Seed Saving Guide

What is a Seed Library?

The seed library is a depository of seeds held in trust for the members of the Mendocino County Library. Members come to the library and borrow seed for their garden. They grow the plants in their home garden and at the end of the season, they let a few of the plants go to seed. From those plants, they collect seeds and return the same amount of seed (more or less) as they borrowed at the beginning of the growing season.

Why should I save seeds?

When you grow, save and share seed you are:

  • Increasing the genetic diversity of seed stock
  • Developing seed stock that is more resilient and better adapted to the local climate and soil
  • Perpetuating the knowledge and culture of seed saving
  • Providing seeds to others in our local community

Seed Saving Guide

Seed Saving Chart courtesy of

Are you new to seed saving?

Start with seeds that are labeled as green. These are easy to learn the basics of seed saving. Beginning seed savers should start with green beans, dry beans and peas.
Moderately difficult and advanced seeds require special planning to preserve the purity of the variety or may have a more difficult gathering process.
If you return seeds to the library without taking certain precautions, they will not produce plants that are true to the original type of seed.

How to return seeds:

It is important that seeds coming back into the collection are grown and saved properly. Plant and harvest, let some of the plants go to seed. Save seed for yourself and the Library. Write down all the information for the seed you want to donate before you bring them into the Library.

Reading list:

The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food – Janisse Ray

The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer’s Guide to Vegetable Seed Production – John Navazio

Organic Seed Production and Saving: The Wisdom of Plant Heritage – Bryan Connolly

The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetable, Herbs, Fruit, Flowers, Trees and Shrubs – Robert E Gough

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners – Suzanne Ashworth

For more information:

Seed Savers Exchange

Global Seed Network

Organic Seed Alliance

UC Master Gardener Program – Sonoma County -Saving Seeds

NCO Garden Project

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens