Swappin’ Seeds


Spring is so close, I can almost taste it.  Yesterday, we attended a seed swap hosted by the Cleveland chapter of Food Not Lawns.  It was a great way to meet some like-minded people in the Cleveland area, and I’m very excited about our haul.  We met the owners of a large farm south of Cleveland that offers Homesteading classes and a woman that is a canning expert.  There were people living in urban neighborhoods that were sharing plans for ripping up their backyards and moving in some chickens.  In short, it was a late January reminder that people are everywhere are making the recognition that if it can grow grass and flowers, it can grow FOOD.  Some things talked about amongst the group?  Three Sisters gardens, edible landscapes, all things food preservation…  really great stuff.

And then there were the seeds!  Foods Not Lawns encourages chapter organizers to contact local greenhouses, garden centers, etc. for donations, so there were plenty of commercial seeds like those packaged above.  Most are heirloom or organic, and the chapter organizer tries to make sure nothing on the table is from Monsanto.  In addition to the packaged seeds, many people contributed seeds from their own gardens.  As we don’t have much of a seed store yet, I opted to contribute jams (yes, we were just giving away jams!) We took home everything you see above, and I’ve numbered some of the seeds I’m really excited about.

1) I think this is gem corn, but the woman that brought it couldn’t be sure.  She had an entire ear with her, and it was knockout gorgeous, even dry.  I took a little hunk, and we’ll try to find a place to plant it that’s far, far away from our sweet corn.

2) Jerusalem artichoke! “A cross between a potato and a turnip.”  This particular tuber seems to be a real favorite of permaculture gardeners, and will be a prime plant for our food forest.

3) Gray Striped sunflower.  I grabbed some of these because the swapper had an entire head and it was massive.  Some sites say the head reaches 14″, and others say 20″.  Either way, these will be some seriously big sunflowers.  Great for eating, by people and birds.

4) Luffa (loofah).  This one is going to take some careful work on my part, as they are not at all frost-hardy.  Not only are they handy as a sponge once fully matured, but the young fruits are completely edible.  Luffa Stirfry anyone?

5) Soap.  Not a seed.  Hand-delivered by a preschooler, complete with envelope.  Made with deer tallow.

6) Purple corn.  I know I’m not the only person with a deep love for interestingly colored vegetables.  Purple carrots, yellow cucumbers, burgundy okra?  Sign me up.  Purple corn is a gorgeous field corn, and it gives me a great source for PURPLE GRITS.

7) Red Broomcorn (sorghum).  I grabbed this on a whim, because it most people at the swap do not have room for corn, grasses, etc.  I don’t know much about it yet, but the little sign with it specifically mentioned use for fodder, making brooms, and even as an edible grain.  Anyone grown it?  I’ve got lots of questions about it, of course.  Does it spread quickly?  What sort of soil does it like?  I know it can be used as a sweetener, and I’ve got big plans to play with natural, minimally processed sweeteners.

8) Japanese Purple Irises.  I grabbed a pack of these because we have absolutely no flowers anywhere on the property and I’m a firm believer that flowers are necessary not just for looks, but for attracting those friendly helpers, bees and butterflies.  All the pictures I’ve found online show gorgeous flowers with thin, bright stalks.

Ready for spring yet?  I sure am.


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