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Seed junkie

January 30, 2010

I must confess I am a seed junkie.  It’s hereditary too, my mom was one.  Seeds in pockets, on the counter, in jars or sacks and if I can’t find a platter I’m looking for, I have to look in the bay window to see if said platter is pulling double duty as a seed dryer.

This year though in the vein of frugality, I have decided to weed out my seed collection.  This is hard for me, I am a planner and a worrier.  What if… is always looming in my mind.


It’s easy to drool over all the seed catalogs that come my way, and for the most part I am immune, but this year I vowed not to spend any money on seeds I know most likely won’t make it to the garden.  I can’t shake the feeling that I need to really concentrate on a bare bones garden this year.  I feel an urgency to quit experimenting so much, and just produce.  I have already decided to cut the garden size down this year, so I will not have much wiggle room.

With that in mind I sat down this week with my garden notes from last year, and went through my seeds.  Poor producers, old seeds – out!   Some varieties don’t perform well because of poor seed saving practices, so if a seed catalog mentions that, I make a note of it and get rid of that seed.

I don’t always feel the need to purge, so when I do, I have learned to take advantage of that and get something done!

41 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2010 8:20 am

    Alas, I’ve been pouring through the seed catalogs again (it’s a disease) simply because I’m not happy with a few of my old favorites anymore and need to try something new. I do have most of my old standby’s in storage though. I admire your good habits!

  2. January 30, 2010 8:48 am

    If your going to toss some of you collection away, I would gladly pay for postage to take your leftovers. I am moving to a new house next month, and need all the help I can get to start a new garden. Anything you do not need will help.

    I enjoy your blog, and It has been helpful in my own gardening adventures. Thanks for sharing!

    • January 30, 2010 9:24 am

      toaster8o2, I already made arrangements with a science teacher friend to take my overflow for her class garden projects. She actually spurred me on to really put a fine tooth comb to my seeds, since she was doing the same 🙂

  3. January 30, 2010 8:48 am

    I was so determined not to order anything I didn’t “need” this year. But then as long as I was ordering onion starts and potato seed you may as well put a few seed packets in there, right? 😉 I was restrained but not nearly as restrained as I planned…

    • January 30, 2010 9:25 am

      Laura, I was pretty good when I ordered my seed potatoes and onions, but that was in December. Now I feel an urge to try some new peppers… sigh.

  4. January 30, 2010 8:51 am

    Boy, I hear you about taking advantage of that urge to purge when it comes! Accumulating stuff “for later use” is a tough one to deal with… or at least, finding the right balance is.

    A few years ago one of my gardening girlfriends and I used to call the onslaught of winter seed and plant magazines our “garden porn.” Given the amount of obsession and drooling we did (I still do!) over a comely shrub or tasty-looking veggie it was the right word.

    • January 30, 2010 9:26 am

      Hayden, garden porn for sure!

    • January 30, 2010 10:40 am

      About garden porn, I got the new Baker Creek catalog – amazingly attractive, ranks up there with coffee table books. The photos are gorgeous, the whole thing is classy. And the varieties are amazing. Learn about Asian beans, purple tomatoes, oh, my! With cues for spring, summer, fall, or anytime planting, an easy to moderate to difficult scale for getting the plant growing, and some are certified organic. I think the web site is RareSeeds.com.
      http://rareseeds.com/catalog-requests/

      Then there are the catalogs that help lay out the garden – this plant does better with an adjacent row of something similar, that hill needs four feet around, these should be planted 1/2 inch apart and thinned to 2 inches when three leaves form, and that variety does well in Zone 7. *sigh*

      And I am still looking at snow-covered, old growth prairie grass stubble. Well, it would be stubble if I had cut it last year. . .

  5. January 30, 2010 9:08 am

    Um, for the reasonably labeled seeds, had you considered offering them on eBay, or as a swap with someone interested, or perhaps even a giveaway? Lots of work, I know, deciding which don’t perform because of the region, and guessing about where they might do better.

    And some folk might be interested in some collecting different seed packets. You don’t have to care, on discards, if they plant the seeds, discard them, or leave them to . . . age. Figure out how many you want to put in an envelope (to keep post costs down), and offer as a group, well labeled, on ebay. Some should sell!

    Enjoy!

    • January 30, 2010 9:27 am

      Brad K., good ideas – but see comment above, I gave them to a teacher to use with her garden class.

