David Bernal + photo

David Bernal

Jul 19
3 min read
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A gardening tradition since Victorian England, artisan hand-crafted paper packets have heralded the growing season for nearly two hundred years. While many things have changed in the seed industry, this is one tradition we are proud to continue with our Culinary 10 Herb Seeds Collection. Featuring 10 individual and elegantly designed seed packets, this collection delivers all the nostalgia of generations past, reminding us that paper seed packets have always been for gardeners who thrive, not just survive.

History of Paper Seed Packets

Individual paper seed packets are a relatively modern development in the several thousands of years that human civilization has practiced agriculture. Whether providing for a family homestead or an entire city, growers only ever dealt with bulk seeds because anything less would have been inadequate to produce enough food before the winter.

The first commercially distributed paper seed packets were printed in England throughout the 1800’s to meet the demands of an expanding middle class that only needed a few garden seeds for the season as opposed to hundreds of pounds equipped to sustain an entire society. Early seed companies adjusted business models and pricing to account for this new class of casual home gardeners who had the leisure time and property to grow the most exotic fruits, vegetables, and flowers from all over the world.

Victorian Era and the Rise of Home Gardens

The modern notion of the home garden and flower bed was perfected in 19th century Victorian England during the height of the British Empire. Largely due to British imperialism, new varieties of seeds were shipped back to England from all over the world, leading to a sudden rise in eager new seed companies. Home gardeners soon had the unprecedented luxury of browsing through several seed catalogs to shop casually for whichever rare and exotic plants they wished to try in their own garden.

The popular rise of floriography (language of flowers) throughout England gave birth to several influential books on the symbolic importance of various flowers and herbs in the garden bed. Such practices only reinforced the commercial need to sell seeds at a much smaller scale, while also providing gardening tips and instructions on the back of each packet for first-time growers.

Modern Era and Hermetically Sealed Seeds

While we all know that nothing can ever substitute the charm and nostalgia of a hand-crafted paper seed packet, there have been some sweeping changes to the seed industry that are more customer-driven than ever. The most noteworthy of these changes is the rise of air-tight hermetically sealed packets to help ensure a seed’s shelf life for up to 24-36 months.

Though not nearly as delightful as vintage paper seed packets, the hermetic seal is the current industry standard in protecting seeds from mold, rot, pests, and reduced germination rates. Most flower seeds and early spring crops requiring a period of cold-stratification are now sold in hermetically sealed packets so they may be safely stored in the freezer for several years.

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