Want to diversify your garden? Check out a seed swap online

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Seed swaps are becoming increasingly popular. Participating in seed swaps allows you to find seeds that may be unavailable locally or in catalogs, which tend to carry only the most popular seeds.

Also, by collecting and trading the seeds of particular flowers and vegetables, you are safeguarding the future of the species and guaranteeing a wide variety of genetic diversity in the future.

Many gardening websites offer free seed swaps, that is they offer seeds for trade and allow you to request seeds you are seeking. Seed swaps are regulated and most sites require you to accept rules complying with federal, state and local laws when you register. They also require you to follow the rules of the site, typically that you will not offer items for sale, will not use profanity, or become disruptive, etc.

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Once you have registered and agreed to obey the rules you are on your way. You can post the seeds you have and make requests for the seeds you are looking for.

Most sites will send you an email when there is a match and then you can make the trade.

Some sites allow people to give seeds away without an exchange, the motivating factor being that someone has an abundance of seeds and wants to see their favorite plants thriving.

Some of the websites you might want to try are:

4 Old Farmer’s Almanac — www.almanac.com

4 GardenWeb — www.gardenweb.com

4 Heirloom Seed Swap — www.heirloomseedswap.com

4 National Gardening Association — www.garden.org

You will also find good information for saving seeds on these websites. And, if you are really ambitious, you can find information on organizing a local seed swap. Let me know how it goes.

Question — Can I propagate my hydrangea now?

Answer — Yes, you can. Hydrangeas are sometimes propagated by hardwood cuttings in the winter, but you can do it the easy way by layering in early to mid-summer.

Simply dig a 1-2 inch deep trench near the plant and bend a low hanging branch down into it.

Cut partway through the stem that is to be covered by the soil. This is the same concept as when you scrape off the stem of a cutting before you pot it.

Cover the cut section of the branch with soil and weigh it down with a brick. The stem should stick up 6-12 inches out of the ground. Once the root system is established, you can dig it up in a ball and replant it where desired.

Quick tip — A good idea from HGTV, to dry herbs quickly, lay them in a single layer on newspaper in your car. They will dry quickly and make the car smell good. Speaking of newspaper, it is an organic material that makes good mulch.

You can shred it and mix it into the top layer of soil or spread it out and put a thin layer of pine needles on top to hold it down. Newspaper decomposes quickly and adds organic matter to the soil.

I will answer your questions in this column and also share fun tips and gardening stories. Let me hear from you at newsroom@natchezdemocrat.com


Karen O’Neal is an Adams County Master Gardener who writes a monthly gardening column for The Democrat.