Hyacinth Bean

Dolichos lablab ( aka Hyacinth Bean) as seen in 2005 growing in my garden. This was my first foray into seed saving and learning about heirloom seeds..

Hello Everyone.

It is easy for a gardener to rip open a seed packet and sow, yet do you ever think about where that seed comes from? A seed is both the beginning and end of a plant’s life. When you allow a plant to continue to grow to maturity, it will inevitably develop a seed head. Leave the seed head to dry, and you may never need to buy seeds for your garden again.

Saving old varieties from extinction plays a key role in the future of agriculture, and is a good reason to become a seed saver. You may have heard the term heirloom variety, which refers to seeds of cherished varieties that have been handed down from family to family. These are also open-pollinated, so when the seed is saved and planted again, the result will match the same genetics as the original plant. This is not true for hybrids, which are not as suitable for seed saving since the embryo has been modified.

It's the perfect time of year to collect seed pods. You'll find seed pods all over my house, because I love the way they look in a vase. Once fall is done, I break open the pods, and store seeds in a mason jar, label the top and store in a cool dark place next to jars of pickles and jam.

The first plant that inspired me to become a seed saver was Hyacinth Bean aka Dolichos LabLab. I noticed it growing when visiting Thomas Jefferson's garden at Monticello, and learned this seed dates back to the 1806. Cool, I thought, let's bring history forward.

Many heirlooms come with stories, yet sometimes they just come with memories. Tell me what seeds you like to save, and find a friend to share your favorites. It's never too soon to start planning for next years garden with the eternal hope and promise of a seed.

As Always,
Ellen Ecker Ogden

Author of The Complete Kitchen Garden and The New Heirloom Garden. Designs, Books, and Classes For Gardeners Who Love to Cook.


Seed Saving Expert Advice

I recently gave a talk at Hollister House Garden for their barn talk series, and was asked about how and when to harvest seeds. It is not a simple answer, because each plant family grows a little differently, which means harvest time varies.

If a plant is left long enough in your garden, it will produce a seed, yet most gardeners ( me included) pull a plant when it starts to bolt. I'll be the first to admit that I am not an expert seed saver, which his why I rely on the resource books listed below. Each is written by an expert, and explains everything you need to know about growing, harvest and saving your seeds. And why it truly matters. ( links are not affiliated)

seed saving book lee buttala

Art and Practice of Seed Saving

ssed to seed book

Seed to Seed

WIll Bonsall Book

Will Bonsall


Simplify Your Garden Design

If you are already planning for next year's garden, be it with seeds, or garden designs, you might be interested to join my upcoming virtual class on The Art of Growing Food. I like to think of this class to get organized and simplify your efforts. Sort of the Marie Kondo method of cleaning closets and getting rid of plants that impede finding joy.

I teach this live class on a virtual platform because it is a great place to share ideas with other gardeners. You will work with templates from my books, and each class is a step-by-step method to simplify and add beauty to your kitchen garden.

I will hold free introductory workshops at various times over the next few months. Sign up at the link below to learn more. Class begins in mid-January and will run for 6 weeks.

design chapter opener

The New Heirloom Garden Book

The New Heirloom Garden Book

The New Heirloom Garden only $12.69 on Amazon Books

You may already have my book, and that's how you found your way to my newsletter. While all of us support our local bookstores, yet happened to notice it's on super sale on Amazon for half price, which is far less than I can offer it. (Non-affiliate link in photo.)

You can also find autographed copies on my website. A delightful gift for yourself, or a friend.


Top Five: Fresh Ideas

Seed Savers Exchange is a resource for one pollinated and heirloom seeds. Helpful videos show how to share, send and receive seeds with other seed savers. Best of all is the annual seeds savers exchange yearbook, over 500 pages with listings from all over the world.

UVM Master Gardeners Conference:The Garden as a Place of Collaboration, Stewardship & Connection is the theme in this virtual conference. I'm pleased to be a speaker along with others. Nov. 5-6.

Rooted in Place: Berkshire Botanic Garden 6th Annual Ecological Symposium. Speakers will focus on growing resilience for our gardens and communities. I'm going! Are you?

Popia Hats: Poppy Gall is the genius designer behind Popia Hats, comfy and warm for the late fall garden, or the ski slopes. Made by hand, the slow-fashioned way, with organic wool that is soft, non-itchy with one-of-a-kind colors and patterns.

Savvy Gardener, Nikki Jabbour is one of the best vegetable gardeners I know. In her books, online videos, and radio shows, she expertly shares tips on year-round gardening. She's inspired me to extend my harvest season by growing greens in cold frames.

equinox mtn

As seen on a recent evening walk around Equinox Pond. Follow me on Instagram.


“Courage sees a seed, hope sees a tree, and faith sees a forest.”

― Matshona Dhliwayo

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