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return of the mac seeds

Are seeds alive? What are they made of? Here in Vermont it's planting time, and we've been getting a lot of questions about seeds from kids around the world. In this episode we'll explore the importance of preserving seed diversity with Hannes Dempewolf of the Global Crop Diversity Trust . Crop Trust manages a repository of seeds from around the world at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, above the Arctic Circle. Plus, ethnobotanist and Abenaki scholar Fred Wiseman shares a little bit about a project called Seeds of Renewal, which aims to find seeds traditionally grown by Abenaki people in our region and return them to cultivation.

Are seeds alive? What are they made of? Here in Vermont it's planting time, and we've been getting a lot of questions about seeds from kids around the world. In this episode we'll explore the importance of preserving seed diversity with Hannes Dempewolf of the Global Crop Diversity Trust . Crop Trust manages a repository of seeds from around the world at the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, above the Arctic Circle. Plus, ethnobotanist and Abenaki scholar Fred Wiseman shares a little bit about a project called Seeds of Renewal, which aims to find seeds traditionally grown by Abenaki people in our region and return them to cultivation.

Return of the mac seeds

The Macdonald Campus Seed Library is an initiative of the Macdonald Campus Library, offering seeds and gardening resources to members of the McGill community. Our goal is to promote local, small-scale food production and to preserve and propagate heirloom seeds, especially local varieties adapted to our environment.

The seed library is a free program, open to all members of the McGill community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and McGill Library members. In order to join, you only need valid McGill ID or borrowing card, plus this completed form. You may fill the form out either online or in person. When you have filled out the form, please bring it to the staff member at the desk in the Macdonald Campus Library, or email it to macdonald-seed.library [at] mcgill.ca . The seed collection is housed at the Macdonald Campus Library, and you may either select your seeds in person, or use the online order form. There is a limit of 25 seed packets per user.

Borrowing Seeds

Once you’ve taken your seeds home, grown them, and enjoyed your homegrown vegetables, herbs and flowers, we ask that you consider saving some of your seeds and returning them to the Macdonald Campus Seed Library. By doing this, you will be helping the library maintain its seed collection, as well as making an important contribution to the seed library’s mission to propagate rare heirloom food plants and make them available to other members of the community. Resources on how to save seeds can be found on the Seed Library’s Libguide.

Returning Seeds

Know when your seeds are ready. Not all seeds are ready at the same time as the fruit. Vegetables such as snow peas, summer squash and cucumbers are eaten when the seeds are small and immature. If you want to save seeds from these plants, leave some of the fruit on the plants to allow the seeds to mature (choose some of the best, healthiest-looking fruits for the best seeds!).

Healthy plants. Save seed from your best plants. Strong, healthy plants are most likely to produce good seed and pass on good traits to the next generation.

I hope you have all had a successful gardening season. As you harvest your bounty, you may be thinking about saving some of your seeds to return to the Seed Library. Returning seeds is not a requirement for using the Seed Library, but we do encourage it! Should you decide to return some of your seeds, please carefully read and follow the guidelines below.

Know how to harvest seeds. Harvesting some types of seed, such as peas or corn, is as easy as picking the dry fruits off the plant and packaging up the seeds. Other types, such as tomatoes, require a few steps to save good seed. The process is not difficult, but it should be followed carefully to ensure viable seeds.

Guidelines

Know how to store seeds. Ensure that seeds are fully dry before packing them up, as residual moisture can harm them. Store prepared seeds in sealed containers (such as airtight plastic containers or freezer bags) and keep them in a cool, dark, dry place. Be very careful to keep them away from any moisture, since any water may cause them to rot or to germinate prematurely.

Genetic diversity. If the population size of a particular variety is too small, there may be too little genetic diversity for the plants to produce good seeds (species that are mostly or entirely self-pollinating, such as peas, require fewer plants to maintain genetic diversity than out-breeding types, such as spinach). In general, the more plants the better, but good seed can be obtained from only a few plants in some species.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact dana.ingalls [at] mcgill.ca (Dana Ingalls) .

You can then fill out the “Seed return form” and include it with any seeds you wish to return. If you are returning seeds to a branch other than the Macdonald Campus Library, you may bring them directly to the service desk of any McGill branch library (be sure to inform the staff member at the desk that you are returning seeds to avoid confusion!). Please ensure that all seeds are properly labelled and that they are well packaged to avoid seeds spilling on their way to the Seed Library.

Give plants some space. Some plants, such as peas and tomatoes, are largely or entirely self-pollinating, which means they do not readily cross with other related species. Others, such as melons and squash, are pollinated by insects or by the wind, so they easily cross with other plants of the genus. The fruits the plants produce will be true to type no matter what, but if they cross-pollinate, their seeds will grow into hybrid varieties. While this can make for some interesting experiments, it is undesirable from a seed preservation perspective. Cross-pollination can be avoided by planting different crossing types far enough apart, or simply by planting only one member of a cross-pollinating genus in your garden. If you believe some of your plants had the opportunity to cross-pollinate, please do not donate these seeds.