Overheard: “Did all these people camp overnight to be first in line?” The speaker was looking for the end of the queue. The early lineup wasn’t about a new iPhone, a Hollywood star or famous author; it was for Seedy Saturday, an event that shouts, “Get ready for spring!”

The early turnout shows just how keen people are for this particular gardening event held annually at Brampton’s Century Gardens Community Centre.

Inside, folks shuffle from one display to the next, shopping seeds, soils, books, pamphlets, catalogues and expert advice and ideas. Those there for the seminars had their pick of five fascinating presentations, all free and highly enlightening. A crafts activity area teemed with children, offering plenty to do and lots to learn about plants, animals and caring for our eco-environment. The Seedy Café, staffed by four cheery souls, offered beverages and good eats at prices that seemed a decade behind the times.

The first seminar, Growing Gardens from Seeds in Small Spaces, presented by master gardener Diana Pooke, had something for both novice and veteran backyard gardeners. Apparently, according to Pooke, growing plants isn’t just plunking seeds in soil and adding water. It’s a bit more involved than that. Some seeds prefer basking on top of the soil, with a beverage to get them going, while others prefer it dark and moist below. Some seeds are viable for only a few months, while others are good for several years. Understanding that, and a myriad of other things is vital to a successful garden.

Pooke recommends starting seeds early inside in containers with clear plastic lids or containers designed for sprouting with a temporary cellophane covering to maintain soil moisture. Place the containers near south-facing windows or use grow lights on timers.

“Specialty LED grow-lights may cost a little more,” she says, “But their energy savings are worth it and they can keep closer to sprouts for better energy concentration without causing sunburn.”

Plants started indoors require “hardening,” which means getting them acquainted with the natural elements. Once the seedlings are ready and the daytime weather looks good, get them outside first thing in the morning and back in overnight until conditions are right for transplant.

Heirloom seeds, the big Seedy Saturday theme, are open-pollinated, meaning they originate via natural pollination (bees, birds, wind, etc.) and they maintain their unique desirable characteristics handed down through generations. To qualify for the heirloom designation, the originating seeds are generally more than 50 years old.

Linda Crago, of Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm, talked about Unusual and Interesting Plants for your Veggie Garden. It was all about organics and exotic edibles that we aren’t likely to find at your local grocery store. Who knew there are more than 10,000 tomato varieties?

Oliver Couto, principal beekeeper for The Bee Shop in Toronto, promotes the idea of choosing plant inventory that provides continuous blooms throughout the growing season, to help pollinators thrive. Bees aren’t the only pollinators, Couto says. Butterflies, moths, flies, some beetles, hummingbirds and bats also pollinate our gardens.

Bob Noble, a nature photographer, gave a stunning slideshow presentation of his macro photography called Butterflies, Bugs and other Beasts and their Lives, all captured at Brampton’s Heart Lake Conservation Area.

Wolfe Bonham, of Peace Love and Landscaping in Burlington, closed out the seminar series with a delightful slideshow tour of Singapore’s many astounding gardens. He could have booked a Singapore Airlines planeload right there.

Commenting on the huge turnout, Carole Spraggett of the Brampton Horticultural Society says, “I helped start up Seedy Saturday six years ago and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

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