12 tips for First-time visitors to Seedy Sunday January 27 2015

This Sunday is one of my favourite days of the year. Not quite a national holiday, but still a big deal in Brighton and Hove, Seedy Sunday is one of the most exciting events on the gardening calendar.

It occurs every year on the first Sunday in February and sees thousands of gardening enthusiasts descend on Brighton Dome and Corn Exchange for the UK’s biggest seed swap event.

You can take seeds that you’ve collected yourself to exchange for seeds that others have saved, or make a 50p donation per packet if you don’t have your own seeds.

You’ll also find a variety of stalls occupied by garden-related organisations. From plants and books for sale to local community gardening projects that you might want to get involved in.

I remember the first time I visited. It was the year that Alice and I had just been assigned our allotment, we had no idea what to expect at the event and we were massively over-excited. We picked loads of seeds that we never got round to planting, spent a lot of money on heritage varieties that we didn't know how to grow and signed up for news from dozens of gardening clubs. We were there all day and exhausted by the end, our heads full of ideas, some of which were realised, most of which we never got round to.  Here’s a pic of the seed packets I chose that first year:

So, with that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to offer some advice to first-time visitors to help get the most out of Seedy Sunday. It is only once a year after all.

Here are my top tips:

  1. Take some time to have a look at the Seedy Sunday website before you go. Read their own guide to how Seedy Sunday works, why it’s important to swap seeds, look at the talks programme and plan which ones you’d like to go to and finally, jot down which of the stalls you’d particularly like to visit.    
  2. Plan to spend the day there. There’s no point nipping in for half an hour if you want to get the most out of it. Not being in a rush will mean you take the time to talk to people and soak up all the knowledge about seeds.
  3. Go to the swap table as soon as you get there. Don’t get distracted by all the zillions of beautiful things to buy and the interesting people vying for your attention.
  4. Take a notepad. You’ll pick up so much useful information from the talks and you’ll meet so many interesting folks whose names you’ll want to remember. The notepad should also contain your wish list of seeds.
  5. Stick to your seed wish list.
  6. Don’t just go to the swap table once. Go when you first get there and a couple more times throughout the day to try and get the things on your list. The seeds are being swapped all day long so new things are constantly appearing and the fabulous volunteers do a great job of keeping them neat and tidy and sorting new additions into the right areas.
  7. If you’re taking seeds to swap, make your seed packets look pretty. It’s a nice thing to do and people like me will be delighted to find them. You can buy the little brown envelopes from WH Smith or make your own. You are very welcome to download our printable seed packet if you like. And if you want to create some packets yourself, have a look at our seed saving inspiration on pinterest 
  8. In this respect, if you are likely to pick seeds because the packets look pretty (ehem), try and balance this by picking seeds that you will actually use.
  9. Get to the talks early. Otherwise you won’t get a seat and you’ll have to stand at the back. Being on your feet all day, that’s no fun.
  10. Get your seed potatoes here. The potato stall is run by Infinity foods who will have the biggest selection of pick-and-mix seed potatoes you are likely to come across in the sowing season. The pick-and-mix aspect of it means you can try out a few different varieties, with each seed potato costing just a few pence. Red ones, blue ones, potato-coloured ones. It means you don’t have to buy a whole bag of the same variety from your normal seed potato source. If you buy them at Seedy Sunday it means you can get straight on and start chitting them now too.  (oh, and don’t forget to register them for One Mile of Potatoes when it’s time to plant them)
  11. Have a look at the seeds for sale on the various stalls. You might not find exactly what you’re looking for on the swap tables, so it’s worth seeing which seeds are for sale. Thomas Etty have a fabulous selection of heritage varieties, really unusual things that you might not find elsewhere so worth picking up at Seedy Sunday. The Garden House will be there too with a selection of their favourites, all things that they have trialled in the Garden House themselves. And Seedfreedom will be there too with their seed bombs, perfect for kids and if you’re into wildflowers and insect friendly flowers. (Stop and talk to Seedfreedom’s Josie if you can, she’s a master storyteller and will hopefully have her mini’llennium seed bank with her, so you’ll get to see and hear about hundreds of different seeds.)
  12. Get some fresh air. The room that Seedy Sunday takes place in gets really stuffy, so make sure you get out in the middle of the day to get some fresh air into your lungs, have a cup of tea and recharge for the next round of seed swapping.

See you there!


Seedy Sunday: http://www.seedysunday.org/

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