Archive for the 'Seeds' Category


Seedlovers, please meet Sophie Munns. She’s amazing!


Seedy Sunday, seed stores and seed sorting

In the interests of transparency, and because it’s been asked, it’s about time I explained some of the behind-the-scenes workings of Seedy Sunday. People want to know more about what happens with the seeds, where they come from and how they get looked after.

There’s an entire ecosystem of seeds that keep Seedy Sunday running. And explaining it all may show you the depth of my madness. But because this is a community event I think it’s good to have a bit of clarity around what happens.

  • Anna’s seed collection

I have this thing for seeds. I grow them, I collect them, I process and store them. Some I swap, some are given to me and some are bought. This little seed fetish is how Seedy Sunday started; not just to feed my maniacal collecting frenzy, but because the value of seeds and sharing and community building became more and more apparent.

  • Seedy Sunday’s pot of gold

To prepare for a Seedy Sunday I donate a pot of seeds for each event; usually about 50 packets. This ensures that everyone who comes gets something and adds some variety to the table. Other people bring seeds and whatever is left after an event is safely stored away in an air-tight tin can until the next one.

  • A growing opportunity

Some of that seed may be grown out by myself or given to experienced gardeners to keep the seedline going. This builds up stores of seed to be giving out at Seedy Sunday or to go into a community chest. That’s a project I’m calling the Kapiti Seed Store.

  • Funding the growth

LovePlantLife seeds are a separate thing entirely, but still an important part of this ecosystem. Most are bought in but some lines are grown by me under careful conditions and checked for strong viability. These act as the fundraising arm for these activities. I’d like to keep Seedy Sunday and the Seed Store as self-funding projects and not apply for already overstretched Kapiti community grants.

LovePlantLife lets this happen by paying the bills – marketing, hall hire, printing, consumables etc. The donation at events usually covers afternoon tea and a bottle of wine for the speakers. None of the seeds I’ve received through Seedy Sunday have gone on to be sold.

So what do I get out of all this?

I get to put together something pretty special. Seedy Sundays have been really popular, educational and social. Some great things have come out of it, some great friends even. I’m doing work I feel is really important. And I actually really enjoy harvesting, processing and packaging seed. I guess it’s what you would call enjoying the little things in life :)

~ Anna


Prepping for another Seedy Sunday

So things are all aflutter here, for tomorrow is Seedy Sunday, Kapiti’s seed swapping extravaganza. The kitchen is covered in seeds, the table is covered in seeds, the floor is covered in seeds, I’m covered in seeds and yet there are still rows of little seed packets ready to go on the swap table.

Due to ‘complications’ in my schedule this year (wonderful, wonderful complications), many harvested seedlines were stashed away in tins higgledy-piggledy without proper organisation. All the seed I look after gets labelled and stored away in old Milo tins over winter to make sure they’re safe, sound and stay viable. Some seed has just got to me, like the wonderful lemongrass you can see above. After seed is collected each year it needs to be cleaned.

For fleshy fruit like tomatoes or pumpkins, this may mean soaking in a bucket and partially fermenting it (smelly process) to get the seed nice and clean, drying and packing. For most plants though, cleaning seed means drying and passing through a series of screens to get rid of as much other plant material (chaff) as possible. For this I use a fantastic interchangeable sieve I found in an Indian grocery store in Petone. I work the plant material through the series of mesh sizes. Breeze is also a great tool and I’ve spent many hours walking around in the backyard with a bowl of seeds, separating out the chaff and letting it blow away with a careful flick of the bowl.

Before being stored away (usually) all the seed is completely dried and labelled with exactly what variety it is and where it came from. All of this is noted in a spreadsheet as it can be tricky to keep track of 80+ sidelines I hold.

So booking the hall, organising a speaker and letting everyone know that the event is on is only part of the organisation that goes into a Seedy Sunday. Cleaning, sorting and packaging seeds is the other side of it – a side I really do enjoy. Must be something about taking pleasure from the small things in life.


