Sow There! Chico seed swap, Jan. 17, 2020

  • Seed catalogs galore! (Heather Hacking — contributed)
January 17, 2020 at 4:17 am

When you have too many things to remember, it’s fun to set yourself up for a surprise. Weeks ago, I mailed an order for some wacky selections from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog. I did not check my P.O. box daily. When you order seeds in the middle of winter, there’s no hurry; you’re not going to plant them anytime soon.

When the manila envelope arrived, I had forgotten the late-night impulse buy and was pleasantly surprised.

The Baker Creek company is cool. If the company was a boy, and I was 12 years old, I would have a mad crush on “him.” Even the padded packaging has a certain “coolness factor,” with vintage adds on the envelope, as if the company’s image is suspended in a different time. In my romantic vision, the seeds had been shipped by train, packed by a grubby guy wearing overalls, and sent with postage stamps in the upper right-hand corner (the kind of stamps you had to lick).

In my infatuated state, the seed packets can do no wrong. One small envelope shows a photo of an outstretched hand holding purple beans, another shows swan-shaped crookneck squash. A bearded man looks whimsical as he poses with purple basil tucked behind his ear.

The images of the ground cherries remind me of water lilies emerging from dry land — the tawny fruit encased in papery leaves, others unfurling. It could only get cooler if I actually put the seeds in some soil.

And then the dilemma. I had talked about trading seeds with my mother. However, she never bought interesting seeds, and certainly not the totally cool seeds I now had in hand. Would I share with her anyway? Would she remember our pact?

My goodness! It’s my mother! What kind of seed-hoarding ingrate have I become?

Just about the time I was banishing bad thoughts, I was sent some very useful information from the kind gals who put on the annual seed swap.

The annual seed swap takes place from 12-2 p.m. Jan. 25, a Saturday, in the big room at Trinity Methodist Church at Fifth Street and Flume.

I love the seed swap. I’m not talking mere infatuation here. This is one of the many things that makes a person proud to live in Chico.

You can gather up all your seeds from last year and kindly share them with others. The really great part about it is you can also take a few seeds home.

Maybe I’ll invite my mother.

Seed tips

You certainly don’t want to be greedy, so bring your own envelopes or small pieces of paper within which to wrap just a few seeds. Bring a pen as well, to write down the names of your treasures.

You can also use your phone to take photographs of the important seed-planting tips.

When you bring plants or seeds to share, make sure you label carefully, so other people don’t need to guess.

The generous souls who have helped organize this event for the past 11 years include Sherri Scott.

Serious seed swapping

When I chatted with Sherri recently, she said serious seed-savers are invited to pop in early, for extra time for seed talk, starting at 11:30 a.m. This allows savers of seeds to chat in a more casual environment, before things get hectic.

Organizers are also hoping folks who lost gardens in the Camp Fire will also get there early. When people are rebuilding their yards, or a new yard, they’ll have more questions to ask.

Sherri did not mention how old is too old for seeds to share. However, remember that seeds do have a shelf life. The point of an event like this is to share joy, not to offload your mistreated and neglected seeds stash — only to cause garden disappointment.

You can also bring unwanted, but still functional garden tools to share.

Sherri said gardeners can share bulbs, seedlings or plant divisions. You can also bring in cuttings and scions. Scions are cuttings of new growth that can be grafted onto root stock, or the remains from trees that burned to the ground, to provide new top growth from a favored plant. Scions are used to make fruit cocktail trees, which will bear peaches on one branch, and other fruit on another. What fun!

If you’re kind-hearted, by all means, bring fruit from your trees or other garden-things you may think to bring, Sherri continued.

If you can’t make the event, you can learn more about Sherri and her group via the Chico Seed Lending Library’s Facebook page,

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