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MeFi Seed Exchange
July 9, 2008 5:52 AM   Subscribe

MeFi Gardeners: Save your Seeds!

My bolting lettuce reminds me that I want to arrange a seed exchange for this winter. If you grow heirloon/open-pollinated (legal) seeds and would like to trade, please harvest and set aside some extra seed this summer. I'll have some unusual beans, lettuces, and hopefully tomatoes to offer and would love to trade. Just a PSA - will post the exchange itself when the growing season's over!
posted by Miko to MetaFilter-Related at 5:52 AM (41 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

So, vegetables only?
posted by Heatwole at 6:13 AM on July 9, 2008

Meat seeds should also be allowed. I've got some Barnevelders with high-yield genes.
posted by Plutor at 6:25 AM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Meat seeds should also be allowed. I've got some Barnevelders with high-yield genes.

Plutor, it's been brought up before and rejected. We are not going to have a MetaSphere dating site, damnit!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:31 AM on July 9, 2008

(I don't really.) I'm a city yokel with a hybrid noob garden. Can I participate in the seed exchange as a mooch? I'm willing to send five crisp American dollars instead of seeds, if that helps cover time and shipping costs.
posted by Plutor at 6:31 AM on July 9, 2008

Let's hope this guy is a Mefite!
posted by hawkeye at 6:32 AM on July 9, 2008

So, vegetables only?
I have some Vegetable Lamb of Tartary about to bud. Are you partial?
posted by tellurian at 7:11 AM on July 9, 2008

tellurian, do you ever listen to Widely Ranging Interests?
posted by Heatwole at 7:24 AM on July 9, 2008

So, vegetables only?

If anybody wants, I have a yard full of World Famous New Berlin Maple seedlings.

I had a lawn covered in maple whirligigs that I didn't clean up this spring and the damn things have started to sprout. No matter how many times I go over them with the lawn mower, the little fuckers keep coming back. I've decided that their indestructibility is the key to my future riches.
posted by quin at 7:29 AM on July 9, 2008

Are you partial?

It would be awesome, but I think we'd better stick to Intra-continental seed exchanges. We don't want any customs or postal folks breathing down our necks or invasive species being spread.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:33 AM on July 9, 2008

It would be awesome, but I think we'd better stick to Intra-continental seed exchanges.

Of course, with that said, I, myself, am thinking that the most interesting thing I've got growing right now that folks might want to dabble in is a Chinese kugua (bitter melon) that's growing like a cucumber on crack in the hot, humid DC summer (while my native cucumbers are looking like burned out crack heads themselves despite my best efforts).
posted by Pollomacho at 7:41 AM on July 9, 2008

Can I participate in the seed exchange as a mooch?

Don't see why not, but I'll have to figure out the particulars later.

I think we'd better stick to Intra-continental seed exchanges

It's possible to trade seeds internationally (after all, about 80% of plants in a standard vegetable garden arrived on my continent from another continent at some point in history). The FDA does not require notification of seed import as long as the seed will be cultivated (not sold as seed). And you can't import anything on the CITES list or the Invasive and Noxious Weeds lists (your state's list or the federal list).

But for United States-ers, the USDA does need to be involved, because they want to know what's arriving here. Here's that explains how you get and use the permit for international trade. It points to this simple page that tells you how you can import up to 50 different packets containing up to 50 seeds each. It also points to this easy-to-use compiled list of all seeds prohibited in the US.

Folks from other lands will need to consult their own agricultural departments before importing. And, stupidly, these things don't run by continent or bioregion but in accordance with national boundaries.

So, kind of a mild pain, but I would go through it if there were something I'd like to grow coming from overseas. Seeing as open-pollinated seeds are collective property and the world's gene bank, it's good to encourage people to grow as many of these varieties as possible.
posted by Miko at 8:09 AM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nobody wants my crappy heirloom tomato seeds.
posted by ND¢ at 8:13 AM on July 9, 2008

I appear to have spilled all of mine.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:21 AM on July 9, 2008

You're right - one of the things you are supposed to do with seed saving is not save seed from the lousier plants, just the best ones.
posted by Miko at 8:22 AM on July 9, 2008

tellurian, do you ever listen to Widely Ranging Interests?
My Oath! Indeed I do [self link].
posted by tellurian at 8:23 AM on July 9, 2008

Except for my cleome (volunteering year after year from unknown provenance), most of my annuals and all of my vegetables come from commercial seed packets or bedding plants. Nothing terribly interesting, but I'm willing to harvest seeds in the interest of the greater good (by which I mean getting some cool new varieties for my own garden). I'm in if this is acceptable. (and the cleome are amazing). I'm on as nax if you want blow-by-blow description of the garden (no pix yet-- laid up with broken ankle, but there will be pix in a couple of weeks)
posted by nax at 8:24 AM on July 9, 2008

Hey, that's a really cool podcast.

Those are nice gardens, nax. Correct me if I'm wrong - I think the problem with saving seed from a lot of commercial annual seeds is that most are hybrids, and the next generation won't come out true to type (and that sometimes the companies have patented the hybrid). Am I wrong?
posted by Miko at 8:41 AM on July 9, 2008

Even before I read anything I AM IN! This is seriously cool. Thanks Miko! I'll come back when I get a second and let y'all know what I'll be able to give.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:49 AM on July 9, 2008

Remember that to save tomato seeds you've got to do a little trickery, rather than just depulping the fruit. Otherwise they'll be hard to germinate.

