Winter Update from Hamden Library Seed Library

child hand broccoli

Read on for updates to our Native Seed Give (January) and our Garden Seed Give (February through early June).


Throughout the month of January, Hamden Library Seed Library offers you the opportunity to request up to three types of native and pollinator seeds to start now — outdoors — in the depths of winter, using a process called winter sowing. See below for links to the resources so you can participate in this activity.

The seed library’s annual winter sowing workshops showed strong attendance this year. We listened as Jim Sirch shared his knowledge of native plants, their ecological importance, and their function in our gardens. We then filled gallon milk jugs with soil and a selection of seeds — a mini-greenhouse to take home and place outdoors in a sunny location to “simmer” until spring.

Many seeds of native plants require a certain amount of time in moist, cold conditions in order to break dormancy and sprout in spring. To simulate this process, seeds are set out in mini greenhouses during winter. The winter weather cycles prepares the seeds for a strong start, and the protected greenhouse makes the germination process less random This process is fairly simple and inexpensive, but requires a bit of patience to grow plants of a size that can be placed in your garden. Depending on the species, the seedlings that result may be able to be planted right out into the garden or may need more time to grow to garden size.

Here is a step-by-step guide, our native seed inventory, a seed request form, and the workshop handout.

Milk Jug Winter Sowing How-to
Inventory of native and pollinator seeds
Seed request form
Resources for winter sowing

We are delighted that our neighbors continue to share their native-seed bounty with the seed library and thus to you.

Why natives? Growing native plants is gaining more and more adherents — and growing more in importance — as people see the results of our open spaces and gardens being overrun by invasive plants that crowd out the beneficial plants in our environment. The work of Doug Tallemy, for instance, calls for people to rethink their landscape and to create native habitat on any size piece of land (or in containers) and to reduce the area that is dedicated to lawns,. The benefits to wildlife and to water quality is enormous as fewer pesticides are needed to maintain this type of planting.

February through early June

Our veggie, herb, and flower seeds will be available for browsing and self-service during February through mid-June on the lower level of Miller Library. We have a great selection this year, including many types of flower seeds that were missing last season. Our current seed list, subject to change, is here.

We will distribute garden seeds at Miller Library on the following schedule:

Tuesdays         4:00-7:30 p.m.
Thursdays       2:00-4:30 p.m.
Saturdays        1:00-4:30 p.m.

During these hours you may browse the seeds on display. In addition, an experienced gardener will be on hand to help you select seeds. There may be pop-up demos on how to grow garden plants from seed. You are free to come to as many sessions as you like to ask questions and select seeds.

Hamden Public Library’s Seed Library

The number of people who are trying their hand at gardening is increasing every year. Whether it is to improve the health of our planet by encouraging pollinator insects, to beautify your space, or to grow food for your table, we at Hamden Public Library are ready to support your efforts by collecting and distributing seeds that are suitable for our local environment.

The Hamden Library Seed Library project has a two-fold focus:

We will collect, store, and distribute locally-collected seeds of native (and some non-native) plants of importance to pollinators, to enhance the availability of locally-adapted seeds

We will share flower, herb, and vegetable seeds for the home gardener, promote gardening for all, and provide how-to workshops to inspire and engage.

As we are able, we will provide materials for the projects we promote.

Send an email to to get on the Seed Library mailing list.

Thank you to …

In addition to collecting native seeds, the seed library is preparing for next spring’s planting season, and will have seeds for many of the varieties of plants you love to grow — and many more unusual varieties as well.

We have received generous gifts of seeds from Cheshire Nursery and Hart Seed, and will be able to significantly round out our offerings with funds generously donated by The Friends of Hamden Library. The Friends are also supporting our programming. We are very grateful for their ongoing support!

Other support for the Seed Library has come from the UConn Master Gardener program, The Hamden Land Trust, The New Haven Green Fund, and local gardeners who have shared their seed bounty with us.