Seed Library

five bean sprouts in various stages of sprouting in soil

Borrow seeds to grow your own healthy food and contribute to a sustainable community—it’s 1-2-3 easy with your Burlington Public Library card. Limited availability at all branches except Kilbride. Here's how our seed library works:

  1. Browse & Borrow... select what plants you’d like to grow—you can select up to three "try-it" sample-size seed packets per family. Please see a staff member to check out your seeds.
  2. Sow & Grow... plant, tend, and enjoy your crop
  3. Reap & Return... if you are able, harvest new seeds and return them to the library, packaged (we'll explain how!) to be borrowed by local gardeners next growing season.

Returning seeds is not a requirement for borrowing seeds—but seeds returned from successful plants will grow our collection and help cultivate seed stocks best suited to our local climate. Frequently Asked Questions about BPL's Seed Library

Seed Types 2023


A fragrant and tasty herb, basil thrives in rich, moist, well-drained soil with full sun. Perfect for containers.

Dolce Fresca basil produces sweet, tender leaves that outshone the comparison varieties while maintaining an attractive, compact shape that’s both versatile and beautiful. Use the leaves as you would any Genovese basil. We hear it makes an excellent pesto!

How to grow: 75 days to harvest; plant 1/2" deep, 12" apart, lightly cover; full sun


Green bush beans are an excellent source of vitamins A & C and dietary fibre. This bush-type plant produces excellent yields of 8" long by ½" wide green beans. Beans have excellent flavour and are tender. Used fresh, canning, and freezing.

How to grow: 55 days to harvest; plant 1" deep in warm soil, 4" apart, cover lightly with soil; full sun

Bird & Butterfly Wildflower Mix

Just toss the seeds in your garden or planter and see what grows! Good for pollinators—good for our planet.

This annual and perennial mixture is perfect for creating a backyard habitat to attract your favourite winged friends. The mix may contain Black-Eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Butterfly Milkweed, California Poppy, Candytuft, China Aster, Dwarf Cornflower, Dwarf Godetia, Dwarf Plains Coreopsis, Dwarf Red Coneflower, Gayfeather, Indian Blanket, Lance-Leaved Coreopsis, Lemon Mint, Perennial Lupine, Purple Coneflower, Rocket Larkspur, Scarlet Sage, Wallflower and Sweet Alyssum.

How to grow: Sow the seed-and-sand mix directly on warm soil and very lightly rake in.

Butternut Squash

Also called winter squash. Botanically a berry, it is a good source of fibre, vitamins A and C, and minerals.

This vine-type plant produces fruits that start out with a light green skin that turns beige when the squash is ready to be harvested in fall. The plant grows quickly and requires room to grow.

How to grow: 75 days to harvest; plant 1"deep, 1 1/2 feet apart, cover lightly; full sun


The green stalks add a mild onion flavour to salads, soups, and more. You can eat the purple flowers too.

Chives are a perennial member of the onion family that sport beautiful edible flowers. This herb is cold-tolerant and best planted in early to mid-spring. It can also be grown indoors in containers. Be mindful when planting this herb as it will take over your garden if the flowers are allowed to develop fully (the flowers scatter the seeds).

How to grow: 60 days to harvest; plant 1/2" deep, create a small trench and disperse seeds, lightly cover; full sun


Make your own pickles in 2023! For many years cucumbers have been a main item in many home gardens. High in purified water, they contain numerous minerals, particularly magnesium and phosphorus, and vitamins A & C.

Straight Eight cucumbers have cool, firm flesh and a bright taste. For peak flavour and texture, pick when 8" long. Best grown on a fence or trellis. These plants are prolific and dependable.

How to grow: 68 days to harvest; plant 1/2" deep, 8" apart, lightly cover; full sun


Kale greens are rich in vitamin C and other minerals. It has a long growing season, even after frost.

Curly edges grab onto dressings and seasonings. Great for kale chips, salads and any cooked dish you can imagine. Rich green, ruffled 18 to 24-inch plants stand upright in the garden and hold well for an extended harvest. Easy to grow and ideal for late summer and fall harvest.

How to grow: 75 days to harvest; plant 1/2" deep, 12" apart, lightly cover; full sun


One of the easiest greens to grow indoors and outside. Enjoy fresh leaf lettuce salads year-round!