I'll probably be able to give Cherokee Purple, pink beefsteak, sungold, german queen and maybe brandywine, on the tomato side.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:53 AM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, I've already sown most of my wild oats.
posted by rmless at 9:22 AM on July 9, 2008

Sounds like fun! I'm already planning to save Spain, Green Grape, Lucinda and Black Krim tomatoes and Rond de Nice zucchini. All my other curcubits are probably uselessly cross-pollinated.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:47 AM on July 9, 2008

I'll report in soon on the state of my Boxcar Willie tomatoes. The plants are green and healthy, but the cloudy year has made the fruit grow slooooooowly on them. We'll see, we'll see...
posted by Pollomacho at 9:55 AM on July 9, 2008

I used to save seeds, but now I buy sensi.
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 AM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

klangklangston, you're in the minority, I think. I don't eat the stuff, but my girlfriend prefers watermelons with seeds.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 10:26 AM on July 9, 2008

I might have some seeds, but I mainly wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Pollomacho's "all-crack" analogy comment.
posted by Richat at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2008

I used to save seeds, but now I buy sensi.

I buy my seeds from the Sensi Seed Bank. Gotta love that F1 hybrid vigour!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:28 PM on July 9, 2008

I'm too lazy to garden, but will happily throw some daylily seeds of promiscuous provenance in for the greater interest if non-vegetables are allowed. If not, I'll just continue my guerrilla attempts to prettify the traffic medians here in my town.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:29 PM on July 9, 2008

I decided to start saving seeds this year, and pulled a bunch from my first Black Krim last week. Then I looked up how you are supposed to do it via the interwebs, and I found some nasty "let the tomato rot in a jar and scrape off the fuzz" type directions which seems really complicated/nasty. What are the methods some of you use?
posted by Big_B at 1:08 PM on July 9, 2008

I haven't found that it's really all that necessary to take the extra steps with tomatoes. We just slice the tomato in half and squeeze the pulp onto a brown paper bag. Then we let the bag sit in the air until the pulp dries. The following year, before planting, we just soak them for about half an hour in water to loosen/soften the seed. So far, no problems.
posted by Miko at 1:29 PM on July 9, 2008

Here's a nice simple guide. Really, it's not that hard.
posted by Miko at 1:34 PM on July 9, 2008

Another super-simple how-to.
posted by Miko at 1:38 PM on July 9, 2008

What about root stock? I've got horseradish growing in my garden like weeds. A cut or two from the roots would feed an army in about a month.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:13 PM on July 9, 2008

Actually, I think my m-in law has some nice Chinese veggies growing-- maybe some bakchoy and some winter melon, so I might have something interesting to contribute after all. However, you shame me with all your fabulously interesting plants! Clearly I need to get onto some seed groups!
posted by nax at 3:02 PM on July 9, 2008

I'd be interested in an exchange. I'll have squash, tomatoes and dill at a minimum.

I'd love some writes horseradish It's Raining Florence Henderson. I'd trade you for some rhubarb if you experience freezing temperatures in your area.
posted by Mitheral at 4:07 PM on July 9, 2008

I have some seeds I saved in 2003 and they are still very lively, as I keep them in the freezer. I have several ounces of rocket/arugula if anyone's interested in some. Like, now if you want. It's a fast crop. I just sowed a bunch in a box on my new balcony and they are of course rocketing out of the soil, so I know they are still good. Of course, I'm in Canada, but I have done several seed exchanges over the border before.
posted by Listener at 4:18 PM on July 9, 2008

Another vote for root stock. I'm probably going to be laying down some asparagus next spring, but my wife would flip for horseradish.
posted by Plutor at 4:31 AM on July 10, 2008

Yeah, root stock would be awesome. Plutor, how do you start asparagus? I know it takes a few years but don't know how you plant it.
posted by Miko at 8:18 AM on July 10, 2008

Chinese veggies- that's neat, too!
posted by Miko at 8:19 AM on July 10, 2008

I can give it a try, if this garden holds out. All five tomatoes this year are open-pollinated (Stupice, Black From Tula, Green Grape, Yellow Pear, Chocolate Cherry) though one (Green Grape) is technically a hybrid. The cuke plants are all heirlooms, but they've aborted so many cukes I'm considering calling Operation Rescue to set up a protest. The carrots, peppers, and basil I know are hybrid, so they're out.

As for trading, Seattle is 8a and we rarely see freezes, but we also rarely see summers where the temperatures hold in the 80s for a long period, so growing hot weather crops is almost impossible.

Also, I have a ten gallon pot that's overcrowded with sage and thyme, so I'll be drying that starting next month if anyone wants any.
posted by dw at 8:28 AM on July 10, 2008

Miko: "Yeah, root stock would be awesome. Plutor, how do you start asparagus? I know it takes a few years but don't know how you plant it."

The easy way is to buy one year old crowns (somewhere between bulbs and root balls) and plant them. But yeah, because asparagus harvesting is so traumatic (you're cutting off shoots every day for weeks on end), you should give them somewhere between 1-3 full growing years to establish themselves before you get to enjoy anything.

Supposedly, planting from seeds is an option, but I've heard it's harder.
posted by Plutor at 10:12 AM on July 10, 2008

So far I have a ton of tomatoes getting their seeds saved. Some I bought at the market entirely for this purpose. Rawk. Black Krim, German Johnson, Cherokee Purple, Sungold, and German Queen so far. German queen just gave me an amazing 800 gram specimen. I scooped out the seeds from it and then used the remainders in yet another caprese salad (Life's rough, isn't it?)

I also have one amazing looking cucumber that will make excellent seed. I also forgot before that I have peppers galore that I can easily save. Only problem is that they came in a mixed pack, so I don't know the names of each kind. Purple, yellow, green/red.

Other random thing: cantaloupe, bottle gourds, and radishes that I've been letting develop seed pods for. Awesome.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:32 PM on July 15, 2008

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