Seed Library's Protocol and Disclaimer

The Seed Library @BCPL’s Seed Saving Protocol*

In order to have healthy, true seeds in our seed library, we ask that you follow a basic protocol when saving and returning seeds. We want everyone to have a fun and positive growing experience!

  1. Please only save seeds from healthy plants.
  2. Save seeds from multiple plants so that the seed has some genetic diversity in it. The quantity of plants that is optimum depends on the type of plant. For self-pollinating plants a minimum of 6 plants is necessary. For cross-pollinating plants, you’ll want to save from a much larger population.
  3. If the plant cross-pollinates, you’ll want to make sure to keep it isolated, so it stays “true to type.” Check with a seed saving chart or book to get proper isolation distances. We recommend this chart from Seed Savers Exchange: and the book by Suzanne Ashworth, Seed To Seed.
  4. When you return seeds to the Seed Library @BCPL, please label with as much information as you can. Makes sure seeds are completely clean and dry, and free of as much chaff as possible.
  5. Only return seeds from the brassica (ex. broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage) or cucurbit (ex. cucumbers, squash, melons) families if you have taken appropriate steps to prevent cross-pollination, such as hand-pollinating.
*Adapted from the Seed Protocol from the Nashville Public Library’s Seed Exchange, Nashville, TN and the West County Community Seed Exchange, Sonoma Co., CA.

Seed Library @ BCPL Disclaimer

Most of our seeds have been saved at home, by home gardeners. Some have been donated by seed companies, and there are a few hybrid seeds, which have been stamped “HYBRID-DO NOT RETURN SEEDS.” Please do not return seeds from these plants, as they will not produce seeds that are true to type. Since they were donated, and still viable, we did not want them to go to waste.
The Seed Library @BCPL cannot guarantee the purity or germination rates of any seeds. Seed saving and gardening carries an element of chance. If you check out seed that doesn’t come true, or doesn’t germinate, please let us know by filling out our comment form, and return it to the Reference Desk. We want to hear about your experiences!