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Master Gardeners Seed Exchange at Blandy Experimental Farm

20 December 2019


We were in the studio for “Extension Office Friday” with Mark Sutphin, horticulture agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension office based in Frederick County and his guest, Elaine Specht with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardeners Association to get all the details about the (FREE!) Seed Exchange happening on Saturday, January 25, 2019 from 10a – 2pm at Blandy Experimental Farm.You can download the flyer here: seed-exchange-2020-flyer

If you’re a home garden seed saver or have some extra commercially grown seeds left from last year’s planting, bring them to the Seed Exchange at Blandy. Even if you don’t have seeds to share, you’re encouraged to participate. Gardeners are always happy to share their knowledge and harvest with others. If you don’t have seed to share, go anyway and go home with up to 5 packets of seed.

Other Activities at the Seed Exchange

  • “Ask a Master Gardener”
  • Gardening book and magazine exchange
  • Vendors with plants and other items for the gardener
  • Information stations and hands-on demonstrations

Tips for saving seeds for the exchange

While volumes have been written about saving seeds, below are some general tips, depending on the seed type.

  • How to save seed for:
    • For many herbs and flowers, allow seed heads to dry on the plant before collecting and then hang upside down to completely dry. Crumble the seed head to separate seeds.
    • For legumes, allow seed pods to thoroughly dry on plants. Do not harvest while wet. Separate seeds from pod.
    • For plants such as pumpkins, squash, or watermelon, leave fruit on the vine past when you would pick them for eating and then store for an additional three weeks before removing seeds. Scoop seeds from the fruit, place in water to clean. Viable seed will sink to the bottom. Remove viable seed from water and dry. Pumpkin, squash, and melon seeds can benefit from fermenting as described for tomatoes below.
    • For tomatoes, leave fruit on vine until fully ripe. Squeeze seeds and some pulp into a jar with a small amount of water. Allow seeds to ferment: keep at 75–85?F for 1.5–5 days, leaving for about one day after bubbling or white mold appear, then clean in water the same as for pumpkins above.
  • Place clean, dry seeds in paper bags, paper envelopes, or glass jars.
  • Label bag, envelope, or jar with the common name, Latin name, date of harvest, and any useful instructions if unusual seeds.
  • Please do not bring seeds for invasive plants. See a list of invasive plants at http://blandy.virginia.edu/arboretum/virginia-invasive-plants.
  • You also are welcome to bring in commercially packaged seeds.
  • Please avoid bringing seed that is more than 2–4 years old.

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