Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 29, 2010 Seed Starting Preview

Tonight's (8pm Central 9pm Eastern) #SeedChat topic is seed starting for beginners. If you're new to gardening or growing from seed, we encourage you to ask a question through our form and we'll try to get to it during the Q&A session of #SeedChat. Don't be shy, this topic was chosen to get all of those newbie questions out of the way to help you have a successful sowing later in the season.  

Here is a preview of some of the questions we have received that will be posted during the Q&A portion of #SeedChat to help you prepare your answers and pertinent links. 

What's the difference between peat and coco coir?
How can I make my own seed starting pots? 
Do I have to sterilize seedling soil before sowing seeds?
What qualities or ingredients are you looking for in a good seed starting mix? 
What's the best way to prevent seedlings from dampening off?
What is people's experience with LED grow light systems?
What is damp off and how can I make sure I don't find out? 

Also, instead of doing a roundup of topic related items in a separate post I'll just update this post. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seed Saving Groups Roundup

The transcript of tonight's #SeedChat topic on seed saving groups and seed swaps is available on the transcript page. It will be a "live" transcript for the next 24hrs, meaning you can read it as if you were on Twitter and the links should work. Tonight I noticed that locked accounts don't show up in the transcript. Our apologies to participants who contributed and aren't included in the transcript because they have a locked accounts.

Notable moments include @SquashMaker bring up having trouble starting a seed swap group in his area. It seems like older gardeners that he's come across aren't that interested in saving and swapping seeds. Towards the end of #SeedChat  @SquashMaker and @Xitomatl really got their nerd on and talked about databases they maintain to keep track of their saved seeds. I suggested that they both do a #SeedChat night where they explain all this to people like me in plain English.

Tonight I was the chat's moderator and had two browsers open, was logged into two separate accounts, TweetChat and my BlackBerry all tuned into #SeedChat. I realized I have a sickness because I've been going to great lengths to curate a group of people in my virtual world to discuss seeds with and around me. This #SeedChat also served as a testing ground for posting some of the questions ahead of time to give people a chance to gather links and information to share. Thanks to @KatWhiteDesigns for suggesting this because I think it works great.

This week @Xitomatl created a resource page here on the #SeedChat blog, check it out and feel free to recommend items to add to it. We also came to the conclusion that we should switch the topic for Jan 5 and Jan 12. It seems several people are interested in learning about starting seed banks and we should just move the topic up a week. @Xitomatl has had a seed bank running for a while in Canada and this year I started one here in Chicago.

Seed my list of seed saving groups on my seed bank's blog and feel free to make suggestions of groups to add. I may decide to cross-post the list here as it would probably benefit participants of  #SeedChat. This is an open post where you are free to talk about anything that was brought up during this week's #SeedChat. Share links, thoughts, ask questions or ask for clarification on something that was brought up *cought* Kent Whealy *cough* or just say "hello." You don't need to have a blog to comment. You can use the Name/URL option from the drop-down menu and link to your Twitter account.

December 22, 2010 Seed Saving Groups Preview

At your suggestion we will be posting some of the questions we've received for SeedChat topics on the blog to help you prepare by collecting links to resources and information you want to share. Tonight's SeedChat topic is seed saving groups and seed exchanges. If you have never participated in SeedChat please take a look at our About page to familiarize yourself with the format we use for asking and answering questions. Late arrivals can answer questions that were asked earlier in the chat during the final 15 minutes of the hour when we open up the discussion to new questions or revisit older questions.

What seed saving groups are available to gardeners in Canada?

How many seed saving groups are in the U.S?

How can I start a seed saving group in my area?

What is Seedy Saturday/Sunday?

How can I organize a seed exchange?

What kind of preparation should be done before planning seed swaps?

Are their benefits of joining a regional seed saving group over of a national one?

See you tonight, Wednesday, at 8pm Central/9pm Eastern on Twitter.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How-To (And New Resources page!)

After a few requests for a how-to on requesting seeds from government seed banks cropped up, I decided it was time to write a little how-to for anybody interested in doing so.

