This week I’ve been sorting my seeds out. This includes the various seed packets that I have accumulated over the years, and also seeds that I have saved from some interesting plants around the holding.
I no longer grow much in the way of annual vegetables, so have put to one side quite a few seed packets that are in date (or not much out of date) to swap or give away. I’ll put a list at the end of this post for anyone that may be interested. There are a few flower seed packets as well that I have accumulated somehow – probably on the front of gardening magazines from the shop, that haven’t sold.
I also have quite a few seed packets that are so old that I doubt that there will be a very good germination rate. Sometimes these can surprise (I had good germination from rather old courgette seed this year) but more often even rather new seed fails, and I’m sure it’s not always me (i.e. dry compost, too cold etc.). The oldest seed I have is some chinese bean sprouts or mung beans that were supposed to be sown by 2001! I always meant to get round to that stir fry, but I just can’t think three days ahead when it comes to cooking! I also have a pack of “rose de berne” tomato seed, and some late purple sprouting broccoli to be sown by 2004. These and others that are less ancient, but still well out of date I have put to be used as a green manure / ground cover next spring. Probably most won’t germinate, but where I did the same around my blackcurrant bushes in the fruit area this year, I have some recognisable cabbages, rocket (going to seed, because I don’t like the taste), and leaf beet. These have grown amongst the existing seed bank of nettles, docken, chickweed and other ‘weeds’ that have been edited as I feel like. Before I mix the seed packs together, I will give my friend who is coming for a visit next week, a chance to grab any that she fancies (along with the newer seed for swaps). Actually, I gather the technique for sowing a mixture of plants is to sow each seed separately, then you get a more even distribution of each seed.
I have managed to save quite a few seeds from various plants this year. Mainly from local native plants which I hope will also prove desirable as swaps. This year I have tried something slightly different. As well as drying as best I could in a warmish dry place for a few days (usually on a windowsill, although I gather too hot and light is not a good idea), I have sealed the dry seeds in a foil ziplock packet together with some rice grains that have been oven dried. The rice is supposed to act as a non toxic dessicant (like silica gel – which is now considered a baddie I gather) which will hopefully give the seeds a longer shelf life. The advantage of the foil bags is that they keep the seeds dark as well as dry. The disadvantage is that you can’t see the contents without opening the bag. I’ve run out of the foil bags now anyway, so the some of my saved seeds will go into normal polythene ziplock bags.
I’ve crossed out the seed which has already been spoken for.
Seed for swaps:
Various commercial packets. Some opened. I haven’t put details against them, since with the power of the internet, you should be able to find out what the makers say:
Asparagus “argenteuil early”
Asparagus “connovers collossal”
Beta vulgaris – “sea beet”. British native, seems to grow OK for me, but I think I have enough seedlings now Carrot “nantes 5”
Radish “kulata cema”
Rocket “wild rocket”
Lettuce “little gem”
Swiss chard “bright lights” – pretty colours, but I get loads of self sown perpetual spinach, and I don’t like the stems of chard.
Tomatillo – I wasn’t that keen on them to be honest, and I don’t think I’ll get round to trying them before the seed gets old again
Physalis peruviana: cape gooseberry “golden berry” I seem to have two packs, so one spare.
Coriander “cilantro” for leaf production
Kale “curly scarlet”
Kale “nero di toscana”
Broccoli “autumn green calabrese”
Mustard spinach “komatsuna tarasan”
Cauliflower “all the year round”
Cauliflower “romanesco natalino”
Saved seed from Skye:
Plain leaved parsley – went to seed in polytunnel.
Leaf beet / perpetual spinach – sows itself everywhere now!
Good king henry – british native perennial. I only have one plant, but it appear to have set seed. Now it is established it appears to be thriving on neglect – wet, windy, acid soil. I love it!
Hyacintha non scripta – british bluebell. Native perennial – seed from the tree field.
Myrrhis odorata – sweet cicely. Lovely anise scented foliage perennial.
Conopodium majus – pignut. Native forage food – grows happily here in grass like a miniature cow parsley.
Rumex acetosa subsp. acetosa – common sorrel. Native forage food, acid refreshing leaves. Beware can be a nuisance weed, but I love it. Seed gathered from the holding.
Lathyrus pratensis – meadow vetchling. Yellow flowered perennial vetch. Seed gathered from the holding.
Vicia cracca – tufted vetch. Vetch with plumes of blue flowers. Seed gathered from the holding.
Lathyrus linifolius – heath pea see previous post here. Seed gathered from the holding.
Rubus fructicosus – bramble: polytunnel blackberry. I don’t know what variety this is. Probably a seedling off a Solihull plant, but it appears to be an early fruiter since it also will crop outside in a good year. Seed may not come true, but there is no other bramble close, so it must be a self cross. Prickly and vigorous and delicious!
Stellaria media – chickweed. We eat it raw in salads, or sometimes wilted as a hot vegetable. It is often quite large and lush in leaf, I’m not sure whether this is unusual, but if you fancy some weed seeds let me know.
You can email me at nancy at p6resthome dot co dot uk. First come first served, no guarantees, but I’ve done my best at identification and cleaning. I’ll try and update this list as the seed goes. UK enquiries only at this stage (unless you have some astragalus crassicarpus – ground plum seeds for my perennial poytunnel project, in which case we might come to an agreement…).