Let us speak now of lettuce…

Lettuce is by far the world’s favourite salad green. The Egyptians were growing it way back in 4500 BC and it’s been the darling of the salad and the sandwich ever since. There is an incredible array of lettuce available for the discerning gardener – colour, style, leaf-form and grace. Only a disappointing sample can be found on supermarket shelves, selected primarily because they keep better. But the delights of fresh-picked leaves straight from the garden can’t be beaten.

I’m an avid fan of the rosette forms of the loose leaf lettuce. Loose leaf is ready to pick in just a couple of weeks and is heat tolerant. Sow more every two weeks for a constant salad supply. I don’t mulch around my lettuce as slugs just love the taste of little leaves and like to hide in mulch.

Keep your favourite lettuce going from year to year by saving the seed

If you are new to seed-saving, lettuce is an easy place to start. There is very little crossing in lettuce, so your plants next year will almost certainly be just like your favourite lettuce this year.

Start by choosing the healthiest lettuce plants in your garden – you’re looking for strong, healthy growth. Make sure they taste great by picking a few of the outside leaves, you wouldn’t want to save something that tasted yuck. Once you’ve made your selection, put a stake next to it labelled ‘save for seed’. Many of my best seed-saving intentions have blown away when a hungry husband has eyed a particularly good looking plant.

Hopefully, your lettuce will escape predation and make it through to late summer, when it will flower. If your lettuce has bolted too early it’s not the best one to save seed from as this is not a trait you want to select for.

Seeds will be ready for collecting 12–24 days after flowering. Each day grab a clean bucket and shake the lettuce tops into it. Be careful not to damage the stem. Put the contents into a paper bag and leave to dry somewhere cool and airy. Label the bag with the type of lettuce, a description, when it was grown and where the seed came from. While this may not be so important if you keep the seed to grow each year – it may matter to people you wish to swap seed with. With a single lettuce able to produce 30,000 seeds, you’ll have plenty to swap.

Don’t plant try to plant your lettuce seed straight away – store for at least 6 months. The seed has a coating on it that will stop your fresh seed from germinating..

You’ll want to remove a lot of the fluff and chaff that was collected with it. When the seed is completely dry, rub it over a fine mesh. Gently blow on the seed and most of the detritus will blow away leaving small oblong seeds. Don’t blow too hard or you may lose it all! Now store it away safely and package some up to bring along to Seedy Sunday.

Lettuce varieties currently available as seed to New Zealand gardeners



Devil’s ear, Finger, Four seasons (Quatre de saisons), Heritage lettuce mix, Joes, Lightheart (Ruawai), Mignonette, Odell’s, Tree lettuce, Webb’s wonderful, Winter.


Buttercrunch, Great lakes, Green oak leaf, Red oak leaf, Triumph, Webb’s wonderful.

Kings Seeds

Buttercrunch, Tom Thumb, Freckles, Little gem, Rouge d’hiver, Vivian, Great lakes, Grenoble, Apache, Cocarde, Canasta, Drunken woman fringed head, Lolita, Lollo blonda, Dark lollo rossa, Royal oak leaf, Salad trim, Perella rougette montpellier, Tango.


Degli ortolani, Lingua di canario, Misticanza, Rossa di trento, Testa di burro D’Inverno, Misticanza quattro stagioni, La Resistente sel. “Franchi”, Burro d’Inverno, Parella rossa.

Egmont Seeds

Bug off, Cisco, Cos red majestic, Dover, Gourmet salad blend, Great lakes, Kaiser, Legacy, Onyx green frill, Red butterhead, Red fire, Solsun red frill, Tin tin cos, Tom Thumb, Veredes green oakleaf, Vesuvius, Xanthia red oakleaf.


Buttercrunch, Cos, Great lakes, Greenway, Webb’s wonderful, Winter triumph.


Buttercrunch, Great lakes, Mixed gourmet blend, Lollo rosso, Mesclun mix

This article appeared in the September edition of Kapiti’s  On To It.