  6. January 30, 2010 9:25 am

    As a new gardener I’m having a very hard time with this. The seed catalogs are so seductive… gardner’s porn, I suppose. It is difficult to find out what you need to know about a variety, especially when you are still learning what it is you need know! Its hard to find out what is relevant to my climate. If something doesn’t grow well, is it because it wasn’t going to grown here in North Texas no matter who tried it or because I’m still learning and screwed something up? Or did I do everything right, choosing the right variety and growing it correctly but just lost out to bad weather at the wrong time?
    It is definitely an adventure. A huge learning curve and each season improves. I’m grateful my family doesn’t depend on my garden yet, but I really wish we _could_!

    Your griping the other day about how difficult a “new” garden can be and finding that you were referring to a plot you’ve worked for 15 years set me to literally rolling on the floor… in laughter AND in tears.

    • January 30, 2010 9:38 am

      Serendippity, now I’m laughing! But don’t worry I’ve been gardening so long I forget something I learned long ago. Sometimes you have to really analyze over a period of years just to find out what is going wrong or right. For varieties that do well in your area, check out local CSA’s and farmers markets. They are depending on their crops, and will know what does well – and they are usually eager to share info.

      And have patience – it will come 🙂

  7. January 30, 2010 9:33 am

    I have issues with garden porn. There are always far more seeds than I can plant, but I just call it insurance. This year I go quite a few new to me varieties. I feel like a junky, needing to get my garden fix. “its just a tomato, I can quit whenever I want”

    • January 30, 2010 9:42 am

      The Mom, sigh that is what I tell myself too about my fabric stash! And my Fiestaware, and …

      You gotta admit though that taste testing about 6 different kinds of tomatoes on a warm, summer afternoon is like porn too!

      • January 30, 2010 9:48 am

        Yeah, I have issues with yarn and kitchen items. I figure there are worse things for me to be addicted to. And yes, all those tomatoes on a warm summer afternoon, are better than porn.

  8. January 30, 2010 9:39 am

    Unfortunately, I found the lid to my seed container had come off and the container had water in the bottom. Not sure how it happened, but I think one of my kids played a part in it. This is my first year to order on-line and having to start over entirely makes all of the ‘extras’ so very tempting! LOL…porn for gardeners…too true!

  9. January 30, 2010 10:28 am

    Now that I’m starting a garden from the ground up (with a lot of help/donations/and a Fairy Gardenmother) I’m getting in more seeds than I think I’ve ever owned, seriously. I’m actually quite frugal with seeds and haven’t really had a huge “stash” to speak of, but then I’ve tended to grow in containers or whatever I have lying about (I grew a tomato in an old nappy bucket one year). This year I’ve a raised bed and so I’m having to think carefully where it’s going, but I’ve got loads of donating flower seeds which I can’t wait to start off in pots for putting out during the year. Nowhere near your levels of “fix” but it feels like I’ve hit the jackpot.

  10. January 30, 2010 10:54 am

    Ooo, garden porn….. Nothing better when it’s 5 degrees outside -well, almost nothing better 😉
    I’m trying to stick to the basics this year and use from my seed stash. My purchases this year have been mostly herbs since we’re putting in the herb garden this year. But just one more tomato won’t hurt, right?

    • January 30, 2010 11:13 pm

      Judy, yeah that is what I’m doing too – I am only going to try a few new pepper varieties and try to use up my stash. 😉

      I don’t know what is worse, your cold weather or our warm weather that feels like spring – even though it is still January… sigh.

  11. Otto Carr from Copperhead Road permalink
    January 30, 2010 2:31 pm

    Find any other interesting stuff while you were digging around up there? =)

  12. January 30, 2010 2:40 pm

    How cool that you’re giving your old seeds to a school class. *So* cool!

    I’m getting ready to order seeds right now. I gave my husband veto power to keep my order in check, but he abused it, so I took it back.

  13. nicole permalink
    January 30, 2010 3:27 pm

    Why on earth would you buy so many seeds in the first place?

    • January 30, 2010 11:16 pm

      Nicole, actually a lot of those seeds are saved seeds from here, but I agree it looks bad doesn’t it?

    • January 31, 2010 6:15 am

      Nicole,

      Well, you know. A few seeds here, a few there, and pretty soon you have visions of a delightful harvest – and a growing horde of seeds. Besides, the packets (and dreams) keep for many years, even if the seeds don’t do as well after the first few . . .

