Clearing out the seed tin


Like many other gardeners, I have a seed tin.

seed tin 2

Well, I have two – one for veg and one for flowers. And like many others, my tins are overflowing with old packets and strange envelopes with faded handwriting on them. The bottom of both tins has a collection of mixed seeds, of who knows what age. They’re basically a disgrace, and this year I lost it. I sorted out the packets, threw out the really ancient survivors – parsley seed from 1999 is absolutely NOT viable – and the completely unidentifiable.

I decided that the place I have always had my bamboo bean tunnel would be better used for flowers, and that the beans would cope elsewhere. So we weeded, picked stones, riddled, raked, picked more stones, raked again, removed cat crap from lovely fine tilth (aka natural cat litter), weeded, removed more stones, riddled, raked, removed yet more contributions from Next Door’s Cat (I don’t know what they’re feeding her, but it’s clearly too much), weeded again, raked again and finally scattered a random selection of seeds, all mixed up very technically in an old porridge bowl.

Eventually, despite the cold spring, things began to germinate. There was more weeding and – with awful inevitability – removing of helpful feline additions. Then everything seemed to go into hibernation for a while, but now the bed has really come into its own. And I am chuffed to bits, even if the selection was somewhat random.

There was almost a whole packet of Salvia horminium bouquet, for instance, in pink:

Salvia horminium bouquet

and purple:

purple S Horm bouq

and there were also some Salvia nemerosa, ex-RHS seed scheme, but they don’t seem to have germinated. Or maybe the horminiums sat on their heads. There were lots of nicotiana, alata lime green and tinkerbell, but only one has appeared – though that may be due to me weeding them out at an early stage in an alarming flirtation with tidiness. There are some antirrhinums, but they’re not flowering yet, and some calendulas and papaver somniferums – all to come. There are some cosmos and what I thought were nigella (that’s what it said on the packet), but either the latter have been transformed by age or they were incorrectly packed, because that’s not what I’ve got. I’m not sure what I have got – they’ve yet to flower properly – mind, but nigella they’re not.

The most successful contribution, though, comes from a last-minute addition: a packet of shirley poppies I’d forgotten,

poppies 1

and I am very glad I decided to add them even though they should have been planted by the end of 2010.

poppy 2

Nearly went in the bin. Ooops.

I added cerinthe more systematically, but happily you can’t spot the straight lines in amongst everything else. I’d saved the seeds, and they have been a bit hit and miss in their colouring. Maybe it’s time for some new seeds next year,

pale cerinthe

ore maybe I just need to give them a bit more time to do their thing. It will be interesting to see how the colour balance changes as the shirley poppies go over and the calendulas and cosmos come on stream – I hope there aren’t any howling clashes – but for the moment everything is working together well:


even in the current heatwave (still with us; it’s as clammy out there as a changing room after a heavy match, but happily without the all-pervading smell of sock). And one last shot of lovely, lovely salvias?


Ah yes – and a dandelion. Ahem.

The heatwave – and this has nothing to do with the ex-bean bed – has had many effects on the garden, mind. And one has been the presence of grasshoppers everywhere, not just in the meadow. They’ve been in this bed, for instance, but I’ve also caught (a confused) one in the house, and several sunning themselves on paths.


I’ve been trying to identify it from my field guides, but it’s more difficult than you expect as they will keep moving and won’t pose in any useful position for photographs; their ‘song’ is cicada-like and pretty constant. Any ideas?


24 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    Love the mixed seeds, a real success.

    1. kate says:

      and a complete accident – just goes to show that sometimes you can do too much planning. Oh well….

  2. Dobby says:

    The random, old and misnamed seed bed looks great. A lovely natural area. No wonder the grasshoppers are happy!

    1. kate says:

      It is pretty – you must come and have a look in reality!

