When Penpals Get Seedy

I may have received a number of items in brown envelopes at the weekend, but happily they're not of the dodgy kind, though they are distinctly seedy :)

It's all down to Carl and Mel who've organised the fab Seedy Penpals scheme.

I've played 'pass the parcel' before over at Allotments4All, but this is a more personal  and cheaper way of exchanging seeds as there's no ginormous parcel to pass on to the next person in line.

Effectively I have 2 penpals: one who sends me seeds and the other I send seeds to. We have a discussion first about gardening experience and style, plus any preferences or dislikes, so the seed sender can pick out the spare packets in their stash which fit the bill. My selection is winging its way to Amsterdam - a place firmly in the affections of both NAH and I as we honeymooned there.

Seeds will be exchanged twice a year (in February 2013 next time) and we'll be blogging at the end of each month about how we're getting on with the seeds we've received.

My seeds arrived on Saturday from Joanna over at Zeb Bakes. They're a mix of herbs, veg and flowers; some which are familiar and others are completely new, like the Danish pickling cucumber and root parsley. I was also pleased to find some seeds from Special Plants as I was over at Derry's with Victoria last week :)

Most of the seeds will have to wait until next year, though I've sown the bulb fennel straight away. As my garden is south facing, I can get away with it and it'll be great to add an anise flavour to our salads in the coming months - from thinnings, frondy foliage and bulbs.

I'm amazed at how starting The 52 Week Salad Challenge has taken me in some unexpected directions this year. Discovering new blogs both near and far (including Carl, Mel and Joanna's); connecting with food bloggers who've come up with some wonderful salad combinations; and learning how to bake sourdough bread have all been a surprise and a delight.

Above all, it's the community and sharing - embodied in unselfish acts like Seedy Penpals - which have been most uplifting.

Thanks for my seeds Joanna - I hope I can do your gift justice :)


  1. I agree wholeheartedly. I also joined the scheme and have been delighted with my seeds. Its brought a whole new circle of people into my life who I would probably otherwise have never interacted with and I now have an enormous selection of winter veg I would probably never have bought, growing in my greenhouse. I can highly recommend the scheme to those considering joining for the next round of swops..

  2. Lorraine - welcome! My one regret is not blogging about the scheme (though I did manage a few tweets) whilst it was being set up so that more people could join in.

  3. Thanks Michelle, the Danish aiser seeds come from a packet sent to me by Misky (a blog friend of mine) whose husband is Danish. You can get it in pickled form in the UK from the Danish foodie websites. It is usually pickled skinned and is done in a sweet spicy way. One of those tastes of my childhood and to my shame I didn't get round to trying to grow them this year. Thanks for the mention!

  4. Hi Joanna - even better that some of the seeds have come via another blog friend and have a personal history to them. I must have a look to see if Misky has a pickling recipe on her blog :)

  5. That sounds like a fab idea, I'm going to take a look.

  6. your right it is uplifting, you can feel the good will around the seedy pen pal scheme

  7. awholeplotoflove - oh do join, it's lots of fun :)

    Gillian - welcome! It's great to return to what social media is really all about :)

  8. What a great scheme, and too bad I can't join. I am looking for some seeds, actually for yellow flat italian beans and can't find them anywhere.

  9. Marina - welcome! Sadly the import restrictions in the States means the scheme can't extend over the pond. Have you tried Mr Brown Thumb or Garden Faerie re your yellow flat Italian beans? I know both of them are very keen on heirloom varieties and seed saving. They might be able to help you out.

  10. Thanks Michelle, I am so heartened by the posts that I have seen so far, people really seem to be getting behind it!

    As for outside the EU, as Michelle says, working one's way through import/export restrictions is a minefield. That is not to say that if we get interest from other lands that we won't consider facilitating a scheme to operate in that country (with the understanding you'll only get matched in that area) but we needed to make sure we could work it first before we implement our plans for World domination!

  11. I think your salad challenge was inspired, I'm glad it has led to seed swapping too, the very best of online communities. Will you do it again next year? Moving meant it didn't work for me this year :-(

  12. Hi Janet - there's still time to join in. Next week's post is about what can be sown for the winter.

    I'm having a think about how I'll do things next year. I won't be posting weekly, but I already have more posts on my To Do list than we have weeks left in the year...

  13. Ediblethings - I think the USA already has its own seed swapping scheme. I need to head over to Patrick of Bifurcated Carrots (fantastic seed saving and seed swapping guy) to see what info he has...

  14. Janet - not sure if the question was about Seedy Penpals, or Salad Challenges.

    I'd love to see the salad challenge continue, but that would be up to Michelle. I have loved salad chat, and getting ideas from everyone, and the commitment to blog and join in has helped me immensely with being organised and successional sowing and stuff. It has also made me a more frequent forager, which has been so good for me. I know the 52 weeks aren't up, but it has been ace so far, so thank you Michelle.

    As for Seedy Penpals, we intend to do it twice a year, so feel free to sign up on my blog for February, in time for spring seeds :)(Apologies for the shameless plug!)

  15. Ooh, thanks for the tip on Bifurcated Carrots, we are nearly neighbours. I'll definitely try and get in touch!

  16. ediblethings - Patrick is a top bloke. He and Steph rranged a couple of food growing blogger get togethers in Oxford a couple of years ago.

    They were lots of fun, I learned loads and we swapped seeds!

    Patrick grows a mind boggling number of varieties of garlic and is also v keen on heirloom varieties and seed saving.

    A good person and blog to know :)


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