Seed library: Check out Riddle City Library’s new addition

Published by Kacy Buxton on

Librarian Rita Radford hopes that patrons will feel welcome to use the seed library.
Photo provided by Katelyn Buxton

Seed library: Check out Riddle City Library’s new addition

In order to help gardening enthusiasts and grow the spirit of giving, Riddle City Library has started a new seed library. Seed libraries allow patrons to exchange seeds with each other.

Volunteers at Riddle City Library transformed an old library card catalog into a seed library.
Photo provided by Katelyn Buxton

Patrons will find the seed library located just inside the front door on a table. “Our seed library consists of a re-purposed library card catalog, repainted and ‘gutted’ with the drawers now alphabetized,” says Rita Radford, Riddle’s librarian who has been gardening for many years. The wooden box has three columns of drawers with each column having four drawers.  

Three tips for preserving seed from Librarian Rita Radford.
Graphic created in Canva
Graphic created by Kacy Buxton

Volunteers at the library hope that patrons will feel free to use the new seed library. “Patrons are welcome to find the seeds they’d like, take what they need and put their seeds into a small envelope, label them and put the seed drawers back in for the next patron,” says Radford. The seeds are labeled by their full common names, which helps patrons to be able to find the type that they are looking for. A good seed exchange often labels the color and variety of a plant.

Besides providing this service to the community, Radford hopes to encourage community members to help one another. “We hope to accomplish some good will among our community, sharing with each other and helping each other by contributing seeds. This is also a help to people who can’t afford to purchase seeds from a store. Maybe too, some who have never grown a garden before will be inspired to try it,” Radford says.

Only non-hybrid or heirloom seeds should be saved for planting. Hybrid seeds can result in plants that differ from their parent. Heirloom seeds are “open-pollinated, which means you can save your own seed to replant from year to year,” says Amanda Kimble-Evens on Mother Earth News.

These non-hybrid, heirloom, open-pollinated seeds retain their own characteristics, yet to make sure that the seeds stay pure, they need to pollinate with the same breed. This is further explained by the Seed Savers Exchange: “This means, with a little care and planning, the seeds you produce will be true-to-type, keeping their distinct traits generation after generation as long as they do not cross-pollinate with other varieties of the same species.”

The Riddle City Library hopes that once patrons grow plants with the donated seeds that they will then take the time to return the favor and dry some seeds from the plants they grew to donate back to the library to allow others the same opportunity. “We recommend that people allow a vegetable or herb to over-mature and then scoop out the seeds or collect the flower seeds, let them dry and put them into an envelope, preferably paper, and return them to us for our next growing season,” Radford says.

When keeping seed, always make sure to label and date when you got them.
Photo provided by Rita Radford

The Seed Savers Exchange suggests that beginning seed savers start with crops such as beans, peas, and tomatoes because these will reliably produce seeds and are self-pollinating. Another reason to start with tomatoes is that their seeds are ready when the tomato is ripe.

Radford shared some tips for seed preservation:

  1. Choose mature, full-looking seeds.
  2. Let them dry naturally in the open air.
  3. Package the dry seeds in moisture-proof and specifically labeled envelopes.

Radford explained that not all seeds can be stored the same way. “For some seeds it’s important that they be subjected to freezing or very cold temperatures for a period of time,” says Radford. Seed Savers Exchange has additional tips for drying seeds.

For more information on knowing when seeds are ready to be harvested, visit Seed Savers Exchange. For more information about the seed library, contact Riddle City Library at 541-874-2070 or stop by during their open hours. The library’s hours can be found on their website.

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