing season. In a perfect season, this would leave the person who borrowed the seed with a personal stash of seeds to plant next season plus a good quantity to put back into the seed library. Lots of people having seed also cushions against the variety disappearing because one source has a crop failure because of insects, drought, or disease.
I’m looking forward to building my own private library of seeds! Begonia