There is a method to begin the gardening season and as any gardener will tell you, it is different for each person. However for me, I try to do something different each year. Last year, I attended the Washington Gardener Seed Exchange at Greenspring Gardens in Virginia. Although I got there late, I was able to acquire some awesome seeds and actually won some pot hangers for mounting pots on an exterior wall, as well as some very useful horticultural information. I thought then that I would be better prepared to attend this event again this year However this year, I chose to go to the alternate location at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD (www.brooksidegardens.org) on National Seed Swap Day. Honestly, I could not have had a better day….well if I could have gardened outside, then it would have been better. Today, I did some inner gardening…actually it started last night….
In preparation for my weekend adventure, I acquired some cut flowers to arrange bouquets for my Cottage to chase way the winter greys. I made one for the dining room table…
then I made one for my office…..
then I made one to make sure as I left the house, I could have a vision of Spring to take with me in my mind and in my heart……..
Once this was accomplished, I nestled in my bed to rest up for what I anticipated would be an exciting day!!!
Brookside Gardens is the best place to have an event, particularly a seed swap on National Seed Swap Day and most importantly, under the leadership and organization of this area’s well known and highly respected Kathy Jentz of Washington Gardener Magazine (www.washingtongardener.com). I must say that Kathy can put on Seed Swap Party. Having grown up in Montgomery County, this venue was familiar and an excellent choice!
I arrived a bit late but right on time as the first speaker, Wendy Kiang-Spray (www.greenishthumb.net) was talking about sprouting and microgreens. She shared her thoughts on how to best utilize them and made certain that the audience understood how easy they are to grow. Wendy also shared some for a small tasting at break time and I have to say……..MMMM GOOD!!! I will be starting some microgreens tomorrow in a recycled container…I will share my success with this later….after all she did say how easy it is. I just know I have some seeds somewhere…….I also have a vinaigrette that would be simply awesome gently tossed with a little pepper…..now I am hungry!!!
The second speaker was a delight as well. I read a lot and I love to spend the winter reading….okay, I love to read all year….. One book that was on my list after having read about it in the 2014 Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Catalog and Guide was Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast by Ira Wallace. Ms. Wallace is a worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange n Mineral, Virginia. Specializing in over 700 varieties of heirloom and organic seed, I am very familiar with their products and have purchased from them for over 15 years…..I have never been disappointed. (www.SouthernExposure.com) So I bought the book on the spot as it was no longer a want, but a NEED. Thank you Ms. Wallace for providing the information that I need to get me through the balance of this weekend as I prepare for this year’s garden.
Ms. Wallace shared her thoughts on gardening, changing climates, the value of the scuffle hoe (her favorite tool), how to use it and much more. Seed selection, lighting, soil prep, succession planting, sowing an insectory for beneficial insects and the importance of a garden notebook/log, were all topics she touched upon. If the snow had not been on the ground, I would have rushed home and went directly into my garden..but we had not swapped the seeds yet…..
Throughout the Seed Swap, Kathy Jentz offered door prizes. Upon entry, each person received a red winning ticket and a goodie bag with information, seeds and goodies of course!!! Prizes of all types were on hand from the various companies that helped sponsor this event like Stadler Nurseries, Zanfel Labs, Brookside Gardens, Proven Winners, Cobrahead LLC, Washington Gardener Magazine, Botanical Interests and Gardenstamp.com….just to name a few. Kathy awarded two seed stamps, a couple of live primrose plants, books, seed starting trays, seed markers and many other items too numerous to mention. Did I mention books??? Yep I won a new book….
What a perfect book for a perfect day. To have this kind of sponsorship, these vendors definitely value the knowledge that Kathy Jentz shares and how well she knows her readers. Thank you Kathy for providing this resource to the passionate gardener.
When it was time for the actual seed exchange, we were all feeling like we could secure the seeds, rush home, plant the seeds and patiently await the harvest….all so we could have seeds to share in the 2015 Seed Swap the last Saturday in January 2015 (yes I marked my calendar already and am working on my creative name tag holder…I will use items from this years garden, so I will be sure to win a prize!). Kathy called us by different criteria – those who were novice seed swappers to those who were newbies, those who came the furthest to those who lived in Maryland – but not Montgomery County.
After about four rounds, she opened up the floor to everyone to get what they wanted and could really use. We all had the opportunity to share the bounty, see if one was looking for something specific or if there was a seed that was not available, the opportunity to connect with another seed swapper to acquire the seed later was offered. I am patiently awaiting the seeds for the prize winning watermelon at the DC Fair (I believe) and then there is RootingDC coming up….PHS Flower Show…..it just simply must be Sister Spring letting us know that she is not too far away. Mother Nature has a way of letting us know that she has our back by providing harvest able seed for seed swaps!!! WHAT TEAMWORK!
Although it will not be National Seed Swap Day, next Saturday, February 1, there will be another Seed Swap at the Greenspring Gardens in Virginia, Cindy Brown from The Smithsonian will speak on Growing Underground – How to Grow Root Crops and Elizabeth Olson, Prince Georges County Master Gardener will share thoughts on Cool Season Cover Crops. (Don’t you just LOVE those Master Gardeners?) This Seed Swap will also start promptly at 12:30 and will go until 4:00…providing an afternoon of mentally being in the garden as you feed your mind and patiently await the Seed Swap!!
I have to share that Brookside Gardens Gift Shop also had some nice “NEEDS”…..yep….more books…The Dirt Cheap Green Thumb by Rhonda Massingham Hart and a book that was on my wish list “400 Trees and Shrubs for Small Spaces by Diana M. Miller. I decided I need this book after watching the Victory Garden which convinced me that I need a small crab apple tree…………oh well, tis the season…….
What a wonderful day!!!by