Did you have a penpal when you were younger? Teenage letters of school and homework, holidays and music. The foreign stamped envelope, the different style writing. Oh the glamour !
I read about Foodie PenPals (a great blogging phenomenon), thanks to Choc Chip of Go Bake Yourself and then Rock Salt who pointed me in the direction of Carl’s site with the mention of ssshhhhh seed swaps !!
Now seed swapping runs close to my heart, maybe instead of blood cells I have seeds coursing my veins? That might be stretching a bit, but you get the gist! I’ve joined in on on-line seed swaps before and attended the big mosh-ups of Brighton’s Seedy Sunday. In fact we even had a mini Hastings seed swap last year. There is something joyous about sharing your interest and spreading the word – literally. It’s been a great way to find out about different varieties of fruit, veg and flowers, to raise awareness of heritage and heirloom varieties, to share knowledge and experience – what works and what clearly doesn’t. And to assuage the inner seed fiend
A what the heck moment and I signed up to be a Seedy PenPal - a seed swap that embraces technology but ultimately relies on snail mail. The organiser behind it all is Carl Legge (Twitter @CarlLegge) who can be found on his permaculture holding or in the kitchen, located on The Llŷn Peninsula, a imply stunning part of Wales.
The seed swap works along the lines of Person A sends a parcel to Person B and Person B sends a parcel to Person C. In my case that was Andrew sending seeds to Claire who in turn sends them to Georgi and on it goes.
The only restrictions were that we were all UK or Europe based; restrictions on sending seeds abroad to fussy places (JOKE! I do understand the why’s) like the States and Australia prohibit a truly international swap. But there’s no reason to not start your own !!
All very simple, drop your pen pal a line to say hi, a bit of a chat about your garden or terrace or windowsill and we’re off.
Carl asked us to blog about our Seedy PenPal swap on Friday 31st August and to complete the Seedy Survey. Happy to oblige and do my homework !
So down to business –
My seeds came from Andrew who writes, lives and blogs from Pig Row up on Saddleworth Moor, which is part of the Pennines and is surrounded by the Yorkshire Moors, high and beautiful (1,000+ ft above sea level), quiet and remote, exposed and a challenge for any gardener (and a world away from a southerly sea-level gardener! ); there you will find a cottage, a vegetable garden a cutting garden and warmth and gentle words.
What was swapped?
- N E Plus Ultra Pea – in Andrew’s words “the pea is gorgeous and was used in the TV programme “The Victorian Kitchen Garden” (1987), we inherited some from a family member who worked on it. So I am passing some on to you”. No pressure then !
- Phacelia – “is a great green manure but on my old allotment I allow it to flower at the edge of beds, bees love it”
- Cabbage – Frostie F1 “ I know you said you were trying to wean yourself off F1s but the Cabbage is lovely and is brand new seed for this years sowing. Wanted to give you something to sow now and you will just get under the wire with this”
- Lycnis (Campion Pink) – “you can see photos of the Campion on our blog”
- French Dwarf Bean Montana – which I need to find out about, if it’s for shelling or eating young and fresh
The seeds of which plant do you most look forward to growing and why?
Hmmmm, the Pea’s spring to mind as I’m a sucker for heritage type peas, but there is also a bit of an edge to it as I don’t want the slugs, pigeons or mice hampering my growing efforts. But probably the Phacelia as it’s one of those things I’ve always meant to get round to, but somehow always forget to sow, I now have the seeds and the impetus! In fact I might see if I can scatter a few in the next week so that the bees and buzzies can have some early pollen come Spring.
Would you like any advice on germination, siting, companion plants or anything else for your seed(s)?
Just to know what kind of beans they are, but to be honest I can look that up myself!
Would you like any inspiration or ideas about how to cook or arrange your plant or how best to save the seed(s)?
I don’t think so, I’m guessing I can save seeds from the Phacelia, but again need to look that one up – or maybe just ask Andrew
Is there anything else about your Seedy Parcel you’d like people to know?
I’m happy with my haul :) I hope Georgi likes her seeds too. and thanks need to go to Carl for organising
If you live in the UK or Europe you can join in the next / planned Seedy PenPal Swap, or follow the updates from Carl’s blog or Twitter #SeedyPenPals. If you live in the States, Canada, Australia, S Africa, New Zealand, the Middle East, Japan, S America, wherever, why not start a seed swap yourself? we’ll be here to cheer you on! It’s easy, a post on your blog, a piece in your local paper, a conversation with friends. All you need is a few like-minded people, some spare seeds, an envelope and a stamp. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own shed !
Lastly and as a little teaser, I sent -