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ECU Seed Swap

Why Save Seeds?

As part of the ECU Seed Swap, we encourage our growers to let some of their bounty go to seed at the end of the growing season so that they can harvest and return some of the seeds for the next year's gardeners. Pick up some empty Seed Swap envelopes to use at the end of the season to collect your seeds, and fill in the information indicated on the packet for future gardeners:

Plant Name - the name of the plant, to your best knowledge
Seed Source - where/who did these seeds come from
Harvest Location - where were the seeds harvested
Year - what year were the seeds harvested
Notes - any advice you might give to the next gardener about specific growing conditions, yields, light requirements, etc. You can write additional notes on the back of the envelope if necessary.

We will be accepting seed donations in the library on an ongoing basis.

a yellow ECU SEED SWAP envelope with six beans

The Student Climate Action Network and Emily Carr University Library are passionate about seed saving. It is a relatively accessible way to reconnect with plants, the land, self reliance and to protect biodiversity. There are so many reasons to save seeds and to plant them, to share them and to build community around seed sharing. Have a look at this list of 40 reasons why to save seeds:  http://https://blog.seedsavers.org/blog/40-reasons-to-save-seeds

Dried poppy seeds
A huge sunflower
Plants hang to dry inside a closet
A garden full of plants ready to go to seed

Harvesting Seeds

There are a few ways to harvest seeds. Some plants provide seeds in easy to access seed pods that provide a perfect ripening and drying environment. These are called "dry fruited seeds".  Seeds can be easily harvested at the end of the growing season from dried pods and the seeds are best left to mature and dry on the plant outside.

Many vegetables like lettuce and herbs will "go to seed" at the end of their lifespan. This is a great way to attract pollinators to the garden. Plants like kale and lettuce have wonderful small flowers that many pollinators enjoy. Leave a few of your plants unharvested and enjoy their beauty throughout their full lifespan, from seed to seed. Some seeds, like the ones that are inside tomatoes, require a bit more work to harvest.  These are called "wet fruited". These often need to ferment or fully ripen within the fruit. It's a bit more tricky but also totally doable! Have a look at our resources for guidance. This guide from Salt Spring Seeds has an in-depth look at the specific of seed harvesting methods for best results.

Remember to give seeds additional time to dry once you bring them inside, before sealing in an airtight container (see below).  It's a great idea to leave some seeds unharvested so birds can feast on these nutritious treats.

 

Saving Seeds

Dry your seeds in the open air on trays or screens, ideally indoors. Air circulation helps to speed up drying, so having a fan running nearby (but not blowing directly on the seeds) will help. Seeds may die if they get too hot, so don’t dry your seeds in direct sunlight, the oven, or too close to any other heat source. The seeds should feel dry to the touch within 1 to 3 days in the open air.

Once they are dry to the touch, move your seeds to well-labelled paper envelopes to allow them to breathe and continue to dry further. We will have a supply of empty ECU SEED SWAP envelopes available to save and share seeds. Let the seeds breathe in your paper envelopes for a couple months before moving the envelopes to a sealed container, ideally a glass jar. They will go mouldy if you seal them up too early, so be cautious. If you are concerned about humidity, you can also include some silica gel packets in your jars to extract additional moisture.

Store your seeds long-term in a dark, cool, and dry place. A dry environment is the most important factor in seed survival, so ensure your storage space is as dry as possible. If you are keeping your seeds in the fridge, make sure that the container is fully sealed.
Bring any seeds you would like to swap to ECU once they are fully dried!

five ECU SEED SWAP envelopes

 library@ecuad.ca       604-844-3840        520 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver, BC