Our gardens contain an ever changing assortment of experiments. Perhaps one explanation for my love of gardening is because it is so connected with my passion for learning and continuous improvement. Much of my learning comes from discussing ideas with other avid gardeners. I also read books, magazines and blogs about gardening, and I follow the progress of numerous gardens and their gardeners by witnessing the happenings they post to Instagram. I also learn all that I can about new plant varieties and new culture techniques, which I put to use where beneficial. I’m filled with curiosity as I peruse favorite seed catalogs, talk with friends about their gardens, or as I read of recommended varieties from contacts on social media. While I have a number of regular go-to varieties that I tend to plant every year, I make room for growing varieties that are new to me. Would gardening be so engaging if we planted the same things every season?
Buying a packet of seeds for everything I’d like to trial would get costly. Growing just a bit of so many seed packets would get expensive! While I do grow a large garden, the quantity of seeds in most of the seed packets is far more than I could use in a season or two. Instead of letting these seeds age and go to waste, I share seeds with other gardeners. I meet annualy with a colleague at work who also likes to grow vegetables. We talk about what we hope to grow in our gardens during the coming season. Where our plans overlap, we decide whether we could share. Knowing what my friend plans to buy and would be willing to share enables each of us to buy fewer seed packets. Once our seed orders arrive, we get together in person, where to the outsider we probably resemble two little kids at Christmas. We divide up the packets and talk excitedly about our plans for the spring.
Many of us have local seed exchanges and swaps in our areas attended by many people with a similar desire to experiment and share. I have attended one each spring for the past few years. I shared seeds that I had saved with other attendees, which was exciting. I also came home with more than a dozen new varieties from other gardeners in attendance to grow in my garden.
Last month I participated in a virtual seed exchange. The participants were all enthusiastic gardeners who came together because of an Instagram post. There were 130 participants from 36 different states. Two individuals organized and “hosted” the swap. Participants sent in 22 packets of seeds and a check for return shipping. We were shipped a box of 22 various packets in return. So many possibilities!
National Seed Swap Day is coming up January 30th. Do a bit of research in advance so you can plan to attend a swap in your area.
The Midnight Gardener
A previous post about this topic: Start With Good Seeds