Seed Planting guide

Below is some information on growing, harvesting and saving seed for many of the seeds carried in the Hurstbridge Home Harvest seed library.

Seeds are always being added to the library, so check back regularly if the type you have isn’t listed.

Which seeds can I save?

We want our growers to have the best experience possible when planting seeds taken from the seed library. This means the seeds we make available in the library must be reliable, hardy, and grow true to type.

 

Not all plants produce seeds that will readily grow true to type. Many plants cross-pollinate with those around them, and produce seeds that are different from the original plant. Plants grown from such seed can be less hardy, less productive, or less tasty, making them disappointing to grow and eat. For instance, all types of sweet corn readily cross-pollinate and require distances of up to 2km between varieties to grow true to type.

 

To make sure beginner gardeners get the best from our seeds, please donate seeds only from the plant types with a thumbs up, and avoid donating the ones with an exclamation mark. Seeds from these plants should be saved only by experienced gardeners using special isolation methods to prevent cross pollination.

These are seeds that are easy to save at home, with limited chance of cross pollination. These seeds can be collected and donated back to the seed library.

These plants may cross pollinate with others nearby, and produce seeds that are not true to the parent plant. Seed collected from these plants should not be donated to the library as they may produce offspring with inferior qualities. (They can be great experiments to try at home though!)

Easy to grow herb with many varieties, including sweet, Thai, and lemon. Frost tender plant grown as an annual in Melbourne. Sow in punnets or direct in garden beds in spring and summer, spacing plants 25cm apart. Leaves can be used fresh or dried.

Many varieties in the library, including green and dried beans, and climbing and bush types. Fast growing, warm weather plants that don't tolerate frost. Sow in full sun over spring and summer, approx. 15cm apart. Seeds may rot in the soil if overwatered, so water well at planting, but not again until seeds sprout. To save seeds, leave some pods on the plant until dry and rattly, then pick and remove seeds from pods to store for next year.

Several varieties available in the library. Most can be sown from July through to March, direct in garden beds at 10cm intervals. Young leaves can be eaten in salads. To save seed, leave one or more plants to flower. Allow the seeds to dry on the plant then collect when brown and dry.

Also known as fava or faba beans. Sow direct in garden beds from autumn to early spring. Plant seeds 20cm apart and 5cm deep. Tall plants that will need staking or support as they grow. Leave some pods to dry out on the plant and pick when they turn brown. Remove seeds and store in a dry place for next season. The tips of young broad bean plants are delicious in salads.

Cool weather plant that may do poorly in hot weather. Seeds are best started in punnets and sown from autumn to spring. Slow growing vegetable that requires a significant amount of space. Once the main head is harvested, leave the plant to form small side shoots that can also be eaten. Broccoli leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and used in place of kale, chard or cabbage. 

Warm weather plant that needs lots of heat to ripen. Seeds are started indoors or on a heat bed in early spring, transplanted into pots when the weather warms up. Don't plant in the garden until the last chance of frost has passed. Plant 50cm apart in full sun. Fruit can be harvested when green or left to ripen until red when it is sweeter. To save seed, wait till fruit is very ripe and beginning to wrinkle, then scrape out seeds and spread out to dry.

Many carrot varieties can be grown all year round. Root vegetable that is best grown direct in the garden from seed and does not take well to transplanting. Grow in deep, well-tilled soil and water well to avoid root splitting. Sow seed closely then thin seedlings to 8-10cm apart by harvesting some as baby carrots as they grow. Does not like overly rich or fertile soil. Carrots are biennial. To save seed, leave plants to flower and harvest seeds when umbrels are dry and seeds start falling. Some varieties will cross-pollinate with the flower 'Queen Anne's Lace', so be wary of planting them together if collecting seed.

Cool weather plant best sown in late winter to early spring, or late summer to autumn. Needs consistent watering, fertile soil, and lots of mulch. Sow seeds in punnets then transplant into garden at 25cm spacing in full sun. Stems require blanching (covering) to remain white and reduce bitterness. Seed does cross-pollinate, but may be okay if only one variety is grown.

Hardy, heat loving plant that changes from green to red when fully mature. Many different varieties, varying in their size and heat levels. Sow seeds indoors or on a heat mat in early spring before potting up individually when the weather warms. Plant in full sun in the garden when the chance of last frost has passed. Allow 40cm between plants. To save seed, wait till fruit is very ripe and beginning to wrinkle, then scrape out seeds and spread out to dry.

Two varieties in the seed library: garlic and plain. A small hardy plant with strappy leaves. Sow in punnets from autumn to spring and plant out at 10cm spacing in full sun or part shade. Allow plants to flower then collect seeds when flower heads are dry and seeds begin to fall.

Annual herb easily grown from seed, also known as cilantro. All parts of the plant are edible (root, leaves, seeds). Sow autumn through to early spring, in punnets or direct in garden beds. Will bolt in hot weather. Leave seeds to dry on the plant and collect when they begin to fall.

Heat-loving summer vegetable that is frost sensitive and a heavy feeder. Sow in full sun, direct into garden beds after risk of frost has passed. Space seeds 25cm apart, with 75cm between rows, and plant in blocks (not a single row) for best pollination.

Fast growing, prolific-fruiting summer vine that likes warm, rich, well-drained soil. Sow 2 or 3 seeds in clumps, direct into garden bed, then thin to strongest seedling when true leaves have formed. Space clumps 80cm apart in full sun and keep well-watered. Harvesting promotes more fruit, so pick regularly to encourage a consistent supply.

