Friday, July 23, 2010

The seed man hands on the batten

My seedsavers email to our mailing list was sent out today, so i've posted it up here too.

Preparing to save seeds from the winter garden.
.For those who have not saved much seed, we will be working through winter vegetables and talking about how to best save seeds from them. We will cover hybridising, pests and assessing ripeness of seed.

Changing of the guard

As I’m leaving Alice Springs in November I’ll be handing over the running of Alice Springs seedsavers. There are various parts to running a seed network in a low key kind of way. These 4 jobs are listed below. Some of the roles do not require particularly developed skills in gardening or seedsaving but do require a consistent commitment and communication with the group. Consider taking on one of these roles if you would like to ensure the seednetwork in Alice Springs continue to thrive.

If you would like to take part in seedsavers in a more active way but can’t attend the next meeting, reply to this email and something can be arranged.

The seedbank

This consists almost wholly of seeds that have been grown locally by myself and other members of the community. The seedbank managers aim is to get people growing as many of theses as possible and to keep a viable supply of seeds. This may involve enquiring if people can contribute the seeds of certain vegetables or growing out some varieties and saving them every 2-3 years.

The seedbank also contains seeds that have been sent from other seed networks in Australia or from seedsavers. The seeds that perform well are saved from these varieties.

There is a rough division in the seedbank between summer and winter vegetables and this seedbank is shared at meetings where people are welcome to take from seed to grow their own. With the taking of seed there is the obligation to save seeds and to share them with others in the future.

You may also get requests from other seed networks in Australia who are looking for particular seeds, so you may need to package up seeds to send away in the mail.

Receiving seed for the seebank is also an important part of this role. Details should be written down about the vegetable, the date of harvest and who provided it. Questions should be asked as to ascertain the experience of the seedsaver who provided the seed and to ascertain how likely it is that the seed may be hybridised with other vegetable varieties in the garden. The origin of the seed should be taken into account – if it was from the local shops, it may be a hybrid and needs to be grown out for several years to see if it grows “true to type”.

Bulk seed.

Often people save seed in quite large quantities resulting in many thousands of seeds. Often this is more seed than can be used by the seed network and this seed can be shared with the wider community. (*If you receive a large amount of seed from someone with unknown experience that you plan to package, it is wise to grow out this batch in the first year in order to make sure it is what it is supposed to be*). One way of sharing seed with the wider community is packaging seeds with appropriate labels which can be sold to locals though events or through shops. This is also a way of promoting seedsavers in the community.

The website (scroll down to view)

Seedsavers network hosts a page for each seed network in Australia where various information about each group can be posted. Meeting dates can be posted here as well as links to other websites. There is also a spot for putting seeds you are searching for – and this has proved a very successful way of finding hard to get seeds.

The events

To raise or maintain the profile of seedsavers in the community, we host 2 events each year. Depending on your energy and enthusiasm you may run more events but the events below we have found provide the best bang for your buck.

The Steiner fare is usually a very successful event and many people sign up to be on the mailing list so they can receive notices of the next meeting. It is usually held on the last weekend in May.

The desert smart eco fair is the other event where seedsavers makes an appearance and we usually run a workshop on the day as part of the program. This year it is on September 18.

The mailing list and meetings

The manager of the mailing list simply sends out meeting notices with the appropriate details so that people can attend. These should be sent at least one week in advance. Meetings are usually held four times a year at the changing of the seasons which often are good planting times as well.

March/ April – planting time

August – planting time

November – Seed harvest for winter vegies

Jan/Feb – seedharvest for summer vegies.

Other event notices should also be passed onto people and any relevant correspondence about seedsers network or seed issues.

There may also be other more specific themes explored at meetings such as seed sorting, growing seedlings, etc etc. You can guage what is needed by talking to people in the group or in the community.


  1. This year is my first year at proper seed saving and im amazed by how much Ive collected already - anyway, are you leaving AS for good and will you still be writing your blog?

  2. I think i will be leaving for good as far as i can tell. We will be moving to a farm in Vic, near Melbourne. I've alrady got a few posts for that blog (see under the chestnut tree in my blog list) so i'll be continuing my blogging there. The climate is probably a bit more similar to yours than Alice i'd say!