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Dwarves can use seeds to grow crops in farm plots. All underground plants produce seeds, as well as several outdoor plants. 1-2 seeds are created when a plant is processed/milled, brewed, or eaten (but not when cooked!). Seeds are stockpiled with food.
The 6 underground ("genuine dwarven") plant seeds can be purchased at the beginning of the game (see Starting Builds), with the sole exception of rock nuts.
Fortresses can have a maximum of 200 seeds of each type. If your fortress has 200 seeds of a given type, no more seeds of that type will be produced until the seeds are consumed (either through planting or cooking) or otherwise destroyed (you can however acquire more than 200 seeds by trade, but why would you?). This is good in that all plant related jobs will no longer cause huge hauler bee-lines. It is bad in that a (though marginally) amount of food and value is lost.
All seed types can be cooked, producing one unit of edible food per seed. Cooking seeds has the danger of cooking all seeds, sabotaging your own farming. Thus, only cook seed types you cannot or want not to plant. Seeds have the further disadvantage that they tend to produce small meals thus using up lots of stockpile space.
Since dwarves always place seeds in the nearest available bag, poor stockpile arrangement can cause seed stocks to use a huge number of bags. In order to avoid this, make sure that all possible seed sources (stills, farmer's workshops, mills, and all dining rooms) are closer to a seed stockpile than a bag-enabled furniture stockpile.
There are six types of seeds that can be used to plant crops underground (in stone that has been muddied by irrigation):
- Plump helmet spawn
- Sweet pod seeds
- Pig tail seeds
- Cave wheat seeds
- Dimple cup spawn
- Rock nuts (used to grow quarry bushes)
These are the only plants (aside from tower-caps) that will grow inside the cave; all other plants can only be found outdoors. Several aboveground plants will produce seeds (specifically, wild strawberries, prickle berries, and longland grass), but since dwarves don't know how to farm outdoors, these seeds are usable only for cooking.
Cooking with seeds
Cooking seeds can be an effective way of training a new cook.
- 1) In the z-Kitchen sub-menu, only allow the seeds you want to have cooked (c)
- 2) Limit a kitchen workshop in the workshop profile (assuming the Manager has arrived) so only your new cook will use that kitchen (by limiting the skill level, or assigning it by name, or both.)
- 3) Set that kitchen on "Easy Meal - Repeat"
- The chef will only consume two seeds per meal. This allows them to make an abundance of meals without consuming costly materials.
- Once 200 seeds for a particular plant have been accumulated, additional seeds will not be produced when eating, brewing, milling, or threshing, saving a considerable amount of work for food haulers. By cooking them, haulers will always be gathering additional seeds.
- For new forts, cooking your seeds can leave your dwarves without anything to eat.