food garden soil

Seeds or seedlings?

Seeds or seedlings?

Using seedlings is easier and saves time, but the variety of available vegetables is limited. Choose the strongest, healthiest looking plants. If the seedlings start out weak, they will always struggle to grow and your harvest will be small. Growing vegetables from seed can be challenging. I planted only seedlings for the first few seasons after starting my vegetable garden before I was brave enough to try planting seeds. I started planting from seed because there is a much wider variety available. Specialist seed companies like Livingseeds and Gravel Garden have seed an amazing range of plants that are never sold as seedlings or even in grocery stores. I wanted to try the yellow tomatoes and purple carrots. The bigger seed companies are also widening their range of seeds. I bought Kirschhof broad bean seed from my florist last month. The little plants are already almost ten cm tall and growing very well.


If you stock up on seed at the beginning of the season, you always have seed available for sowing through the season when a spot opens up in your garden. Just remember to plant your seeds, not just collect them. Vegetables like spinach, carrots, lettuce and rocket can be planted throughout the year so that there is always something to harvest. Root vegetables like carrots and beetroot don’t like to be moved, so sow these directly in the vegetable bed. Others like peas, tomatoes; broccoli can be planted in seedling trays and transplanted when they are bigger.

How to protect your seedlings?

  • Cut a plastic cool drink bottle in half to make a plastic cover. This will work like a mini greenhouse to keep the little plant warm.
  • Cut a toilet paper roll in half to make a collar for your seedling. This will protect it from snails.

Fun for kids

  • Grow your child initial or name
  • Help your child to write his or her initial or name in the soil. Use any fine seeds that germinate quickly and sprinkle the seeds in the grooves where you have written the name. Cover carefully and keep moist. What a surprise when the seeds come up!

Samantha van Riet Paarl:

garden plant and seed exchange

WANTED: Comfrey Plant or Seeds

Hi there, I am in Midrand and was hoping you could advise where i could get a comfrey plant or some seeds.

Thanks, Avi

Good ol' comfrey.
Good ol’ comfrey.
food permaculture

How To Save A Public Library: Make It A Seed Bank

This is an inspiring story from the States. South Africa, take note!

Despite the cold and snow, some signs of spring are starting to break through in Colorado. The public library in the small town of Basalt is trying an experiment: In addition to borrowing books, residents can now check out seeds.

In a corner of the library, Stephanie Syson and her 4-year-old daughter, Gray, are just finishing a book with a white rabbit on the cover.

When Gray approaches the knee-high shelves filled with seed packets, she zeroes in on a pack labeled “rainbow carrots.”

“We just read two books with bunnies in them, so we’ve got bunnies on the brain,” Syson says.

Syson flips through a wicker bin labeled “carrots” and offers other varieties to Gray, like “atomic red” and “cosmic purple.”

Here’s how it works: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others.

The seed library is a partnership between the Basalt Public Library and the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. Seed packets encourage gardeners to write their names and take credit for their harvested seeds.
The seed library is a partnership between the Basalt Public Library and the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. Seed packets encourage gardeners to write their names and take credit for their harvested seeds.

Syson says tending a garden in Western Colorado can be frustrating. The dry climate, alkaline soils and short growing season keep many novices from starting. She’ll take seeds from the plants that withstand pests and persevere through drought.

“If you save seed from those plants, already, in one generation, you will now be able to grow a plant that has those traits,” Syson says.

The seed packets are a novelty within the library’s more mainstream collection of books, CDs and DVDs.

The library’s director, Barbara Milnor, says in the age of digital, downloadable books and magazines, the tangible seed packets are another way to draw people in.

“You have to be fleet of foot if you’re going to stay relevant, and that’s what the big problem is with a lot of libraries, is relevancy,” she says.

Milnor says that while a library may seem like an odd location for a project like this, seeds and plants should be open to everyone. That makes a public library the perfect home for a seed collection. The American Library Association says there are at least a dozen similar programs throughout the country.

Back at the front desk, Syson and Gray place the rainbow carrot seed packets on the counter.

Syson says the library has always been a place for her daughter to learn. The seeds just add another lesson.

“For her to see a little pot of dirt and to plant a seed into it, and then 30 days later being able to eat something from it is really exciting for her,” she says. “She really enjoys seeing that whole process.”

A process that now includes a trip to the local library.

Source: NPR The Salt

environment garden

GLEL March invite

You are invited to attend


Where: Enviro Centre at Nahoon Estuary Reserve, Bonza Bay
When: 17th March
Time: 14:30 to 16:00pm
Programme: “Seeds of Change”

At this meeting we will be exploring the topic of ‘seeds’, those magical little entities!

We will kick-start the meeting with a short talk by Tim Wigley on his experiences in Bangladesh, where farmers responded to the devastating effects of Monsanto’s GMO seeds by forming the Naya Krishi Andolon (New Agriculture Movement). Thus restoring the tradition of seed saving and the saving their diverse genetic heritage from near destruction.

We will then view a short movie, Vanada Shiva on GM food & Monsanto

Artwell Chivinge will talk us through the art of collecting and storing seeds.There will be a chance to discuss all of the above. Let share our collective knowledge and experiences! We will finish off with the opportunity to share/trade/barter seeds. So if you have any seeds lying around at home please bring them along. Please not that meetings held at the Enviro Centre require the hire of the hall. We therefore would be grateful for a R10 donation to go towards this expense.

For those of you not in East London, check out our Seed & Plant Exchange and get involved!



garden indigenous plant and seed exchange

WANTED: Fever Trees

Hi All, I am looking for seeds of Acacia xanthophloea ( Fever Tree ) Can anyone help or advise on where I could obtain some / Thanks JennyE