What To Do With Old Vegetable Seeds

In short, throw them around.

We’ve got a lot of expired seed packages sitting in a shoe box. And I’ve been reading a newly published translation of a book by the late, “natural farmer” Masanobu Fukuoka (review coming soon). Fukuoka inspired me to distribute those old seeds around our micro-orchard to see what comes up.

Fukuoka has some tips in his book The Natural Way of Farming for creating a semi-wild vegetable garden:

  • Include nitrogen fixers (in my case some clover seeds)
  • Use daikon and other radishes to break up hard soil
  • Sow before weeds emerge

Scott Kleinrock has used the same strategy at the Huntington Gardens. Here’s what his semi-wild vegetable garden, growing in the understory of some small fruit trees, looked like in January of this year:

And there you have it–vegetable gardening with a fraction of the work.

Leave a comment


  1. This is a fabulous idea. Oftentimes I find in my yard that the vege that are growing closely together as a result of re-seeding (I like to leave plants to go to seed as wildlife food and self-seeding) tend to grow pretty vigorous. The strong ones overtake the weak ones, and there you have it, no thinning required. THey also perfectly cover the soil, so there is also moisture retention. It’s a bit of a mishmash, chinese chard growing amongst lettuces and raddichios and edible chrysanthmum, so probably not too efficient on a large scale. I think it’d be great for chicken permaculture though. http://www.makeitmissoula.com/2012/07/eliminate-the-cost-of-chicken-feed/ I have to note that daikon reseeds for me in the weirdest places..

    • As I recall he did some weeding and heavy mulching the first season. When that photo was taken (second season I think) the veggies were, pretty much, chocking out the weeds that used to dominate that site.

    • Please don’t till around trees. You’ll destroy the 90% of feeder roots that live in the top 6″ of soil. Also, don’t mulch thicker than 2″ or the roots will suffocate.

  2. This article reminded me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask you guys here at Root Simple.

    Do you guys know of any “organic” and simple funerals here in SoCal?

    I know there’s a place up north, that allows your cremated remains or burial in a sprawling orchard, that’s not a cemetery. But I guess I’m speaking more on actual “organic” death rite alternatives.

    My grandfather died last month and I was awe struck at how impersonal and plastic the whole burial process is.

    We were lucky that our beloved grandfather was in hospice and being cared for at my aunt’s home.

    So we got to see him an hour after his last breath, and to see how serene he was. We said our goodbyes then.

    Then, as instructed, the funeral parlour was contacted and arrived. They were very professional, BUT the process from that point on was just disappointing.

    There has to be a better way to put a loved one at rest and a proper ritual from which to express this event in our lives.

    So I was just wondering if you guys would know of any alternatives. Thank you.

    • Hi Pat, My condolences. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking about doing a blog post about this very issue. The funeral industry is just about my least favorite business. When my dad died my parent’s pastor took me aside and warned me about what would happen at the funeral home, telling me that they would try to up-sell me on more expensive arrangements. Which is exactly what they tried to do. In the middle of grief this industry takes advantage of you even if, as in my dad’s case, everything was per-arranged. We should all work to put them out of business.

      At the Green Expo here in LA there were two exhibitors offering green burials–one for people and another for pets. I spoke to the pet guy at length (he’s also working on human burial issues). I was planning on following up with him to talk some more. He pointed out one of the nice features of a green graveyard–natural habitat preservation in perpetuity. As far as local green burial sites in SoCal, I don’t know of any. Some casual Googling just now turned up a place in Joshua Tree, but I don’t know anything about it. I’ll do some more research and work up a blog post.

    • Thank you Mr. Homegrown,

      No condolences needed he lived and died surrounded by family.

      I know exactly what you’re talking about re the funeral industry. Bigger rooms for the viewing, cha-ching, viewing rooms with a kitchen attached, cha-ching. At the actual burial, balloons let go, or doves released only to see them circle and go straight to a waiting truck with their cage waiting. It’s a circus. And completely void of meaning.

      I was also researching different funeral/burial rites from different cultures, like in Bali where it’s a big town party, attempting to confuse the deceased spirit, the whole town runs around town with the body in tow, finally ending up at the beach or an open field to set the dead aflame–it’s a great party. Or the sky funeral in the Himalayas, where your body is chopped up and fed to vultures or birds of prey. Or a viking funeral. Something, anything other than what we are doing.

      When Angelina Jolie was asked what she would’ve been had acting not succeeded for her, she said a funeral director, I now understand why. You are right it’s a sick industry and what does that say about the rest of us for acquiescing.

      I’m looking forward to your post. If I could I’d like to also request info from you or other readers, if anyone has also thought of DIY type funerals, like burial or cremation on your own property, if by water, like a viking funeral. What’s the process of carrying out DIY death rites. I figure just get a doctor and law enforcement to officiate matters, then maybe a license to carry out death rites yourself.

      I took my parents, retired now, to Death Valley north, off road, camping in Eureka Dunes. And my dad said something like, When I die I’d like to be cremated in the open underneath the night sky, under the Milky Way. I thought it was a great idea. We were the only ones there. So I wondered if it was even possible, to be remembered and let go in such a beautiful place. Thanks!

    • A good idea to open the post to comments from other readers. I’m sure someone who follows this blog has been a part of a DIY funeral. I’m guessing as the baby boomer generation ages we’ll start to see more options and, hopefully, a challenge to the funeral industry’s stranglehold on the grief business.

  3. Pingback: Vegtable Seeds

  4. re funerals, i’m a jew and our culture/religion does simple burials=equality in death for all=plain caskets w no nails/no metal, no embalming, speedy burial. no viewing.into the ground in a hurry. but: the cemetery can have grass, lawn chem, etc and i don’t want pesticides around me in death any more than iN life. if you look you can find places where you get planted in the woods or someplace that will be of use. a swing set over me is fine by me but i really really want catnip yarrow and sage. and i want my methodist husband and my cats with me. sigh. jewy cemeteries only let jews in. i hope i have several decades to solve this problem even tho i have entered my final third of life. all be well and healthy; thanks for what you do. happy october!!!

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