Where to buy seeds and UK seed swaps 2013

by Mark Ridsdill Smith on

in FAQs, Featured home page

These intriguing looking seeds are fat baby achocha - a vigorous climbing plant, that produce an alien looking fruit that tastes a cross between peppers and cucumber.

These intriguing looking seeds are fat baby achocha – an easy to grow climber with fruit that taste like  a cross between peppers and cucumber.

If you are growing in a small urban space you may be wondering where to get your seeds this season.

When I started growing, I had no idea! I headed first to the local garden centre. Confronted by a huge wall of seeds I remember a sense of confusion. Where to start? Which varieties work best in containers?  Which taste best? Which grow in less sun?

Since that first venture I’ve discovered many places where you can find amazing selections of seeds combined with helpful advice on what to grow. The Real Seed Catalogue, for example, not only publishes a useful diary of what to sow when but also gives you instructions with each packet on how to save the seeds. Quickcrop has helpful videos with tips on how to grow many of the seeds they sell. And there are more ideas on where to buy seeds in the UK in my blog post here.

But one of the best kept secrets of the growing community is seed swaps. If you can track one down, these are a great value and really enjoyable way to buy seeds. Although called ‘seed swaps’, you don’t usually have to swap seeds to join in. The larger ones are attended by independent seed companies selling mouth watering selections, ‘allotment sheds’ selling discounted seeds, and local plant nurseries. But if you do have seeds to swap, it’ll add to the fun – just remember that you’ll be  welcome without. And, more than likely, you’ll be inspired to save some seeds for next year!

Magic beans! The white runner bean seeds produce white flowers, the darker seeds orange flowers.

Magic beans! The white runner bean seeds produce white flowers, the darker seeds orange flowers.

I love seed swaps for several reasons. Held in the early spring, they carry a sense of excitement, buzz and anticipation of all that is to come. Local growers behind the stalls chat away and are usually more than happy to share their experience and advice on what and how to grow. There are bargains to pick up, new varieties to discover, stories to exchange, old friends to bump into, new friends to make. The challenge is usually to withstrain yourself from buying more seeds than you need! This is guilt free, fun, community shopping at its finest.

In the UK, seed swaps are held all over the country in January, February and March. The biggest in the UK include the ‘Seedy Sunday’ on 3 February in Brighton, the London Potato Fair in Forest Hill, London, the National Potato Day at Ryton Gardens – both on Sunday 27 January.

The other big UK seed swaps are listed here:

Seedy Sundays

Potato Days

Live in Wiltshire?  Sara Cundy has just sent in this list of seed swaps in Wiltshire.

Or Southampton? Check out the seed swap in The Art House Gallery Cafe 178 Above Bar St on 9th & Sun 10th Feb – noon -5pm.

Or Devon? You’ll find one at the The Small School in Hartland, EX39 6AB, 3rd March, 11.30am to 3.30pm

If you live outside the UK or can’t find one near you listed on the above links, then try typing ‘seed swaps’ and your town into a search engine or ask at your local allotments or community food growing projects (some of whom organise will organise their own seed swaps you can join in). 



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Emilia February 18, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Achocha I do know really well couse I grow them in my garden and have lots of seeds from last autumn. Me and my familiy eats it usualy raw as other vegies but it also is good cooked.


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