Days of picking peas by the bagful, getting home and sitting down at the kitchen table and podding them by the bowlful. Blanching them in rolling , boiling water. Quickly draining the peas and plunging them into iced water. And when cooled and … Continue reading
Ever heard of one of these? Well it’s a modern version of swapping some seeds with your neighbour over the garden fence.
Basically you and a few friends, a community group, fellow allotment holders, gardeners, or even internet friends and forums get together and agree to grow and save seeds to swap within the group.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t have to grow amazingly unusual crops, just basic down-to-earth flowers and vegetables.
Inspired isn’t it!
Each person in the group chooses and grows 2 or more open pollinated / heritage / landrace varieties for seed saving. You need to grow and harvest enough seeds to share within the group – something like 6 to 12 beans each, maybe 6 pepper seeds or 8 peas, a pinch of lettuce seeds or a teaspoon of kale. And once you have harvested your seeds, you need to bag them up and distribute them among the group. Some groups have 1 person who acts as a distribution point, and collects the individual seed packets together and then sends them on to the members. While others might meet up over a cup of tea or something stronger and swap their seeds.
Did I mention how inspired I think this is?
I’ve been saving seeds for a couple of years now, prior to that I’d never tried; I went in pretty blind, but oh boy did I learn lots! And yes there have been a few no-shows, some disappointments along the way, but there have been some remarkable successes too. And I’ve learnt so much about how seeds grow and develop and then how to harvest and store the seeds. And all throughout this I’ve been able to try new varieties of vegetables that I hadn’t heard of before or hadn’t thought of to try.
And that’s the best bit – I get to grow lots of different varieties, many of them heritage, and then obviously eat them. It’s no use growing something and saving seeds if you don’t actually like it. And yes some vegetables do better than others. But who knows you may find a firm family favourite that you simply HAVE to grow every year.
So by creating or joining a seed saving circle you get to pass on knowledge, experience, plus rare varieties that the major companies don’t produce, oh and seeds!
And lastly – there is little or no cost involved. A few seeds, some land or pots, some envelopes to store the seeds (you can always make your own), and a stamp or a cup of tea.
With all this seed swapping and saving I started to write my own notes up, there are a few good books out there and some detailed information on the web, but I’m not a biologist so a lot of the science can get lost on me. If you fancy trying to save a few seeds next year, have a look here. There are some basic Do’s and Don’t’s, but it is reasonably simple and logical – besides if I can manage it, anyone can!
I’ve just bagged up and sent my parcels off, I hope that my seeds will be a success, but I have to admit I’m excited to see what I receive in return!.
This is my 200th post, who’d have thought I’d have so much to write about?! And to celebrate I thought I’d return to what I love – gardening.
Inspired? I am :)
Post Script – edited to add links to other seed saving pages and posts -
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Seed Swapping is finally coming to Hastings and St Leonards. Woo Hoo! There’s a whole movement out there of keen gardeners and growers who happily swap and share their vegetable, flower and herb seeds. Some events are huge like the Brighton … Continue reading
I look at the Butter Beans I’ve grown and imagine these are the ones Jack planted for his beanstalk. The joy of September is that the shelling beans are finally ripening and we get to pick and eat them fresh … Continue reading
The results are finally in. From Tom Wagner’s gift of True Potato Seeds (TPS) Howie Mandel back in March I’m now the proud owner of bags of potatoes, here’s some of them. As you can see they are a real mixed … Continue reading
From being planted out in early March; to being greeted by a mass of multi-coloured pea flowers in April and May; then on to the nibbling of fresh pods straight from the plant; to collecting bagfulls in June for eating fresh or freezing for … Continue reading