No Seeds? Seed Lending Library Is Here To Help

April 27, 2020 3:25pm

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The current quarantine has whipped up such a frenzy for gardening, especially food gardening, that seed companies nationwide have been swamped with orders and many have closed or temporarily stopped taking orders. Nurseries are experiencing shortages of supply as well.

If you are looking to grow some fresh vegetables, feed your local pollinators, or have a project for yourself and/or the kids, the cusp of spring is a great time to start, with cool overcast weather and regular rain to help keep new seedlings get a foothold in the soil. However, if you can’t find seeds, the King County Seed Lending Library is offering its resources to its Northwest Seattle area – no membership required.

The seed library, which is run out of locations like the Tool Lending Library at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, says on its web site that it “devised this pilot program to help get our seed supply to neighbors who can use them” since their locations are currently closed. Their free seed bank is replenished with voluntary donations of fresh or saved seed. 

All you need to do is check out the list, send an email to the seed library requesting up to ten packets (you may get some substitutions if necessary), and you’ll be notified when and where to pick them up.

The list includes flowers like alyssum and sunflowers, which are pollinator magnets, and edible calendula, which looks gorgeous in a salad and makes a soothing salve. Veggies range from beets to zucchini, not to mention a host of greens and even a cover crop pea. 

Why not choose a mix of seeds?  Start summer flowers, or cool-loving lettuces, kales, spinach, beets and legumes outside now. Many of those cool crops can also be sown again in August for a fall/winter harvest. Limited outdoor space? Grow lettuce, greens, broccoli, and beans seeded closely in a shallow tray as microgreens – giving you repeat harvests of super-nutritious baby leaves or sprouts.

Save long-season heat-loving crops like tomatoes, cucumber, and squash to start seeds inside under lights for next February or March. For this season, look for started plants at your local nursery, many of whom are doing versions of remote ordering, shopping-by-appointment, and curbside pickup. 

Sky Nursery suspended plant orders as of Sunday (4/26). Ravenna Gardens, City People’s Mercantile (on Sand Point Way) and Swansons Nursery are still taking orders. Many may have seeds as well as plants. Don’t forget your seed-starting mix, pots and potting soil, and fertilizer.

In the fall, you can let a few flowers go to seed and dry them to donate to the seed bank for next year’s crops. Check out the web site’s guide to seed saving on its Resource page.

Thanks to Lincoln High School PTSA’s newsletter for tipping us to this great resource.