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Seed Swaps: A General FAQ for How To Get Started

By DogsNDaylilies
August 20, 2016

If you love to grow things from seed and you haven't already checked into the seed swaps here on NGA, you're missing out! Seed swapping is a great way to expand your collection of seeds and try new things, whether your interests are wide or focused. There's a little something for everyone and NOW is the time to get started! Grab your seeds and get ready for a little trading--I'll help you learn how!

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Name: Carlos Peres da Costa
Aldeia,Camaragibe,Pernambuco,
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cperesc
Aug 20, 2016 5:16 AM CST
This article on seed swapping would be great if it included also know- how hints:

1. Seed preservants. Many times seeds are not properly dried and have fungi. What substances could be used to avoid fungi growth ex:thiuram, mercaptan etc

2.Seeds have an expiry date. A table with botanical and common names of the plant and germination characteristics would be very usefull .

3. Use of germination stimulating techniques: Gibberelic acid, hydrogen peroxide etc.
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
I helped beta test the first seed swap
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DogsNDaylilies
Aug 20, 2016 6:52 AM CST
cperesc said:This article on seed swapping would be great if it included also know- how hints:

1. Seed preservants. Many times seeds are not properly dried and have fungi. What substances could be used to avoid fungi growth ex:thiuram, mercaptan etc

2.Seeds have an expiry date. A table with botanical and common names of the plant and germination characteristics would be very usefull .

3. Use of germination stimulating techniques: Gibberelic acid, hydrogen peroxide etc.


@cperesc,

Thank you for the input! Perhaps in a future article I will go over some of those things. This article, though, was primarily intended as a how-to for using the Seed Swap system here on NGA, though. The three items that you commented on are probably each worthy of their own, individual articles.

#1 is something I'm not familiar with and likely never will be an expert in because I am very focused on organic gardening and reducing or eliminating all unnatural chemicals throughout the growing process. Other NGA members may be able to answer this for you, but as for me, I simply dry the seeds out. Most of my seeds that come in the house are relatively dry already, so I simply open the seed pods and put them in either paper bags, K-cups, or some other container to allow them to air dry for a day or two, depending on the type of seed. (For instance, paper bags are not recommended for seeds that are extremely tiny, such as heuchera/coral bells seeds or poppy seeds.) Note: if you use chemicals, please make sure you state this in your seed descriptions and even put a note on the label in the seed packet; many other swappers are also organic gardeners or at least try to stay as natural as possible, and they might be quite upset to discover that the seeds were treated and they weren't informed of that beforehand.

#2 As much as I wish I were an expert on every single plant out there and how long their seeds last for, I'm not and never will be. This is a huge topic and there are some articles out there that can give you guidelines as to how long to expect a decent (subjective) germination rate. If you're looking for information like this, you could start here: http://www.realseeds.co.uk/seedlife.html . For more exotic seeds, Google is the best bet, but take everything with a grain of salt. I always say that if the seeds are older than a year or two, be honest in the swap about what year they were harvested (or packed for); you're still likely to get bidders on it. There are a lot of swappers that are willing to give old seeds a try (I'm one of them).

I know #3 has been talked at great length for daylily seeds, alone. Then add in all of the other types of seeds out there that might have their own 'best methods' and it could be a book! Maybe ten! Most seeds do fine just planted outside since that's the way it works in nature, so that's the easy, quick answer to almost anything. As for giving seeds the 'added oomph' to get going, I'm only knowledgeable about the methods I use for stimulating daylily seeds (and maybe a few others), and I'm still experimenting with that to determine what method works best for me. I recently learned that tomato seeds should, generally, be fermented in order to eliminate the goopy, germination-inhibiting substance that's on them (which, in nature, is washed away after repeated freeze/thaw cycles and spring rains). Iris seeds also have a natural inhibitor, I believe, but I am just starting to research how to grow iris from seed, so I'd recommend a google search on those and any other seeds you might have questions about. Although I highly recommend being cautious


[Last edited by DogsNDaylilies - Aug 20, 2016 6:55 AM (+)]
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Texas (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Aug 24, 2016 11:27 AM CST
I have seeds to give away but don't necessarily want to get any in return. Should I list those elsewhere rather than in 'Seed Swapping'?
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
I helped beta test the first seed swap
Image
DogsNDaylilies
Aug 24, 2016 1:11 PM CST
We had people who did that for our last swap, too. It was wonderfully generous! So it's definitely not a problem! You can join our swap and you won't have to pay the fee since you won't have anything mailed back to you (you'll just be responsible for paying the shipping to have it sent to the host, of course, once you send it in).

If you end up changing your mind later and want to get seeds in return, that's okay, too; just send in the fee when you send in your seeds. It's designed to be flexible that way.
Texas (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Sep 6, 2016 10:13 PM CST
Fee? I read — well, I skimmed — the FAQs but didn't see anything about $$. I gather that it must vary depending on the host and the swap?
Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
I helped beta test the first seed swap
Image
DogsNDaylilies
Sep 7, 2016 3:37 AM CST
Joan, yes, the fee can vary from swap to swap. Generally speaking, it varies in relation to shipping costs, but fees are at the host's discretion.
Name: Carlos Peres da Costa
Aldeia,Camaragibe,Pernambuco,
Image
cperesc
Oct 29, 2016 4:05 PM CST
DND
Thank you so much for replying to my comments on your posting. Do appreciate your observations.
Regarding # 1 Seed preservants- Living the tropics and where humidity is high and you have a lot of minute insect borers , using preservants is a must to avoid fungus and insects. Nursery seed sellers add mercaptam, thiuram or similar products. Care is necessary in handling these seeds as thse additives are toxic.
#2 I think every seed collector should specify on the envelope the common name of the plant
the botanical name and date of collection.
#3 Every plant/seed has its germination characteristics. For example the seeds of the Mangaba (Hancornia speciosa) to germinate have to be planted within 48 hours when removed from ripe fruit whilst some Annonas like Soursop or Sugar apple can sprout after one year after planting.
I agree Thank You!
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Plant and/or Seed Trader Plays in the sandbox Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter
Winter Sowing
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Pistil
Nov 1, 2016 11:06 AM CST
Hi Carlos!
I do not use any preservatives on my seeds, but I do not live in a tropical climate.
After air-drying in a paper bag or open dish, I do use a desiccant powder in an open container in the airtight box I keep my seeds in. This keeps the humidity extremely low which increases lifespan of dry seeds (of course many nuts and seeds like your Mangaba would be killed by desiccation, but most seeds really like this). The other thing that can be done is keeping them cold, in the refrigerator or a deep freeze if you have one. A regular frost-free freezer in a kitchen refrigerator is not very helpful because it cycles between frozen and not frozen, to get rid of the frost. I would guess that the desiccant would eliminate fungal problems, less likely to stop borers but might help that too. The desiccant powder I bought at a Hardware Store as "Closet-Dry" or similar name, I don't know what it might be called where you live. Might be worth trying. I found I just need to toss out the powder after a year, when it has absorbed moisture it is quite obvious, it gets moist.

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