NOTE: This post is from 2020; seed orders are not being filled in this manner in 2021.
With a booming interest in gardening and the temporary shutdown of our seed lending library locations, we have devised a pilot program to get our seed supply to neighbors who can use them.
Starting today, we will be accepting emailed seed orders for our Northwest Seattle branch. We will fulfill the orders twice a week and leave them at a secure, outdoor, weatherproof location for recipients to pick up. The pickup location will be in Northwest Seattle.
Here’s how it will work:
- Browse the current seed inventory list. Navigate through the list by using the category tabs at the bottom of the screen.
- Take note of the crop and common name of each seed you would like.
- Please limit your order to 10 items.
- Send an email with your list and name to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- We will package and label your seeds (small quantities only, regardless of our “KCSLL Supply” designation).
- If we run out of an item, we might substitute another variety of the same crop.
- We will respond with an email telling you where you can pick up your seeds.
Seed orders will be taken to our pickup location twice a week. Each order will be packaged with the recipient’s name on the bag. We suggest you take the same precautions when handling the package as you would at a grocery store. To be extra-safe, use gloves when taking the seed order home, then let it sit for 72 hours before opening it. We also ask that recipients practice proper social distancing if another recipient is at the pickup location.
This program will initially cover Northwest Seattle only. If successful, we will try to enact it at other branches.
Unfortunately, we are unable to take seed donations at this time. Please (safely) share with your neighbors and friends! Hopefully, we will be able to reopen our physical branches and resume regular activity later this spring.
Stuck at home? Now is a great time to start your edible garden. Many people buy small plants at the nursery, but if that isn’t possible right now, try seeds. Seeds can be started indoors and transplanted out or transferred to larger pots as they grow.
Here are tips on starting seeds.
- Many seeds can be started in pots indoors and then transplanted out. Try salad greens, peas, broccoli and other brassicas, tomatoes, peppers and squash. Don’t try root crops like beets and carrots—they need to be “direct sown” into the soil.
- It’s best to use a light seed-starting medium rather than plain garden soil. You can buy it, or make your own with a mixture of compost, peat moss, coco coir, sand and soil—whatever you have available that will be lighter weight than soil. The goal is to make it easier for the seeds to push out of the soil.
- Plant in very small pots, like “six-packs” of nursery cells, one inch wide by two inches deep. Or use small yogurt containers or take-out food clamshells. Try to have at least two inches of depth.
- Sow small seed just under the surface of the soil. Bigger seed like peas can be planted deeper.
- Keep the seed bed consistently moist but not soggy.
- Keep the seed tray in a warm place while seeds are germinating. A seedling heat mat is a great tool for the avid gardener.
- Place the seed tray in a sunny indoor spot once the seedlings appear.
- Be careful when watering. Use a bike water bottle or small watering can to gently water at the soil level.
- Cool-season crops like salad greens and peas can be planted in the garden when they have two or three sets of “true leaves.” (The first leaves to appear are called the “seed leaves.”)
- Warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers should be “potted up” to larger pots and kept indoors until the weather is warmer, with nights consistently at or above 50 degrees F.
- Before transferring any seedlings to the garden, they need to be “hardened off.” This is done by setting the seed tray outside for an hour one day, two hours the next, etc., for 5 to 7 days. This gets them used to the weather so they will survive better in the open garden. If planting in a warm raised bed or under cover, this step is less important.
- Water consistently once the seeds are in the garden to help them set their roots and get off to the best start. The surface of the soil should just start to get a bit dry before watering again.
Order your seeds from one of our wonderful bioregional seed companies. Be patient as they are probably experiencing a high volume of orders.
Here are some seed companies to try:
Sprout some new ideas for your edible garden in January! Come to the annual Seed Swaps presented by our King County Seed Lending Library branches.
Along with seeds of favorite vegetables, you will find enthusiastic fellow gardeners to share their best varieties. Many attendees at last year’s swap brought their own seeds.
Seed Swaps will be Saturday, Feb. 2 in Northwest Seattle and Snoqualmie Valley, and Saturday, Feb. 9 in Northeast Seattle and Feb. 24 in West Seattle. (See details on our Events page.)
At the swap, stick around to learn about both ends of the gardening year. There will be short workshops on seed starting and seed saving. If you save your own, you can make a deposit to the library’s seed bank at next year’s swap.
Bring your edible garden seed to share. It can be commercial or home-grown seed, but please follow these guidelines:
- Share only seeds of edible plants that your fellow gardeners would grow from seed, such as annual vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.
- If donating packaged seed, it should be organic or open-pollinated or heirloom.
- If donating home-saved seed, please clean it off the stems or stalks and bring only the seed.
- You can clean your seed at the swap. We will have screens and buckets available.
- All shared seed should be fresh, within three years of purchase or saving.
- Please label all donations with seed type, variety if known, and year it was grown/saved.
The Seed Swaps are free and open to all; bringing seed is not required.
The King County Seed Lending Library has five locations around the county, all operated by volunteers and supported solely by donations.