West Life: Nothing tops a good seed swap with friends

Enjoy the start of the growing season with a seed swap. You will likely end up with a few varieties to plant for the first time along with some gardening tips.

I was 95 hours, four minutes and 41 seconds from losing this INCREDIBLE opportunity to purchase an Emergency Seed Bank I saw on Markdown.com. A collection of 38,000 non-hybrid seeds sealed in a water-resistant, military grade seed vault.

I read my husband the advertisement, painting a picture of empty grocery store aisles and people fighting over food because of a horrible event (it called hurricanes and tornadoes “small-scale” disasters).

“So, basically it’s a seed kit for when we’re all dead,” he scoffed.

I pointed out that the company guarantees it will replace any seeds that don’t germinate within five years of purchasing the kit.

“Oh that’s comforting to know, that when nuclear winter hits and your seeds don’t come up, they’ll replace them,” he said. “What a scam.”

All I know is, I already have a sort-of emergency seed kit. This is where my addiction to seed catalogs has come in handy. Knowing there’s a box o’ seeds at my disposal to share, save and plant is the same sort of comfort I get from filling my pantry with jars of preserves in the fall.

Like a squirrel gathering nuts for hard times, I have some bizarre genetic predisposition for stocking up. Others might call it hoarding, but I haven’t made it on the TV show. And I’m pretty sure there’s not a dead cat buried under a pile of my seed packets. Pretty sure.

I decided to use my addiction for good and organize a seed swap with friends. This way I could justify my habit and enjoy the company of others with the same affliction. I even made cupcakes to entice them to my house. And I cleaned out my seed box to make it less scary.

I needn’t have worried. This seed swap was a safe place for everyone’s crazy seed collections, in mason jars, baskets and boxes.

Seed swaps are fun for seed people for many reasons. You can get a few seeds to try without spending a fortune. You might try planting varieties you wouldn’t have considered otherwise (such as mache, blue pumpkins and Bonny Best heirloom tomatoes).

Exchanging growing tips with other gardeners is always helpful, especially since the Grand Valley’s growing conditions are so different than what many seed companies assume on their packets. And it’s really exciting to add heritage seeds to your collection, passed down in families and to neighbors.

To have a fun seed swap, you must be flexible and open-minded. You never know what you’re going to get. Make organization easy and just create a Facebook group for your garden-minded friends.

Invite them to your house even though there’s probably dog hair on the floor.

Open a bottle of wine, make packets together, and embrace that seed-hoarding gene that you share.

Erin McIntyre is a writer, gardener and Grand Valley native in the midst of starting her own gourmet pickle company. You can reach her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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