A Seed Packet Art Exhibit & How To Save Seeds

In the movie Mad Max Fury Road there is an old woman who carries a precious satchel with her that is full of some of the earth’s last seeds. She lives in a dead, acrid landscape and is constantly trying to get them to sprout without much luck. I often think of this character and would like to imagine that I would be her in an apocalyptic era. Knowing how to save seeds is an essential skill for self sufficient living.

This is my second year participating in the Verdancy Project’s Sowing Seeds & Connections art and seed swap. Artists and gardeners from around the globe exchanged seeds in packets they created. I painted a French Marigold growing in my garden and used the image for handmade packets full of seeds I saved from these bright, cheery annuals.

It’s fun to capture the energy of the growing season in a tiny capsule and store a little bit of it for next year. Saving seeds connects you to the cycles of the earth, contributes to preserving crop diversity and heirloom plants, and gives you food security for the future (if you save food crop seeds!) It’s also a satisfying zero waste activity that saves money.

French Marigolds and seed packet art by Amy Daileda in red, orange and green

Did you know that a seed has a miniature plant inside, complete with a bit of food to use when the conditions are right to emerge? My fabulous late botany professor Jolie Elan said the baby plant had a coat and a lunch box!

A few plants that are easy to save seeds from include marigolds, lettuce, beans, and sunflowers. Some seeds need to be stratified (kept at a cold temperature) before they will germinate, so it can be helpful to look into exactly what you are saving. Or just give it a try and see what happens.

Back of handmade seed packet "French Marigold" Tagetes patula 2022
French Marigolds are easy to grow. They love sun, warm weather, have low water needs and are edible. I like growing different marigolds in the garden every year to attract pollinators, add a splash of bright color to the vegetable beds, and to have something blooming in the fall. This year I had a French Marigold blooming in a pot on the patio until early December!

How to save seeds:

It’s easy! Many plants produce seeds late in the summer or in the fall here in the Northern Hemisphere. Look for seeds as the flowers fade on your healthiest plants. Gather them on a dry day. I like to wait for a dry spell so the plants have a few days to dry out before collecting their seeds. You can cut an entire flower head, a stem, or collect just the seeds. Lay them on a plate or screen to continue drying if needed. If seeds are damp at all when you store them they can mold and be ruined. Once dry, separate the seeds from any leaves or other plant matter and keep them in an envelope, box or paper bag–they need to be able to breathe. Label, date, and then store them in a dark, cool area until you are ready to use them. Seeds are generally viable for a year or two, although some seeds can last for thousands of years!

If you want to save seeds from lettuce, radish, kale, or other greens, you need to let one of the plants flower and then go to seed instead of harvesting it or cutting it back when it starts to produce a flower. Ideally you let one of the strongest, healthiest looking plants go to seed, so that you will be saving the best seeds.

Click the button below to check out the Sowing Seeds and Connections 2022 virtual exhibit to see all of this year’s fabulous seed packets. There is some amazing artwork!

Some of the 2022 Sowing Seeds & Connections seed packets.
Thanks to the Verdancy Project for this image, and for organizing the artist seed swap!

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