By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
What is a seed lending library? In simple terms, a seed library is just how it sounds– it loans seeds to gardeners. Exactly how does a seed lending library work? A seed library works much like a traditional library– but not quite. Keep reading for more specific seed library info, including tips on how to start a seed library in your community.
The benefits of a seed lending library are many: it is a way to have fun, build community with fellow gardeners, and support people who are new to the world of gardening. It also preserves rare, open-pollinated or heirloom seeds and encourages gardeners to save quality seeds that are suitable for your local growing area.
So how does a seed library work? A seed library takes some time and effort to put together, but the way the library works is very simple: gardeners “borrow” seeds from the library at planting time. At the end of the growing season, they save seeds from the plants and return a portion of the seeds to the library.
If you have the funding, you can offer your seed lending library free of charge. Otherwise, you may need to request a small membership fee to cover expenses.
If you’re interested in starting your own, then there are a few things to consider prior to creating seed libraries.
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The beauty of memorial gardens is that there are no rules when it comes to creating this special place. What makes it significant is what it symbolizes and how it makes you feel when you visit it. It can be as small as a single tree in your yard or even a long pathway of flowers leading to a pond. Like any garden, it may depend on what kind of space you have. However, don’t be deterred if you have a small space like an apartment because you can still plant and grow beautiful and meaningful things in a space like a balcony or even indoors by a window.
According to helpguide.org, one of the most important things to keep in mind when healing from a loss is to resist the urge to suppress your feelings and to let yourself ride the waves of grief as they come and go. Since this is a painful task, creating a memorial garden will give you a peaceful place to retreat to when working through these waves of emotion. Even the very act of building and maintaining your garden will help keep the mind focused on something beautiful and symbolic while you deal with your grief in a constructive way. Once your garden is complete, you will always have a quiet place to visit, reflect and remember.
Here are some tips for creating your own memorial garden:
The Heritage Seed Library (HSL) aims to conserve vegetable varieties that are not widely available. We are not a gene bank and all of our collection, once we have enough seed, will become available for our members to grow and enjoy. The collection consists of mainly European varieties, including:
Garden Organic members can add Heritage Seed Library membership for just £18 a year. In addition to the benefits you receive as a Garden Organic member you will also receive the Heritage Seed Library Seed List. The Seed List is sent out annually in December and members have until the end of February to choose up to six varieties. Members joining outside of this period will be sent some seeds with their welcome pack whilst stocks last. The Seed List does vary each year and for 2020 there will be a different selection of varieties.
Please note that due to import restrictions we are unable to send seeds to countries outside the EU. Individuals living outside the EU are welcome to join the Heritage Seed Library to support this valuable work but will be unable to order seeds.
The seed library currently holds approximately 800 accessions of open-pollinated[^1] varieties. These varieties have been donated by HSL members or other members of the public, sourced through past HSL projects such as The Seed Search, or passed to us by seed companies who are no longer maintaining them. Each year, approximately 150 varieties within the collection are chosen for inclusion in the Heritage Seed Library Seed Catalogue. Subscribing HSL members receive the catalogue annually in December, from which they can choose six free packets of seeds until the list 'closes' at the end of February. Members joining after this date will be sent some seeds with their welcome pack while stocks last.
Seed from the chosen varieties is harvested from vegetables grown by Garden Organic's HSL team at Ryton Gardens and by Seed Guardians. These Guardians are HSL members who have decided to take on the extra responsibility of growing seed for us. They make an extremely important and highly valued contribution to our heritage work, supplying approximately half of the seed available for distribution each year. To find out more about the work of Seed Guardians and how you can become one, see Seed Guardians.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a complete beginner, you can enjoy the benefits of growing vegetable varieties from the seed library. By growing HSL seed, you will be:
You can explore the Garden Organic website for tips on growing organically and then get started with our heritage seeds after becoming a member! We also encourage you to save seed from the vegetables you grow for your own use. Advice on how to do this can be found in the Seed Saving Guidelines.
Seed savers often ask the difference between open pollinated seeds and F1 hybrids. Here is a brief description of the two:
Open pollinated These seeds will grow a variety that will breed ‘true to type’ from one generation to the next. The seeds produced will carry their parents’ genetic material and plants grown from them will bear their characteristics.
Pollination can occur by vectors such as insect, wind or by hand. However, sometimes ‘cross pollination’ occurs. This is when pollen is transferred from one variety to another – from bees, for instance, visiting many different blooms. This can cause quite significant variations from the parent plant, particularly in brassicas or squashes. Peas and French beans generally do not cross-pollinate.
It is worth noting that open pollinated varieties are inherently genetically variable, each plant being slightly different from every other plant, even if isolated from the pollen of another variety. This subtle variation enables adaptation. It allows the plant to respond to different growing conditions, and provides an all-important genetic diversity.
F1 hybrid This is a variety deliberately created by crossing two different parent varieties. By combining their genetic material, the breeder creates a seed which inherits particular characteristics from the parent plants. This could be disease resistance, for instance, or exceptional taste, size or colour.
