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Seedy Sunday 2016 February 08 2016

It’s such a delight living in Brighton when you have events like Seedy Sunday going on in the city. For those of you that don’t know, Seedy Sunday is the UK’s biggest and longest running community seed swap. There are lots of stalls ranging from local green projects, cooking demos and beautiful garden objects, as well as a selection of great talks.

Lyndsey wrote a great blog post on Seedy Sunday last year, so I won’t go into too much detail. Instead here are a few pictures from the event.

 

At this years event I was very keen to get my hands on some more tomatillo seeds. I grew them for the first time last year and loved them. They make THE best salsa. I would definitely recommend growing them. Have a look below at how beautiful they are. 

 

Recipe for tomatillo salsa here. G x 


Seedy Sunday 2015 in pictures February 01 2015

 

        

 

 

         

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

       

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

 


A wintery day at The Garden House, Brighton January 28 2015

Due to the torrential rain, 2 out of 3 of today’s tasks took place indoors. We took some more hardwood cuttings, made bird feeders and sorted some seeds ready to swap at Seedy Sunday.

Taking hardwood Fuchsia cuttings at The Garden House, Brighton

It’s the time of year to take cuttings of dormant hardwood shrubs including things like figs, roses and gooseberries. Today was the turn of the fuchsia, pictured above. We took cuttings about 30cm long, cutting just below the node at the bottom and just above the node at the top. The nodes are where all the hormones are stored, so this is where the energy for growth comes from. Using sharp secateurs, we snipped the bottom flat and the top on a slant. As well as helping identify which way up to plant the cutting (after we’ve popped it down on the table for a second and forgotten) it means that the flat bottom can be abrased a bit, helping open more surface area to potentially produce roots. The slanted top allows rainwater to slide off the cutting, rather than gathering on top and becoming all damp.

Pruning hardwood shrubs at The Garden House, Brighton

The soil we used was a mixture of half compost and half fine grit, mixed together and put into tall square pots. We fit four cuttings to a pot, each one placed in the corner to allow maximum space for their roots to grow. In about a year and half they’ll be ready to be planted out. We’ll know when they reach this point as the roots will start to show coming out of the bottom of the pot.

Taking hardwood cuttings at The Garden House, Brighton

It’s a tough time for the birds in the garden at the moment. With slim pickings as far as food goes, it’s time for us humans to step in and provide some things for them to eat. We made bird feeders by hollowing out orange halves, attaching string to them and filling them with a mixture of nuts, seeds and lard. A very simple and attractive way to do our bit for wildlife this winter (NB, if you make these, they will feed the squirrels in your garden too, whether you like it or not). For an alternative to try at home, check out Messyla’s bird cake recipe for a very stylish version made of leftover bits and pieces.

Home made bird feeders at The Garden House, Brighton

Orange bird feeders at The Garden House, Brighton

The third task was preparing seed packets for Seedy Sunday, with seeds harvested back in the Autumn. Oh my, do you know how much I love sorting seeds? Just the thought that human people have been carrying out this activity for thousands of years fills me with so much happiness. Members of families and communities sitting together round a fire through the winter sorting out the seeds ready for the coming Spring, growing food to sustain themselves and in their own way maintaining the diversity of plants that makes our planet such a wonderful place to live. Now, I don’t think any of us in the Wednesday gardening club are necessarily saving seeds to aid our survival, but it’s good to know we are doing our bit to encourage the diversity of foodstuffs. Did you know that out of 50,000 known edible plant species, just 15 variants provide 90% of the world’s food crops*?  As climate change threatens to alter our environment with effects that none of us can yet comprehend, it’s important to have access to as wide a variety of crops and plants as possible in case any of these staple crops fall victim to pests and diseases that we have no way of eradicating.

Saving Marigold seeds at The Garden House

Saving poppy seeds at The Garden House

Seed sorting is such an enjoyable way to spend some time and between us we sorted thousands of seeds this afternoon as we sat in the garden house chatting and learning. We used a variety of different packets; a) Seedy Sunday packets which you can pick up from Infinity Foods, b) specially designed Garden House packets and c) a few of the What You Sow printable seed packets that we stuck together with washi tape and double sided tape.

Printable seed packets by What You Sow

Beautiful seed packets at The Garden House

We packaged a selection of seeds; poppies, cornflowers, stocks, and some more unusual flower varieties; tagetes cinnabar (a type of marigold), mina lobata (Spanish flag) and lunnaria annua (annual honesty). It was fabulous.

Seed saving. What You Sow at The Garden House

Saving seeds at The Garden House, Brighton

Seedy Sunday is the UK’s largest seed swap and takes place this Sunday at Brighton Dome and Corn Exchange. If you haven’t been before and aren't sure what to expect, I shared 12 tips for first time visitors on the blog earlier in the week. You can swap your own seeds that you’ve collected or pay a 50p donation per packet. There’s also a comprehensive programme of talks and loads of gardening themed organisations wanting to talk to you about gardening themed activities. Hope to see you there!

Seed saving at The Garden House

*It’s true. It’s on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staple_food

Links:

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

Printable Seed packets: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0445/2673/files/What_You_Sow_printable_seed_packets.pdf?715

Seed Saving ideas on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/whatyousow/seed-saving/

 

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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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