By Shelia Huffman
Do you want to know what to plant, when to plant and where to plant? The J. Erik Jonsson Dallas Public Library has that information along with the seeds. And it’s all free!
The “seed library” is located on the sixth floor of the central library at 1515 Young Street in downtown Dallas. When you check out your books you can check out some seeds. Actually, you don’t even have to be a member of the library to take home seeds to get your vegetable, herb or flower garden started.
The seed library is alphabetized for easy use, and colorful charts answer general questions like what to plant now, what grows best with less sun and more. Suggested books on gardening are displayed next to the seeds.
Staff member Mark Draz, who uses the seed library, said: “A variety of people visit the library for seeds and information about planting, but it is often beginner gardeners. The library also offers some free gardening classes and a newsletter of gardening tips to help the novice with information about gardening.”
Additionally, the library will link you to community gardens around the city so that you can gain even more knowledge as well as some hands-on experience.
Seed libraries are cropping up all over the country. Dallas opened its library in the spring of 2017 — and it has been well received.
Although the seed catalog may be growing like a weed, the inventory varies with the season.
“Most donations are from seed companies or individuals with seeds to spare,” Draz said.
Many seed libraries are run by nonprofits, clubs or school groups, but public libraries, with built-in resources for community outreach and educational programming, have become the most common place to find seed collections. But each seed library is a little different. Some require the user to return seeds by growing a plant to maturity, capturing new seeds and contributing back to the collection. Currently Dallas has no such restriction on the seeds. Right now, even the parking is free.
The common goal of seed libraries is to educate people on the unique plants and specific needs of the region, be it high-altitude, humid, urban or rural.
The central library downtown is the only location with a seed library in Dallas at this time, with the exception of a satellite station at the Martin Luther King Branch. But as the idea grows, you may someday be able to pick up seeds at your neighborhood branch. Now through mid-August is the time to get seeds of bush beans, carrots, collards, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, summer squash and more into the ground.