A seed library allows you to “check out” seeds with your promise to return some of your saved seeds at season’s end.
Seed libraries are getting to the point where they are becoming commonplace, at least from my point of view. Just a few years ago, they seemed like they were an endangered species, with seed laws making their existence precarious at best. Now with updated state laws, the seed library is coming back with a vengeance.
Earlier this year, I wrote up a post for Mother Earth News about seed libraries. One point I made was that the only way a seed library will survive and thrive is for people to give back. Well, now’s the time for action.
My seed library experience
For example, my neighborhood seed library, the Seed Library of the Kent (Ohio) Free Library) just sent out a request for gardeners to bring in collected seeds.
Here’s a few of their reminders:
We collect vegetable, herb, or flower seeds.
If you had a successful crop using seeds from the Seed Library, we’d like you to bring back at least twice as much seed as you “borrowed.”
Donated seeds don’t have to be from plants you grew from Seed Library seeds! Anything you’d like to donate helps grow the collection.
Review seed saving guidelines to be sure that your seeds will be viable and “true”–for instance, double check whether plants needed to be grown a certain distance away from other varieties in the same family or whether seeds can be harvested from the plant the first year, or are biennial and need to overwinter.
Save and dry your seeds according to recommended practices.
Bring your seeds to the library in a clear plastic bag and be sure to completely fill out a donation form.
Unfortunately for me, my checked out seeds didn’t fair well. I borrowed 4 varieties of beans, yet none survived. Between our drought and hungry rabbits, no beans were produced. I do have other seeds though, including the pictured Jacobs Cattle beans. Turnips, tomatoes, and peppers will round out my donations.
The most important idea to remember about seeds is they are an abundant resource when saved. Our consumer society wants you to believe seeds must purchase them from giant organizations hundreds of miles away. Truth is, one tomato or turnip plant can produce literally thousands of seeds. As a seed saver, you will have so many you won’t know what to do with them all. Why not give some back to the community?