I've been sorting seeds for the Winterswap I'm hosting. GardenWebbers sent me at least 20 packs of seed, plus side trades, and extras. There are more than 60 participants. I've got a lot of seeds in my house at the moment. These are the ones meant to be swapped in the open market based on their wish lists.
I've realized something during all this, my second swap. Each little plastic baggie, paper envelope, handmade package, etc, all contain the possibility of future plants. Given sometimes less than perfect conditions, they still manage to germinate, grow, bloom, set seed, and either die or continue the cycle next year producing even more possibilities for life. All the philosophy of why I grow things from seed aside, it's a very inexpensive way to get a lot of plants for very little money.
Cottage gardens started out as food gardens. Then plants were passed from neighbor to neighbor and from town to town. With the help of the US Postal service, we can now send seeds across the country and back in a matter of days. Things that grew in my garden this year will be sprouting in a few months in places like Weddington, NC, Somers, CT, and Walnut Grove, MO. I really enjoy sharing my successes with other gardeners and spreading some of their beloved plants to mine. Did I mention that it's cheap?
More importantly, I've come to realize that there are a lot of plants out there I've never seen before. I'll be sowing seeds of some of these hoping to add them to my collection. I don't know how they'll do in our heat and humidity or our three weeks of actual winter weather in late February. Some are frost tender, others hardy to Alaska and the near tundra. Some plants wilt at the idea of humidity while others stand up to near drought conditions and beyond. Where to plant them all is a big concern. Fortunately, I have the space and the inclination to do it. I love watching the cycle of plants from seed to seed. Some plants even become compost added to the top of the garden in spring to help their future generations thrive.
It's just something I enjoy and find interesting. I really hate having to give back all these seeds. I think I'll keep a few. Maybe next year I'll have even more seeds to offer up to those just starting out or looking to grow something different.