Jan 232014

Seedy Penpal Parcel January 2014

Our Seedy Penpals exchange has got off to a grand start this year. I received this very thoughtful & generous parcel above from Lorraine last week.

Squash seeds

Lorraine sent us four different squash varieties from US seed supplier Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.

  • Pattison Golden Mabre Scallop (summer squash)
  • Gelber Englischer Custard (summer squash)
  • Marina Di Chioggia (winter squash)
  • Blue Hubbard (winter squash)

We’ve been perennial squash growers here with mixed success. We’ll make a concerted effort with these to keep them very well fed and watered and hope the summer weather is kind to us.

Aubergine & Chillies

We love growing different chilli varieties and Lorraine sent us two we haven’t tried before:

Plus aubergine Black Beauty that Lorraine had over-ordered. We’ve had limited success with aubergine here with bad summers. When we lived down south, we had good crops – so fingers crossed.

We’ve just acquired a load of sash windows from a local friend (via Twitter) who is having them replaced. We’ll use these to build a super cold frame to house these gems. Hopefully the aubergines will be especially happy with them. More of this in later posts.


Lorraine sent us:

  • Cabbage: heritage variety Wheelers Imperial
  • Mustard – giant red
  • Mustard – komatsuna
  • Nasturtium – organic mixed, for companion planting.

It’ll be interesting to try the cabbage which we can grow for spring greens and hearts.

We’re big fans of mustards. We grow them over winter in our big polytunnel where they produce leaves for salads and cooked veg over the winter and great shoots in the spring. The different colours and leaf shapes add welcome variety in the dark days. The mustard seeds she sent are some passed on from her earlier seedy penpal Jenny – so the connection continues.

The nasturtiums are always welcome. Apart from being great companion and bee plants they’re a great edible too. The leaves, flowers and flower buds and seed pods are all edible and delightfully peppery. So we’ll be munching on those for sure and I’ll post some recipes for them during the year.

Onion & dahlias

Tussy Mussy made 2 Jan 2014Lorraine sent us some Senshyu Yellow seeds. These are an overwintering Japanese type for autumn sowing. This is brilliant, as we’ve decided to do all our onions this way and to concentrate on varieties that we can’t buy or are more expensive to get.

And to help with our plans to have more perennial flowers for cutting and using in Debs’ tussie mussies, Lorraine sent us some great dahlia tubers. We’ll have to be patient until we can see what colours we have. I’m instructed that I’m not allowed to eat them 🙁


Lastly, as Lorraine is well aware of my culinary proclivities, we’re the lucky recipients of two lots of dried chillies from Lorraine’s own garden. They smell great and I’m keen to use them soon.

All round a really great Seedy Penpal package. To see Lorraine’s side of the story, see her Slow January blog post.

 Posted by at 15:25
Feb 102013

Seedy Penpals Badge Big
Our second Seedy Penpal exchange has got off to a great start. we have lots of enthusiastic people who are making new friends and oo-ing and ahh-ing over new seeds and other presents. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 14:36

Seedy Penpals January 2013

 Permaculture, Seasons, Seedy Penpals, Spring, Winter  Comments Off on Seedy Penpals January 2013
Jan 102013

Seedy Penpals Badge Big

As many people found in August 2012, Seedy Penpals is a great way to share seeds with like-minded people. We all like to send and receive surprise treats: with Seedy Penpals you get to grow them too (and eat some). Follow the links at the bottom of that post to see the fun other people had.

Now it’s nearly time for the February 2013 exchange. If you already know about the scheme and just want to sign up, visit the ‘How it Works’ page and use the form that’s there.

