COLUMN: Local chance to learn about heirloom seeds

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Happy Groundhog Day and happy February. We’re one month closer to spring. As I write this, I have no idea whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow or not. He lives in Pennsylvania, home of the Steelers. I can tell you that if the sun came out, he saw his shadow and we’ve got 6 more weeks of winter to endure.
The groundhog’s full name is actually “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.” Tough to put all that on a business card, but his accuracy rate takes much less space. It’s 39 percent.
I count the groundhog’s prediction as just another tool in my bag of predictors. Even if he doesn’t see his shadow, I think we’re in for a long run up to spring. We’ve just got to accept the fact that it’s going to be a long, cold winter and just wait it out.
There is a bright side to all this cold and snow. The bad bugs and some soil diseases are getting killed off. Things in the basement and cellar are keeping nice and cool. Seeds are one thing that like to stay cool in order to stay viable.
The international Doomsday Seed Vault, in Norway, has been called the Noah’s Ark of seeds. The idea is that if we ever have a global catastrophe of plants, we’ll still be able to grow things. It also ensures that rare varieties don’t die out. The vault currently holds over 500,000 different seed varieties and it’s designed to withstand earthquakes and nuclear strikes.
As all gardeners know, different varieties have different traits and we all have our favorites. Those of you born and raised in Kentucky may remember your grandparents or great-grandparents growing certain varieties of beans or tomatoes. You may even have seed that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Now, imagine if you could share those varieties with those that other families have been saving for years. That’s exactly what Julie Maruskin has been doing in Kentucky for many years. Julie travels around holding free workshops that not only gives you information about rare tomatoes and how to grow them, she gives you seeds and plants to take home.
These old varieties are called heirloom seeds and Julie will be coming to Lawrenceburg in a little over one month, on March 5, to present a free workshop at 10 a.m. at the public library. This is a very popular event, so I urge you to call the library today, 839-6420 and get your name on the list.
If you’re a beginning gardener, block out the whole day, because there will be another free program on composting held right after it, beginning at 1 p.m. This is the first in a series of three beginning gardener workshops and you must call the ACE office at 839-3754 to pre-register for them.
Now, I know things don’t always happen when it’s convenient. Those of you who can’t attend the workshops, may be interested in checking out the library’s gardening DVDs and books. Be sure to take a look at the homesteading DVD series in the white dot section.
If you need any soil or containers for porch growing, or anything else in the gardening way, you can try a local greenhouse. Some are not officially open, but they’ll be happy to help you out with growing supplies. Now get going. It doesn’t matter if it’s winter or summer — time flies. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is a gardening columnist for The Anderson News.