Ready, set…grow!
BCPL’s seed library is free way to try gardening

The Boyle County Public Library offers more than just books with seeds of knowledge. It is also a place where real heirloom seeds are cataloged and available to the public for planting — free of charge.

Adult Programing Director Caleb Conover said the library is once again offering its seed library to patrons who are interested in growing vegetables and flowers in their own yards and patios. “And you don’t even need a library card.”

The seed library began in the spring of 2015 as an adult program, but was suspended last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Conover said.

Many of the seeds come from local master gardeners. “It’s their excess seeds grown in their own gardens,” he explained. For example, James Ross brought in an entire set of seeds “to boost some of the stock.” And since the seeds were harvested locally, “you know the plants will flourish around here,” Conover said.

The library has also purchased heirloom seeds to supplement its seed library which gives it a greater variety of plants that people can try to grow, he added.

Seeds for flowers, herbs, bushes and vegetables are in small packets and filed in the drawers of an old library card catalog set up in the Reading Room. Each drawer is labeled for the type of seeds contained, like “Peppers,” “Melons,” “Flowers,” “Beans,” and “Lettuce.” A couple of varieties of tomatoes include Giant Red and white tomatoes.

There are even seeds from the library’s own orange butterfly bush and there will soon be sunflower seeds from plants grown there, Conover said.

For those who need instructions on how to grow the seed, the University of Kentucky Boyle County Extension Horticulture Agent Alexis Sheffield has several binders filled with information. Conover said if anyone wants to copy some pages, they will be glad to oblige.

“A lot of great people have worked on this,” Conover said. And if more gardeners want to share their seed, he will be glad to take and package them to give away. “Bring them in and we’ll distribute them for sure.”

Conover said when the seed library began, the purpose was to “encourage our community to dig in and garden, and reconnect our community to the traditions of growing tasty, healthy food.”

Also, “The library wanted to create a community-sustained seed collection at our library, nurturing a culture of sharing and abundance.”

The library will also be partnering with the UK Extension Office and Sheffield to bring patrons “Grow your own microgreens” project. This crop can be grown anywhere there is a window.

Free kits will be available for pickup at the library and the Extension Office beginning Monday, April 26, while supplies last. The kits will contain most of the materials and seed needed to grow your own microgreens. An instructional tutorial video will feature Horticulture agent Alexis Sheffield, and will premiere at 1 p.m. Monday on the library’s YouTube channel. This program is designed for ages 9 and up.