Thank You for visiting the WeHa Grows Seed Lending Library

Hello! My Name is Jackson Carbone.

I am a Boy Scout in Troop 163 located here in West Hartford. I created this Seed Lending Library for our town as my Eagle Scout Project. Please consider letting some of your plants go to seed and sharing them with others.

OUR MISSION:
The WeHa Grows Seed Library strives to provide seeds to the community while connecting gardeners to one another, to nature and increasing our sense of self-reliance in that we can grow our own food.

A Thank You to our Resources – We would not have been able to do this without them.
A special thank you to our model Richmond Grows Seed Library for making all their materials free and available which were used for the development of this website and pamphlets.

Seed Savers Exchange
Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (BASIL)

And to our seed donors
Seed Savers Exchange
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds

Why Save Seeds?
Humans have been saving seeds for over 12,000 years. However, in our culture much of that knowledge has been lost over the last hundred years, along with significant biodiversity. When you grow and save your own seeds, you

  • develop seed stock that is well suited to our climate
  • save money
  • mitigate our dependence on agro-business

When you participate in the seed library, you create a culture of sharing and abundance.

What are Seeds?
A plant produces seeds in order to reproduce itself.  Just like an egg has to be fertilized to become a new animal, a seed must be pollinated to produce a new plant. Understanding pollination is key to getting seeds to produce the plants you want. Some plants are self-pollinating—the male and female parts are contained within a single flower that fertilizes itself.  Other plants, called cross-pollinators, have separate male and female flowers and their pollen has to get from one flower to another in order for the flowers to be fertilized.

The seeds from families of plants that are self-pollinating are labeled “easy” to save.  The most widely crossing of the cross-pollinators are labeled “advanced” because it takes effort to keep them from crossing with each other.

Types of Seeds
Open-pollinated or heirloom varieties have been grown for so many generations that their physical and genetic qualities are relatively stable. This seed will be “true to type” if saved. In simple terms, you will reap what you sow. 

Hybrid seeds. If a packet has hybrid, F1, or VF written on it, seeds from those plants will not produce plants like the parent plant. They may produce something somewhat or very different, or they may produce nothing at all.

How to use the Library

  1. The first time you use this library please take a blank membership form, fill it in and file it under the first letter of your last name using the A-Z tabs at the back of the binder.
  2. Choose your seeds.
    The seeds you borrow from WeHa Grows are lent to you at no financial cost, and they are priceless. A commitment to growing plants from seeds is a gift to yourself.  We hope you learn much, experience the joy of gardening, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.At harvest time, please take some extra steps to save seeds for others. We ask that a portion of the seeds you save be returned to the seed lending library to keep the library self-sustaining.  The more seeds in the library, the more members of our community can experience the pleasures of growing their own food.Feel free to take seeds from any category, even if you are a beginner seed-saver, but please only take as many seeds as you have space for in your garden.The seeds are arranged alphabetically by general name of the plant. The top drawers are stocked with edible fruits and vegetables seeds that are open-pollinated or heirloom. The next drawers are herbs followed by ornamental flowers. The bottom drawers are any donated hybrid seeds. Feel free to borrow any hybrid seeds, but please do not return any seeds produced from anything grown from hybrid seeds. If a seed packet is sealed, please carefully cut open and remove your seeds and then fold the packet back and seal with tape.Put seeds in the coin envelope provided and label the envelope.
  3. Record your seed choices on your Member’s Seed Record form.  Fill in as much information as you can about the seeds you have chosen. If you decide to grow out some seeds at the end of the season there will be an accurate account of what seeds you grew.
  4. Grow your plants! If you have any questions during the growing season, take a look at the many references listed on the back of the Introduction to Seed Saving brochure. Also there are many online resources that we can help you with it.
  1. Harvest your seeds. Be sure to dry them thoroughly and store them in a cool, dry, dark place until you bring them back to the library.
  1. Donate and Return Seeds. First, read the WeHa Grows Library brochure, How to Save Seeds. Return your seeds to the library in a sealed paper envelope with your name and the plant name, variety, and year of harvest written on it. 

Once you have collected seeds from your easy-to-save crops, set aside some for yourself and some for the library in clearly labeled containers.

Seeds for the library should be placed in envelopes and then labeled with detailed seed information. We have labeled envelopes that you can fill in your seed information on. Please feel free to take envelopes home to collect your harvested seeds and then record the information on the label. Please enter as much information as you can about your seeds. 

Be sure to seal the envelope and fold it over so it can fit in the cabinet. Please file alphabetically by general seed name.

At this time we are accepting commercially packaged hybrid seeds, however please do not return any seeds produced by hybrid plants. Please file hybrid seeds at the bottom of the cabinet and be sure they are indicated as hybrid so others will know.

