Are you missing gardening and getting your hands in the lovely soil? Fortunately, just in time to stave off the winter blues, is Seed Swap Day! Get your soil, little pots, and seeds ready to trade with a friend (or a stranger!) on the last Saturday in January each year.
Have you ever gone seed shopping and just couldn’t find that one weird variety of morning glory that your neighbor has growing up a trellis? (I live in a blue barn and my upstairs neighbor has these GORGEOUS deep blue morning glories traveling up and they reach his window in the summer… They look stunning against the blue wood!) Are you just getting started in the gardening world and want to discover what other people in your area have success growing?
Seed swaps are the perfect way to get some unique seeds that are able to thrive in your community. You’ll be able to round out your garden and also help someone find the plant that they were looking for with your seed trade! They’re great ways to contribute to the gardening community and share your passion for gardening with others.
In order to participate in many seed swaps, you need to have some seeds to trade! The easiest way to get seeds is to simply go to a nursery or garden center and purchase a little bag of seeds. The rarer or weirder the seeds, the more fun the trades are! However, if you want to step up your seed swap game, try seed collection from your garden!
To collect seeds from your own plants, you’ll need to pay attention to when your flowers go to seed. This will be at varying times depending on the plant.
If you have flowers such as Marigolds, Cosmos, or Zinnias, it’ll be very easy to tell when the plant has only the dried seeds left. The petals will fall off, leaving the seeds exposed. You can collect the seeds and remove any debris. Then, lay them on a paper towel in a dark spot to fully dry before putting them in a labeled seed pouch to store for next planting season.
If you’re looking for fruiting plant seeds you’ll want to wait until the fruit has been produced, and has been on the vine or branch for a while (you won’t want to eat this anymore). You may also need to ferment the seeds in order to remove the slimy outer seed coat. Typically, when an animal eats the fruit, they ingest the seeds, them poop them out later. That seed coat is digested in the body and then is deposited elsewhere in convenient little fertilizer piles, but we’re not going to do that with our seeds…
Instead, slice a tomato (try with an heirloom tomato!), stick the pulpy mush in a pint mason jar half filled with water, and shake it. Seal and set aside for a few days, until the mushy pulp rises to the top and the seeds sink. When you open it, the water may smell from the fermentation, but that’s okay! Compost the mush, and set the seeds on a paper towel in a dark spot to fully dry. Seeds need to dry before storing since if they mold, your seed is no longer viable. Storing seeds in dark spots prevent the seed from germinating too quickly.
Interested in getting involved in a seed swap? A simple google search “seed swap events near me” may reveal some! In the case where you don’t find any near you, you can always participate in online seed exchanges.
In fact, Seed Savers Exchange is a group of gardeners who focuses on sharing seeds in order to maintain plant biodiversity. You can find all sorts of plants, including potato tubers, tree cuttings, garlic bulbs, and more – not just seeds!
Are you local to the Bucks County region of Southeastern Pennsylvania? View my calendar of events to see if there are any seed swap or gardening events coming up with The Art of Ecology. I’d love to meet you, help you grow your garden, and explore what I can add to mine!