Friday, March 22, 2019

Upcoming Seed Library Events

Seed Packaging 

April 8 – Seed Packaging at the White Bear Lake library from 5-8 pm. 

No experience necessary! Free treats! This is an open event, come when you can, stay as long as you are able.

 Seed Talk - Foodscaping
April 9 – Seed Talk at the White Bear Lake library, 6:30 pm. Topic: Foodscaping.

How to incorporate more food plants in your landscape even if you have a small yard, HOA restrictions, or don’t want to dig a new garden bed. This is a community discussion, so bring your tips, techniques and questions.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Germination Experiment

A friend sent me many packets of very old seeds she found in her parents house. Some are from 1977! She was hoping I could use them in the seed library. Because they are so old I felt I needed to do a germination test on the seeds before I set them loose in the seed library.

To do a germination test you take a small amount of seeds, say 5-10 and place them on a damp paper towel. Use a pencil to write the type of seed on the paper towel. Fold the towel over the seeds and place in a plastic bag, with the end open and put them in a warm location. Check the seeds every day to make sure the paper toweling is still damp and to see if any have germinated. Remove any seeds that start to mold and count them as dead.

On the seed packet it will tell you the number of days until germination. After that many days have passed or until all the seeds have germinated, stop the test. Count the number of seeds that have germinated and figure out the percentage as follows:

(# seeds that germinated / # seeds used in test) * 100 = % of seeds that will germinate

So if 50% of the seeds germinated, then you know you have to put down twice as many seeds as you want to grow.

So today I started the germination test. I placed the plastic bag of seeds in paper towels in a tray. Then I put the tray over the heating mat to help along the germination. But as you can see from the photo below my seeds are getting a little extra warmth!
Big Wooly enjoys 'helping' me alot!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Seed Talk Tuesday March 12, 2019 at 6:30 pm

Topics: Container Gardening and Seed Starting
Please come to share your tips, tricks and questions on these topics with fellow gardeners. Everyone is itching to get out and play in the dirt, so maybe some talk about gardening will help us wait until the snow melts and the soils thaws out!
Hope to see you Tuesday!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Interview with Ms. Painted Lady Runner Bean

Interview with Ms. Painted Lady Runner Bean

Pam: Good Morning Ms. Painted Lady Runner Bean.
Painted Lady: Hello, Pam. Please call me Painted Lady.
Pam: Thank you, Painted Lady. You’re a new variety at the White Bear Lake Seed Library. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Painted Lady: As you can see from my wonderful photo, I’m quite a looker! My flowers are two shades of pink and I have the most fabulous speckled beans. Certainly rivals Mr. Scarlet Runner Bean any day!
Pam: Yes, I can see how lovely your flowers are.


Painted Lady: (Blushes) The hummingbird moth is very attracted to my blooms!
Pam: Uh, right. So I’m told your official name is Phaseolus coccineus. The Phaseolus  genus includes all the common beans, isn’t that right?
Painted Lady: I assure you I come from much more royal stock than the common bean! Why, have you ever seen a common bean with flowers like mine?
Pam: No, of course not Painted Lady. I didn’t mean to imply you were in any way common.
Painted Lady: The common bean is just for eating, whereas I am valued for my lovely flowers as well as my edible beans. Why, you can even eat my flowers! Though why anyone would waste such beauty is beyond me!
Pam: (rolling eyes) I did a little research on your ancestry and found that Friar Antonio de Arrabida described your species in Flora of Rio de Janeiro in 1827.
Painted Lady: Why yes. I originated in Central America, though I am all over the world now. In fact, in Greece one of my relatives with white blossom and white beans are grown under protective law in northern Greece. Her beans are very important in Greek cuisine. They eat them in Gigandes plaki.


Pam: So my gardener friends would like to know where you prefer to live.
Painted Lady: I enjoy sun, as much sun as possible as I come from warmer climates, you know. And, of course, I need a place to run my vigorous vines and to show off my gorgeous flowers.
Pam: So you need full sun and a trellis, right?
Painted Lady: Certainly! Also, I prefer that the ground is nice and warm before planting my seeds. And it goes without saying that I can’t handle any frost!
Pam: Yes, of course.
Painted Lady: If you treat me right, I’ll bloom for you in about 2 months.
Pam: Wonderful! Thank you Painted Lady for your time. I would like to add that the White Bear Lake Seed Library has several packets of your lovely beans for gardeners to grow this year. I hope that many do and harvest your lovely speckled beans to return to the seed library.
Painted Lady: Your welcome, Pam. I enjoyed showing your gardeners what a great plant I am!

Photo credits:,