Amanda Deplewski

Farmfront Contributor

This follows a series of pieces Amanda is writing about her gardening journey

We asked Amanda how things were going in her garden. She had stumbled into a whole new world of gardening in seed swapping. We had to ask more and she delivered.

An Ode to Seeds

While building my garden, I have developed a fascination with seeds. I mean all seeds, from rare heirloom crops to maple tree “helicopters”.  

Every seed is capable of performing small miracles. Each one can transform from an inert object to the growing seedling. And then it evolves somehow into something actually harvestable. Then I come in and enjoy the end result of their and my labor, the most rewarding part of my hobby.

A Seed Obsession Dilemma

But how to get access to more seeds? I would, and still do, spend hours perusing online seed shops. I fill my cart up with a $1.50 packet there and $0.75 packets there. Suddenly my cart is full of hundreds of dollars of product that I cannot bear to whittle down. So, I delete my haul, only to do it again days later.

One day recently while trying to rip bindweed out of my pollinator garden, I discovered many of my early wildflowers had started fading. But some very busy pollinators had visited them and were producing…seeds! I had my own source of seeds! 

With my garden shears in hand, I spent an hour outside gleefully lopping off dry seed heads and pods. My mind racing with this new discovery, I found myself asking how to harvest more varieties. 

Trying to Find More Seeds

My garden only had so many types of flowers. My food crop was small enough I was reluctant to do anything but eat what I had grown. 

Could I collect seed pods from parks and nature preserves? No, my state’s laws do not allow it, and besides, I would feel bad for reducing the population in that area next year. What was a budding seed collector to do?

A Solution! Seed Swapping!

After a few questions on a neighborhood gardening page on Facebook, and I had my answer: seed swapping. In fact, there is an entire underground bartering-based economy out there to explore. 

The concept is deceptively simple. You have seeds. I have seeds. We chat, and swap. 

But there are complexities to it, as there are in any economy. I discovered that few people share my excitement for coriander, but that there is a rush for Larkspur flowers. 

I have already received Candy Stripe Cosmos, Showy Primrose, Bishop’s Flower, African Marigold, and blue Morning Glory seeds in return. I have another swap set for later in the season for Milkweed and Chicory once they go to seed.

Did you know that coriander and cilantro are the same plant?

How cool is that!

Wisdom for Budding Seed Collectors

This is an excellent way to explore new plants and crops you had not considered or were reluctant to spend money on, whether you are a new gardener or a seasoned professional. Inventory what is around you- even in cities, there are plants living out their lives in sidewalk cracks, empty lots, and playgrounds that you can harvest. 

Collect seeds from your grocery store produce. Knock on your neighbor’s door and ask them if you can have some seeds from their plants. Or take them from your own established garden as I have. 

Be honest with people about their sources. Know your USDA Plant hardiness zones. Do your research on the rules of harvesting on public land, and always ask before harvesting on private land. Make sure you know what you’re harvesting. 

Have fun. Get seeds.



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