If you took part in last year’s Scheme, I’ll email you to ask you to confirm that you want to take part in this exchange. Please look out for my email, or let me know you want to carry on by Tweeting  me. If your email address has changed since last time, please get in touch with me on Twitter or using the contact form on this website. Thanks 🙂

For those of you that are new to this, here’s a brief explanation…

Seedy Penpals is also a great way to

  • Meet and make new friends who share your interest in gardening
  • Find new blogs you may like
  • Share your experience of different plants and how to grow & care for them
  • Increase your knowledge about how to grow & care for plants
  • Save & share your favourite varieties
  • Protect plant biodiversity
  • Conserve and promote heritage varieties of plants
  • Make sure your surplus seeds are not wasted

Who can join?

Anyone who would like to join is welcome. You can be:

  • a complete beginner, or
  • someone who knows they have green fingers
  • young, or
  • more ‘mature’

We’d like to see:

  • bloggers or non-bloggers
  • Tweeters or non-Tweeters
  • UK & other EU residents only (due to seed export restrictions)

All you need to do is to read this about How it Works, fill in the form that’s there and sign up. Please read How it Works carefully, so you can be sure that you can participate in this way.

So what happens?

  • You read the Agreement and sign up
  • You encourage your friends to join too
  • In late January and late July of each year we match you up with a Seedy Penpal & email you
  • Penpal A will send to Penpal B, Penpal B will send to Penpal C (so it’s not a swap)
  • You get in touch with your Seedy Penpal to find out their postal address and any preferences they may have
  • In February and August you select and send to your Seedy Penpal some thoughtfully chosen seeds and any tips and instructions for sowing and care
  • You open your Seedy Packet and rejoice at your good fortune, sow what you like. Tweet your joy if you do that thing!
  • If you can, blog about your Seedy Packet and how your seeds are doing in the coming weeks and months. You put your link on the Seedy Blog so we can all see it. Add the Seedy Penpals Badges to your site.
  • Let us have some feedback about what went well and less well and give us suggestions for improvement
  • Look forward to the next Seedy Packet and encourage your friends to join.

So now, sign up

 Posted by at 13:28
Sep 302012


Seedy Penpals Badge Big

As I type this there’s yet another brutal weather front going over. The wind is howling and the rain lashing both pressing & clawing at the windows like hungry sea monsters. The transition into Autumn has crashed down like a saturated ceiling.

The seeds I received from Lucy are safely tucked up indoors awaiting a new year and some warmth. However, all has not been quiet here at Legge Towers on the Seedy Penpals front.

Mel & I have worked on a Questionnaire for those of you who took part in the last exchange. We will email this very shortly. Mel has done great outreach work in the Netherlands and far beyond: go have a read.

Here, I have saved seeds from some of our plants, especially the heritage varieties. We’ve saved seeds from our (former Heritage Seed Library) Dragon’s Tongue dwarf bean, achocha and sunflowers for example. We’ve also had a great year in propagating oca (oxalis tuberosa) seedlings. These may just be the crosses that will be the next generation of oca that doesn’t need to wait until after the autumn equinox to make tubers. We’ll find out next year.

Some of these things may find their way into my next Seedy Penpals parcel…

Anyway, if you have your own blogged update of progress with your Seedy Penpals seeds, you can add a link below…


 Posted by at 11:59

Seedy Penpals – a letter from Gillian

 Autumn, Permaculture, Seasons, Seedy Penpals, Winter  Comments Off on Seedy Penpals – a letter from Gillian
Sep 122012

Gillian sent me a letter about her Seedy Penpals experience which she asked me to blog for her. I do this with pleasure. You can find Gillian as the Impatient Gardener on Twitter.

A letter from Gillian

Dear Carl

Just a letter to update you on my #SeedyPenpals experience.

My seedy pen pal was the lovely Kate Mortimer; she sent me a wonderful parcel of seeds including: Green Manure, Radish “Hilds blauer Herbst und Winter”, Viola bambini mixed, Godetia and corn marigolds.

Gillian Pulford - Seedy Penpals Packet

As I have an allotment here in Llanfairfechan, I was quite keen to start with the green manure which has been something I’ve been meaning to try. So I have been busy sowing this as gaps arise. Apart from a few tussles with local riff raff (rabbits) this is going great guns.

