Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Organising seeds


Today I spent an hour organising the seed tin. The tin starts every year beautifully ordered and usually ends it in a state of utter disorder. This year as you can see, it isn't too bad - showing just how much time it spent resting on the shelf, untouched, last year .

I am ashamed to admit that many of the packets have been mistreated. Almost all of the flower seeds are spoilt after the tub they were in was left out in the rain. Millions of years of genetic heritage and hundreds of generations of horticultural tradition and I leave them out in the rain to sprout and decay in their packets. These were obviously the first to be culled from the collection. Of the seeds that escaped being left out in the rain many were half open, spilling their contents into a unique seed mix in the bottom of the tin.


Next to go were the out of date seeds. I've previously kept 'expired' seeds for a couple of years past their sow-by date and have had some success germinating them.  This year I have kept a single out of date packet of Purple Calabash tomatoes - a very ugly but delicious tomato that is my all time favourite. I shall try and germinate the five or six seeds that are left and save some of the seed for next year.

Thankfully, 2 packets of flower seeds survived. Firstly, sunflower seeds collected from our biggest sunflower head last year. Secondly:


The seed sachet survived intact even if the sowing and growing information is lost. I love this plant. I bought one the year we moved in, planted it in deep shade (I really had green thumbs back then) and watched it struggle valiantly on for a few months before it succumbed to mildew. I have never seen a plant for sale since and finally invested in the seed last year. The two seedlings I managed to germinate were killed in the slugpocalypse of 2012. I feel I owe it to this pack of seeds to pass on it's genetic line.

This year I have gone back to organising the seed sachets by family followed by earliest sowing date. As first sowings are made, the sachets can be moved to the back of their family until we come full circle next January, or moved forward a month or so ready for a second sowing. Each family currently has it's own tub - all of those Chinese takeaways dishes stretched to full value.

Despite repeated promises to the contrary every single year, I know that I will be buying more seeds. Browsing the catalogue that arrived last week (self sabotage in action - why did I ever open the thing? See how I could never live up to my promise?) I stumbled across a plant that promises to solve a several decade long lifestyle shortcoming (more on that when the seed arrives) - and well, it would be wrong to order just one packet of seed wouldn't it?

We are going to need a bigger tin when the new seeds arrive, but everything is now in order. And so tomorrow the very best bit begins.

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