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Seed Swap - Herefordshire


For generations gardeners have saved seed to use for the next year’s crop. It is only in recent years that gardeners are annually seduced into buying glossy packets of seed which promise bigger and better crops or blooms.

EU legislation prohibits the sale of many old commercial vegetable strains which means that these are no longer available to gardeners. A variety which may suit your particular local soil or conditions may have been dropped from the list so it can no longer be sold in this country. For example, dwarf peas are ideal for the mechanised commercial market, but many gardeners prefer the 6 foot varieties which taste better, crop for longer and look attractive in the garden. Tomatoes which have great flavour may not be suitable for commercial production if they have thin skins and get damaged easily or perhaps they ripen a few at a time rather than all together. These are the ones that gardeners want to grow but they have been outlawed by the EU.

The Heritage Seed Library has been set up by the HDRA, the organic gardening organisation. Old varieties serve as a reservoir of genetic diversity and may provide genes for disease resistance or drought tolerance which could become invaluable in the future. The Heritage Seed Library conserve discontinued vegetable varieties and make them available to their members. These seeds may not be sold but they can be swapped!

Schools and community groups can use saved and swapped seed as a low-cost way of introducing gardening and growing to young people or as a therapeutic activity for people with special needs or disabilities.

We don’t just swap outlawed varieties. You may have a bean which has been passed down your family for generations or a favourite potato which is well suited to Herefordshire clay soils and you can pass it on with your cultivation and culinary tips. But seed saving isn’t just for vegetable growers. Flower seeds, bulbs or whole plants can be swapped. Especially easy for seed saving are the cottage garden annuals and biennials; love-in-a-mist; marigold; poppy and hollyhock. Maybe you just have some left over seed packets from last year – bring them along to Seedy Saturday, meet other Herefordshire gardeners, learn how to save your own seed and go home with something new for the garden.