Every year on the third Sunday in March you’ll find the Edmonton Seedy Sunday event. This year’s event began with sunshine and blue skies, and the break in the cold weather drew a large crowd of people.

At 11 am the line for the event was already snaking out the door. Before things became too hectic, I spoke with Kelly from Seeds of Diversity, a seed exchange organization. Growers can sell heirloom seeds, and for a slightly higher price, non-growers can purchase seeds as well, with membership.

Kelly said not only can you get varieties of seeds you’ll never find in retail chains, but growers also work to preserve the diversity of seed.

“Fifteen years ago, things were looking pretty dire as far as seed saving was concerned, but now things look hopeful,” she said.

Speakers and demonstrations were also part of the event.

Patti Milligan, one of the organizers of Edmonton Seedy Sunday, gave a demonstration on building bee houses.

“If I can leave you with one thing, smaller is better when it comes to bee houses. Even though it soothes your creative soul, large bee condos will likely not be used and if they are, they can increase the spread of pathogens.”

Milligan recommended drilling small holes into a log or piece of non-treated wood, making sure not to drill all the way through or placing reeds in a small container such as a soup can. Something as simple as exposing soil on the south-facing side of your home can give some of the over 300 varieties of bees in Alberta a place to lay their eggs.

Ryan Mason of Reclaim Urban Farms shared tips and techniques for beginner gardeners. His focus is on SPIN farming (Small Plot Intensive Farming).

Mason suggested using diatomaceous earth to handle slugs and planting with landscaping cloth to prevent weeds. Cut holes into landscaping cloth, spacing the holes as far apart as your plants need for proper growth. Then, lay the cloth on the ground and plant your seeds in the holes.  

Or use Agribon cloth (row cover) to reduce pests. Plant your seeds normally, then cover with Agribon cloth, using soil weigh down the edges. You don’t have the fun of watching your vegetables grow, but you also don’t have pests eating your hard-won produce. At the end of his lecture, he gave us delicious microgreens he grew. Find him at the Downtown Farmers Market on Saturdays.

I look forward to Seedy Sunday every year for the joy of watching so many people bond over shared passions. During the lectures I attended, when the speakers asked for our experience levels, I stated my first garden last year was a dismal failure. After both sessions ended, strangers offered encouragement and told me not to give up.

As one lady said, “None of us have a great result every time. It takes practice, but the end result is so worth it. Even if you only get one beautiful carrot, that is YOUR carrot. You made it. Enjoy the process, that’s where the fun is.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Amanda is a budding entrepreneur, a practicing Wiccan, a burgeoning gardener and an herbalist who is working to obtain a degree as a naturopathic practitioner.

Feature Image: There were plenty of tips for beginner gardeners. | Pixabay