Ypsi Seed Library

Welcome to the World of Saving & Sharing Seeds!



Humans have been saving seeds for over 12,000 years. However, in our culture much of that knowledge has been lost over the last hundred years, along with significant biodiversity. When you grow and save your own seeds, you

  • develop seed stock that is well suited to our climate
  • save money
  • lessen our dependence on agro-business

When you participate in the seed library, you create a culture of sharing and abundance.


The Ypsi Seed Library

Participation is open to all interested gardeners. You do not need to have a YDL card in order to borrow or donate seeds.


The seeds you borrow from Ypsi Seed Library are lent to you at no financial cost, and they are priceless.  


At harvest time, please take some extra steps to save seeds for others. We ask that a portion of the seeds you save be returned to the seed lending library to keep the seed library self-sustaining.  Envelopes are available at both Ypsi Seed Library locations. Please fill out the information on the envelope (or fill and print the forms below and stick them to blank envelopes) to the best of your knowledge.

The Ypsi Seed Library accepts non-hybrid fruit, vegetable, and culinary herb seeds. If you've never saved seeds before, now is a great time to learn--please explore the resources below or come to a seed-saving workshop at YDL in the fall.

Fillable PDF (fills all 6 labels at once for multiple seed donations) >>

YDL’s seed library is housed at two locations, YDL-Whittaker & YDL-Michigan. It is open to the public during the library’s regular hours of operation.

Sign up for our Seed Library email list here»

Food & Gardening Events at YDL

Please visit our new events calendar! You can select "Food and Gardening from the "Topics" drop down menu as a filter to help you find events on this topic.

Basic seed-saving information:

Easiest-to-Save Seeds

Aster, Daisy or Sunflower Family (artichoke, cardoon, endive, Jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, salsify, shungiku, sunflower)

Pea, Bean, Legume or Pulse Family (bean, lentil, pea, peanut, soybean)

Nightshade Family (cape gooseberry, eggplant, ground cherry, pepper, potato, tomatillo, tomato)

The plants in these families are mostly self-pollinating. The flowers have male and female parts, so pollination occurs within the individual plant, not as a cross between plants. Seeds are reliably the same as the parent plant.

Intermediate Seeds

Amaranth Family (amaranth, beet, chard, lamb’s quarters, orach quinoa, spinach)

Lily or Onion Family (chives, garlic, leeks, onions)

These plants are self-sterile, cross-pollinating or outbreeding. They will cross with other plants of their species. To save seeds from these plants, you must

  • allow only one variety in each species to flower at a time
  • let multiple plants of one variety flower to ensure pollination.

In dense urban environments, some crossing can occur with our neighbors’ plants, but these plants will not cross over great distances. Many are rarely allowed to flower anyway.

Advanced Seeds

Gourd Family (cucumbers, gourds, melons, pumpkin, summer squash, winter squash). Hand pollinate to ensure purity with this family.

Grass Family (barley, corn, kamut, millet, oats, sorghum, wheat)  Corn readily crosses with different, unseen varieties.  It is unlikely that saved seeds will be like their parents.  Only sorghum does not cross. Most in this family are uncommon in backyard gardens and so are easy to save.

Mustard Family (Asian greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, turnip) Only arugula and rutabaga are easy-to-save.

Be careful! These families will readily cross with unseen nearby plants and may create odd and possibly inedible varieties in one generation.

Advanced seeds require hand pollination, tenting, and other methods to ensure varietal purity. 


Additional Resources:

How to Save Seeds website

Richmond Grows New to Seed Saving Guide

Seed Savers Exchange Resource page

Video: Seed Saving for Beginners

Books: Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth (@ YDL-Whit 635.042 Ash)

             Heirloom Vegetable Gardening: A Master Gardener's Guide to Planting, Growing, Seed Saving & Cultural History by William Weaver (@YDL-Whit 635 Wea

             The Manual of Seed Saving:  Planting, Harvesting, Storing and Sowing Techniques for Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit by Andrea Heistinger (@YDL-Whit & YDL-Mich Ave 635 Hei)

              The Plant Propagator's Bible: A Step-by-Step Guide to Propagating Every Plant in Your Garden by Miranda Smith (@YDL-Mich Ave. 635.043 Smi)

              The Complete Idiot's Guide to Seed Saving & Starting by Sheri Ann Richerson (@YDL-Whit and YDL-Mich Ave. 631.521 Ric)



Just In

October/November 2017 New & On Order DVD/Blu-ray
A listing of DVD's and Blu-ray added to the collection in October/November 2017
View in catalog