Saving seeds is probably on a lot of our minds as we navigate the effects of Covid 19. Not only has it changed our world , it’s created a whole new population of gardeners and do it yourselfers. Staying at home has people wanting to grow food and this has resulted in seeds being slow to arrive or being rationed to one package of each kind. I can’t fault the seed companies for not being able to keep up as they ordered seeds based on what they usually sell. Unfortunately no one expected everyone to start growing food so seed companies couldn’t keep up with the demand. I guess my question is why are we relying on having to buy all of our seeds? Can we save some ourselves and not be disappointed next winter during seed buying season?
If you’ve followed my blog for awhile you’ll know I’m a seed saver and always have a large blue tote of seeds. This spring I have grown out all my old seeds and haven’t had to buy any. Friends who know me often give me seeds to try and I never say no to free seeds. For this I am thankful as it’s allowed me to share seeds with my community.
If there was ever a time we need to learn how to save our own seed, it’s now. My goal in the garden this year is to save as much seed as I can. As our cool season crops like radishes, lettuce and arugula bolt and go to seed I will collect the seeds and store them for next season. I think saving seed is something all gardeners need to know how to do.
I volunteer at a seed library in White Rock. There are several seed libraries located in the metro Vancouver area. So what is seed library? Its like the regular library. You come and sign up as a member of the seed library so you can take out a certain number of seeds. Where I volunteer we open up once a month and people can take out up to six packages of seed each month. The requirement is that they return some seeds back to the seed library in the fall. There is no cost to join a seed library and the seeds are free. Most seed libraries carry flower, vegetable and herb seeds but that depends on donations of seed and volunteers to keep it running. Seed libraries are a great place to ask for information on gardening. Most volunteers are passionate gardeners as well as seed savers and can be a wealth of information.
During this pandemic our seed library was not able to open at their usual location so they took online orders and had people come to pick them up keeping with social distancing requirements. Last month we put together twenty one orders for seeds and everyone was grateful to get them. So think about it, if each person picked up six packages of seed, thats 126 packages of seed that was given away. Each package is labelled and filled by volunteers. I wish we had a seed library in our community of South Delta and I would love to start one. It takes a community of volunteers to get a seed library running as inventory has to be recorded, seeds stored and open days staffed at the seed library. It also costs money to get up and running as you need a venue, seeds to start with, information on seed saving and signage.
Each winter the Ladner Community Garden holds a Seedy Saturday event where people can come and trade seeds for something else. Will gardeners still be worried about getting seeds next year? Does our seed swap need to change? These are all questions I am thinking about as we plan for next years event. When I talked to other experienced gardeners this week they are already ordering seeds for their 2021 gardens. They don’t want to get stuck waiting for seeds to arrive next spring if the pandemic isn’t over. As we adapt to our changing world there are so many questions. One thing is sure, we will learn how to do things differently and gardeners will continue to trade seeds and grow food and flowers. For within each seed is a ray of hope.
To follow my seed saving tips and journeys in the garden check out my Facebook page at That Bloomin’ Garden.