Seed Library


Our Seed Library offers free heirloom and open-pollinated seeds to library cardholders for check out. Plant the seeds in your gardens and enjoy the harvest. All we ask is that you try to save seeds from the vegetables and return them to the library for next year's gardeners to check out. Unsure how to save seeds? Never fear - the library offers numerous books on the topic. (It’s very easy for some seeds, especially beans. However, some require a bit more effort.) Don't worry - if it doesn't work out you are not penalized!
Along with the books available at the library, there are many instructional videos at the bottom of this page.

We really want you to check out the seeds and give it a try. Seriously. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to save the seeds. It might take a couple years to get the hang of it. If you checked out seeds in the past and were not able to return any, it’s okay! Don’t feel bad. Please check out more and try again.

It's very easy to check out seeds. Stop in the library, peruse the seeds and write down the seeds you take on a registration sheet. This sheet is kept in the library throughout the summer. At the end of the season, bring back the seeds you were able to save and we'll mark them off the sheet. If it doesn't work it's okay. You will never receive any fines for these.

Offering a variety of vegetables including beans, leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, squash and more, the Seed Library's mission is to lend heirloom seeds in order to encourage growing and eating wholesome, fresh, affordable food and to preserve biodiversity.

How do you check out seeds?

Stop by the library and browse the boxes of donated seeds to select varieties you'd like to grow. Check out as many packets as you'd like, but please keep in mind the importance of returning seeds from each crop.
Plant and tend your seeds. (Note: Tomatoes and peppers need to be started indoors and transplanted when the weather warms.)

        KEEP THE SEED ENVELOPES! (You will use these to return the seeds you save. If you cannot save the envelopes, please record which varieties you plant so you can fill out the required information at the end of the season.)
        Make sure you label each variety in your garden. It is imperative you return the correct seeds in the correct envelopes.
        Do not use inorganic fertilizers or pesticides on plants you will use to return seeds.
        Save seeds after harvest and return them to the library for patrons to check out next year.
        *This is very important. If people do not return seeds our Seed Library will not be able to continue.


    We'd like to thank A.P. Whaley Seed Company
    (located just outside of Mt. Horeb) for their generous donation of seeds.

How to return/donate seeds to the MHPL Seed Library:

We welcome (and need!) seed donations of heirloom/open pollinated vegetable and flower seeds. To donate seeds that did not originate at the MHPL Seed Library please use blank envelopes from the Seed Library shelf and fill out the required information on the labels. Or, you can simply put seeds in your own envelope and include the following information:

Common Name:
Original Seed Source:
Location of Harvest:
Year of Harvest:


    We cannot accept hybrid seeds If you purchased seeds at a large chain store they are probably hybrids. Not sure? Sorry, we can't accept them. Have you been saving seeds for years from your family's plants? Perfect. We will accept those and would love to know the seed's story.
    We will accept any variety of vegetable or flower seeds (except invasive types) if you are able to fill out the information required on the label.
    We will gladly accept seeds that were not originally checked out from our seeds library if they fit the above requirements.

How many seeds should you put in each envelope? We generally ask for each envelope to have enough seeds for a small garden. About 40 bean seeds, 50 peas, 10-20 squash and 20 tomato seeds. If you have more of one variety than will fit in our envelopes, feel free to put them in a baggie with the required info and we'll gladly divide them.

Bring your completed/ filled envelopes to the Circulation Counter.

Thank you for participating in the MHPL Seed Library!

Questions? Call Melissa at 608-437-5021, ext. 109 or email


Helpful links

A lot of resources in one place

Video: Seed Saving for Beginners

Video: Saving Seeds from Legumes (beans, peas, etc.)

Article: Seed saving from biennial plants (kale, carrots, chard, etc.)

Video: Seed Saving Storage

Article: Assessing Seed Maturity

Video: How to clean seeds using a fan

| 02.06.18 |