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.

Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

30 thoughts on “Seed Mountain”

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

  2. 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!

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

  4. 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. 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. 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. 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

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

  7. 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. 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

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

  9. 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. 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!

    1. 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

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