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Seed Library

Welcome Back Spring by Checking Out the New Varieties at the Seed Library!

The T.B. Scott Free Library will once again be checking out heirloom seeds for FREE to library card holders. Six of the seven available seed types are new varieties of fruits and vegetables this year so that even those people who used the seed library in the past several years will find something new to grow. Seed varieties for this year include Calypso Dry Beans, Miniature White Cucumbers, Kentucky Wonder Bush Beans, Tom Thumb Peas, Beam’s Yellow Pear Tomatoes, Burgess Buttercup Squash, and the only repeat, Minnesota Midget Melons. Varieties are chosen for their short growing period and their suitability for small spaces. “All of our seed choices are suitable for either growing in your yard garden or in containers,” says Seed Librarian Elizabeth McCrank, “so even renters or people with limited space can take advantage of the seeds on offer.” She says “We brought back the Minnesota Midget Melons because they are just about the only melon that has a short enough growing period for this area.”

The principle behind the seed library is simple: library patrons check out their choice of seeds, enjoy the growing season all summer long, then “return” a portion of the seeds that they collect from their fall harvest so that those seeds can be used for next year’s crop of seed borrowers. Borrowers are free – and encouraged – to keep the bulk of the seeds they collect so as to have them for the next year’s planting. Because all of the seeds are open pollinated, heirloom seeds, borrowers only need to get each variety of seeds once in order to have (hopefully) many years of crops going forward. Over time, borrowers can amass a large range of seeds which both saves the gardeners’ money and helps to preserve a diversity of fruit and vegetable crops beyond the hybrid standards that grocery stores are often limited to. All of the seeds chosen come from the Seed Saver’s Exchange, an Iowa-based non-profit whose goal is to preserve and promote plant diversity in home gardens.
The 2019 Seeds will be available for checkout on Wednesday, May 1 on the 1st floor of the library. Stop by and get some for yourself soon, because…summer is short.

Explore the seven different varieties of seeds available this year

Kentucky Wonder Bush Bean

Kentucky Wonder Bush Bean

If you’re looking for the same fine attributes of the Kentucky Wonder Pole bean, only in a bush habit, this bean is for you. Also known as Improved Commodore, this variety is a standard for the home and market gardener and produces heavy yields over an extended growing season. Tender, stringless, plump, fleshy 8″ pods have excellent flavor. Bush habit, snap, 65 days.

Miniature White Cucmber

Miniature White Cucumber

Popular yellow-white miniature eating cucumber. Best eaten when fruits are less than 3″ long. Mild sweet flavor, no need to peel. Productive vines rarely exceed 3′ in length; suitable for container gardening. 50-55 days.

Tom Thumb Pea

Tom Thumb Pea

At 8″ tall, this aptly named dwarf pea is ideal for container gardening and is very frost-tolerant. Originating in England and introduced in the United States in the mid-19th century, there were several strains of this variety; over time, further reductions in height and time to maturity were achieved, leading to the pea we know as Tom Thumb today. Shell, 50-55 days.

Beam's Yellow Pear Tomato

Beam's Yellow Pear Tomato

Introduced to SSE in 1983 by John Hartman of Indiana. Our favorite when we compared 25 different yellow pears in 1998. Endless supply of 1½” fruits with great flavor. Ideal for salads. Indeterminate, 70-80 days from transplant.

Burgess Buttercup Squash

Burgess Buttercup Squash

Introduced in 1952 by Burgess Seed & Plant Co. This is a bush version of the original Buttercup variety introduced in 1931. Flattened dark green turbans with a distinctive button on the blossom end. Typical fruits weigh 3-5 pounds. Super sweet brilliant orange flesh with very fine eating qualities. Rind is thin but very hard, medium length keeper. 85-100 days.

Minnesota Midget Melon

Minnesota Midget Melon

Extra-early variety bred by the University of Minnesota at St. Paul in 1948; introduced by Farmer Seed and Nursery Company. Capable of producing two crops—an excellent choice for northern gardeners. Vines seldom over 3′ long; suitable for growing in containers. Round 4″ fruits have thick golden-yellow flesh that is edible to the rind and deliciously sweet. Resistant to fusarium wilt. 60-75 days.

Calypso Bean

Calypso Bean

(aka Yin Yang) Originally from the Caribbean. One of the best for baking and soups. Round black and white seeds with contrasting eye borne heavily on strong 15″ plants. Averages 4-5 seeds per pod. Adapts well to all types of production areas. Bush habit, dry, 70-90 days.

Explore the seven different varieties of seeds available this year.  (Hover over each image for details)

Kentucky Wonder Bush Bean

If you’re looking for the same fine attributes of the Kentucky Wonder Pole bean, only in a bush habit, this bean is for you. Also known as Improved Commodore, this variety is a standard for the home and market gardener and produces heavy yields over an extended growing season. Tender, stringless, plump, fleshy 8″ pods have excellent flavor. Bush habit, snap, 65 days.

Miniature White Cucumber

Popular yellow-white miniature eating cucumber. Best eaten when fruits are less than 3″ long. Mild sweet flavor, no need to peel. Productive vines rarely exceed 3′ in length; suitable for container gardening. 50-55 days.

Tom Thumb Pea

At 8″ tall, this aptly named dwarf pea is ideal for container gardening and is very frost-tolerant. Originating in England and introduced in the United States in the mid-19th century, there were several strains of this variety; over time, further reductions in height and time to maturity were achieved, leading to the pea we know as Tom Thumb today. Shell, 50-55 days.

Beam's Yellow Pear Tomato

Introduced to SSE in 1983 by John Hartman of Indiana. Our favorite when we compared 25 different yellow pears in 1998. Endless supply of 1½” fruits with great flavor. Ideal for salads. Indeterminate, 70-80 days from transplant.

Burgess Buttercup Squash

Introduced in 1952 by Burgess Seed & Plant Co. This is a bush version of the original Buttercup variety introduced in 1931. Flattened dark green turbans with a distinctive button on the blossom end. Typical fruits weigh 3-5 pounds. Super sweet brilliant orange flesh with very fine eating qualities. Rind is thin but very hard, medium length keeper. 85-100 days.

Minnesota Midget Melon

Extra-early variety bred by the University of Minnesota at St. Paul in 1948; introduced by Farmer Seed and Nursery Company. Capable of producing two crops—an excellent choice for northern gardeners. Vines seldom over 3′ long; suitable for growing in containers. Round 4″ fruits have thick golden-yellow flesh that is edible to the rind and deliciously sweet. Resistant to fusarium wilt. 60-75 days.

Calypso Bean

(aka Yin Yang) Originally from the Caribbean. One of the best for baking and soups. Round black and white seeds with contrasting eye borne heavily on strong 15″ plants. Averages 4-5 seeds per pod. Adapts well to all types of production areas. Bush habit, dry, 70-90 days.

Photos courtesy of Seed Savers Exchange

Recommended Resources Available at Your Library

Container Gardening for the Midwest
by William Aldrich and Don Williamson with Alison Beck and Laura Peters

Instant Container Gardens
by Pamela Crawford

Gardening with Heirloom Seeds
by Lynn Coulter

Vertical Gardening
by Derek Fell

Starting from Seed
by Jack Kramer

T.B. Scott Free Library
106 West First Street
Merrill, WI 54452

Telephone (715) 536 - 7191

Fax (715) 536 - 1705

General Hours
Mon - Thurs: 9:30 am - 8:00 pm
Friday: 9:30 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday: 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Sunday: Noon - 4:00 pm

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