Thankful for Seeds

Being the non-cooking type has its advantages on a day like Thanksgiving.  Other family members were busy baking and broiling but I was settled down at the kitchen table going through my seed donations for the HPS (mid Atlantic) seed exchange.  It’s my first time ever contributing to this type of seed exchange and the sharing part is great, but better yet is the fact that as a donor I get to add a few extra packets on to this year’s wish list!seed saving

I’m sinking deeper and deeper into seed addiction.  Catalogs are nice enough, but for some of the really special things seed exchanges are a great deal, and around here the HPS exchange is a great place to start for hundreds of annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubs and even trees.  An annual membership is $25 and includes meetings and events, but since I live further away I really joined for the seeds.  When the exchange opens in January members can choose 25 packets for something like $15 and it’s kind of like Christmas after Christmas.  Not to rub it in but I’ll be choosing 35 this year with my donor status….. hopefully what I sent in passes muster and isn’t laughed at!

There are several other great seed exchanges.  I’m doing the North American Rock Garden Society’s exchange (as a non-donor) and the basics are the same.  Small fee=many cool seeds.  The NARGS exchange also does a bonus round where you can pick through the leftovers after the first flush of orders are filled and although many selections may be scarce it’s an even better deal.  Just last week I unearthed my haul from last year. NARGS surplus seed All kinds of goodies were re-discovered just in time for fall planting, I think it was something like 20 packets for $7 and I picked out 40.  Who can’t use a few more lily seedlings coming along or a couple packets of winter aconite seed?  NARGS keeps previous lists online, so if you’re curious to see if it’s something you might be interested in, click here.

There are plenty of other places to feed a seed addiction.  Most plant societies run their own exchanges, and in the trenches there are other plant crazy gardeners willing to put in the time, resources, and tedious labor required for collecting and preparing seeds.  Amy has a blog over at Primrose Hill Woodlanders  and is the magic behind the Primrose Society’s annual seed exchange, and if you’ve never checked out Nan Ondra’s blog Hayefield, you really should.  Nan just wrapped up her big seed giveaway, and all told packed and sent out around 1,000 packets of over 100 unique and hard to find varieties to her loyal blog readers.  Just thinking about keeping track of who wants what and all the collecting and cleaning makes my head spin, so I’m happy enough to send my dozen seed varieties in as bulk donations and wait for the list to come out!

Have a great weekend…. and before I go, if you haven’t been tempted by seeds you may be tempted by late season bulb clearances.  Brent and Becky are having their traditional after Thanksgiving clearance sale.  50% off all remaining stock!  My fingers are crossed for a warm spell so I can still plant them in the garden and not pot them all up 🙂

12 comments on “Thankful for Seeds

  1. Pauline says:

    Seed sowing is an exciting time, its wonderful that such a tiny seed can grow into such beautiful gorgeous plants. I’ve just been reading your post about sowing cyclamen seed, I leave it to the ants to spread mine around, they come for the sticky sugary coating, carry the seeds away, clean the coating away and leave the seed to germinate. We now have masses of them in our little woodland, in places I wouldn’t think of putting them, all thanks to the ants!

    • bittster says:

      It really is interesting to learn about all the different tricks plants use to get their seeds around, and it actually does help when it’s time to plant them. I never worry about planting my cyclamen too deep since they seem to be adapted to sprouting from within an anthill, lighter fluffy windborne seeds don’t get covered at all, and it goes on and on. Nature is so intricate.
      Pauline I’m still working through your older blog posts, I love your ditch and the snowdrop and hellebore plantings. I’m already looking forward to spring coming your way (it will be months before anything here thaws out!)

  2. pbmgarden says:

    I admire your dedication to (obsession with) seeds. This seems like a great way to try new plants. Zinnias are my seed-sowing limit, but I have been meaning to get back to Brent and Becky’s. Thanks for the reminder.

    • bittster says:

      I may have ordered a few more bulbs last night 😉 I’m hoping the ground thaws enough between now and then for me to be able to get them in the ground!

  3. I have a seed addiction, too. I had to work on putting them up so we could eat at the dining room table this week!

    • bittster says:

      Ha! It’s nice to know I’m not alone! I thought the little containers filled with the promise of spring were the best centerpiece possible, it was a surprise to learn that not everyone shares my view 🙂

  4. Annette says:

    Seeds can be addictive – I can only confirm this, especially when I have a look into the drawer where I keep them. All too often I get carried away, and then reality strikes because at the end of the day they need to be sown and in appropriate conditions too. It’s then that I realize my greenhouse is far too small and all the windowsills have already been taken. 😉

    • bittster says:

      As you can see I also get carried away! I’ve been trying to get more seeds into the ground every year rather than let them fade away in an envelope. My solution is to ignore most better advice and just sow them in pots in the fall and winter and let nature work it’s magic. For the majority of seed this works, it’s only for my seed treasures that I research and pamper and set aside windowsill space. My windowsill space is also in short supply and a greenhouse has yet to be built, fortunately my careless seed starting gives me more than enough plants to worry over 🙂

  5. Amy Olmsted says:

    Oh you are in deep…really deep! Once you start collecting and donating those seeds there’s no going back.
    Every year it gets worse for me and I work in a nursery where there are plants calling out to me every day!
    Good luck with the sowing and perhaps I’ll be filling an order of Primula seed for you soon!

  6. bittster says:

    Ha ha, I always find seed heads and chaff in my pockets and wonder just what was it that I stole from the side of the path! I want to see what new colors and forms come from all the seeds, and it’s the worst thing because I might only have room for two or three seedlings, instead I make room for all of them! I keep telling myself I’ll keep the best and pass on the rest….. but then even more come along;)

  7. I really need to use more seeds, it would surely save me an enormous amount of money. I gravitate to plants, though, because I’m so damn impatient.

    • bittster says:

      I gravitate to seeds because I’m so damn cheap! I like to think of it as frugal though, and to get some kind of range in color and form seeds are the best bet.
      I’m impatient too but once you fill the pipeline with a couple years of seedlings coming along you’ll have more than enough immediate gratification as things mature and come into bloom. The best time to start is yesterday 😉

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