Community column: Gardening folks, get ready to trade seeds
Green thumb alert! The first Fall NRV Seed and Plant Exchange will be held at the Christiansburg Library next Sunday, Sept. 23. The new event will feature a time-tested approach cultivated for nearly two decades by Brenda Graff, a recent transplant to the New River Valley. After attending plant exchanges where organizers would sit everyone down and manage a lottery of sorts, Graff developed a different method of connecting plants and people.
The program officially starts at 2 p.m., but Graff graciously allows for traffic issues or those who might have become overwhelmed among their asters. At approximately 2:10 p.m., the rules of the day will be announced. For the first 10 minutes, contributors can select as many plants, roots or seed packets as they provided. So if you brought eight plants or seed envelopes, you can pick up eight items.
The only guideline here: Select a diversity of offerings. For example, avoid filling your bag with rhizomes of a favorite iris. Then, as Graff puts it, “Everything is up for grabs.” The remainder of attendees, along with the first group, can fill their basket, boxes or beds to their hearts’ content.
The program is short, sweet and sure to be done within one hour. No wonder Graff warns all to arrive on time. She can attest to this fact after coordinating spring and fall exchanges in Loudon County for 19 years, with a similar format — library-based, 30 minutes of active trading.
“My sister and I were both avid gardeners, and the flowers kept reproducing and reproducing,” Graff says when recalling her initial foray into community facilitation. “We hated to weed them out and really wanted to find new homes for them.” At her previous location, the spring turnout was the heaviest always, growing to about 40 or 50 people.
If only half of those attending brought an average of five plants each, Graff’s contributions to flora and family matchmaking rates in the thousands. She recalls one of her happiest attendees: a new arrival to the Northern Virginia area who didn’t have a garden but wanted one.
“She knew that plants could cost a fair amount, but ended up picking up a good number of plants for a start.”
Participants are encouraged to bring just about anything that makes for pleasant landscapes — seeds, flowers, trees, herbs, bushes. Houseplants are welcome, also. Seeds will work best in envelopes. Plants or trees can be potted or secured in plastic bags.
Graff gave me the scoop on a few items she knew would be there, including her own contributions: seeds from purple coneflowers, Mexican sunflowers and black-eyed Susans. She also has some extra Catnip plants. Three baby ginkgoes will be looking for new owners that day.
Now is a good time for collecting flower seeds, according to Graff. “Let them dry out on the seed pod, pluck some out. Leave some seeds for the birds. If they pluck out OK, they are ripe.”
In addition to the tithe for the birds, Graff suggests another important protocol for the gardening set: “If you come straight from the garden on Sunday, knock the dirt off your shoes.” This will help make sure the spring seed and plant exchange will be welcome at the same venue. Graff plans to collect names and contact information from people interested in knowing about that date.
So get out to those fast-drying yards and capture some treasures to share. Then, join Graff and others to tend this seasonal tradition taking root in our own valley.
The Christiansburg Library is located at 125 Sheltman St.
By Catherine Van Noy
Special to The Burgs | 639-3330
No Comments »
No comments yet.