BPL Seed Library

Let's get planting! "Borrow" seeds and get your garden growing with our BPL Seed Library located at all library locations. No matter if you're experienced or brand new to gardening, you can "borrow" up to 3 packets of seeds at a time to plant and grow.

You can even borrow Gardening Kits which include all the tools you need to get growing! We also have Junior Gardening Kits with little tools for little hands. 

Grow Local Seeds

As part of a national local seed movement, we encourage the use of open-pollinated and heritage seeds whenever possible.

  • Do note that seeds are donated, and so supplies may be limited and will be continuously refreshed.
  • Drop by any Barrie Public Library location to see what seeds we have available and choose some for your garden. 
  • If you are unable to enter the library, and wish to order seeds for Express Pick-Up, please call us at 705-728-1010, or send us at message at Ask Us.

Seeding 101


  • Sterilize your pots with a mild bleach solution before using them; this kills bacteria and prevents the transfer of diseases. 
  • Some gardening centres in Barrie create a leave-a-pot-take-a-pot zone where you can find free pots of various sizes.
  • Recycle yogurt and pudding cups or other household containers by punching holes in the bottom.
  • Make sure to use drip trays. You can use kitchen plates, saucers, serving platters and other containers as drip trays that can catch overflow and facilitate bottom-up watering.
  • Choose sizes that work well for you. Tiny pots will work, but it can be a lot of work to re-pot plants into larger containers when they get bigger; you may prefer to start large so that the plant can just keep growing until it’s time to transfer it outside.


  • You can use a soilless, pre-mixed growing medium, if you have ready access to it; however, as long as you keep your pots moist (by covering them with saranwrap at the beginning and watering routinely once seeds have germinated), potting soil works just as well.
  • In a pinch you can use soil from outside.  This is not the best option: it may be too dense (like clay) or too sandy, it may come with tiny eggs or diseases, or it may be buried under two feet of snow!


  • Find a sunny spot in your house; if your seedlings don’t get enough light they’ll become leggy and prone to snapping.
  • Most seeds will germinate at temperatures between 18-22°C. If you’re able to get your hands on a grow-light, this is a great option.

Quantity and Timing

  • When choosing how many seedlings to start, keep in mind the amount of indoor space you have to work with, the size of your outdoor growing area, and the possibility that some plants might not thrive. In time, you’ll learn what you like to grow and eat best, what gets left in the garden, and what doesn’t do well in your soil.
  • Resist the urge to start seeds earlier than you should – this will result in leggy plants prone to breaking when they are moved outside. Refer to seed-specific planting instructions to figure out when you should plant each variety of seed.


  • Damp soil and plants can lead to disease. It’s important to avoid drowning your seedlings.
  • Make sure that your pots have good drainage holes, and once they have germinated, it’s a good idea to water from the bottom up by filling the drip trays and allowing the soil/plant to suck the water up into the pot. You can keep stems dry at the base by adding a thin layer or sand or perlite to the surface to absorb excess moisture.
  • Let the soil dry out completely between waterings (once seeds have germinated). Don’t crowd your pots with too many plants; thin them if too many come up.

Moving Plants Outside

  • On mild days, move your plants outside, gradually leaving them out for longer periods of time.
  • After a week or so of this, if nighttime temperatures are above freezing and you’re past the last frost date (in Barrie this is May 11-20), your plants should be ready for a permanent move.
  • If a severe drop in the temperature catches you by surprise, cover your plants with a blanket or some straw.

Harvesting and Donating Seeds

We welcome donations throughout the year. When you harvest your plants, please save some seeds to donate back to the library. Before you donate seeds, please label the envelope with the seed type, the date the seed was harvested or purchased, and your contact information. 

This year, we are grateful to the following local seed companies for their generous support:

Other Resources