News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 23, 2014

Sharing the seeds of life

Gardeners to host exchange as residents gear up for spring planting season

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — An opportunity to share seeds and obtain some new seed varieties to plant is the point of a public seed swap set for this evening at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.

From 6 to 8 p.m., the Wabash Valley Master Gardeners Association is hosting the seed exchange in the 4-H meeting room as a prelude to the spring planting season.

Patti Weaver, a master gardener since 1996 and a home gardener since the mid 1970s, said that last year’s first seed exchange had a turnout of about 30 people, and she hopes this year’s exchange is even larger.

“You can bring store-bought seed packets to trade, or you can give away extras,” Weaver said. “I’m bringing in the seeds I collected from last year because I have an abundance.”

Weaver will also be doing a demonstration on how to start seeds at home. She already has several plants started at home, explaining that she tends to grow peppers, tomatoes, kale, lettuce and eggplant from seeds she has collected from the previous season.

“I have an abundance this year of milkweed,” she said. To collect the seeds, a gardener must be patient, waiting until the fruit has ripened or the flower has bloomed. In the late fall, when the plant has dried out, the seeds are at a premium to collect. For lilies, the pods must be collected prior to the time that they pop open to disperse the seeds.

“You have to forfeit some of the flowering for seed collection,” Weaver said.

On Monday, she will demonstrate how she starts seeds at home. She said she has ideal conditions on her back porch, which faces south and is screened in. The plants can receive the warmth of the sun during the day, but be moved indoors when the temperature drops.

Being an experienced gardener does not guarantee success, which depends upon growing conditions.

She explained that last spring, her house was too cool and she had trouble germinating seeds indoors. This year, she moved her seeds away from a window into a warmer area and has had more success.

“I always tell gardeners that every year, you’re a novice, because every year is different,” she said.

The public seed swap is a precursor to a busy gardening season,” said Sam Ligget, president of the master gardeners group.

“When April gets here, we will get busy and stay busy through October,” he said.

A big event to kick off the growing season will be the spring seminar on March 8 to help educate the community on gardening.

The biggest project of the group is probably the Giving Garden at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds. That project – now in its fourth year – provides fresh vegetables to area soup kitchens and feeding programs.

The master gardeners also take care of the patriotic garden and the butterfly garden at Deming Park, as well as other flowering spots in the community such as the plot at First and Oak streets at Fairbanks Park, and the labyrinth at Hawthorn Park. The group is also active in area Earth Day and Herb Fair activities, among others.

The seeds to be exchanged on Monday do not have to be heirloom, Weaver said.

Heirloom varieties – those that have not been genetically changed – are open-pollinated, meaning that seeds can be harvested from them to grow the exact same variety, year after year. Hybrid seeds – which have been cross-pollinated to produce specific traits – will not necessarily produce the same plant results the next year.

For more information about the master gardeners program call 812-462-3371 or visit


Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.