The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

A present of seeds: “such stuff. As dreams are made on..”


Photo: A present of seeds

Photo: A present of seeds

“What are those? They look like sweets!”
A hopeful, sugar addicted Danny, was peering over my shoulder as I unwrapped the chunky package that fellow blogger *Emma Cooper had sent me as a present.
“It’s Oca. One of the things on my extensive A Taste of the Unexpected
wish list.”
Yes, apart from the book list I have several others! Lists to lurk over and dream.
I was thrilled. Then I spotted a pack of Goji berry seeds – also on the same wish list. I remember Emma blogging about these and am really keen to grow them next year.

The next surprise was a pack of Welsh onion bulbils. Welsh onions are brilliant – like giant chives, a chopped up stalk can be used instead of an onion and they are perennial. I have a small plant that my mum gave my years ago in Danny’s herb bath but I’ve always wanted to grow more. Brilliant.

Sea Beet and Croation capers were welcomed next- two edibles that I’ve not come across before. I love ordinary beet and adore capers. The latter need to be grown in a green house or solar tunnel (in my case) and stratified in the freezer to help with germination before planting.

Two packs of flower seeds followed – Orlaya Grandiflora highly recommended by Sarah Raven and Begonia Semperflorens. Super surprises here – the Orlaya will look wonderful in flower arrangements next year and I’ve not tried growing begonias from seed. If I’m successful I know just the spot for them!

Still more packs to go. Bronze fennel – very welcome as I can’t grow enough fennel in our garden to feed our fennel, ham and pasta habit. Tomato seeds – Gardener’s Delight – a favourite with us both for chomping straight of the bush, warmed by the sun. Mixed salad leaves – these will be sown in the solar tunnel for an early crop.

Finally – Kale (Nero di Toscana) – superb when tossed in oil and salt and dehydrated into healthy crisps.

Emma, I can’t thank you enough. You made our day. Seeds have a magic – I spent a lot of the day dreaming about next summer’s garden and felt so buoyant. We loved the covering letter ‘written’ by a Martian team visiting earth and sending seed samples and pertinent comments about the earthlings back to their commander. Laughter and seeds – a perfect combination on a cold and grey day in Eastern England.

*Emma Cooper (AKA Flufius Muppetus who twitters as @akgpodcast and also presents her own Alternative Kitchen Garden podcast through an RSS feed on her website. Check out her website – she also has an interesting writing blog!).

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  1. Oh and by the way Steve H – I’m female. In fact most of us at the MSB are female!

  2. Thanks guys! I guess I should have mentioned that I actually work at the ‘National Seed Depository at Kew’, better known as the Millennium Seed Bank. I’m the Germination & Longevity Specialist there, so I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about! 🙂 Anyway, for home garden purposes, drying your vegetable/flower seeds and storing them in your refrigerator will give you plenty of years usage in nearly all cases. The drying is more important, so if you want to give it your best shot you can get hold of some drying silica gel or order a Mini Seed Bank Kit from the Kew website. It gives you everything you need to store your seeds successfully at home.

  3. Whilst “checking” my (his) “facts”, Linsay is also correct! you cannot just freeze them, they need drying first,(then you can freeze them at -18c – -20c.)
    in fact i also found this! which i`m sure could be home-made Blue-Peter style!

  4. if you look on your seed packets you will probably find a “sow-by” date,forget it!

    On a recent Tv program (think it was Countyfile?) the Curator of the National Seed Depository at Kew, was being interviewed. In the interview he explained that the seeds were stored at a temperature of -18c (same as a household freezer)some for hundreds of years!
    When asked if they would still germinate he replied,
    “If they wouldn`t,there would be no point in storing them”

    so – chuck `em in your freezer and save them for future use, good if they`re hard to come-by or rare seeds!

  5. Please don’t freeze those seeds! Your seeds should be stratified, which means they need moisture (moist but not wet) and therefore if you freeze them you will kill them with ice crystal formation. Just keep them in a bag of moist kitchen roll or compost in your refrigerator for about 4 months (based on Croatian climate). That should do it. Good luck!

  6. Michelle in NZ

    Isn’t is so joyous to have such happy “next season” thoughts and plans for the months to come. While I’m happily checking and rejoicing in the male and obviously female flower sproutlets on my zucchinis (courgettes), little gem squash (pattypans) and apple cucumber plants, I’m also planning for sowing broad bean seeds in April.

    And I must sow some spring onion seeds right now, and a few more in a couple of months, and a few more in a couple of months. All this is a growing in pots and containers.

    Thank you for inspiring me to grow vege – happily Zebby Cat prefers Flesh.

    Sending care and huggles to you, with secondary huggles going to Danny and the Min Pins,

    Michelle and Zebby Cat

  7. I’m glad you liked it 🙂 When I sowed my caper seeds I sowed them in modules and left them in the greenhouse over winter, which allowed them to germinate in spring. I don’t know how you get on with using the fridge for cold stratification, but I have never got it to work! I prefer the low effort version – let the winter take the strain 😀

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