Baby Market Blend is a mix of premium traditional lettuce varieties. Lettuce is a cool-season crop that grows well in the spring and fall in most regions. This crop is perfect for beginners; it’s easily sown by seed directly in the soil as soon as the ground can be worked. Because lettuce grows quickly, the best approach is to plant a small number of seeds at a time, staggering the plantings.

How to grow: 75 days to harvest; plant 1/8" deep, create small trench and disperse seeds, lightly cover; full sun


Cucamelons (also known as mouse melon and Mexican sour cucumbers) can be eaten raw, stir-fried, or pickled. Very versatile.

These fruits look like tiny watermelons with a tart cucumber flavour. These plants grow quickly and produce fruit for a long period throughout the summer season. While the vines can reach lengths in excess of ten feet, they can be easily trained to grow on trellises. These plants are perfect for container gardening.

How to grow: 75 days to harvest; plant 1/2" deep, 5" apart, lightly cover; full sun


A very dark green selection of the Moss Curled type. Curly leaf parsley adds a clean and earthy flavour to salads and other culinary dishes. Use as a garnish and in salads and cooking. It performs well in containers and the field, allowing for multiple cuttings per season from one planting. Upright leaves make harvesting easy. Tolerates light frost.

How to grow: 80 days to harvest; plant 1/8" deep, create a small trench and disperse seeds, lightly cover; full sun


Two varieties are available to borrow. Peas are relatively easy to grow with few diseases or bug problems.

Tender Sweet snap peas are like candy off the vine. Aptly named tender and sweet, these peas have dark green and slightly curved edible pods and have a longer picking window than most.

Lincoln peas quickly became a favourite with American gardeners thanks to their high yields and sweet, tender flavour. Suited for eating fresh, freezing or canning, the pods are loaded with sweet, tender peas. Heat- and wilt-tolerant, the 18-30" plants require staking with a small pea fence for proper support.

How to grow both varieties: 65 days to harvest; plant 1 1/2" deep, 1" apart, cover lightly with soil; full sun


Come in many colours, shapes, degrees of heat, and flavours, adding taste and texture to your meals. When fully mature, peppers provide high amounts of vitamins A & C.

Ace Hybrid is one of the best bell peppers for areas with short or cool summers. The plants produce early and heavily, even when nights are cool. It can even be grown in unheated tunnels and home greenhouses. The peppers have 3 to 4 lobes and ripen from green to red very rapidly.

How to grow: 55 days to harvest; plant 1/4" deep, 12" apart, lightly cover; full sun

The Jalapeño is a medium-sized chili pepper (2-4 in) long and hangs down with a round, firm, smooth flesh. It can have a range of pungency, with Scoville heat units of 4,000 to 8,500. Commonly picked and consumed while still green.

How to grow: 70 days to harvest; plant 1/4" deep, 12" apart, lightly cove; full sun

The Hungarian wax pepper is a medium variety with a wide Scoville Scale range of 1,000 to 15,000 Scoville units. This pepper is usually harvested before maturity when still yellow. It measures between 4-6" inches in length and tapers to a rounded point. Upon maturity, the pepper becomes orange, then red.

How to grow: 70 days to harvest; plant 1/4" deep, 12" apart, lightly cover; full sun


Grow your own Halloween pumpkin this year! The Aspen Hybrid variety is an ideal Halloween pumpkin, growing large with thick stems and burnt orange skin. This semi-bush plant grows 10-20 lb pumpkins.

How to grow: 95 days to harvest; plant 1"deep, 5" apart, cover lightly; full sun


This cheery plant was first cultivated in North America thousands of years ago for food, medicine, oil, and dye.

Sunrich Orange summer sunflowers are the quintessential sunflower, producing a ruffled ring of perfectly placed, deep golden petals that surround a dark chocolate-colored, tightly woven center. One of the prettiest in the many colour combinations in the Sunrich series.

How to grow: 60 days to harvest; plant 1" deep, 6" apart, lightly cover; full sun


A great dietary source of vitamins C and K, potassium, folate, and the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

With their fast growth, high yields, and sugary fruits, Super Sweet 100 hybrid cherry tomatoes are a true favourite. This indeterminate plant produces large clusters of fruit. These vine-like plants need to be supported by a trellis, like a tomato cage or stake.

How to grow: 60 days to harvest, plant 1/2" deep, 24" apart, lightly cover, full sun

Looking for a great sandwich or hamburger tomato? Look no further than the Big Beef tomato. This plant produces giant-sized fruits earlier in the season than other varieties. Support is required with a tomato cage, stake, or trellis.