Pollination is done under strictly controlled conditions.
F1 hybrid seeds often show vigour in growth. However, the seeds saved from F1 hybrid plants will not produce a plant with the same characteristics of the parent. The whole breeding process has to be done annually.
The planet is facing a critical time. Two in five plant species are threatened with extinction, with huge implications for the future of all ecosystems.
The Seed Collection at the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) is the most diverse wild plant species genetic resource in the world, with over 2.4 billion seeds representing almost 40,000 different species.
Seed banks are a cost-effective tool for long-term ex-situ (away from their natural habitat) plant conservation. Collections are dried and frozen, preserved for the future.
They provide an insurance policy against the threats plants face in the wild.
At Kew, seeds are collected through global partnerships and field research as part of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) network.
Once stored in the Millennium Seed Bank facility at Wakehurst, they act as resources available for research in finding sustainable solutions to global challenges.
We curate our collections to the highest standard, as high-quality collections maximise longevity in storage and the useability of collections for research, re-introduction and restoration.
Our collections are available for research, plant-breeding, species re-introduction, vegetation restoration, education and display.
Seeds collected through the MSBP are duplicated to the MSB under the Convention for Biological Diversity and Nagoya Protocol. Where partner agreements and seed numbers allow, seeds can be distributed via the Kew Seed List.
Kew was an early leader in the development of seed banking practices first developed for crops and then expanding to wild species.
A straight-forward practice, it helps 90% of seed-bearing plant species survive by drying and then freezing their seeds, so extending their longevity reliably.
We do this in our purpose-built, state of the art facility at Wakehurst.
Once collected and transported to the seed bank, seeds are prepared and dried to 15% equilibrium relative humidity, before storage in deep freeze chambers (-20°C).
The collections are curated to international gene bank standards, at every stage of the process.
These are not always applicable to wild species collections so we used our considerable experience to set global standards across the partnership. These are used across the MSB Partnership to ensure that collections are of optimum quality and form the basis of our training programmes.
Recalcitrant species produce seeds that cannot be dried and therefore cannot be banked using conventional methods.
There is a spectrum of seed storage behaviour and longevity, even within orthodox species, depending on phylogeny and environments (maternal and post-harvest).
Current data suggests that around one in ten species have recalcitrant seeds, but the rate is habitat dependent. In moist tropical forests over half of tree and shrub species could have recalcitrant seeds.
Research is underway to develop novel methods, including scoping out a large-scale cryogenic storage facility, the Kew Cryosphere.
Backup of sub-samples in cryo-storage is routinely used to extend the longevity of short-lived species.
As we move beyond 2020, we are excited to be continuing our seed conservation work. We will be looking at:
Find out how to arrange visit or access the online database. Please note visits to our Collections are for academic researchers only.
Last Updated: October 13, 2020 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Benjamin Hansen. Benjamin Hansen is a Landscape Contractor and the Owner of Artscape Gardens, a boutique landscaping company in Los Angeles, California. With over 12 years of experience, Benjamin specializes in transforming properties into aesthetic, functional, and drought-tolerant oases. Benjamin uses color scheme, dimension, and water conscious spaces to inspire the design and installation of soft scape, hardscape, patios, pathways, irrigation, drainage, fencing, concrete, lighting, and electrical work. Artscape Gardens covers all areas of the C-27 landscape contractor classification.
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Clover is a popular alternative to grass for front and backyard lawns, mostly because clover is affordable, easy to grow, simple to maintain, and drought-resistant. Moreover, clover also attracts pollinating insects like bees, attracts deer, requires no fertilization, grows in poor soil, and requires very little attention and no mowing. Clover can also be seeded over an existing lawn and grows well with grasses, and can be used for a dog run or designated area for pets.  X Expert Source
Want to have some fun while making the world a greener, more environmentally-friendly place? Make exploding balls of seeds that are both fun to throw and an easy way to grow native wildflowers.
1 inch diameter) balls and place cookie sheet or tray with wax paper.
When you are making your seed balls, we recommend you use native wildflower seeds. Native wildflowers are plants that have been a natural part of an ecosystem for long before humans started changing that ecosystem.
The Yellow Sand-verbena (Abronia latifolia) is native to coastal areas on the west coast of North America. Credit: Eric in SF
Humans sometimes mess around with these local plants by removing them or by planting other species of plants that they think might look better. That might not seem like a big deal, but in reality many non-native plants can actually make it much harder for the native plants to survive! These non-native plants can out-compete other plants for resources. Also, they are often not as threatened as native plants are by the plant-eating animals in the area.
The Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata) is native to the eastern United States. Credit: Fabelfroh
But if you make your seed balls with the right seeds, you could be doing the world a lot of good when you explode them onto the ground! Not only can your new plants make an area more beautiful, but also they can help rebuild natural ecosystems and take planet-warming greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.