A victory box is a small weatherproof outdoor seed library used to promote gardening, locally adapted seed varieties, and community building. As with other seed libraries, patrons check out free seeds to plant and return excess seeds harvested at the end of the season. Each victory box has a unique hashtag to use on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to allow patrons to share pictures of plants grown from borrowed seeds.
Some victory boxes have specific focuses, such as sharing seeds for native flowers, plants for pollinators, or easy to grow vegetables.
Using a victory box
Victory boxes are a community resource and proper seed sharing etiquette is important.
- Find victory boxes in your community by using the seed library map.
- Check descriptions for any relevant notes such as hours or seed varieties.
- Bring something to store the seeds, a pen or pencil, and something to take pictures with such as a phone.
- Some victory boxes provide loose seed and require you to bring something, such as a small envelope, bag, or jar, to hold the seeds until you're able to plant them. The library's steward may offer a few envelopes for unprepared visitors, but these are best utilized by others.
- View the varieties of seed offered and determine which types you would like to borrow.
- Research the plants online using websites like Permawiki.
- Only borrow seeds that you have room and growing conditions for, and take only as much seed as you will plant.
- Leave enough seed for others. If large quantities of seed is needed, only borrow enough to grow a few plants the first year, and use the seeds from these plants the next year. This allows the library to serve many others while also providing you seeds an additional generation of locally adapted seeds.
- Label your containers with the seed varieties as well as the victory box's hashtag before transferring the seed into them.
- Common names are nice to include, but botanical names are much more important.
- Take pictures with the camera of the seeds, seed names, and any special notes on the seed mailbox for referencing or sharing later.
- Ensure the victory box's containers and lid are properly closed.
- Plant the seeds in your garden.
- Take pictures of the plants in victory, during harvesting, or any other picturesque moments to share on social media. Tag the pictures using the victory box's hashtag.
- Let the healthiest and best plants go to seed, and collect the seeds.
- Research how to harvest seed online using websites like Permawiki.
- Use these seeds in your garden for the next growing season and return any excess seed to the victory box.
Make a victory box
Victory boxes can take many forms, but inexpensive or repurposed old mailboxes containing reused jars to hold loose seeds are popular due to their waterproof or water-resistant design. Brightly painted designs and words are used to individualize the boxes as well as to disassociate the box's original purpose for mail. The jars provide further protection from rain as well as protection from rodents and insects that would otherwise eat the seed.
For an easy to build victory box, you would need:
- A Gibraltar THHB0001 mailbox
- 6 empty Smucker's 12.25oz ice cream topping jars
- Cleaned out and with the labels removed
- 15" length of a 3/8" square dowel
- Three 1/2" spacers (nylon or aluminum)
- Three screws and a screw driver
- Six varieties of seed, such as:
- Paint and paint brushes
- Sand paper
- Damp cloth
- Prepare the powder coated mailbox for painting by roughing up the surface with sand paper.
- The biggest issue with painting powder coated metal is paint adhesion. Sanding the the powder coating creates a rough surface for paint to adhere.
- Wipe the mailbox with a damp cloth to remove any grit from the sand paper.
- Paint the mailbox as you wish and let completely dry.
- Pay special attention to where the lid is hinged to the base.
- Be sure to include the victory box's hashtag somewhere on the box.
- Install the mailbox to a flat and secure surface at the desired location.
- Use the screws and spacers to install the mailbox using the directions on the packaging.
- Set the square dowel on the bottom of the mailbox along the rear edge.
- The dowel keeps the jars aligned and creates a void to store envelopes.
- Label the jars and the jar lids with the common and botanical name of the seeds the jars will contain.
- Labeling both the jars and the jar lids is important, as the lids may get mixed up.
- Fill the jars with their corresponding seeds.
- Set the jars inside the mailbox.
- Place some small envelopes behind the jars and above the wooden dowel.
- Close the lid to keep out the rain.
- Post you the location of your victory box online.
- Tell your friends and neighbors about your victory box.