How to grow: 73 days to harvest; plant 1/4" deep, 24 inches apart, lightly cover; full sun


Also known as summer squash and courgette. Both yellow and green varieties are available to borrow this year.

Raven hybrid green zucchini have dark green cylindrical fruits that are smooth skinned and glossy, with a delicious flavour. Harvest is quick and easy and the bush plant loves the heat of our summers.

How to grow: 43 days to harvest, plant 1" deep, 2 feet apart, cover lightly, full sun

Golden Delight hybrid zucchini produce yellow fruit 7-8" in length. Plants demand lots of heat and water but are easy to grow and quite productive. Golden Delight blossoms are also a delight to deep fry in a light batter!

How to grow: 43 days to harvest; plant 3/4" deep, 2 feet apart, cover lightly; full sun

Q: Do I have to return the seeds?

We encourage all seed borrowers to try their best to save seeds and return some to the library. However, we understand this is a challenging task. So, watch for seed-saving programs to help build your skills so you can confidently harvest seeds from your crops!

The beauty of a seed library is the ability to engage in the complete growing cycle—sowing, growing, harvesting, and seed saving. Later in the season, we'll share more information about seed saving and instructions on donating harvested seeds to BPL's Seed Library.

Q: What seeds do you have?

We order a selection of vegetable seeds you would traditionally see in a home garden, as well as herbs. We attempt to order a few varieties in each category. All seeds are non-hybrid and organic where possible. Most of our seeds are supplied by William Dam Seeds and Stokes.

Q: How many seeds can I check out?

You are now part of a community of gardeners and we ask that you respect that the Seed Library is a shared public resource. You may borrow up to three seed packets on one library card per family.

Q: Are the seeds at BPL Grows Seed Library all organic?

The start-up collection of seeds in the library were heirloom varieties (saved and passed down for generations) and bought from a vendor that is certified organic by an independent certifier, Pro-Cert Organic Systems Ltd. BPL Grows Seed Library encourages seed donors to practice organic growing methods and to be honest when providing information on their seed donations. However, there is no guarantee that the seeds donated by community members are organic. As long as you use organic growing methods, your vegetables will be essentially organic, just unable to be certified by an independent certifier until you have been growing them organically for a minimum of 3 years.

Q: Are seeds available year-round?

The seed library will have materials available throughout the year, though not all seeds can be planted year-round. More information about when to plant various seeds can be found in our seed library catalogue.

Q: What do I do if I can’t find the kind of seed I’m looking for?

If there is something that you would like to see next growing season, let us know. Or, if you choose to purchase heirloom seeds instead this year, you can choose to save those seeds and donate some to the library to help us grow next year. Under Related links below, you'll find a great listing from Seeds of Diversity where you can find heirloom seeds.

Q: How do I properly save seeds after harvest?

The methods for saving seeds will depend on the variety of plant. Some seeds are quite easy to save. The seeds in this collection have little risk of cross-pollination, so when you plant seeds next year, you’ll get the same fruits or vegetables that you got last year. These seeds also require fewer steps to successfully save seeds. Some seeds, like those in the squash and pumpkin family, require a bit more work to successfully save. These seeds easily cross-pollinate and need plenty of space between plants; they also may need to be hand-pollinated.

We encourage home gardeners to save seeds from the "easy" plants: tomatoes, lettuce, beans, peas, and peppers. (Some extra know-how is needed for peppers.)

Q: May I donate my own seeds?

No, not at this time.

Q: Is there supporting information for the seed library?

BPL Grows Seed Library provides access to information to support our gardeners in growing their own food. As well as information sheets on basic gardening and seed saving, the library may offer workshops of interest to gardeners throughout the year. Burlington Public Library also has a wide variety of resources of interest to gardeners.

Q: Who do I contact for more information?

For more information, please call Brynley at 905.639.3611 ext 1219.

BPL Grows Seed Library was initially funded with the generous support of Burlington Community Foundation Grant and BurlingtonGreen in 2015.

STAFF BOOKLISTS on gardening & growing topics

Browse our Seed Saving collection

Burlington Spring seed starting dates (pdf) from Burlington Community Gardens

Canadian Seed Catalogue - Seeds of Diversity Canada

Basic Seed Saving - Seeds of Diversity Canada

Seed Saving Basics by K.Ruby Blume - Institute of Urban Homesteading