We also created a fancy new "Resources" page as well where this, and further, information will be housed. Click on it in the menu to see the how-to.

I can't stress enough how easy it is to get seeds from government seed banks - it's easy and quick, not to mention dirt cheap since it doesn't cost you anything. The best part is, you're growing rare varieties that are not available anywhere else.

So request some varieties, grow them out, and if you love them, share will fellow seed-savers. We can all do our part to help foster plant biodiversity!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How To Get Free Seeds Roundup.

Here is a collection of links and tips from tonight’s SeedChat topic on getting seeds without buying them.

Government run seed/gene banks where you can request seeds for free, many varieties that others don’t have. In the U.S. try  In Canada .

You can also see if there are freebie seed giveaways and trades on gardening forum. Some Suggestions given were: Seed forums on

Some organizations and groups provide free seeds, either as part of a project or to encourage gardening. Check out and to learn how to participate.

@SolakNC asked about the legalities associated with saving and starting seeds from plants that have been patented. I think we all agreed that these plants are protect from both sexual  (seeds) and asexual (cuttings) propagation.

@Rainforestgardn brought up the topic of germinating seeds from grocery store produce. Remember growing your own avocado in a jar? This lead to the topic of irradiated food and whether seeds from those fruits will germinate. Have you encountered this? It was pointed out that open pollinated produce will germinate and should produce fruit that is true to seed. Speak to the farmers at your farmers market for more information.

The whole transcript will be found here, where it is usually posted before Thursday mornings. Next week’s topic is seed saving organizations and exchanges. At @KatWhiteDesigns' suggestion, we’ll starting to post the questions ahead of time here on the blog to give people a chance to research and prepare links. So, ask your questions here and we’ll post them before next week’s topic.

If you’re new to SeedChat familiarize yourself with our format here. The first 5 minutes of ever chat are open for greetings and introductions. The final 15 minutes are an “open” forum where you can ask questions that didn’t get covered, or if you’re late; answer an earlier question or ask for more details on an answer one of your fellow participants gives.

See you next week. Bring your suggestions for seed saving groups (regional and national) and where seed exchanges are hosted near you.

Consider this an open thread where you're free to pose questions, elaborate on something you mentioned during SeedChat or just share some interesting seed-related links and information.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If You Threw a Party...

We just finished the second week of #SeedChat on Twitter and we hope it continues to grow and get better. The first week of #SeedChat I (MBT) was wondering if anyone would show up, tonight I wondered if anyone would come back. I made a list of the first handful of participants of #SeedChat available here. They say you never forget your first, but I have a terrible memory.

How do you feel about the Q & A format? I know it takes some time to get accustomed to it, but we hope it feels like things are easier to follow this way. Sometimes when I check in with chats on Twitter it feels like people are shouting over each other and you may miss some good information. 

Tonight's topic was about the benefits of saving your own seeds. If there's a question you had that you didn't get to ask feel free to leave it in the comments. Also, if you have a question about the format, the schedule or the transcripts feel free to speak up. #SeedChat is as much yours as it is ours. If you look over the schedule you'll see we have some blank spots and we're more than happy to entertain suggestions for topics.

Consider this an open thread where you can discuss anything and everything related to this week's topic of the benefits of saving seeds or give us feedback. If you do not have a blog use the Name/URL feature in the comments to link your Twitter account so we can follow you or let you know if you have a reply to your question.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Transcripts Now Available!

After our inaugural #seedchat, which went off swimmingly, we've (finally) gotten the transcript up for all to read!

It's located in the transcripts page (see the handy link on the bar above?) and is a .pdf document housed on google docs - no sign in required to read it.

So have a gander at the first ever #seedchat! Thank you to all of our seedy friends for joining, and we hope to see you in the next one, where we will discuss the benefits of saving your own seeds, as well as the benefits of starting your own plants from seed.

Want to pose a question for the next topic? Email Kelly at xitomatl (at) seedchat (dot) com or leave a question below on the contact form.

See you next Wednesday, 9PM Eastern/6PM Pacific!