Seed envelopes

Jane McGary
Thu, 16 Feb 2012 11:20:14 PST
Like Jim Waddick, I have a lot of experience with seed envelopes, 
because for three years in the mid-1990s I handled the intake phase 
of the massive NARGS Seed Exchange. People sent seeds in every 
imaginable kind of packet. One donor saved all her tea-bag individual 
paper jackets for this purpose. From eastern Europe we received 
carefully handmade packets, unfortunately often constructed of very 
fragile thin paper that seeds broke through.

I myself use brown paper coin envelopes most of the time because they 
hold more than glassines and are easy to write on, but I agree with 
Jim that the paper ones have drawbacks. They often leak at the bottom 
and have to be taped, and if there is moisture in the seeds (e.g., 
Paeonia) they will lose their glue and fall apart. I keep two sizes 
of these envelopes handy, as the larger ones can be stuffed with 
whole capsules for drying and later cleaning, and then reused. I get 
them at office supply stores, but they're getting harder and harder 
to find, especially in multiple sizes.

You can get glassines that are self-sealing, but I don't like them 
because the seeds can stick to the adhesive when you're filling or 
emptying the envelope. NARGS has now abandoned these for non-adhesive 
glassines that you have to seal with a glue stick (messy) or tape 
(tedious). Not all writing implements will write clearly on this type 
of paper; a fine-tipped Sharpie pen is best.

Some seed suppliers send out seeds in little poly zip-lock bags, 
known as sample bags (you can get them from scientific suppliers or 
geological suppliers). I don't like them because the seeds stick 
inside the bags and have to be scraped out (a lab scoop is good for 
this). Also, if the seeds are not dry enough, they can mold and rot 
in plastic bags.

The home-made "origami" envelopes Kathleen Sayce mentioned are good 
to know about if you find some good seeds and have no envelopes with 
you, but they're not well liked by people handling exchanges because 
they can fall apart during shipping and handling, and one doesn't 
know quite what will happen when one goes to open them.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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