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Winter Seed Swap & Sow

We combined two of our favorite winter get-togethers this year, the seed swap and winter sowing, and had a great turnout. Held at the Morton Memorial Library in Rhinecliff, we had loads of seeds, packaged and contributed from local gardeners, as well as handouts on how to best grow them. In the back of the hall Kaitlin commandeered the winter sowing tables where folks sprinkled winter greens and other plants into milk jugs filled with a few inches of pro soil. As you probably know, the beauty of this technique is that 1)you get to garden in February and 2) it’s pretty much zero maintenance. The seeds will know when it’s safe to germinate and send their seedlings into the world. February is a bit early for some plants, so we mostly stuck to hardy souls like spinach, arugula and kale. Around mid-March you can plant all sorts of things with this method. I even had luck with tomatoes.

K Greene and  Dirty Gaia founder Sue Sie
K Greene and Sue Sie catching up. Sue created the poster in foreground,
one of several at the swap, from her collection of vintage seed packets.

K Greene joined the swap, always a thrill for us. K cofounded Hudson Valley Seed Co—who donated 70 seed packets to the swap (heart emoji here). He was also the inspiration for the Morton Seed Library, one of our partners. (We’re kind of like Russian Dolls—Dirty Gaia, MSL and the Morton Seed Garden at the Rhinebeck Community Garden. There’s a lot of friendly overlap between us all, some of us involved in all three endeavors, others in one or two.) K starts the firs seed library within a library in the US (in Gardiner, NY) and is our patron saint and mentor. Nothing beats having him in the house for one of our events.He hd some guests from Southern Seed Exchange who also came along and must have been surprised and, we hope, chuffed, to see that we’d printed their instructions for seed germinating as one of our handouts. Who knew Peaches and Reggie would be coming up from Virginia?! They’ve got a very helpful site, btw, and loads of delightful seeds that work in our area—especially now that we’ve been reclassified as Zone 6 (rather than the previous Zone 5). Not that we’re suggesting there’s such a thing as climate change.

Peanuts—that’s about half our harvest in the blue net bag—were a first for the
Morton Seed Library plot at the Rhinebeck Community Garden. Turns out they
grow quite well in our region!

Along with a host veggies, herbs, native and pollinator flowers, one of the highlights of the swap was the peanuts. We have Anna deCordova and Susan MacAvery who oversee the Roosevelt Home Garden in Hyde Park to thank for the suggestion to grow them. Warned that rodents might get to the nuts, which form underground, before harvest, and knowing that we share our seed plot with an investigative posse of chipmunks, we tossed batches of cat and dog fur (thank you, Bob, Tina, Lulu and Betty for enduring the grooming of your generous coats) among the plants. Not a single nut was purloined.

There are still plenty of seeds—peanuts included—available at Morton (@mortonrinecliff, 82 Kelly St. in Rhineclif). We hope to see you there in the not too distant future. Please think of the library at the end of the season if you’re collecting seeds (which is so easy and rewarding). We’re hoping to keep the collection robust with community seeds. Any donation is greatly appreciated.

Not sure how to harvest seeds? Stay tuned. We’ll have a workshop for that!

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