The ALS Seed Library encourages gardening and seed saving as a means of providing our  community a fun and affordable source of nutritious sustainable food.

How it works: borrowing basics

  • Step 1: Check Out Check out up to five seed packets.
  • Step 2: Cultivate Plant the seeds, let them grow, and enjoy your harvest!
  • Step 3: Harvest & Preparation Review the seed harvesting instructions.
  • Step 4: Save and Return Seeds Save a portion of seeds that you will plant next year, then label and return the remaining portion to the seed library to be checked out next spring. Your help makes this program grow!

Why heirloom seeds

There are a number of reasons the ALS seed library chose heirloom seeds:

  • Heirlooms have exceptional flavor and nutrition.
  • You can save the seed from one year to the next because heirlooms are open pollinated.
  • These varieties grow well in Wisconsin.
  • The produce will ripen over a period of time; making for a longer harvest.

Seed harvesting instructions

A little advance planning will ensure your seeds produce new plants that are true to type and germinate well.

Step 1: Choose open-pollinated seeds
Avoid hybrids (often marked F1). They produce seeds, but the new plants may be very different. (All our heirloom varieties are open-pollinated.)

Step 2: Plant for growing seeds
Learn how your varieties are pollinated and which isolation techniques you may want to use. This could be as simple as choosing only one type of bean or tomato.

Step 3: Harvest and process right
Learn the right growth stage to collect your seeds. After harvest, most need only a little drying time. Tomato seeds need to ferment a little before drying (good, icky fun).

Step 4: Label, label, label!
Include the variety and the date. If you have more than one variety of the same vege, be sure to label each when harvested.

Step 5: Store in a cool, dry place.
Heat and humidity shorten seed life. A glass jar in a cool location or the refrigerator is great.

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