Thursday, May 21, 2020

Don't Save It....Use It!


Over the past couple of months, I've had this need to use things up.  In our consumerist society, I'm just as guilty as the next person of buying, buying, buying - and then letting some of those purchases sit there, sometimes for years, waiting for the "perfect moment/occasion" to use them up.

These are a few of the seed packets that I had saved over the years
as I never really had the "right spot" for them.

To be honest, this need to start using "saved" items actually surfaced long before our current situation.  It arose almost two years ago when both of my in-laws passed away within months of each other and we had to go through their belongings, deciding what stayed and what had to go.  Seeing so many items that they had accumulated over the years but barely used (or were simply "saving") was sobering.  It was at that point in time that I decided to go through my own things.  I wanted to start using what I had as well as do some selective editing...and many charity carloads and Kijiji ads ensued.  I'm nowhere near done, with several basement shelves of boxes still to go through, but at least the process has begun.

Last year, I wrote about how this shift in attitude also translated to the seed stash in my Seed Diet post.  Each year, I purchased more and more seeds, even though I had bins of leftovers (or, in some cases, unopened packets) from previous years.  While I thoroughly enjoy trying out new varieties, seeds do have a finite shelf-life and it just felt wasteful to continue purchasing when I had SO many varieties to choose from already (at last count, my seed stash approached 300 packets 😳).

So I made a decision.  Each year I could, if I chose, pick one or two veg to "trial" different varieties, but otherwise I would cut my purchasing down to the bare minimum and concentrate instead on using what I already had.

This year, I purchased a few packets of seeds right before the entire seed industry went a bit bonkers with the unexpected demand generated by everyone wanting to grow their own.  My purchase was primarily the result of having run out of onion seeds as well as needing some fresh lettuce seeds.  I also added a few packets of ornamentals in there for good measure - mainly zinnias, 'cause they are one of my favourites, of course!

My total seed purchase this year, precipitated by a need for new onion & lettuce seeds,
was a paltry 8 packets in total.

But back to using what I already had.  The mixed wildflower/annual packets in the 1st photo were collected over the past few years and I had been setting them aside for....I'm not sure what.  The perfect spot?  The perfect year when I had plenty of time to start a wildflower garden?  Who knows?

I took out my entire seed stash this past spring and re-organized the lot.  In doing so, I set these packets aside to - finally - use them up.  I also set aside a couple of other seedy items that had been sitting in my seed bins.  A card from Botanical Paperworks that has wildflower seeds embedded into it and a bag containing 3 seed "bombs" which are supposed to provide an "explosion" of herbs when planting (I'm rather skeptical of that one).


I decided to set aside one of my beds and give all of these seeds a try.

First things first - the bed needed a good weeding:

All of the glorious worms that I found in this bed
while weeding did my heart good
Then I raked it smooth:

A little hand rake works really well when a light touch is needed

The 8'x4' bed was divided down the middle, lengthwise, then into thirds on each side to give me 6 quadrants.

Working on one side at a time & divided it up using bamboo poles

One packet of seed was sprinkled into each quadrant - this may or may not have been too much seed for that sized spot.  Guess we'll find out soon enough!

All of the seeds sown in the 8'x4' bed

All of the seeds need a "barely there" covering of soil, so I simply racked them in very lightly.

The seed bombs and card were planted in a separate bed (where I'm growing dahlias that I was able to successfully overwinter - a big win!)

Wildflower seed card (top); herb seed "bombs" (bottom)
The card was planted as is; the bombs were planted about 12" apart

Now it's a waiting game to see what (if anything - some of these guys are OLD) comes up.

Tick tock.....

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

16 comments:

  1. I can sympathize with the impact of cleaning out parents' homes. Great strategy in using those "expired" seeds. I too have seed packets I've never found a use for, some purchased, others received as giveaways or such. I just sowed 2 packets of zinnia seeds I received as gifts with purchase in 2017 in one area, I sowed them more closely than I usually would on the assumption that the rate of germination may be low. I'm tempted to include other seed packets with some succulent cuttings as free offerings to neighbors. They probably won't be as well-received as the citrus fruit I've given away during our lockdown but some people might be interested.

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    1. Most of the flower seeds I've grown in the past have a fairly long shelf life. In fact, several varieties of zinnia I grew from seed this year were also from 2017 and the germination rate was really good - 80-100%. I think you have a good chance of getting a bumper crop of blooms from your sowing. It's too bad that more people don't grow from seed - they don't know what they are missing (both in satisfaction and tangible rewards!)

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  2. It'll be exciting seeing what comes up, and the bees will love you for it. I'm just the same, I tend to hang onto things for a while before using them, just because I want to enjoy them longer I think, but then things go out of date or we forget about them. I'm trying to change my ways a little.

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    1. I'm trying hard to only buy what I intend to use right away - getting better at it, but not at 100% yet.

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  3. I need to follow your lead! I have so many seeds that need planting. I keep waiting for the perfect spot. Seriously I have purchased plants that I have seeds for. Such a great idea to plant them out in a bed. Sometimes seed mixes have plants that I may not want in the garden so I can easily edit them out in the bed and replant others. Thanks for the great tip!

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    1. I have wanted a "holding" bed for a while now and since I'll be cutting down on what I'm growing for the next little while, I figured why not make use of a couple of the beds in this way. I have a feeling I'll end up with one of these beds as a permanent part of the garden.

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  4. It sounds like an interesting experiment! I've been using some of my older brassica seeds as microgreens. Even if the germination rate is terrible, the ones that do come up go ahead and make something edible. And I'm not throwing them on the compost pile!

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    1. Another great idea! I do hate throwing things out that could have been put to good use.

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  5. It would help if some packets had fewer seeds. Some can never be used up in what amounts to a reasonable time frame.

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    1. True, esp. when it comes to veg where you want a variety of different ones instead of a whole bed with a single variety, like tomatoes.

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  6. This is such a great idea, Margaret! I've used a few more seeds this year, too, and like you I tend to "collect" too many packets and never use them. It's fun to try--even those that are potentially a little too old. I'm having to use critter-discouraging grids, though, because the chipmunks and squirrels are really bad this year! They're digging through lava rock to get into the soil in my pots. I'm starting to wonder if they're going for the tulip bulbs, because that's the only new thing in my pots this year. Good luck! Keep us posted!

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    1. Oh no....those dang critters! I had a bit of digging in my beds right at the beginning too - in fact I found one of the herb bombs on top of the bed, "exploded" at the hands of, most likely, a squirrel. I reburied what was left of it and then covered the beds with Agribon. This type of issue usually only happens when the beds are empty so I'll be able to remove it once I see signs of life & fingers crossed (for both of us) that they will leave things alone.

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  7. I applaud your determination to go from storing all kinds of garden stuff to actually using it. I've tried to do the same with a bunch of the freebies leftover from old Garden Blogger Flings, many of which just sat on a shelf for years.

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    1. Several of these packets were from the GBF - feels good to finally use them!

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  8. I think I must be that one odd gardener that doesn't horde seeds. I tend to plant most of what I purchase every year. I hope everything sprouts!

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    1. Ha! Yup - you're a strange one (but wonderfully so!) ;)

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