Also record this information in your Member’s Seed Record. If you are a beginning seed-saver, please only return seeds from the “Easy” category.

For the continued success of the seed library, please try to return more seeds than you borrowed, and only return seeds that you are confident was not cross-pollinated. 

This will keep our drawers well-stocked!

Easiest-to-Save Seeds
The plants in these families are mostly self-pollinating.  The flowers have male and female parts, so pollination occurs within the individual plant, not as a cross between plants.  Seeds are reliably the same as the parent plant.

Asteraceae or Compositae Aster, Daisy, or Sunflower Family: artichoke, cardoon, endive, Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, salsify, shungiku, sunflower.

For Jerusalem artichokes, the tuber is planted.  For others in this family, allow the plants to flower, collect dry seeds. 

Fabaceae or Leguminosae Pea, Bean, Legume or Pulse Family: bean, lentil, pea, peanut, soybean.

Allow beans and peas to dry in their pods on plants before collecting and storing. Peanuts are generally not grown in coastal California.

Solanaceae Nightshade Family: cape gooseberry, eggplant, ground cherry, pepper, potato, tomatillo, tomato.

Allow fruits to fully ripen.  Seeds must be separated from fresh.  Letting tomato pulp ferment in water for a few days is helpful. Seeds should be rinsed and dried thoroughly before being stored.  Potatoes are grown from tubers not seeds.

Easy-to-Save Seeds
These plants are self-sterile, cross-pollinating, or outbreeding.  They will cross with other plants of their species. To save seeds from these plants you must

  • allow only one variety in each species to flower at a time
  • let multiple plants of one variety flower to ensure pollination

In our dense urban environments, some crossing can occur with our neighbors’ plants, but these plants will not cross over great distances.  Many are rarely allowed to flower anyway.

Amaryllidaceae or Alliaceae Lily or Onion Family: chives, garlic, leeks, onions. 

They are biennial, which means they won’t flower until the second year, after winter. Let the seeds dry on the plant. Collect. With bulbing varieties, replant bulb when it sprouts. 

Chenopodiaceae or Amaranthaceae Goosefoot or Amaranth Family: amaranth, beet, chard, lamb’s quarters, orach, quinoa, spinach.

Beet and Chard are the same species, so only let one variety flower at the same time. Spinach is dioecious meaning each plant is either male or female, so let many plants flower at once for pollination. Let the seeds dry on the plant. Collect.

Umbelliferae or Apiaceae Parsley Family: carrot, celery, caraway, chervil, cilantro (coriander), dill, fennel, parsley, parsnip.

Carrot unfortunately will cross with Queen Anne’s Lace, so don’t save carrot seeds if Queen Anne’s Lace grows nearby. Many of this family are biennials, so flowering may not occur until the second year. Let the seeds dry on the plant. Collect.

Advanced Seeds
Most of these vegetables are outbreeding and pollinated by wind or insects. They are commonly found flowering in local neighborhoods, making isolation very difficult. Seeds that require hand pollination, tenting, and other methods to ensure varietal purity are labeled “advanced.” These families will readily cross with unseen nearby plants and may create odd and possibly inedible varieties in one generation.

Brassicaceae  Mustard Family: Asian greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, turnip. 

Exceptions that are easy: Arugula, rutabaga 

Cucurbitaceae Gourd Family: cucumbers, gourds, luffa, melons, pumpkin, summer squash (ex. zucchini), winter squash (ex. acorn)

Exceptions that are easy: Plant uncommon cucurbits like gourds, mixta squash, luffa. Hand pollinate to ensure purity with this family.

Poaceae Grass Family: barley, corn, kamut, millet, oats, sorghum, wheat.

Corn readily crosses with different, unseen varieties. It is unlikely that saved seeds will be like their parents.

Exceptions that are easy: Sorghum is easy to save because it does not cross. All other crops in this family are so uncommon in backyards that they are easy to save.

Plant Families
If you learn the family, genus and species of vegetables, you will also learn their basic seed saving needs and risks. 

Families define the basic form of the flower parts of plants. All plants with the same flower (and reproductive) structure are in the same family. 

Genera (singular: Genus) define more closely related plants. Crosses between genera are rare but can occur.

Species define specific botanically recognized plants with similar fruit, flowers, and leaves. Plants within one species will readily cross with each other.

Cultivars are cultivated varieties that can cross with each other but will not cross with varieties of other species. When we save seeds we usually want to maintain a cultivar or breed a new one.

Example:

Family: Cucurbitaceae  Genus: Cucurbita

Species: Cucurbita pepo  Cultivars: Acorn squash, Warted gourd

Squash and gourd are the same species and can easily cross-pollinate, which might result in an inedible variety. That is why they are labeled “advanced.”

I hope you enjoy using our seed library!