The Hamilton Spectator
Thoughts of an early spring at this year’s Seedy Sunday
It may only be February, but sunny, warm days have me dreaming about spring gardens.
I’ve heard reports of snowdrops and winter aconites already showing some colour, and here in my home garden, the green tips of early daffodils have poked through the ground and the new blossom shoots of the hellebores are greening up.
I’m leaving them all covered with leaf mulch for the time being, there will no doubt be more cold weather to come.
Anticipating an early start to the planting season, I’ve started to organize packets of seeds, seed starting mix and domed seed trays in the basement. It’s a little early to start seedlings, but it’s not too early to start dreaming about spring gardens.
Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned enthusiast, the Master Gardeners of Niagara are hosting a seed swap event, affectionately dubbed ‘Seedy Sunday’ on Sunday, Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Giles Church, 205 Linwell Rd. in St. Catharines.
This family-friendly event offers a chance to learn something new, share your gardening knowledge and to connect with the local gardening community. There will be a seed swap area to trade your saved seeds for new plants to try.
According to Seeds of Diversity, Seedy events “… are fun, inexpensive events where you can swap and exchange seeds, get exciting varieties that other seed savers are sharing (as well as the stories that come with them), attend workshops and talks, meet vendors and buy seeds from seed companies. Whether you are a first-time or master gardener, seed enthusiast or expert seed saver, there really is something for everyone.”
According to Bev Campeau, chair of the Niagara Master Gardeners Seedy Sunday, her team starts preparations for this annual event a year in advance.
They have prepared 798 packages of seed (65 different types) and will be on hand to answer questions — they know the particular needs of the seeds they are offering — and can help you choose the right plants for your home garden environment.
“Seeds that must be stratified (given a set period of cold storage) have spent the winter in a cooler in my garage, so they are ready to go.”
Niagara Master Gardeners are a group of enthusiastic gardeners from across the peninsula. Members of this volunteer group are certified horticultural experts who provide in-depth, sustainable gardening information to the general public.
Funds raised help support awards for students attending Niagara College and the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture, horticulture therapy sessions and local horticulture projects.
Native plant seeds, suitable for pollinator gardens, have been donated by Niagara Parks.
“They harvest seeds and swap them with other parks, the seeds are left over from their last swap.” Can anyone bring seeds to swap? “Yes, heirloom or open pollinated seed is ideal, no hybrid seed, which will not come true, and no GMO seeds. You should know the name and the variety.”
They will have pre-stamped envelopes to list the common and botanical names and other pertinent information.
Master gardeners will be manning the seed exchange tables. They can help you identify what would work in your garden and answer gardening questions. “If they don’t know the answer, they will do some research and get back to you,” Campeau assures.
For new gardeners, “This gives them an opportunity to learn about different plants and give them a try — you can’t beat 25 cents a package
for seeds — it’s not much of an in- vestment,” says Campeau.
This family friendly event will have special opportunities for chil- dren and parents to pot up seeds to take home, and play fun seed games. They can discover the joy of growing your own food and learn about growing seeds.
For Campeau, planting seeds of- fers “… the pure joy of watching them germinate and grow. How tall will it be? It’s interesting to watch the growth process.”
Campeau not only talks the talk but also walks the walk when it comes to growing plants from seed. She even has a seed library in front of her Smithville home.
“It’s a little house we set out in the spring. It gives people a chance to try something different, I have 20 different tomatoes and different kinds of basil, like Thai, lemon, Genovese and cinnamon, for example.”
The event will also feature great vendors selling bee houses, organic soil amendments, seeds and other garden-related items.
A slate of speakers will present throughout the day covering topics from biodiversity, native plants, urban homesteading and a painted corn, 16 years in the making. (Please see the sidebar for more details.)
For more information on seed classification, seed collection, native seeds and seed germination, or on the event itself, visit mgniagara.com/seedy-sunday.