Monday, January 07, 2008


We all have them--those little bits of our personal history mixed in with our present. A hand-drawn Mother's Day card tucked away with a stash of unused greeting cards, or a ticket stub from a long-ago play that turns up every time you use a dressy handbag. A few months ago I bought a new sewing machine. I haven't sewn in years and my box of notions was a tangle of thread. I started to sort it out and came across some thread on wooden spools. The memories unwound faster than the thread--of my mother's treadle sewing machine that I learned to sew on, of using my mother's new electric Singer to complete my first home ec project of pajamas and a bathrobe. The machine had snap-in cams that allowed you to do all kinds of decorative stitches and I made full use of those stitches on my project, which somehow so offended Miss S____*, the home ec. teacher, that she gave me a D- . As she did with every other project in that class. That woman hated me and the feeling was mutual. Okay, so some memories are best left untapped. I digress.

Carol, over at May Dreams Gardens, has been sorting through her seeds, a popular pastime for us northern gardeners in January, and she came across some seeds from 1986 and 1987. She wondered if anyone had any seeds older than hers. I was pretty sure I didn't. I have a few packets of seeds from 1999. For some reason I bought larger packages of seeds that year, in many cases a full ounce instead of the mini pkts, probably because the larger size seemed like such a good deal, and because I was planting in a 60 x 60 foot plot back then. Unfortunately circumstances dictated that I wouldn't be growing any vegetables for the next 4 or 5 years, and never again in that giant plot. (No I didn't move. It's just an unhappy story that I'm not ready to tell.) Apparently I stored the seeds well because the beets, tatsoi, arugula, and peas were all still viable last summer. The butter beans were either non-viable or the field mice dug them up and ate them before they could sprout.

There were other, slightly older packets, gifts mostly, of flower seeds, of the type that you really do not want to plant a lot of, like lantana.

And then I hit paydirt:

Not seeds left over from my now -retired 3600 square foot garden, nor from my plot in the community garden on the campus in Santa Cruz, nor from the tiny beds surrounding my patio in the Santa Cruz condo, nor from the garden I grew in styrofoam coolers on a balcony in New Jersey when my oldest daughter was an infant. These are from one of the early gardens at our first "real" home in Salt Lake City, the year I actually ordered seeds from a catalog instead of just picking up a few sixpacks of seedlings at the home center. They accidentally sent two packets of parsley and apparently I've never opened the second one, probably because parsley seeds just seem to find their way into my garden by other means and really, who needs 500 parsley plants? Funny, though, how a packet of seeds could bring back so many memories. I don't think I'll open the package just yet.

So, 1983! Has anyone found any seeds in their stash that are older?

*I originally typed her full name, but then, just for grins I googled her, and my goodness, that old biddy is still around, heading up the WCTU in my old home town. She must not have been as old as I remembered her, because that home ec. class was a long, long time ago.


Blogger Carol said...

1983? That is some old seed. I don't know that I can beat that.

I'll be adding a link to your blog to my blogroll, so you better get to posting!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

09 January, 2008 16:46  
Blogger IBOY said...

1983 should win the contest! I finally threw all my old seeds out a couple of years ago, giving up the illusion that "someday I was going to plant them". I think I had some back to about 1990.

14 January, 2008 09:21  
Blogger Petunia's Gardener said...

That beats my collection! I had some German gift seeds (basil and something else) that did quite well two years ago, but I think they were from around 1990 or 91 (pre NW gardening).
Sew funny on that teacher! I remember making gym bags in 7th or 8th grade!

14 January, 2008 20:12  

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