This is the "Seed Starting & Seed Saving" page of the "Common Soil Seed Library" guide.
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Common Soil Seed Library   Tags: farmers_markets, farms, food, gardening, green, seed library  

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Seed Starting & Seed Saving Print Page

Staff Picks Reading List

Sow it, seed it, plant it, grow it!
Here are resources to help.
Be sure to check out our
Common Soil Seed Library
online or in person!


Common Soil Class Content


Common Soil Seed Library Takes Root at Benson Branch

A seed library is exactly what its name implies – a place where gardeners of all experience levels can check out seeds to grow. Common Soil, along with a variety of programs, workshops and resources to help get you started, is based at Benson Branch, 6015 Binney St.

Common Soil strives to provide a space where local gardeners, farmers and library patrons can share open-pollinated seeds, as well as develop awareness and gain information about gardening and seed saving.

“It’s important to welcome the practice of seed sharing with our community for the many benefits that come with it,” said Rachel Steiner, Benson Branch manager. “We hope that the seed library will help create a culture of sharing and abundance.”

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How to Grow from Common Soil Seeds

Here is a comprehensive .pdf about how to grow each of the variety of seeds Common Soil offers. Almost all have links to valid websites with more indepth information. This .pdf is downloadable, but is updated often and may not reflect the previous documents.


Learn about Seeds - Classes at OPL

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Critical Reads

Cover Art
Seed to Seed - Suzanne Ashworth
This is a complete seed saving guide that describes specific techniques for saving the seeds of 160 different vegetables. 80 photos

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The Seed Underground - Janisse Ray
A Cross the Country, a Renaissance of Local-Food, Local-Farming, and place-based culinary traditions is taking hold. And yet something small, critically important, and profoundly at risk is being overlooked in this local-food resurgence: seeds. We are losing our seeds. Of the thousands of seed varieties available at the turn of the 20th century, 94 percent have been lost-forever.

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The Resilient Gardener - Carol Deppe
In this book you'll learn how to: garden in a time of climate change and unpredictable weather; grow, use, and store more of your staple crops; save your own seeds and seed potatoes; and keep a flock of ducks and chickens whilst integrating them into your gardening activities, and growing most of their feed. The Resilient Gardener is both a conceptual and hands-on gardening book.

Easy to Save

See those seed saving difficulty descriptors in the library catalog? Here's a quick overview of what they mean:

Easy seeds are those that can be easily saved by first-timers! We encourage you to attend Seed Saving 101 at an OPL location at your convenience. Some examples:

  • lettuce
  • peas
  • tomatoes

Medium -difficulty seeds might be those that take two growing seasons to produce seed, or they might require a great deal of space for growing large, healthy populations. Some examples:

  • peppers
  • beets
  • eggplant

Difficult seeds might be those that need to be hand-pollinated or isolated by large distances to prevent cross-pollination. We kindly ask that you do not save and return these seeds until you have had some experience. Feel free to checkout these seeds without obligation.

  • squash
  • brussel sprouts
  • corn

    Seed Starting

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    The New Seed Starters Handbook - Nancy Bubel
    Written by a gardener with 30 years of experience, this easy-to-use reference explains everything you need to know to start seeds and raise healthy seedlings successfully.



    Benson branch is currently the only physical location of the Common Soil Seed Library at OPL. Learn how to correctly save seed, then donate your non-hybrid, open-pollinated, non-patented seeds anytime we're open!

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