      I am thinking I need to date each packet when I receive it, just in case. A decade from now I might find myself thinking, “Well, you know 2010 *was* a pretty good year for those carrots . . .” lol!

      Blessed be!

      • January 31, 2010 6:42 am

        Brad K, I’ll add another tip or two – commercial seed packets should have a date, sometimes it is when the seed was processed, but many companies have a “packed for” year date.

        I always write a sowing date on my packets when I plant. It corresponds with my hen scratching on my garden plan/notebook. It help me to know if a variety germinates well, continues to perform etc.

  14. January 30, 2010 8:20 pm

    Just curious, why are you cutting back on gardening this year?

    • January 30, 2010 11:27 pm

      Jo, I had expanded the garden spaces to a 1/2 acre. But I was do so much experimenting with varieties for seed saving purposes. Last summer alone I grew 12 different types of cabbage for fall planting & even though some ended up on the black list, it still took an enormous amount of garden space. I’m only cutting one 10,000 sf garden in half – so I’ll fallow it and build the fertility in that spot. I’ll probably end up with about 18,000 sf. That should give me enough for the milk cows’ root crops and all our needs plus seed saving. I don’t think I will have any less work, just different work.

  15. January 30, 2010 9:18 pm

    ROFL — and I thought I was bad!

  16. January 31, 2010 8:22 am

    wow, you are a seed junkie.

  17. Sincerely, Emily permalink
    January 31, 2010 8:43 am

    Hi – Jo beat me to my questions. so you will still be planting as much as you need in root crops for your cow and then what you need for yourself/family, just “trying” to cut back on all the experimenting.

    I am just starting out and like Serendippity in N. TX I will be experimenting to see what grows in my neck of the woods and when the right time is to plant it. I will be listening to what others in my neighborhood plant with years of experience under the gardening belts and hope to make it work for me.

    I enjoy reading your blog and all the information you share. Thank you for the time you put into it. I am not sure how you have that time with everything you have going on. Thanks. Emily in So. TX

    • January 31, 2010 9:24 am

      Sincerely, Emily, yes that’s right, it creates a lot of waste to do home trials. Mostly just in the record-keeping. Of course, the stock are happy to eat the spoils – but I am trying to pare my gardening down to a more self-sufficient, (read boring too most) subsistence type garden. You know the worry wart thing… .

      Nothing wrong with experimenting, it is second nature to gardeners. If eating goes out of style I can always revert back to my flower heavy garden, or even better yet, the ground can go back to pasture.

      As for blogging time, as long as I don’t do a post with lots of links, it’s all in my head just oozing out. And my sewing has taken a back seat for now. I learned along time ago to not stitch when I didn’t feel like it 🙂

      Thanks for your kind comment!

  18. February 1, 2010 10:25 am

    I love seeing your seeds! Now that we have moved out of the city I can have a huge garden this year. I think I will quadruple what I had last year. I am so excited and have been pouring over the one seed catalog that survived the move. Sadly I think someone recycled all the others I had. 😦 I am ordering from a local nursery (well kind of local in OR) and have had to weed down my list 3 times so far! Its still at 3 pages so I think I need to redo it again. lol

  19. February 2, 2010 1:44 pm

    LOL! We are so much alike! I, too, am a seed junkie! I have seeds everywhere, in pockets, in my purse, always around drying on something. Seeds of all kinds. I trade for seeds from all over the world. This year I cut down on them and only traded for what I was sure I would actually plant and still probably have some that will never make it to the garden.

    Many of my seeds are for flowers, more than half of them and I still love dahlias. I am enlarging my veggies gardens and including some rare berries and squash. I may get to the point where the flowers take a back seat. I was sad for the dahlias you left in the ground.

    I like your blog.

  20. February 5, 2010 11:37 pm

    And I thought my mother-in-law had a seed stash! That photo is both amazing and organized. My wife and I are also at the new gardener stage, although we both grew up with parents that gardened. Last year’s garden was a mixed bag of successes and failures, and our seed saving was limited to beans. I hope to increase the successes this year, partly by limiting the number of different varieties we grow as well.

    That looks like a Territorial Seed Company packet in the top bin. They are based in Cottage Grove, OR, about 20 miles from us. Local seed companies are nice for variety selection too, especially if they run trials in your area.

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