Dwarf Fortress: How to Get Seeds

Nothing can be simple in Dwarf Fortress, and that includes getting seeds for sustainable farming.

There's an ocean of things to learn to play Dwarf Fortress effectively, but you don't have to learn them all at once. Even things that should be relatively simple, like farming, can be complex matters for new players. Your first step toward farming is figuring out how to get seeds.

Plant growth is seasonal in Dwarf Fortress. There are four seasons total, and each season has three months. Each month is 28 days. For quick reference, here are the seasons and the months that fall within them so you don't sow your seeds at the tail-end of a season and find yourself out of luck with yields.

  • Spring — Granite, Slate, and Felsite
  • Summer — Hematite, Malachite, and Galena
  • Autumn — Limestone, Sandstone, and Timber
  • Winter — Moonstone, Opal, and Obsidian

You can see the date at the top of the game's HUD, to the right.

How to Get Seeds in Dwarf Fortress

The first step to getting seeds is to harvest wild plants through plant gathering, which is easy enough to do over a large swath of land. Unfortunately, this often doesn't grant enough seasonal seeds to really get started farming, meaning you'll need to take to processing to get more.

Seeds are stored in bags, so you'll want to have a few of those on hand before starting this process. Bags can be most easily made via a Clothier's Shop, which is found under Build -> Workshops -> Clothing and leather -> Clothes.

Once you have some empty bags, it's time to get started processing the plants your dwarves gathered to gain the seeds within.

There are five primary methods of obtaining seeds:

  1. Brewing drinks at a Still — You should have a Still already since it was likely one of your earliest Workshops. Brewing drinks using fruit or plants can grant seeds once the task is complete. You need Barrels to brew drinks, and they can be crafted at the Carpenter's Workshop.
  2. Milling plants using a Millstone or Quern — These Workshops grind plants into powdery sugar, flour, or dye; and, of course, give seeds. You'll use a Quern for this early on, which requires the Quern item made at a Stoneworker's Workshop first. The Quern Workshop can be found under Build -> Workshops -> Farming -> Quern.
  3. Letting dwarves eat uncooked plants/fruit — This will just sort of happen. It's not a reliable source of seeds, but it is worth knowing.
  4. Processing plants at a Farmer's Workshop — You've got a few options at the Farmer's Workshop (Build -> Workshops -> Farming -> Farmer), and the regular "Process plants" tasks is the one you want to focus on. This refines plants like cotton, jute, pig tails, and so on into thread, which grants their seeds on completion.
  5. Trade — On the rare occasions that trade representatives visit, you should be able to purchase seeds. Be mindful of the season when purchasing. While this is the less self-sustaining option, it will do in a pinch.

With all this information in mind, you should be able to get your Farm Plots sewn with seasonal seeds. It takes a little effort initially to get seeds, but it's worth taking the time to learn how to gain them yourself without having to rely on trading. We've got more Dwarf Fortress guides coming, so stay tuned.

Associate Editor

Ogryns are good lads. Simple as. Anyway, I'm basically a human tornado and I love jank. Also simple as.

Published Dec. 7th 2022

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