Yesterday, there was a package on the porch as big as a box of roses. What’s the occasion, I wondered? I pushed the kids out of the way and opened it immediately, but there were no roses inside. Instead, there was packet after packet after packet of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds, a veritable card catalog of interesting plants and varieties. I’m pretty sure I squealed with delight.
I had almost forgotten that months ago a fellow school gardener had alerted me to the seed donation program through Botanical Interests out in Colorado. They donate last year’s seeds to schools and community gardens if you pay the shipping cost. That seemed like a pretty good deal to me. Sure, the seed germination rates decline with every passing year, but, let’s face it, nearly all of my seeds are expired anyway, and by more than 1 year. We routinely plant extra seeds for insurance and they’ll keep right on producing for 4 or 5 years until they suddenly don’t (like last year’s Swiss chard). I’m quite the cheapskate, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, so I might splurge on two or three new seed packets each year, but mostly I rely on seeds I’ve kept and dried from that year’s crop, donations, trades, and my aforementioned stash of old seeds.
So imagine my surprise when I saw how many seed envelopes the box contained. More than 300. I counted! I assumed it would be all the stuff that people didn’t want, but, in fact, it’s all the stuff that people don’t realize they should want, like heirloom squashes and funky greens. We got golden zucchini, crookneck squash, and pattypan squash. We got buttercup, sweet meat, pink banana, and Hubbard squash. We got Chinese kale, watercress, and escarole. We got red and cippolini onions as well as scallions, bush beans, climbing beans, snow peas, okra, melons, tomatoes, turnips, hot peppers of all kinds, and a vast array of flowers. That Swiss chard I was hoping to replace? We got 11 packages. We have so much corn, we can feed the entire raccoon population of Waltham. All this for $15 in shipping.
That’s a huge deal for a school garden. I spent some time gleefully alphabetizing the seed packets this morning. Last weekend, I set up my homemade grow lights in the basement, and that was none too soon. There’s work to do!