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SEED SEASON: Swaps, catalogs and starts a good cure for the winter blues

Jan 7th, 2012 | Category: Growing

by Sylvia Watkins

Seed season is upon us. The holiday season has come to a close, and the winter doldrums are setting in. The countdown to spring begins, or for us serious gardeners, the countdown to St. Patrick’s Day, the day that – in addition to toasting a pint to the Irish – means planting some seeds in the ground. Particularly potatoes and peas.

I know a few people who enter the winter blues stage when they wake up the morning of Jan. 2. The Thanksgiving turkey is long gone, the Christmas tree is down, the decorations return to their storage boxes, the New Year’s Eve celebration came and went, and sadly, the egg nog in the fridge is nearly empty. It is cold outside, probably raining, and the sun seems like it hasn’t shown its face in a long time. Vitamin D? Time for a supplement. The holiday spirit has worn off, and the reality of winter has set in.

Place a watering can in the house for decoration until you can use it in the spring.

But these people are not growers, and they very well should be. Their sanity may depend on it. Seeds, and ultimately growing, are a definite cure for the winter blues, even if only temporary.

The gardeners and growers, while acknowledging the absolute miserable conditions outside, are excitedly turning pages in seed catalogs, making notes, laying out garden plans in their heads and on paper, and simultaneously crossing off and writing dates on the calendar. They are getting ready to attend seed swaps or seed parties and potlucks with friends, placing their extra seeds in containers and labeling them with green thumb love, while noting the seeds they’d like to trade for this season. They are reading books and magazines, browsing online content, searching for tips and techniques they probably already know. They are visiting local gardening centers and nurseries, taking advantage of the free workshops that offer advice, conversations and sometimes light refreshments. They have visions of sprouts and growth, and a full harvest, all just months away.

Seed swaps are great places to get seeds and rub elbows with growers of all shades of green, whether you have lots of seeds to share, or none. To find out about local swaps, inquire with your Master Gardeners and Slow Food chapters, use online chat groups or Facebook to find out more leads, and organize a small swap/potluck at your place with friends.

One public seed swap is the 4th Annual Community Seed Day called “Getting Seeds Into the Hands of the People” that takes place Sunday, Jan. 29. This is open to everyone, and bonus points for these folks – light refreshments provided AND “Basic Seed Saving” with local gardening guru Celt Schira from 2 to 3:30 p.m. All free, and fun. Attendees can bring extra store bought, packaged seeds, as well as Heirloom (non-hybrid) seeds in labeled containers and envelopes. Edible tubers or potatoes and extra envelopes to share are also welcome. Free and open to the public. The event will be from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Majestic, 1027 North Forest Street in Bellingham. Sponsors include Sustainable Bellingham, Forest Garden, Earthcare Garden Designs, Center for Local Self-Reliance and The Majestic. For more information, e-mail

Another great outing is to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show on Sunday, Feb. 12 in Seattle. Visit for more information.

By early March, the Whatcom County Home & Garden Show will be at the Lynden Fairgrounds March 2-4, and the Snohomish Conservation District 27th Annual Plant Sale will be that weekend as well (see

Remember, good things come to those who wait. Spring is on the way.

One Comment to “SEED SEASON: Swaps, catalogs and starts a good cure for the winter blues”

  1. Allain says:

    This is great ! I am amazed at all you do to get the word out to people ~ connecting us with each other and all the great local stuff going on ~ while growing a family !! Love this format.

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