McHenry County Master Gardener Seed Library

1102 McConnell Rd, Woodstock, IL 60098 Days and Hours: Mon-Thur 9 AM to Noon


Library Organization

The library is organized by vegetables, herbs, natives, and flowers, both annual and
perennial. The collection of seeds varies greatly and is constantly changing due to
donations and borrows. There is no current inventory list available.

How to borrow seeds

1. Review the seeds that the library has available and make your selection. You can take an entire packet, if one is available, or ask for a specific number of seeds. You can request a photocopy of each type you requested that is not in a full packet to take with you so that you know all relevant information. You may also take a photocopy of the seed packet with your phone.

2. Fill out a checkout form provided to you with each of the seeds you have. The volunteer will file it.

3. Let the volunteer who is working with you know if you plan to return seeds from the plants that you grow or if you want to donate seeds from other plants you may have. There will be an additional information form given to you at this time if you select to donate seeds. If you donate unopened packets of seeds no additional information is needed.


If you are new to Seed Saving

If you are new to saving seeds it is recommended that you start with seeds that are “easy.” These seeds are great for beginners and produce plants like the ones you planted.

The seeds that are considered “advanced” require special planning to preserve varietal purity. Unless certain precautions are taken with them, the next grower will not get the same plant. We want to ensure that the seeds that you return to the library are indeed what they claim to be. So please return “advanced” seeds only after you have learned about isolating plants to prevent cross-pollination.

We recommend that you read the following article from the University of Minnesota on saving vegetable seeds: 

You can also view the following video from U of I Extension for tips on saving seeds:

Or this one, from The Land Conservancy of McHenry County How to Collect and Sow Native Plant Seed:

There are many fact sheets here, about saving seeds from Native plants, (by type) from the Field Museum:   Filter by Chicago Region, Plants, Seeds for easier selection.


 Learn More

 join the forum  

 read about seed saving at your local library

 talk to experienced seed-saving gardeners

 keep good garden records



How to Donate and Return Seeds

First, read the information below. Once you have collected seed from your easy-to-save crops, set aside some for yourself and some for the library in clearly labeled containers. Seeds for the library should be in envelopes that were provided to you. The seed library will give you a copy of the form to be completed with each type of seed you return. Bring your labeled seeds and the form to the library.

How To Return Seeds

 1. Make sure the seeds are dry.

 2. Remove as much of the chaff as possible.

3. Label the seed envelope you return with all the information required. If you have special notes, such as grown organically please add them to the seed envelope. People who borrow your seeds will rely on what you've written to decide if this is a plant that they would like to grow. More information is better.

4. Bring the returned seeds to the Extension office. This can be done during regular office hours and not just seed library hours. If you have lots of seeds, we will package or re-jar them. Excess seeds may be donated to sister Seed Libraries.

Only return seeds from plants that you know how to save properly.

"Super Easy" seeds (tomatoes, beans peas and lettuce) can be reliably saved without cross-pollination or unintentional hybridization.

Do not return seeds from the brassica (such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprout, cabbage) or cucurbit (such as cucumbers, squash, melons) families unless you have taken appropriate steps to prevent cross-pollination.


Seeds from this library may not meet germination or varietal purity standards prescribed by the Illinois State Seed Law.

Patented seeds or varieties protected by the Plant Variety Protection Act will not be accepted or distributed.                     


University of Illinois, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Local Extension Councils Cooperating.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.