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National seed swap day January 25, 2014

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Winter is when gardeners in the northern hemisphere start leafing through the seed catalogs and begin to plan their spring gardens, but did you know there's a special day when gardeners all over the nation gather to exchange seeds with each other? It's the National Seed Swap Day and it's held on the last Saturday in January every year.

Seed swap events are where you can take your packets of excess seeds and trade them for something new you'd like to grow. They can be commercially packaged seeds or ones you've collected yourself. It's helpful if you can include a photo of the mature plant, the date the seed was collected, and any specific germination or growing requirements.

This is a chance to acquire heirloom varieties, or rare species not found in catalogs. Local seed swaps are also a good place to find cultivars that perform well in your area. Plants that thrive in your climate will produce plenty of seed to harvest and share with others.

The seed swap day concept started with Washington Gardener Magazine when they organized a seed swap in 2006. The event was so popular it was repeated the following year and more groups have been joining in every year since. It's now celebrated nationally.

Most seed swap events have a few rules for how the swap will be conducted, so check with the organizers ahead of time to make sure you comply. Even if you don't have seeds to exchange, there may be seed packets available for purchase, or even free seeds.

You might be able to find a local event in this seed swap listing, but also check with local garden centers, botanical gardens or gardening clubs. If you don't find one in your area, consider organizing one for next year.
Click on the video for some seed starting tips.

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