There’s something about seed circles that, for me, encapsulates just how generous gardeners are. I started my first seed circle in 2014, inspired by the Real Seed Company. They are a great way to swap new and interesting varieties, as well as varieties that you particularly like. Being part of a seed circle can also mean learning new things about the plants you grow – I didn’t really pay any attention saving true seed or issues of cross-pollination before then, I was just grateful my plants grew!
The basics are: each person grows and saves seed from 2 or more open-pollinated varieties of fruit or veg (no flowers, sorry), isolating & hand-pollinating where needed. These should be named varieties only, no F1s, no unnamed crosses, no plants from scrabbling seeds out of supermarket fruits…and preferably not really common varieties we can pick up very cheaply elsewhere.
At the end of the season each of us cleans, dries and packages enough seed for each member of the circle and sends it to the organiser with an SAE. The seeds are shared out and sent back to everyone in the circle in January/February. You get a little of everything, except your own seeds. If there are any spares I either share them out or take them to a seed swap.
Twitter has a really lively community of growers, so I thought a seed circle there could be brilliant.
There are 20 places available.
Before that causes a panic about setting half your garden aside to grow enough for everyone, most fruit and veg produce lots of seed. It means a few tomatoes, a couple of chillies, a lettuce or two, usually 1 squash or courgette, 35ish bean pods, 70ish pea pods – all isolated where need be.
- me – Red Swan Dwarf French Bean, Dobies Purple Beetroot, Szechuan Pepper (needs stratifying).
Just to show you the variety of seeds available, these are the final lists from #SeedCircle16 and #SeedCircle17:
- @finnfrenz – Asparagus kale, Welsh bunching onions, Nigel’s Outdoor chilli
- @YorkshireBell – Rosakrone crown pea, Aurora tomato, Rezha Macedonian chilli pepper
- @ModernVegPlot – Kentucky Wonder Wax climbing bean, Dulce de Espana sweet pepper, purple tomatilloes
- @Chetana0 – Borlotti climbing beans, climbing Pea Beans (Yin Yang), Rouge d’Etamps squash
- @Digginginheels – Uchiki Kuri squash, Delicata squash
- @Joon123 – Lord Leicester pea (tall), Scotland Yellow tomato
- @gardenbarbara – Blue Hubbard squash
- me – Guernsey parsnips, Snowcap climbing beans, Sucrette squash
- @Chentana0 – butternut squash, climbing pea bean
- @cinammonmoth – Blue Hubbard squash, Big Yellow Zebra tomato, Plum Tiger cherry tomato
- @ModernVegPlot – dwarf beans: Hutterite Soup, Pinto, Black Turtle, Cannellini and Pea Bean
- @paulcoster52 – Sweet Aji pepper ‘Dedo de Mocha’, Maskotka tomato.
- @airpotgardener – Spis Bladene kale, Tree Spinach, Nigel’s Outdoor chilli
- @wooleyaphid – coriander
- @finnfrenz – skirret, garlic chives
- @Digginginheels – Turk’s Turban squash, Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkin
- @janeperrone – rocoto tree chilli seeds
- Alan Woodbridge – parsnips
- @gardeningtrials – kiwano, physalis, Glass Gem Corn
- @YorkshireBell – Cuban Flower tomatoes, Viola di Cornetti climbing French Bean
- me – Trepadeira Werner chilli, Kakai squash, Cara la Virgen de la Baneza Leon CFB