Seed + Plant Share and Gardeners’ Social 2015
I’m very proud to have been told by regular attendees of the Seed + Plant Share and Gardeners’ Social that it’s become one of the Isle of Man’s gardening highlights of the year! The idea behind this late winter event is simple – bring your unwanted and unneeded seeds and plants and exchange them for ones you’ll use. For free. This is the fourth time I’ve put it together with help from members of my allotment association, reps from other allotments on the island, and this year the Isle of Man Permaculture Association. I’m confident in saying that our 2015 event has been by far the best attended and most fun seed swap to date.
Gardeners can often be extremely organised but that doesn’t mean they’re not secret seed hoarders. Throughout the year I buy or am given packets that I’ll only half use or maybe not even use at all. Instead of allowing the seeds to stack up in storage waiting for the expiration date to roll around, I bring them to the annual seed swap to share with others.
The organisation of the day is pretty simple too – come in, organise your own seeds into the boxes provided and then help yourself to seeds you’d like to take home. This year we also had a big box of seed potatoes as well as stacks of gardening books free to good homes. The potatoes came mainly from Steve Prescott of Manx Native Trees and he also donated a heritage apple tree to the raffle we hold to help pay for the rent of the space and to support the allotment associations.
Other fantastic raffle prizes from local businesses included a bijoux succulent Terrarium from The Bees Knees, gift vouchers for Ballanelson Nurseries in Jurby, lunch for two at HQ Bar & Grill, a £20 voucher for The Lady Gardener, and a wormery composter from the Isle of Man Government’s Waste Management department. Attendees of the event also brought in scores of prizes and refreshments and supported the event by purchasing tickets. My allotment needs extra funds more than ever this year since we’re now having to pay rent on the land. The monies we raised in the raffle will help ease this increased expense on our association. Plus people win prizes! Win win situation 🙂
Seed sharing is the main focus of the day but the calling of raffle prize winners was also highly anticipated. We all had an eye on a favourite item and had a a good laugh when catching site of the second funniest highlight of the day. The Allotment First Aid Kit pictured above was brought in by a member of the Laxey and Lonan Allotment and funnily enough won by a friend and beginner allotmenteer. Hopefully it will inspire his first year of allotment gardening!
You’re probably wondering what the funniest part of the day was, aren’t you? That was when the son of another friend became so upset over what his mum won in the raffle that he tried calling 999 (the UK version of 911) bawling over not getting a good prize. Fortunately the phone was grabbed and the call disconnected before it started ringing.
The fun of free seeds and catching up with gardener pals was made even more enjoyable by having David and Ciara Kilgallon join us for a Celtic-Manx music session. With the bar open, the fire roaring, and fiddles humming it felt very much like an afternoon at the Prancing Pony from the Lord of the Rings. David Kilgallon is actually a bit of a traditional musical celebrity on the island and his wife Ciara is one of the owners of the clever and funky Sweet Ginger Emporium, a local sewing and craft shop.
The island might be relatively small but it’s one of the only times I get to catch up with some of my gardening friends in person. Facebook aside, we all have busy lives that include plenty of hard work in our gardens in the warmer months and this little lull before spring sowing is the perfect time to have a gathering.
This year also saw an influx of plenty of new faces. I wrote pieces for both the Northwest Chronicle and the Examiner telling about the event and encouraging gardeners both experienced and beginner to join us on the day. My DJ pals at 3FM also gave us mentions on the radio over the weekend and Facebook and email proved instrumental in getting the attention of others. Through word of mouth we had more than 75 people join us this year which means more variety and more seeds making their way out of cupboards and into the soil.
I spent a good few hours organising my seed box in preparation for the event and clearing it of everything I was sure I wouldn’t be using. Some of the packets had expiration dates that had already passed but I brought them anyway. Contrary to what some people think, seeds will still grow after this time but at a slightly lower germination rate. Of course if the packet is ancient you probably shouldn’t expect too much!
All of the seeds you see below made their way out of my hands and into those of other gardeners at the Seed + Plant Share. They included a lot of flowers, herbs, and vegetables that I either had too many seeds for or those that I wasn’t keen on or already had healthy perennial plants. I even put together some packets of self-saved seed including Opium Poppies and Welsh Onions, which I use instead of spring onions now.
I took home about ten new packets of seeds including Romansesca Cauliflower, Broad Beans, Alpine Strawberries, and Trailing Lobelia. The scores of the day came direct from a friend who had seen me post recently on double Snowdrops and Flowering Quince. He brought me a bag filled with a bare rooted shrub and about two dozen bulbs of snowdrops. I’m still over the moon 🙂
Thank you to everyone who came and who made the day possible and if you’d like to be on the mailing list for next year’s event please email me with your enquiry. As the years progress the event just keeps getting better and better and we’d love for you to join us!