11 February 2012

Seed Exchange Bounty

A week ago I attended the Washington Gardener Magazine Seed Exchange at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria. This was my second year, and it was an overcast, dreary, shower-filled day, just like last year. I learned a few tricks from my previous experience that made this year more rewarding. I also briefly spoke to fellow blogger the Indoor Garden(er), recognizing him from his blog photo (and his name tag.)

Last year, I loaded up about 100 seeds of the Castor Bean [posted 2009.9.3], and the same of my Lime Green Nicotiana [posted 2007.7.17]. I did not see the fine print on the registration that requested seed packets with digestible quantities. So, someone picked up a boatload of seeds.

This year, I took my Castor Bean seeds and divided them up into about 15 seeds per packet. I even labeled the packets with the botanical name, growing conditions, height, starting information. I did the same for my four packs of pink peony poppies [posted 2008.5.28] and one packet of orange calendula. All were happy donations straight from my garden.

Upon arrival, my seeds were taken to be checked for non-native invasiveness, and a goodie bag was returned that contained several seed packets, magazine, catalogs, and information. They make great grocery bags. Next, all the seeds are classified (annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs, tropicals) and arranged on several tables to peruse before the program starts. This year, I began lurking around the tables like others, making a list of what I wanted, and where those items were on the different tables.

The program started with two excellent one-hour presentations by the arranged speakers. The first dealt with tomatoes - a lot of history, some growing info, and the speaker's favorites. The second spoke about seed starting - pitfalls of timing and scheduling. After a short snack break, the seed exchange began.

The first round allowed people who had attended a prior seed exchange to select one packet of seeds from the tables. The remaining attendees then did the same. The second round first allowed people who had brought seeds to exchange to select one packet. The third round first allowed the travel-weary to select one packet who were attending from outside the county.

The coveted San Marzano tomato seeds rocketed to the top of my list. The first speaker identified it as the best-tasting Italian sauce tomato. There was one packet, and I got it! YES! My second selection was Rudbeckia 'Irish Eyes', with only two packets displayed. Got one. The third was Cilantro, since it was the last packet left. Other wants on my list had several packets laying on the tables, so I knew some would be available at the last call mad dash.

After everyone had three seed packets, the floodgates were opened and running of the bulls commenced. Anyone was allowed to take any seeds. One observation regarding my donation of seeds was that one packet of the peony poppy seeds mysteriously vanished prior to the first call for selection. The others were gone quickly.

Seeds Picked Up
    Some of these were not selected, but came in the goodie bag -
    a good quality green grocery bag.
Asclepias tuberose
Clematis glaucophylla
Rudbeckia hirsta (Irish Eyes)
Southern Onion (Texas Grano 502)
Papaver somniferum (Laurens Grape - heroin)
Tomato (San Marzanao)
Radish (Cherry belle)
Nicotiana (Sensation mixed)
Tomato (Pink oxheart)
Tomato (Italian Red Cherry)
Aquilegia vulgaris (Mix)
Ocimum basilicum (Toscano basil)
Ocimum basilicum (Salad leaf basil)
Tomato (Chico III)
Digitalis (mix)
Marigold (Naughty Marietta - french)
Cucumber (Wisconsin pickling)
Beans (Bush - Contender)
Tomato (Fourth of July)
Apium graveolens (Cutting Celery)
Hungarian pepper (????)
Zinnia (Pulcino mix)
Belamcanda chinensis (Blackberry lily)
(photos taken from across the web)