What can gardeners do in the dead of winter when the ground is frozen and plants are dormant? Get ready for planting next spring’s garden, of course! A good way to get started is to join the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association and the Friends of the State Arboretum at the FREE Seed Exchange at Blandy.
January 29, 2022 (last Saturday of January)
10 am to 2 pm
The State Arboretum of Virginia
Blandy Experimental Farm
400 Blandy Farm Lane
Boyce, VA 22620
(Route 50 East)
About the Event
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.
COVID Precautions for 2022
In keeping with public health updates from the University of Virginia, which owns and operates Blandy Experimental Farm, masks must be worn while indoors. The university strongly recommends a medical grade three-ply mask (like the light blue masks commonly worn in medical settings) instead of a single-layer fabric mask.
Types of Seeds Typically on Hand
- Bulbs and Cuttings (yes, we know these are not “seeds”)
- Woody Plants
- Commercially packaged seeds donated by growers, retailers, or fellow gardeners.
- See our Donations Page for some who generously donated seed for our 2022 exchange.
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
- Activities for children
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. If you need envelopes, use some our seed packet templates and ideas.
- 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. See our seed packet templates and ideas page for ideas.
- 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 plants on Blandy’s list of Alien Invasive Landscape Plants in Virginia.
- You also are welcome to bring in commercially packaged seeds.
- Please avoid bringing seed that is more than 2–4 years old.
Inclement Weather Policy
If Mother Nature sends us a light dusting of snow for the seed exchange, the event will go on as scheduled. Cancellation due to heavy snow will be announced on the Blandy website.