The snow may keep coming down here in Chicago, but we know the growing season is coming, too. To help gardeners get ready, communities and organizations are hosting seed swaps this month. In the last few years, seed swaps have become popular in the U.S., and they’re growing trend in the U.K., where Seedy Sunday — UK's largest seed swap — took place Feb. 6 (also known as Super Bowl Sunday for many here).
“Seedy Sunday has blazed the trail for UK seed swaps over the past decade: it is the must-be-there event for seed swappers, conservers, developers and newcomers,” the event’s website says. “It exudes innovation, creativity and common sense. It shows up the idiocy of draconian seed laws and the Gene Giants’ restrictive practices: in this warming world we need to exchange more diversity of uncontaminated plants to secure future food. Seedy Sunday builds solidarity among all of us who respect our collective rights to save, sow, swap and sell seeds grown in our gardens and farms: it gives strength to seed law busters.”
If you’re in Chicago, though, and searching for a hard-to-find vegetable or flower seed, check out two upcoming seed swaps. Urban farmers and gardeners can exchange seeds of different varieties to enrich their gardens with more diversity.
Saturday, Feb. 12, from 10 a.m. till 12 p.m., Lurie Garden is hosting a seed swap on the first floor Garland Room of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. Experienced seed savers/swappers and curious newbies are invited. Lurie Garden staff who will be on hand to provide seeds and tips for planting and germination. Representatives from One Seed Chicago also will be on hand for those who want to cast vote for one of this year’s seed choices. NeighorSpace has donated some seeds for the swap. So, even if you don't have seeds to swap you will not leave empty-handed. RSVP by calling the Lurie Garden at 312.742.8497 Space is limited.
Here are some tips for packaging seed saved in your garden to swap: *Package seeds in paper coin envelopes or plastic baggies. *Label seed packs with botanical and common name. *Five seed-per pack minimum for larger and common seeds. *Thirty seed-per pack minimum for smaller seeds. If you don't have small coin envelopes or want to buy little plastic baggies, you can use junk mail envelopes to hold your seeds.
On Sunday, Feb. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m., the Forest Park Community Garden Seed Swap & Seed Starting Demonstration will take place at the Park District of Forest Park, 7501 Harrison St. An RSVP is required because space is limited. Master gardener Debbie Kong will lead the seed starting demonstration. If you know of other seed swaps in the Chicago area, drop us a note and we'll help you spread the seeds, uh, the word.