Feathery, aromatic herb that somewhat resembles fennel.  Sow seeds 20cm apart, direct in the ground as dill does not transplant well. Can be sown from early spring through to summer. Both seeds and leaves can be used in cooking. Like other umbrelliferous plants, dill seeds can be saved by waiting till flower heads have dried, then collecting seeds as they begin to fall.

Similar to capsicum, eggplant is a warm weather plant that needs heat to ripen. Seeds are started in early spring, indoors or on a heat mat. Seedlings can be planted out when the last chance of frost has passed. Plant 60cm apart in full sun. 

Anise-tasting vegetable with edible leaves, seeds, and swollen base. Can be eaten fresh or cooked. Grows best in cooler months, so sow seeds in full sun from autumn to spring, at 20cm intervals. Harvest when bulb is swollen to decent size. Allow plant to flower and harvest seeds when dry and beginning to fall.

 

A cool weather vegetable  that tolerates frost. Two main types in the library are Red Russian and Cavolo Nero. Kale is an upright, hardy plant that's easy to grow. Sow seeds from late summer through to spring, spacing plants 50cm apart. Leaves are high in antioxidants and can be picked continually once plant is established.

Slow growing plants valued for their thick white stems. Sow in punnets anytime from spring through to autumn, then plant out in full sun at 10cm spacing. As with spring onions, leeks can be regrown by cutting the stem off at ground level and allowing the plant to resprout. Hill dirt or mulch up around plants to keep stems blanched and white.

Fast growing salad vegetable usually eaten fresh. Can be sown all seasons, but dislikes heat and may bolt if planted in summer. Will tolerate shade. Sow seeds regularly for a year-round supply, spacing plants at 20 to 30cm intervals. May cross-pollinate if planted in close proximity, so group varieties together and allow at least 2 to 3m between groups if collecting seed (6m for safety). Allow plants to flower and harvest when heads dry and seeds begin to fall.

Hardy companion plant with edible leaves and flowers. Grown as an annual in the vegetable garden to distract pests like slugs and snails. Sow seeds in a sunny position, direct in beds after last frost has passed. Allow 20cm between bush types and 60cm between trailing varieties. Seed can be saved when plant has died back and seeds have fallen.

Come in several varieties: brown, red, and pickling. Some can be grown all year round, but most are best sown from autumn to spring. Space seeds 10cm apart. Likes well-drained soil and a sunny position. To store onions, harvest when the leaves wither and collapse, then allow to dry under cover.

Two most common varieties are Italian (flat leaf) parsley, and curly parsley. Slow to germinate, can take 3 to 4 weeks. Plant all year in punnets or direct in garden beds. Likes moist, well-drained soil in full sun or a little shade, and will bolt if allowed to dry out. Prolific self-seeder. Wait till seed heads have dried on the plant, then collect.

Cool weather vegetable that can grow as a climbing plant or bush variety. All types benefit from some staking in the garden. Sow in late summer through to spring, spacing plants 10cm apart in full sun. Can be eaten fresh or dried. To save seed, leave pods to dry on the vine, then harvest pods and remove seeds to store.

Summer vine that requires much space, warmth, and a long growing season. Sow seeds in spring and early summer, planting in punnets or direct in garden beds at 2m spacing in full sun. Harvest when vine has died off, leaving 5cm of stalk attached to the fruit.

Fast growing root vegetable that benefits from rich soil and good watering. Sow seeds 5 to 10cm apart at any time of year. Will mature in 3 to 5 weeks. Harvest when young and small for fresh, crisp additions to salad, as radishes get hotter as they get older.

Pungent, peppery, hardy annual also known as roquette and arugula. Grown all year round, but does best in cooler weather and may go to seed in heat. Sow direct in the garden, in full sun at 20cm spacing. Leaves can be cut and reharvested for long periods, and eaten fresh as a salad leaf or lightly cooked. Prolific seeder that readily self-seeds in the garden. Allow flower heads to dry out then collect seeds when they begin to fall.

One of the easiest plants to grow. Large, upright stems and leaves in a variety of colours. Sow anytime of year, though plants may do poorly in extreme heat. Sow seeds direct in garden beds at 50cm spacing in full sun or partial shade. Silverbeet readily self-seeds, but to harvest seeds wait till flower heads have dried and either strip seeds from heads or remove entire flower stalk and dry elsewhere before stripping.

Easy to grow vegetable that can be sown all year round. Sow seeds in punnets before transplanting into the garden. Plants take up little room, and can be spaced close together at around 3-5cm. Once you have a crop, spring onions can be grown year after year without resowing. Simply harvest stems at ground level leaving the roots and base of the plant intact. The stem will regrow from the stump and produce another plant.

Summer vegetable that likes heat and will not tolerate frost. Prefers a sunny position with consistent watering. Start seeds indoors or on a heat bed in early spring, before transplanting into pots when the weather warms up. Plant out when chance of last frost has passed. Space seedlings 60cm to 1m apart and stake if necessary.

Fast growing, prolific-fruiting summer vegetable. One of the easiest, quickest and most productive to grow. Sow 2 or 3 seeds in clumps, direct in the garden bed, and thin to the strongest seedling when true leaves develop. Grow in full sun and space clumps 80cm apart. Most zucchinis grow as large, upright (somewhat sprawling) plants, except for tromboncino which is a vigorous vine. Young fruit can be lightly cooked when small and tender. Older gourds are best cut in half, scraped free of woody seeds, then topped with fillings and baked.