Gift / Grow

Feeling seedy?

Seeds are wonderful things. Not only does that tiny, portable dot contain all the information that it needs to turn into a plant – in the case of fruit and veg, one that has the capacity to provide us with food – but seeds are cheap and you get loads of them in a packet: lots more than you need, in my experience, because germination rates tend to be higher than seed packets suggest.

As such, seed swaps are a wonderful thing. Not only can you swap excess seeds and seedlings that you’ve bought for whole new types of produce but you can also swap seeds from fruit and veg that you’ve grown yourself (also known as Heirloom Seeds). I had great success last year growing seeds from inside an organic butternut squash that I’d bought from Crumbs of Sussex, so cleaning up any seeds from food you’ve bought is a another money saving tip*. However, don’t do this with fruit and veg that you’ve bought from the supermarket, unless you know its provenance, as you may introduce blight.

I was lucky enough to be able to swap some of my  Summer savourysalad burnett and oriental radish for nasturtiums, asparagus and land cress (among other things) this weekend, as my Dad and stepmum are keen gardeners and were more than happy to trade with me. One of the joys of swapping seeds with people you know is that you can exchange tips with friends or family who are growing the same seeds as you, because we all have a different approach to gardening (and different plants suit different parts of the country/soil etc, so you may well find a seed that sulked with you could work brilliantly for a friend at the other end of the country).

If seed-swapping sounds like your kind of thing and you’re in the Brighton and Hove area, put 7th May in your diary for Seedy Saturday Seedling Swap, where you can trade seedlings as well as seeds. The event is being put on by Harvest,   a great organisation created to encourage people to grow and eat local food. In addition to the seed swap, they also have loads of other gardening and cookery events coming up over the summer, including Container GardeningBuild Your Own Wormery  and How to Build a Wood-fired Clay Oven. If you’re not in the area, never fear – you can swap seeds online. There are also events all over the country with free seed giveaways courtesy of the Food Glorious Food events which are being put on by the National Trust. Enjoy getting seedy.

* Your seeds can save you even more money if you buy or make pretty seed packets to put them in. Much as I love these origami ones, I’m toying with the idea of creating some vintage-stye seed packets using nothing more than Photoshop and a printer, after seeing these gorgeous vintage-style seed packets on a US site. By making your seed packets attractive, your excess seeds can be given to gardener friends as inexpensive but quirky gifts, possibly in a tin that also contains gardener’s (or home made) soap and a length of gardening twine, or some other form of gardening accessory. And if you’re planning a wedding, why not consider making your own seed wedding favours and save yourself a fortune?

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