Seedybeans Blog

Celebrating the Humble Harvests of High Desert Homesteading

Seedy time

Seed Gathering

Yes folks, it is time to make those seed orders, past time if you ask me, but don’t fret, we still have a few more frosty months, I just get excited about seeds.  One of my truly favorite pleasures is a cold (snowy even better) Saturday morning with a cup of coffee and a pile of colorful seed catalogs almost teaming with life spread before me.  NOTE: You can also go paperless, most seed catalogs I love have an equally adequate website.  That said, Native Seeds, Peaceful Valley, Bountiful Gardens and Fedco are all printed on newsprint ( i.e….fire starter, mulch, worm boxes, just a few other uses of seed catalogs)

What do you have /what do you need?

Flipping through, circling, dreaming of the bounty to come,  I get gitty with it every year and always go over board.  Though it pains me to say, you can have so too many seeds.  Such sacred things shouldn’t go to waste.  Seeds do last many years after their pack date, though viability depends on how and where you store them as well as their DNA of course.  Think cool, dry an dark, which isn’t hard here in New Mexico.  I am sure you have heard stories about beans and corn being found in our very hillsides buried in clay pots, for hundreds of years, and then, yes.. sprouting to life, what a miracle.  Before I buy anything- ever- I go through my old seeds, take inventory, see how they fared the winter, open up the jars and ditch whatever has molded, sprouted, been lost to funny bugs or whatever.  Under the right conditions none of these things should be a problem, but do take note of what you have, buy only what you need, or of course want.  I plant the oldest seeds first, I just plant more seeds to a hole, the older they are.  Some companies, like Johnny’s even print the viability rate on the package, which is helpful, but I say plant what you have, never throw seeds away, though throwing into the garden is ok.

Seeds for Free

If you are connected to a non-profit (that includes schools) seeds are one thing you can get for free.  Many seed companies will donate to your projects, often only asking that you pay shipping.  Seed Savers Exchange has a program called Herman’s Garden  honoring a man who believed in sharing the seeds with all Or our local friends, Seeds of Change also donate seeds, sending a huge variety pack to you, or you can even pick them up at the Santa Fe office to avoid shipping all together I encourage you to ask for donations, seeds are an amazingly simple and symbolic gift.  Every year companies have to get rid of last year seeds and if you provide them with a non-taxable form from your organization, you can give them credit for any donation.  This helps them and you.  It is an easy thing for them to give.

Go local–Many nurseries in town are notoriously generous for supporting school garden projects. Go directly to the closest hardware and greenhouse to your school or organization.  Places that your students, teachers, staff would go to.  Make your own connections, make friends, take field trips with your kids.  Get to know the folks who work there, they are great resources and could potentially respond to invites to your garden projects.  Always offer that their donation can be tax deductable so they can benefit as well.  Send pictures back to them to hang in the store or use for advertising.  You can also add their names to school newsletters, public boards or any other place that community members might see, smile and want to support that business because of their support to you.  Reciprocity and recognition have been very simple yet valuable tools I have found to go a long way and have immediate results.

Another local and cool way to get seeds, is seed exchanges.  Many communities, including Espanola & Dixon host one in the spring.  Anyone want organize one for Santa Fe?  You could organize one at school.  I often make it an assignment to have students find seeds in their families.  Seeds always have stories, being sown in hems of women’s skirts as they traveled across land and sea to future gardens, guarded in clay pots in closets, tenderly watched over for well, 10,000 years.   Seeds are not only symbolically but literally the roots of cultural, providing memory, nourishment and connection to heritage.  The book Seed Folk is a great seed lesson book.  It tell stories of people who hold seeds sacred and tell their cultural stories through them.

My favorite way of getting seeds is of course saving them myself.  When the time comes( fall) I will include a lesson on seed saving, cleaning a storing.

Enjoying your seed gathering. Bless them and dream with them.  They next post will be on seed starting


  Pablo wrote @

Santa Fe has had a seed exchange event. Last year, over 200 people attended an event that was held at Frenchy’s Park. I would be interested in working with you to create a seed exchange! Also, I am presenting at Santa Fe’s first TEDx about restoring the cultural practice of sharing and passing on seeds as a means to foster agricultural diversity on Nov. 3.

  seedybeans wrote @

Great Pablo, Congrats!! Send me the link to you TED talk and I will spread the word, as well as Seed Exchange info, the seedy network is growing!!

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