Seed Stuff

We plan to make this site a resource for seed savers and growers, and will add articles, information and links as we can.

If you have suggestions for content do please email us at Bristolseedswap@gmail.com

Seeds for the Swap

We are looking forward to the 2022 Seed Swap because of the general wierdness of a year of Covid. Because of seed shortages this year we know seed companies will not be able to donate as many seeds as they have in the past.

We would simply LOVE you wonderful people to donate seeds. 

 

HOWEVER please only donate saved seeds if you are confident they will breed true.

Please be aware that most vegetables need human intervention and some planning to produce seeds that will breed true and produce strong plants.

 

If you have never done it before, the very easiest seeds to save are French beans, tomatoes, peas, wildflowers and lettuce because these almost always self pollinate, this means you can save seeds from plants you have grown as normal, nothing extra necessary. 

20190121_142040_edited.jpg

If you have already got into saving seeds, how about getting more adventurous and try trickier crops,  those that need some simple isolation from similar varieties by caging or bagging up flowers - squashes, cucumbers, courgettes, pumpkins, chilies and peppers for instance.

We are happy to have excess seeds you bought or that came free on magazines etc.

There is great info on our Seedy Information Sources with seed websites and further reading

Preparing seeds for donation

Please shell beans and peas, remove seeds from seed heads and clean and dry them before packing.

Seeds that are a year or two out of date are fine if they have been stored in a cool dry place.

Labelling is also important, the seeds that get left behind at the end of the Swap are the ones with no variety names, or missing information on how they were saved.  Once you get into finding out about seeds you realise there are things you need to know about seeds saving - how to avoid  accidental crosses between varieties, how to keep strains strong and how to look after seeds well. This makes people wary of packets with vague labels.

How should I pack seeds?

We would appreciate seed donors cleaning seeds as far as possible and pcaking them in envelopes in the kind of portion a gardener might want.

Whole sunflower heads and a bags of unshelled beans etc make it very time consuming for our volunteers to process and pack and they may end up going to waste.

If you have a lot of seeds to donate it would be helpful for us to have them before the day of the swap. Drop us a line via bristolseedswap@gmail.com and we will see if we can collect them ahead of the event.

 

How should I label seeds?

Please label the envelope of seeds with variety, specific names, colour and year they were harvested if you know it. If you can also give details of how they were saved or where they are from it can allow people to judge if they will breed true.

And, if you have stories about what the plants mean to you - is this your Gran's favourite, did it crop wonderfully for you, does it like the Bristol clay soil? etc etc people love to hear about it.

What not to donate 

Please do not be tempted to bring along seeds taken from fruit or veg you have bought.

It is quite likely to be an F1 Hybrid variety, (even if it is organic). These are productive plants, that are bred to be good for commercial production, mass harvesting and transportation - but whatever their good qualities, they do not breed true to type. Plants grown from their seeds will be an odd and varied bunch, some good, some a waste of space. We want predictable seeds, so no-one wastes time and space, we would hate anyone to be put off growing by bad results.

Even if you know the variety, and it is a heritage or open pollinated one, there is a good chance that it will have crossed with other varieties grown in the area. 

Please do not donate self saved seeds which may have crossed with other varieties, we want seeds from the Bristol Seed Swap to be as trustworthy as bought seeds and we really hope you will be as fascinated as us to learn about how to take on this aspect of gardening.

Questions you need to ask about donating saved seed; (copied from Real Seeds site)

CROSSING

  • Will these plants cross with any others?

  • Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? (Usually bad)

  • How does this happen? (Wind? Insects?)

  • What can I do to control this? Do I need to do anything?

POPULATION

  • Do I need a minimum number to get healthy seed? (e.g. do they breed as group?)

  • Or do the plants live on their own and self-pollinate? (so I can save seed from just a few?)

  • Have I chosen the best plants for seed?

SEED EXTRACTION AND DRYING

  • Do I need to do anything special to the seed ?

  • Is my seed well dried and well labelled?

The answers are different for each vegetable.