Author Archives: southsideseeds

Seed purchase sharing added to the blog

Seeds for everybody!

We’ve added a page to our blog to give people a space where they can talk about ordering seed together. While we aspire to a seed network free of a profit motive, we also want to participate in an inclusive community, which means making things easier for everybody by working together. Also, we just don’t have the gadgillion seeds we’d need to meet everyone’s needs!

So, you can link to the “group buys!” page above (or here) and start or continue a conversation about what kinds of seeds you might go in on. As an incentive to get the network going, we’re able to offer a cost match for the first $25 worth of seeds folks go in on, meaning you save money a couple of different ways. We will work out logistics and the specifics of seed orders, as they seem to coalesce, off-blog (most likely via an online group). In the meanwhile, all questions can be directed to southsideseeds@gmail.com and any comments can be posted here.

Have at it!

(The photo above is from the mural “Childhood is Without Prejudice” by Will Walker.)

Advertisements

Seed swapping on the net

The universe of folks swapping seeds and publicizing their local seed swapping efforts online is pretty large. Some, like the Philadelphia Seed Exchange, are simply a great example to us as we get our own efforts off the ground. Many, however, are places where you can get involved in seed exchange beyond our humble efforts.

Mas du Diable is a good example of a site that offers individual seed exchange but is also a super-inspirational place to check out generally. The site features the author’s four-seasons kitchen and seed saving garden in a dramatic landscape in France. The blogroll is definitely worth checking out, and the gardening log is really instructional in terms of its simplicity and usefulness.

"Mas du Diable" from the multitalented blogger Laura Hudson - go to the link on the Mas du Diable site to see more inspiring painting!

Bifurcated Carrots is a treat in a different way. There is also a lot here about the author’s space, but what attracted us was a pretty compelling essay about the need for an online seed network, along with a couple of other features. Like Mas du Diable, the author also swaps seeds via the site, but suggests browsing the archives to get a sense of what is available and to send an email with requests. The next coolest swap-related item on the blog next to the essay is a great list of links to folks who have been inspired by it and become a part of an online network. Check them out!

The iVillage GardenWeb seed exchange is the inspiration for our approach. It’s simplicity seems to us to be the best way to get a whole bunch of people (we hope!) to start swapping seed with one another. There are lots of other trading categories listed on the site and plenty of other things to explore there, so be sure and browse, if you have it to spare.

Bifurcated Carrots takes the idea of seed exchange networking online to an important level; Kokopelli is also inspiring but in a somewhat different way. Their mission is to unite gardeners worldwide to share seeds with folks in Third World countries. It’s a truly worthy mission and a beautiful vision that just scratches the surface of what gardeners around the world could do if we work together.

We’d love to hear from you about websites that have inspired your seed saving and swapping efforts! There’s so much out there that we can undoubtedly learn from each other’s explorations.

Virtual swap added to the blog

We’ve looked at a whole bunch of online seed exchange methods and come up with what we think is the easiest and most swapper-friendly method for trading seed online. You’ll see a new tab above marked “swap here!” that will get you to the online swap page (or, lazybones, just click here). Please restrict comments on that post to swap offers and seed requests.

That’s not old seed – it’s elderseed!

Ken Dunn from the Resource Center stopped by the Op Shop this past week with a bounteous gift that transformed a conversation we were having about some seeds in the seed exchange collection. What Ken brought was a bunch of seeds that have a few years under their belts, especially a whole lot of Burpee’s Fordhook zucchini.

Burpee's Fordhook zucchini for days

This changed a conversation we had been having about a few tomato seed packets we had in the mix that were more than a year or two old. Thanks to Ken’s generous gift, they went from an anomaly to a few of the many seeds in our newly launched elderseed exchange program.

Fordhook zucchini seeds, our featured elderseed

Checking the vitality of seeds you’ve had for a few years is pretty easy to do, and what could be more in keeping with the principals of the Op Shop IV’s urban agriculture ethic than to seek out seed that would otherwise be cast aside and let it flourish, perhaps so that its own seed might contribute to the exchange in the future?

Ken laid out the basics of how to test the seed, and we visited a University of Illinois Extension service page to make sure you had a place to check out details. (It’s the first paragraph under “Planning Tips” at the bottom of the page.)

Basically, you moisten (not soak) a paper towel and line up 10 seeds from the packet you are testing on the towel. Fold the towel in half and keep it in a warm place (like on top of your fridge).

The Fordhook zucchini seeds, ready for testing

Whatever sprouts after a couple of weeks (keep the towel moist with a spray bottle the whole time) is what will grow. Depending on how many sprout, you have a rough percentage of how many of the seeds you have that will germinate.

Namaste

Stop by the South Side Seed Exchange

Chicago gardeners! Getting ready for the growing season? Thinking about what to do with all of those extra seeds in the packets you’ll be buying for this year? Or what to do with all those extra seeds from last year? Then check out the seed exchange at the Op Shop in Hyde Park at 1001 E. 53rd St. We started developing the exchange in March and so far have more than 7,000 seeds and roughly 65 varieties of vegetables and flowers. Join the community of South Siders swapping seed and build the variety of our exchange.

Romano pole beans from Bountiful Gardens

How does it work? First, check out our list of available seed (which will be updated as needed) and stop by with seed of your own. Fill out a simple slip saying what you’re leaving and what you’re taking – and that’s it! As you add to our inventory, you’ll be building a resource that can benefit the whole city while broadening the diversity of what you can plant this year.

And if you’re planning on stopping by, check out the Op Shop website and be sure and come by when one of many performances, public conversations, workshops and other activities are taking place. Op Shop IV also features a collaboration with Connect-the-Lots, a project by Amber Ginsburg and Lia Rousset.

Sprouts aplenty from Connect-the-Lots at the Op Shop

Be sure to email us with any questions or comments at southsideseeds@gmail.com.