Monday, 25 February 2013
Allotment Seed Swap 2013
It's been a week since our annual allotment seed swap and I'm just now taking another look at my new seeds. It will be at least a month before I begin sowing any of them but I'm pleased with my new (did I mention free?) acquisitions. I found new packets of carrots, spring cabbage, purple kohlrabi, and French radishes and intriguing envelopes of two new vegetables I've never tried before: Hamburg Parsley and Strawberry Popcorn. The former sounds efficiently German since you can apparently eat both the leaves, which taste of parsley, and the roots, which are similar to parsnips. The latter is a vegetable I've never come across before and it appears to produce small ears of ruby coloured maize.
The event was well attended by LALAA allotment members as well as those from the other allotments involved in the planning. We also had a good turnout of people from the Permaculture Association and from the local community. People came in on their own and in small groups and before long we had a happy buzz of green thumbs sharing seeds and chatting about the gardening year ahead.
After last year's "seed scrum" we decided that it might be better to be better organised so one of our gals brought in shoe boxes with labels for 'Brassicas', 'Flowers', and the like for people to organise their seed donations into. Though I'd always envisioned gardeners chatting amongst one another and swapping seeds directly it's turned out to be much better to drop your seeds into boxes and then look through them on your own time. This method is also great for those who are shy or might not know very many people in attendance.
I went through my seed box at home before the event and found loads that I was sure I wouldn't be sowing this year. Sometimes a packet can have more seeds than are required and sometimes you just go crazy and buy varieties that you'll never need. For example, I have no idea how I ended up with packet of Fennel since I cant stand the taste of it. Anything aniseedy revives memories of Jagermeister and Sambuca and just gives me the shudders. I hope someone else will be making good use of them this year since they would never have made an appearance in my garden!
The event took place at the Laxey Sailing Club again this year and they were extremely hospitable to all our attendees. A large pot of stew and garlic bread was offered to everyone at no charge and they also were kind enough to read out the raffle prize winners. Though the event offered free entrance, we held the raffle to help pay for the venue hire and to help benefit the allotments associations. However when I asked at the end how much we owed for the day they graciously allowed us to have the room for free. That meant that the proceeds of the raffle sales could be divided among the four allotments involved and could go towards helping with our individual projects. This year LALAA will likely need more scalpings (gravel) for our carpark and we'll also need to purchase more black plastic and seeds for our wildflower areas. Every little bit helps so thank you Laxey Sailing Club for being so supportive of us.
We also have to say a big thank you to the Isle of Man Government's Waste Management Department who donated another of their wormeries to our raffle. It alone sold half the tickets and in the end it went to Alison of the Braaid Allotment. Wormeries are great little composting units that are wonderful for households both large and small. Worms power the composting action and before long your kitchen scraps and greens can be transformed into wonderful black compost. Alison was delighted to win the wormery as you can see in the below photo.
Everyone who attended had a great time and we all agree that this event is one of the highlights of our gardening year. It's only the second time we've held it but it's clear that it's going to be one that occurs as an highly anticipated annual event. There's room for improvement though and ideas for other swaps and meets throughout the year - one that was proposed is a plant swap later in the spring.
I've heard from quite a few of you who say that it would be wonderful to have a similar event in your own area. To that I'd say you should try to organise one of your own! With us it started with me throwing out the idea and an informal gathering of other allotment committee members to chat about possibilities. Your event could be one affiliated with a gardening organisation or it could be organised amongst friends at home. I love the idea of a dinner and/or drinks and then spilling out [packets of] the beans afterwards. All it takes is one person to get the ball rolling and you'll be surprised just how many people will join on to make the event happen.
Strawberry Popcorn photo credit: ljcfyi