Seed Mountain


Back in my early teens there used to be reference on the news to the EU butter mountain  which bemused me.  I had these quite grotesque images of oozing mountains of butter.  I was reminded of these this weekend when I emptied out my seed box.

In my last post I wrote about my lack of engagement with things and how unsettled I felt.  Writing the post helped me to sort my feelings out, as it so often does, and as one of the commentators so rightly said naming the problem out loud is a real step forward in itself.  So Sunday afternoon I confronted the seed box that had been brooding on the coffee table sending me accusatory glances.  I had dug it out a few weeks before in response to Anna, of Green Tapestry’s, comment that she needed to check her seed box before ordering seeds.  How terribly sensible I thought and something I really should do.  When I had been feeling more positive a few weeks back I had spent time on the Sarah Raven website putting endless packets of seeds into my virtual shopping basket.  Well of course I needed some zinnia seeds as they were wonderful last year, oh and I fancy some cosmos and some ammi again, oh and maybe some nigella, what about some foxgloves to get going as they are biennial, and maybe some dahlias from seed and so it went on.

I was stunned on tipping out the seed box on just how many packets I had managed to cram in over the last few years and these didn’t include some recent special purchases. It really was a seed mountain and had been created just as the EU butter mountain had – bought with no prospect of being sown.  How terrible and wasteful.  Sorting through I found 5 packets of assorted cosmos, a couple of foxgloves, nigella and all sorts of other things.  In fact the only thing that I didn’t have that was on my wish list were zinnias.  So I have decided to only buy zinnias this year and to use up what’s in the seed box.

It has to be acknowledged that some of these seeds have been there a while and may not be viable any more. However, being someone who likes a challenge and gets a perverse thrill out of making something work that isn’t meant to I found myself really taken with the idea.  So much so that I set to there and then and sowed 5 packets of seeds which needed cold to help them germinate – hopefully the freezing temperatures we have had the last few days will do the trick.  It may even be that by sowing this eclectic mix of seeds I achieve the real cottage garden feel that I am looking for.


30 Comments Add yours

  1. Jackie Harrison says:

    You could be writing about me in this post! I realised I had a problem when I had to move my seeds from an ice cream tub into a biscuit tin. I decided – probably about November time – that my new year’s resolution would be to NOT buy any seeds in 2016. I immediately cheated of course and bought a load of seeds there and then. Well, it’s January 20th and so far I have stuck to my resolution… only another 49 weeks to go.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Well done on your achievement so far , I wonder when you will given in and be tempted by some pretty picture

  2. Ogee says:

    You have inspired me to do some sorting of my own! And I love the approach of using what you have…throwing caution to the wind! I’m betting it will be your prettiest garden yet!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Ogee
      Hopefully or it could be the most empty garden if nothing germinates!!!!

    2. Ogee says:

      Either way…the anticipation is have the fun.

  3. Anna says:

    Moi sensible – if only Helen 🙂 Glad to hear that you’ve been exploring the far recesses of your seed box and ever more commendable that you’ve done some sowing. My boxes (one flowers etc and one vegetables) have been drastically thinned and tidied. I think that all that’s needed are a handful of flower seeds and some tomato seeds. That virtual butter mountain always puzzled me too.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      I can’t admit to tidying my seed box, just emptying it and shoving it all back in!!!

  4. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Hi Helen – Last year I had a disaster as sprinkled merrily heaps of saved seeds on area I have been trying to turn from concete clay to pretty flowers. Included was my opium poppies I have had for 40 or so years. THEN I proceeded to caste coffee grounds and grass cuttings and hardly any came up because burried! The bank looks like soil now and with the ‘help’ of blackbirds etc manage to scratch out plants and seedlings. For the first time I had NO opium poppies so have had to as daughters for seeds – boo hoo!! I chuck my spent flower plants on bare spots, especially allisiaum (spelling!) and now have lots of clouds of white enjoying themselves and smelling lovely. I never chuck in compost – just straight on bare patches. You could be like the old guy in America – Johnny Appleseed and throw on roadside when going to work. Or maybe sell your house and buy another one with at least an acre of land!!!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Yvonne
      Sorry to hear about the poppy seeds, I don’t have any special seeds so no worries in that regard. As for moving house I have thought about it but I don’t have the time at the moment to really think about it!

  5. Brian Skeys says:

    I MUST go through my seed box, thanks for the prompt Helen.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Brian

      You are welcome

  6. Renee says:

    I hope the seeds you planted do create the cottage look you’re going for. And you’re in good company growing zinnas – they recently bloomed in space!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Renee
      I was successful with zinnias for the first time last year, I think the secret here in the uk is not to sow too early, so sow in May

  7. nanacathy2 says:

    We have a kitchen cupboard full of seed packets etc. Time for a spring clean me thinks! Inspirational post, thanks.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      Glad you found it inspiring and hope the cupboard emptying went well!

  8. Cathy says:

    That’s a good reminder for me to buy my seed, Helen. Haven’t done so yet. For very old seed, with (I imagine) not a hope of germinating, I also mix it all up and scatter it on bare banks etc. Good idea so far, but as my planting catches up, I’ll run out of space. Happy seed sowing (and even happier germinating!)

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      Do you have reasonable germination rates for the old seeds, have you had some interesting results?

    2. Cathy says:

      Not really, Helen. Nicotianas always do well. But I persist, because I can’t bear to throw seed away!

    3. Helen Johnstone says:

      I never have any success with nicotianas 😕

  9. Susan says:

    I’ve only come to sowing a few annuals this year. However its interesting to read about sewing nigella, opium poppies and foxgloves. The temperate climate in Tasmania means that I’m having to remove self sown seedlings of these lovelies from all over the garden in order for the rest to reach a reasonable size. I sowed verbena bonariensis for the 1st time this year and am happily anticipating lots of self sown babies next year. Of course one doesn’t get the same choice of colour, it’s generally quite a medley!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Susan
      I’m always fascinating in how we perceive plants in different parts of the world. Yvonne who often comments is always saying that this or that plant that I grow is a real weed or nuisance in NZ

  10. karengimson says:

    That’s on my to-do list. Tip out the biscuit tin and make a list of what’s in there. I am half afraid to look, to be honest. I wish I was more organised. My seed purchasing is rather haphazard and not in any planned sort of way. Mostly it amounts to Sunday garden centre visits with my Mum, and then not being able to resist the beautiful photos. Good luck with your seed sowing, Helen.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Karen
      Your seed purchasing sounds like mine, a real sucker for a pretty picture!

  11. Matt @ Garden59 says:

    Wow, that’s quite a collection! Just in time I remembered to check my seed tin before ordering more and it certainly saved me a few quid. I’ve had some good results in the past from seeds that should, in theory, have been past it.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Matt
      I suspect it’s how you store the seeds. Mine are stored in a cool location so I am hopeful that I will get reasonable germination although it will be interesting to see how well seeds that are meant to sown fresh, like angelica do!

  12. I have my seed catalogs and garden catalogs scattered about to make my spring decisions, I do really like this process. This is almost as much fun as getting the seeds into the ground.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Charlie
      I love sowing seeds, so much expectation

  13. Substitute “threads” for “seeds” and you’ve got me, too…
    It was the Milk Lake that always got me – where was it? And how deep is a lake, anyway?

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Rachel
      I have to confess to having a similar box of threads but I don’t have an idea what to do with them yet

    2. That will no doubt become clear in time. I have threads I’ve had for twenty years suddenly prove to be exactly what I needed…!

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