Getting my seed geek on

Given the significant bout of inclement weather continuing this weekend, I shall be remaining inside. This provides me with a wonderful opportunity to finish packing up all the seeds scattered stacked overwhelming the dining room table and cataloguing them. Because I’m a geek.

Well, not only for that reason. There’s no point in going through the entire process of growing, collecting, processing, drying and storing seeds if I’m not going to keep notes on what they are and where they come from.

Guided by the seed register on the Seed Savers Aotearoa site, I’m starting my database, which will include material supplied at Seedy Sunday. I’m estimating around 70 entries, but there is some room for surprise. I really don’t know what’s there – thus the reason for doing this. At the end, I should have a reference-able database of seeds I can share with other gardeners New Zealand-wide.


LovePlantLife Seeds: Unveiling the Autumn Collection

The weather may be getting colder, but things are heating up at LovePlantLife HQ with the release of our autumn collection of seeds.

We’ve handpicked eleven wonders. Together they form a winning vegetable garden combination, and singly, they’re all stars fit for any spare space in your plot.

Greens are essential right now and we have some gorgeous ones – from the exotic and tantalising cavolo nero and spinach santana to the must-have native NZ spinach (star of the Kapiti show!) Wando peas and winter giant leeks are worthy of a place on any dinner plate. Green gets a little more spicy with the addition of rocket leaves and radish tops. The beautiful bulls blood beetroot brings everything alive with colour and our marigolds will fill your garden and heart with joy.

All varieties in this seed range have undergone a rigorous selection process and fit four very important criteria:

—  Variety is known to grow well in the Wellington region,

—  Ready to plant now,

—  Tasty, tasty, tasty,

—  Good looking both in the garden and on your plate.

So get out there and get growing good food with LovePlantLife seeds.


A Seed Cathedral

Jaw-dropping! A six-storey pavilion for the 2010 Shanghai Expo, studded with 60,000 rods each containing seeds from the Millennium Seed Bank. (Thanks Richard and Inhabitat)


Getting ready for a SHAG

1000 little yellow envelopes of joy folded and filled with seeds, ready to hand out at the Kapiti Sustainable Home and Garden (SHAG) show this weekend, finished.

One 16-minute live-to-air radio interview complete.

600 packets of seeds printed, packed and prepped done.

Two days annual leave devoted to all things seedy in preparation dusted.

Ready for the weekend!


Seed bank envy

I haven’t seen my kitchen table for the last couple of weeks. It’s completely covered in seed. Herb and flower seed particularly, because it hasn’t been a great growing season, in these parts, for vegetables. And I probably can’t explain the absolute joy, delight and envy I felt when seeing photos of the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Bank in Petaluma, California – thanks to Bed of Spices.  If you get it, you get it… if you don’t, you’re probably not a collector.


Growing magic beans

heirloom bean varieties New ZealandTo me, seeds are mini miracles. When I hold them in my hand I get terribly excited by all that potential inside them. And eating something that grew from a little seed I planted and nurtured is simply incredible.

Some seeds themselves taste delicious and some just look beautiful – some are both. I have twenty varieties of different beans at home and no two look the same – spotted, speckled, stripey and squiggly in a range of colours, shapes and sizes.

If you’ve never dabbled in the wonders of seeds, beans are a great place to start. They’re keen beans, they grow fast. Satisfyingly so. They’re easy – soak them overnight in some warm water, then direct sow them into your garden keeping them moist. In seven days you should see them coming up. Be vigilant for slugs though!

Magic beans

Our modern beans are derived from plants that once grew wild in Central and South America. But we’ve been cultivating beans for ages and archaeologists have found traces of domesticated types that date back more than 7000 years. Heirloom gardeners have hundreds of varieties of bean to choose from. So I’m just going to focus on a few of my favourite shelled beans, all available in New Zealand, some of which have been available through Seedy Sunday. Continue reading ‘Growing magic beans’

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August 2020

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