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Seed Library FAQ


Seed Library FAQ


frequently asked questions

1. How does a seed library work?

The idea is simple. Growers get seeds from the seed catalog located at Morning Star Fishermen and record what they’re taking with them, as well as basic contact info for later in the season. Then they grow their plants during the season, largely as usual. Some plants may need a few small changes if viable seed is to be saved for future use. At the end of the growing season for that plant, the grower harvests as usual but also saves some of the seed for next season and returns a portion, typically twice the starting amount, to the seed library to continue the cycle.

2. I don’t live in Dade City, can I still check out seeds?

Yes!  The seed library is open to anyone who lives in the Central Florida Region.

3.  How many seeds can I take?  Can I take a whole packet of seeds?

Please take only one seed packet of each variety you wish to grow.  We encourage our members to check-out up to 5 different varieties of plants each growing season.

4.  I’ve never saved seeds before, how do I do it?

The MSF Seed Library will offer classes and presentations through the late summer and fall on seed saving.  In addition, information cards for each type of seeds are available as well as general seed saving information and the Morning Star Mercantile also has books available on seed saving and gardening.  There are also resource links on our website.

5.  I guess I could try, but I would like to start with something easy so that I can learn, which seeds should I pick?

The colored labels on the catalog drawers and on the seed divider cards within the drawers will help you find the seeds that are right for you.

Green labels indicate seeds that are very easy to harvest and save; typically you only have to pluck the seeds from a fruit and rinse and dry them.

Yellow labels indicate seeds that are moderately easy to save.  They may require steps beyond just harvesting, rinsing and drying a seed.

Red labels indicate seeds that require advanced methods to harvest and save.  They may require two seasons to produce seed or have strict requirements on growing with other plants to ensure they breed true.

6.  I can’t find the seeds I’m looking for, help?

The Seed Library is stocked by donations and because of this we may not have every variety of seed at any given time.  If you would like to see a particular seed, please contact the seed library and we’ll add it to our wishlist.

7.  How many seeds do I need to return to the library?

Return twice as many seeds to the library as you checked out.   More are always welcome!

8.  Do I have to bring back the same type of seeds I check out?

We encourage participants to bring back seeds harvested from the plants they grew from the Seed Library seeds in order to build our supply of regionally adapted seeds. Since there are many variables to consider when saving seeds, such as keeping breeds pure and plants that take 2 seasons to reproduce, you can bring back different seeds than you borrowed provided they meet Seed Library donation guidelines.

9.  What if I am unable to harvest my seeds, is there a fine?  Can I just bring you different seeds then?

The Seed Library works on an honor system.  We hope each and every participant is able to return seeds, but there is no fine if you are unable to return seeds.  We will happily accept different seed types on returns as long as those seeds meet our donation guidelines.

10.  How do I know the seeds I get are organic and free of pesticides?

The Seed Library encourages all participants to practice organic and natural gardening methods and takes care to only accept donations from trusted seed suppliers.  However, we cannot guarantee every available seed was from an organically grown garden. Look for seed packets that are labeled as “organically grown” if this is your preference.

11.  I see some seeds are from suppliers and some are in Seed Library envelopes, which is better?

The seeds  you see in Seed Library envelopes are from plants grown for at least one season in the area and may already have more regionally adaptive growing traits.  Seeds you see in supplier packets were chosen as varieties that often grown well in our region.  Neither of these seeds is better or worse than the other.

12.  I have some seeds already, can I give you some of those and take some of your seeds, and not have to return them?

The seed library may accept certain “returns in advance” on seeds.  Please make sure to read our seed donation guidelines for more information.  We are especially interested in species and varieties that we do not currently have in stock.

13.  I have some seeds I would like to donate to you, will you take them?

Yes!  The Seed Library is always looking to increase our stock of available seeds.  Please read our seed donation guidelines to find out more information about donating to the library.

14.  I got seeds from the library and they did not germinate well, what do I do now?

Germination rates on seeds are affected by many variables.  It is always best practice to plant at least twice as many seeds as you would like to have plants and to re-seed early when you notice poor germination.  Please contact the seed library if you experienced poor germination rates on check-out seeds so that we can locate any remaining seeds and check them for viability.

15.  I got seeds from the library that said they were one thing, but they grew into something completely different, what do I do now?

The Seed Library endeavors to properly identify and label all of our donated seeds and to verify all labeled seeds.  Please contact the seed library if you notice an error in our labeling so that we can locate any remaining seeds and check them for accuracy.

16.  How do I know the seeds I check out will breed true?

We encourage members to practice growing and saving techniques that will not result in wildly divergent genetics, and endeavor to educate participants in how to do so.  However, donated seeds of a specific variety may show small differences that you may not see if you purchased the same type of seed from a supplier.  This is one of our goals!  These small genetic differences mean that our seeds are becoming more and more adapted for growing successfully in our region.  If, however, you do want to ensure you are growing a very specific variety with little to no genetic variation, we recommend selecting seeds from the library that were donated from a seed supplier.