Posts Tagged ‘seeds


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


Seeds of Delight

Golan Levin and Kyle McDonald have been unwrapping flowers – taking images and stretching them out flat using panoramic software. The results are gorgeous, you can see them all on Flickr. And to celebrate such loveliness I’ve used the images as the icons below. Many delights to be found amidst the links below.

Talking Plants talks plants really well. He’s covered two of my long-held suspicions lately. Firstly,  Organic isn’t always the enviro-friendly option – sprays that are supposedly ‘natural’ aren’t always better than manmade chemicals. Everything is toxic in the right concentration. (Article on derris dust).  Secondly, we’re just sex slaves to orchids.

John Folsom makes beautiful mixed-media images and his exhibition Lure of the Low Country features intoxicating images with plenty of trees. Other pictorialised plants I’ve fallen for lately include Dan McCarthy’s screenprint and Luigi Benedicenti’s hyper-real plant products.

The beautiful people at have been busy putting together a series of cute, little how-to cards. Steal ’em, print ’em, share ’em! So far released: Kale Pesto Recipe, How To Save Tomato Seeds, How To Make A Self-watering Container. They’ve also got seed packet templates and adorable labels on the goodies page.

Canada’s University of Guelph is offering Certificates in Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Horticulture.  Each programme consists of four online core courses and one online elective. “Learn the strategies that allow your urban space… to become a destination for the growth of plant material that is both sustainable and productive.”

Confused by Biodynamics? Don’t be – a good little intro video via Pete @ Ooooby. Holistic sustainable organic agriculture and horticulture – really, should there be any other kind? Often dismissed for being a bit ‘out-there’, most of the practices are based on sound farming principles developed over 100s of years. More at Biodynamics NZ.

Press release by the International Blackcurrant Association working to make Ribes nigrum the next superfood. There are plenty of good things to say about blackcurrants and I don’t mind them being said – but I do so dislike this horrible ‘Could-do’ marketing employed by the natural health industry. I reckon I’m about a berry-width away from despising the term ‘functional food.’

Looking for more plant-related link love? Check out past editions of Seeds of delight.


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)


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’


The 30% rule: How much should I plant?

Borlotti bean seedlingsRachel asked me how I knew how much of anything to plant. We were talking about how all the published advice we had both seen on the topic was, work out what you eat each week and start from there ie 2 lettuce per week, plant 2 every week.

But neither of us plan our meals with that much detail. I plan mine around what I have available or how I feel at a particular time. I’m a big foodie, I love food and working around these things is just the way I like to do it. Can’t think of anything worse than coming up with weekly meal plans. Screw it, I’m just not that organised, nor want to be.

My rule of thumb for planting amounts was taught to me by my parents and applies to any farming – plan for 30% stock loss.

30% has served me well. Punnet of 6 seedlings, I’m likely to lose a plant or two and/or have them some under-perform – be it by pestilence, disease, weather or forgetting about them (yeah, it does happen). If I plant just one bean seedling, chances are I won’t see anything off it. So, I plant 3 instead.

For seed sowing I add another 30%. I plant 30% more seed then I expect to grow. Some won’t germinate, some will be pricked out and some I will lose by natural attrition.

This isn’t a scientific formula but it has done me well over the years. How do you plan how much to grow in your garden? Do you plan everything in detail? Do you do complex maths equations based on dietary requirements? Let us know in the comments.

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