Collecting rare seeds
If you want something new in the garden, then try something old.
Sowing start soon, also in the garden. If you are looking for some special seeds that you have only heard about, then you should contact “Frøsamlerne” (Seed collectors).
Seeds cost money, and some of the old sorts you remember from your childhood are difficult to obtain.
Luckily others have the same thoughts. More than 100 Danes have gathered around seeds and created the union “Frøsamlerne”.
The union was established in 1986 by the American born Lila Towle. One of their most important goals is to collect seeds that are no longer sold but could have a culture-historical value.
Earlier, it was quite common that you in the country grew your own seeds. That meant you could find garden herbs, flower sorts, fruit trees and tomato plants that had passed on in generations. Unfortunately, only few people keep doing this, so many sorts are disappearing slowly.
The EU is being careful
“Frøsamlerne” (seed collectors) is for all interested, but it has not been without troubles starting a union that exchanges seeds among like-minded people. In Denmark it is not allowed to share seeds, even as gifts. The Danish Seed Council is making sure that unwanted seeds won’t enter the country, and today the EU has to approve the seeds that are on the market.
The amateur seed collectors accept this, as they are trying to protect the plants that belong to our culture, even though many of the old plants have been brought to the country from other countries.
The amateur seed collectors have gotten the green light from the government to collect seeds, as there has been established a test company that obligates the collectors to report their growing results. In this way the government has control of the tests that are made.
Seeds – and what comes from them – are like all other things in fashion. Right now, it is the black and dark that is in fashion, and a few years ago it was purple cauliflower and red kale. Marigold should once be tall and beautiful, but when it became fashionable marigold should be a mini plant. In that way, the tall sort disappeared for a while.
As a member of “Frøsamlerne” you can receive seeds from other members or get seeds from the union’s seed bank, which is great and exciting. In the seed bank is everything from rare herbs, summer flowers, potted plant seeds, fruits and nuts, and even tomato seeds from a Russian botanic garden.
The members’ gardens make up a decentralised “gene bank”.
The union gets seeds to try out from foreign organizations and offers in return old Danish sorts to Swedish and Norwegian seed collectors. The union also co-operate with the Nordic Gene Bank to ensure long-term preservation of old and threatened herbs.
Om Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.