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Start A Seed Circle

I thought this might be a good idea to share (courtesy of The Real Seed Catalogue)

SEED CIRCLES: Why not Start a Seed Circle?
Each person grows just one type of seed,
but then you all swap,
so you each get lots of different vegetable seed for very little work.

A Seed Circle is a simple idea:  You get together a group of friends or neighbouring allotment holders, and each of you signs up to save seed of one sort of vegetable.
You’ll each get lots of seed when you save your own (far more than one person can use), so at the end of the year you can all swap with each other.
It’s a great way to start seed saving – you’ll all get several types of good seed for free, but each person only has to learn how to grow one sort. And you can help each other learn as you go.
We hope that by making it easy, and doing it as a group, people will be less inclined to drop out, and you're more likely to get good seed at the end.

It's SO EASY. All you have to do is this:


A Beginners Seed-Circle
We're starting with a small, simple seed circle of five people.
What you need:
·                    one person to organise the seed circle (you!)
·                    four more people to sign up to grow seed as well
·                    the seedsaving & processing handouts from www.realseeds.co.uk to print out and distribute to each person
·                    a bit of time to occasionally phone/meet up and check how people are doing
·                    a few simple kitchen implements
·                    good quality, real, non-hybrid seed to start with
·                    tea and some nice biscuits
It is really good if you organise a get-together occasionally, especially at harvest time, to all have a bit of an inspect of the process and the seed being saved , so you can all learn how to do it together. (hence the tea and biscuits) It helps bring people together and the whole process is less daunting if you can share it.
The only important bit is that everyone really needs to read the instructions for how to get good seed from their chosen vegetable. Its all easy but we need to make sure the seed is true to type and well dried.


Who Does What
Its best if people save seed from a vegetable that they really like, as they will be more fussy about the plants they save from. So if you have someone who is really passionate about corrots, then they're the person to grow carrot seed for your circle.

We're suggesting a few vegetables here that we know are easy to save seed from, and which make lots of seed. You can of course make up your own list too if you prefer.

Each person is to save seed from just one variety. This keeps it simple. To reduce work you need to do to stop things crossing, it can be best if you also only grow for eating that one variety that year.

In our sign-up form for the seed circle, we've actually put space for two vegetables for each person to do - the second one is optional, but seed-saving is such little work that its worth it. You get more seed if both work, and its less of a disaster if one goes wrong.

Suggested Vegetables to Save Seed From:
This is a basic overview of what is involved, just to help you choose. Once you have chosen a crop, then you must read the more detailed instructions for that crop, which you will find on our Seedsaving handout. (www.realseeds.co.uk if you need more copies)

Squash
Special equipment needed: Rubber Bands , colander
Restrictions: Don't let different varieties tangle together, you'll not be sure which flower is which variety.
Minimum Area: One plant is OK, four would be better.

Tomatoes
Special Equipment needed : Kitchen Seive , tall jam-jar
Restrictions: None.
Minimum Area: One plant

Sweet Pepper or chilli
Special Equipment needed: Greenhouse/Polytunnel, cheap pair of tights, sewing machine
Restrictions: Either grow just ONE variety, or you'll need to bag individual flowers to stop them crossing. They cross really easily – and you really don’t want hot bell peppers!
Minimum Area: One plant

Lettuce
Special Equipment needed: none
Minimum Area: 8 plants

Kale
Special Equipment needed : tall canes for support, string, two buckets.
Restrictions: Don't grow more than one variety for seed, they'll cross really easily.
Minimum Area: 20 plants minimum, yes this is a big bed - but will give you enough seed for several hundred packets and it keeps for years and years.
When: You get the seed the next year. Sow in summer, flowers next spring, seed next summer/autumn.

Melons
Special Equipment needed : spoon
Minimum Area: One plant will give enough seed, five would be better.

Cucumber
Special Equipment needed: Large jam-jar, bucket. (Greenhouse/Polytunnel helps)
Minimum Area: One plant will give enough seed, three would be better to choose the best plant from.



Peas
Special Equipment needed: Two buckets
Minimum Area: Set aside 2 plants for each person in your circle.

Beans
Special Equipment needed: Two buckets
Minimum Area: Set aside 3 plants for each person in your circle.

Carrots
Restrictions: Only grow 1 variety. You need to hunt down and pull up any nearby Queen Anne's Lace (= wild carrot).
Minimum Area: 30 plants minimum, but will give you lots of seed.
When: You get the seed the next year. Sow in summer, flowers next spring, seed next summer/autumn.

Processing- ALL SEEDS
In addition, to dry your seed, you'll all need access to an oven, a baking tray, some rice, a clean dry jam-jar, and some small bags made from a pair of tights. And some plastic baggies to store the dried seed in for distribution.

The person organising the seed-circle can do the drying for everyone (if they like) at their house, it is more efficient that way - only one person has to bake the rice, make little baggies etc.

See the detailed printouts for exact instructions.

Let us know how you're getting on!

We're really excited about the idea of seed-circles, and are rather pleased with ourselves for having come up with it, in fact.  So we'd really like to know if you start one.

Drop us an email to orders@realseeds.co.uk with the name of your group, saying where you are and what you're saving seed of.  We'll make a list and put them on the web, with a contact number if you like.
We can't promise to answer every email - we get hundreds every day - but we do enjoy hearing from you.

Moving on - wider circles

The benefit of saving seeds in a group really increases with larger groups.
If you could get 12 people in your circle each saving 2 different things,
that's 24 packets each, for just a little work.

In fact its far better than that because your seed will be good for three years,
so you can keep some for the next two years and all grow something different in the next season.

By the third year, you'll all get 72 different packets of seed,
although only saving seed from 2 vegetables.

Now, the average request from us is only 15 packets. Not one of you would really need to buy seed ever again.
Of course, this only works because this is all real, open-pollinated seed. You can't do this with hybrid seed. Funny how the seed companies are so keen to sell you hybrid seed, isn't it?


Creative Commons License This document by The Real Seed Collection Ltd (www.realseeeds.co.uk) is licensed for public use under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works Licence.
This means you can copy or share it as much as you like for noncommercial purposes, as long as you say where you got it, and don't change it.

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