Looking for growth and self-care? Try a (free) seed library!

Gardening can reduce stress, help you get outside, and give you an important break from schoolwork! There are a lot of ways to take a break and focus on self-care, but one of my personal favorites is gardening. Plants take time and care, and they do best when I take some time with them every day. And best of all, I can do this with just a few basic things around the house!

Here are the tools I’ve found helpful:

  • Some seeds (UBC has places where you can get these for free!) or a small plant (called a “seedling”)
  • Some dirt
  • A place to put the plant (usually a pot or a garden plot)
  • Something to move the dirt (a small shovel, called a “trowel,” is ideal, but I’ve also used my hands, a small plastic container, etc.)

Basic equipment for gardening: a sack of soil, small empty pots, and a trowel

So where can I get seeds?

I like to get free seeds from a “seed library.” In spite of the name, don’t worry, no one expects you to bring the same seeds back! There are a lot of seed libraries across the lower Mainland, including at certain public library branches, but I’ve also gotten some seeds right here on campus, at the UBC Seed Library, which is in two locations, the Education Library and the Woodward Library. Checking seeds out is easy: visit the seed library, choose some seeds, submit an online form, and then take them.

Seed packets at Woodward Library Seed Library, UBC. From: UBC Seed Lending Library

What kind of things should I plant?

I usually choose seeds based on what I want to eat, but when I was starting growing, I tried to choose plants that weren’t too hard to take care of and that grew quickly. Some good options, especially since I don’t have a lot of space, are greens (like lettuces, kale, or arugula), herbs (mint, basil, rosemary, thyme), radishes, or carrots.

Cool, I picked out some seeds. Now how do I plant these?

The best place to find information about how to plant seeds is on the seed packets themselves. The packets say how much sunlight the plant needs, how deep to plant the seed, how far to space the seeds apart, how often to water the seed, and how long it takes the seed to germinate (sprout). Sometimes I don’t have a seed packet, like if I take something out from the seed library, so I search for the type of seed online and find the same information.

After I know the amount of sunlight, how deep to plant the seed, and how much space each seed needs, I put the seed in a pot or a garden plot with that amount of spacing and depth. It’s important to choose a section of the garden plot with the right amount of sunlight or a part of your house that gets the right amount of sun.

Then I take care of the seed (and myself!) until it grows. Remember that it’s normal for not every plant to get large or thrive, but hopefully, these tips can help you start trying to grow.

Want to connect with other growers? Here are some groups on campus to check out!


  • UBC Library. (2023, January 26). Seed Packages [Photograph]. Seed Lending Library. https://guides.library.ubc.ca/seedlendinglibrary/home#s-lg-box-14396059
  • UBC Library. (2023, January 26). Seed Lending Library. UBC Library. https://guides.library.ubc.ca/seedlendinglibrary/home#s-lg-box-14396059

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