Gillian Pulford - sowing green manure

I’ve also sown my radish, which is almost ready.

Gillian Pulford - radish seedling

And the viola, Kate was given the viola seeds from The Tatton Hall RHS show at the Abolition of Torture Garden. I look forward to these, and feel that I must make the effort to visit the Tatton Hall show myself next year.

Gillian Pulford - Viola

On my allotment I mainly grow veg, but I will shortly sow some of the Godetia sent by Kate to hopefully bring some early colour and help bring the bees in to do their stuff!

I’m really pleased with my seeds and feel that Kate sent me an excellent mix. I will be really interested to see the result of the green manure and its affect on my soil which is heavy clay and real effort to dig. Anything that helps break it up has to be a bonus.

After reassuring nearest and dearest that I wasn’t corresponding with unscrupulous characters but in fact sowing seeds, #SeedyPenpals has been a brilliant experience which has encouraged me to sow seeds I would have not tried before. It has also put me in contact with some lovely people who share some wonderful tips and advice for growing.

Finally, thanks for the wonderful idea – loving it

All the best


 Posted by at 13:58
Aug 312012

My Seedy Packet from Lucy

Seedy Penpals is go

Our inaugural Seedy Penpals exchange appears to have been a great success. We had over 40 people join in and I’ve seen some truly great Seedy Packets. What’s more new friendships have been forged and a new online community is born. Very many thanks to all of you who contributed, helped and joined in.

There have been a few glitches and Mel & I are learning from the things that didn’t go quite right. I think the most difficulties arose from Penpals not communicating with each other, or from misinterpretations of communications. From my point of view, the best exchanges occured where Penpals emailed/tweeted well & often to keep each other up to date and clarify things. Hardly surprising from a ‘Penpals’ scheme you’d think…

So well done everybody, we’ll link to your blogs below and then link up monthly progress reports with forthcoming Seedy Cuttings.

My Seedy Packet

At the top of this post is a picture of my brilliant and thoughtful Seedy Packet from Lucy at Offally Good (worth a visit).

Lucy’s choice was prescient for a number of reasons.

Bee things

Lucy sent me some Bee things: some seeds for a bee friendly garden, a booklet from Neal’s Yard about the Save the Bee campaign and a test pot of gorgeous Neal’s Yard honey hand cream. Now this is prescient because we’re developing a 250 square metre part of our land to host some bees in Top Bar Hives. I’ll blog more about this in the coming weeks. What’s more, we’d made some of our own Calendula Salve. The little honey hand cream has inspired us to have a go at making our own and some honey lip balm too. More of this later…

Healing Marigolds

It’ll be (no puns here – Ed) obvious then, that the marigold seeds from Lucy’s own garden would be very welcome. We’ll grow these next year and make some more balm from them: OffallyGood Balm anyone?

Mum’s seeds to cherish

We certainly think that the seeds saved from penpals gardens are the most touching to receive. It’s like getting a piece of someone’s life that they cherish & want others to share. So it was really touching for Lucy to have included some seeds from Lucy’s Mum’s garden in Lincolnshire. There are seeds for melon, squash & runner beans. We will look after them like our own and hopefully have seeds to pass on to others next year.


Lucy said that she’d not had a lot of luck growing kohlrabi even though she really likes it. Well we love it too: raw, cooked or fermented. And we’ve had success with purple varieties in the past, so some white kohlrabi will go down very well here.


Another great choice. We love them for their colour, the way they attract bees & other pollinating insects and because they are super edible. The flowers, leaves & seeds are all lovely & peppery. I’ve just made some nasturtium ‘capers’ too. So these new ones to us will give us some welcome variety and colour.

All-in-all it’s obvious we’re delighted with our Seedy Packet. Our heartfelt thanks to Lucy. I’ll keep you up to date with progress through Seedy Cuttings.

You can add a link to your Seedy Penpals blog posts using the form below. The form will be live from the 31st August 2012.

 Posted by at 08:44
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