Organize your own local swap for Jan. 28
Get those excess seeds working in someone else’s garden — swap them!
It’s a January gardener preoccupation: Seed shopping. Whether browsing catalogs or online websites, we are constantly tempted by “new and improved” or “best ever” varieties as well as vegetables or flowers we’ve never seen before.
The result? Quite often, we accumulate too many seeds! It's time to do some seed swapping.
Saturday, Jan. 28, is National Seed Swap Day, a coast-to-coast gardener initiative to get more seeds and gardens growing.
To be held on the last Saturday of each January, National Seed Swap Day was launched by Washington Gardener magazine, a mostly online publication dedicated to gardening in the nation’s capital and surrounding areas. It has an official website, https://seedswapday.blogspot.com/, which lists upcoming seed swaps and encourages others to share their unwanted (or unplanted) packets.
National Seed Swap Day is local and totally grassroots. Gardeners in any kind of group – community garden, club, church, neighborhood, work, etc. – set a time and place, then bring their excess seeds. They can break down a packet (do you really need 30 of the same tomato variety?) or trade last season’s seeds that are still viable. Seeds are packed fresh for each season for maximum germination rate, but most vegetable, herb and flower seeds remain viable for at least two or three years.
It’s likely other gardeners will appreciate those seed swap offerings.
U.S. nurseries and seed distributors are still catching up with record demand for garden seeds. During the pandemic, major seed houses such as Peaceful Valley Organic sold out of almost all their stock, frustrating many gardeners.
According to the National Garden Bureau, seed customers should find better inventory this season – but get your orders in early – then be patient.
“Seed companies are likely to experience delays in times of high demand so be aware of that company’s current timeline for shipping,” advises the bureau. “They will be transparent. Sign up for or subscribe to that company’s communications to stay informed and up-to-date.”
Seed demand is expected to remain high all year, says the bureau, so go ahead and order your fall seeds now along with seeds for spring and summer planting.
“Don’t buy just for spring because succession sowing is important for season-long harvest and there are wonderful vegetables like cabbage and kale that are great for fall plantings,” the bureau says.
For more about seeds and seed shopping, check out these tips from the National Garden Bureau: https://ngb.org/2021/01/28/ask-the-experts-about-seedfacts/.
For more on National Seed Swap Day: https://seedswapday.blogspot.com/.
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Dig In: Garden Checklist
For week of March 26:
Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.
* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.
* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.
* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.
* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.
* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.
To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.
* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.
* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.
* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.
* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.
* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.
* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.
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