The Seed Library

The Seed Library at La Crosse Public Library was launched in February, 2013, with the help of a grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation. Our mission is to lend free heirloom seeds to community members in order to teach and promote the art of heirloom seed saving and sharing. We support local sustainability efforts that encourage growing and eating wholesome, fresh, affordable food.

June Check-In

SInce our seed catalog opened on March 29, 2014, The Seed Library has checked out over 1300 seed packets and 500 tomato seedlings! We're thrilled with the response from gardeners who are giving seed-saving a try. It's shaping up to be a good growing season--we hope your gardens are growing well.

Gardening may be more art than science, so we know our best hopes can be dashed by a pesky squirrel or any other act of nature. Take it as it comes and do what you can do! As your plants come to seed please take time to review the seed-saving tips below. The success of our program depends on getting those seed envelopes back. 

  • Select the best, healthiest plants for seed-saving.
  • Determine the plant's method of seed dispersal and time your harvest. 
  • Check your plants daily as they mature and watch the flowers. 
  • Afer collecting the seed, clean it and spread it out to dry. To clean, remove all other plant debris from around the seed.
  • Some seeds can be easily collected and removed from their pods by hand. Others need to be cut down and threshed to remove the seeds. Many seeds can simply be shaken free of their pods into a container.
  • Generally, let seeds dry on the plant before harvesting. After harvest, dry further on a screen, coffee filter, or paper plate for at least another two weeks.

Save this Seed

For each species we offer, we have information to guide you through the saving process. They are available at Main or linked below for printing. 

Beans   Flowers   Lettuce and Arugula   Biennials  Squash

Ground Cherry   Peas   Culinary Herbs  Herbs for Health   Tomatoes

Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA, has great webinars, including several on saving seeds. Click on the playlist to view titles; Seed Saving for Beginners is a good starting point. 

To learn how to flail and winnow with a fan view these videos: Seed Cleaning: Fanning or Winnowing and How to Clean Seeds Using an Electric Fan.