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Too many seeds? National Seed Swap solves a common problem

Organize your own local swap for Jan. 28

Get those excess seeds working in someone else’s garden — swap them!

Get those excess seeds working in someone else’s garden — swap them! Kathy Morrison

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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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