Wednesday, February 25, 2015


I admit it. I am obsessed with seeds. It's been going on for decades. I love to gather seeds, sort seeds, trade seeds, eat seeds, share seeds, buy seeds, photograph seeds, decorate with seeds, save seeds and yes... grow seeds.
A small sample of my seed stash

Apparently, the seed catalog people are well aware of my obsession.

Ordinarily, catalogs are not a welcome sight in our mailbox. Seed catalogs are the exception. For me, they are awesome and inspiring. By February of each year, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to grow in our gardens: new plants, new varieties and the old stand-bys. I haul out my two air tight plastic tubs from their cool, dark storage place. Careful storage can extend the life of many seeds. One tub is filled with vegetable seeds, the other with flower seeds all filed alphabetically in folders. Well, pretty much.

After checking my stash of seeds to see what needs replacing, I order and purchase seed packets from catalogs and local merchants. Sitka has conscientious merchants!    

If you like to save your own seeds from your plants for future use, it is important to understand the source of seeds. The seeds you purchase are:

OPEN-POLLINATED SEEDS - You will see the words OPEN - POLLINATED on the seed package. These seeds are true seeds in the sense that pollination occurred naturally by birds, the wind, insects and the like. The seeds saved from plants started from open-pollinated seeds you purchase will continue on growing the same plants as the original. These seeds will be inclined to adapt to local conditions and climate. 
So, yes! If you like to gather, save and grow your own seeds, then purchase and use open-pollinated seeds.

HEIRLOOM SEEDS - You will see the word HEIRLOOM on the seed package. Heirloom seeds are similar to open-pollinated seeds but have been passed down and protected over generations by individuals, families, communities and the like. 
So, yes! If you like to gather, save and grow your own seeds, then purchase and use heirloom seeds.

HYBRIDIZED SEEDS - People can strengthen or create a preferred trait in a plant by crossing two different plant varieties. You will know this has happened because you will see the word HYBRID and/or F1 after the variety name on the packet. Plants grown from seeds you have saved from your hybridized plants will not be true to the original plant you grew. 
So, no! If you want to gather, save and grow your own seeds, do not use hybridized seeds for this purpose.

Here is one of the big questions, "WHEN SHOULD I START THE MANY DIFFERENT KINDS OF SEEDS I WANT TO GROW?"  After all these years of gardening in Sitka, this is a 'Frequently Asked Question' even by me. Our climate is pretty much incomparable. Sitka is part of a maritime northwest temperate rainforest. Our growing season and weather conditions are inconsistent from year to year... with more rain than most people can imagine! Another important consideration, of course, is how much time your schedule allows.  So, I put together a SEED STARTING TIMELINE to be utilized with great flexibility. Seeds can and should be started sooner or later than the suggested times depending on the conditions presented in any given year. I know. That answer sounds vague and ridiculous.
Now that I am getting old and forgetful, the SEED STARTING TIMELINE also serves me well as a checklist.

I find it handy each year to list any flowers I plan to grow in the left margin of the timeline. I print myself a fresh copy of the timeline each year. 


  1. Nice post! It is those garden catalogs that INSPIRE us, making promises of everything amazing that is to come in the following months. I especially like your idea for storing seeds vertically in folders. I imagine it really helps keep them organized and separated. I also didn't realize that Burpee seeds were still non-GMO. Good to know.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Looks like there is a good selection of seed brands available in several Sitka shops this year. Happy gardening!