  3. Cathy says:

    Having just decided that one of my veg beds which has been hosting pots of potted on plants and seedlings for a couple of months would be better used as nursery bed than a seed bed next year, after reading your post I am going to search out all my unused flower seeds and throw them in there THIS year, in fact TOMORROW! What an exciting adventure it will be, even without grasshoppers 😉 Thank you for unintentional kick up the whatever, Kate

    1. kate says:

      Go for it! MIne’s been so successful that I’m going to do it next year as well – but I’ll have to buy some more seeds, which wasn’t quite the idea. Hey ho…

      (Sorry about the delay in replying but WP decided to hide your comment for some reason, I know not why…)

      1. Cathy says:

        Hi Kate – several of us had this issue with comments and I assumed that’s what had happened. Seems to be sorted now. I did go out the next day with my spare packets (apart from 4 packets of carrot seeds!) and I had stock germinating within a day. Thanks for the idea!

        1. kate says:

          Good that it wasn’t just me, I hope I’ve caught up with everyone (I really value these exchanges, shame to miss them)

          That’s really impressive with the stock, but I think you should probably have included the carrot. After all, if you’re clearing out the old seeds, you’re clearing out the old seeds, ;-). Mind you on that basis I’d have included turnips – why did I buy those??? – so maybe not…

        2. Cathy says:

          I intend to plant the carrots in a pot – but that’s what I have intended to do for the last 4 years and hence 4 packets of carrot seed 😉

        3. kate says:

          That’s almost as bad as me and the turnips. Actually, I think I’m worse because I’ve no idea what I intended to do with the turnips. I don’t even like turnips.

  4. What a wonderful thing to do, it looks great, though I was stuck on your changing room analogy for while, apt and very humorous.

    1. kate says:

      and, ergh, accurate. Bleagh.

      And there’s a huge upside too – I have a near-empty seed tin to fill up!!!

  5. Ellie says:

    What a lovely way to use up seeds – colourful, beautiful and great for insects. I need to have a sort out of my jampacked seed tin too!
    Best wishes

    1. kate says:

      Thanks – all I can say is go for it (I did eliminate some potential thugs, mind, by being severe in chucking out some of the older stuff – I’m not entirely sure that the honesty seed, for instance, was really dead.)

  6. hillwards says:

    Looking fabulous! What a lovely idea… hope the beans have forgiven you for being hoisted out. 🙂

    1. kate says:

      Don’t care – actually, the beans are better than ever and the freezer is rapidly filling up. I do have to go out every morning, remove snails from the wigwams/beans and chuck them in the road though…

  7. Pauline says:

    What a good idea, you will have us all doing it now! It was certainly successful, your flowers are a delight and I’m sure your bees appreciated them!

    1. kate says:

      It’s lovely and it’s still lovely, even though the poppies are going over now. I think the Gardening Gods must have smiled on me, because it’s never worked quite so well before. Lots of weeding seems to be the key (but next year I’ll try to spot the nicotiana first)…

  8. It all looks very summery – nothing like a dandelion to spoil the fun!

    1. kate says:

      I think I’m quite inured to them by now… if they were rarer, we’d treasure them for their lovely colour. As they’re not… grr….

  9. I am so impressed! I tried to do something similar but didn’t get much germination at all. Mind you, I think I was a bit light on the raking, riddling, removing of cat pooh stage of preparation. It was more of a chuck in and see (or in my case, not see). Love your poppies particularly.

    1. kate says:

      I’m sure the really essential thing is the removal of the feline element…. I must admit that this is the first time it worked for me, and it was so slow getting going (though that’s not surprising, given the spring we had) that I thought I’d failed again. Perhaps we’re all too sure that seeds have failed and don’t give them enough time?

      The poppies are FAB. Even after last night’s rain (hooray, rain)…

  10. hiyaim3mily says:

    the insect at the bottom is a locust 🙂 some beautiful flowers there!

    1. kate says:

      AGH! Run for the hills!

      (Flowers still lovely despite locusts and tropical storm we had yesterday. OK, return to normal Welsh weather…)

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.