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Saving seeds for show

Yellow trumpet vine seed pods (foreground left) rest while Judy SerwatkLiberty Township counts green pepper seeds as Porter County Master

Yellow trumpet vine seed pods (foreground left) rest while Judy Serwatka of Liberty Township counts green pepper seeds as the Porter County Master Gardeners Association meets to prepare seeds at the Valparaiso Public Library. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times

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If you go

What: 10th annual Gardening Show

Where: Porter County Expo Center, 215 E.
Division Road, Valparaiso

When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19

Cost: $10; children under 12, free

Contact: Porter County Master Gardeners
Association, 465-3555, www.pcgarden.info/

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Updated: December 15, 2012 6:11AM



Though colorful summer blossoms have faded to autumn’s brown, enjoyment of gardening continues throughout the winter. Members of the Porter County Master Gardeners Association gathered recently to prepare more than 10,000 packages of seeds, which will be available for exchange and purchase at the 10th annual Gardening Show in January.

Seeds were donated from PCMGA members’ homes, Ogden Gardens, by community members and from other locations, organizations and individuals. After the seeds were dried, volunteers gathered at the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Public Library to gently separate them from the pods.

Each group of seeds was measured in varying amounts and placed in small manila envelopes, which were labeled with preprinted descriptions and planting instructions. Envelopes were then bundled and alphabetized according to each plant’s Latin name.

Jackie Fenchak of Union Township dried a large sunflower, which she brought to the library that day. After cleaning the seeds, she separated them into piles of 25 and scooped them into packets.

“I have a vegetable garden and a lot of butterfly bushes. It’s important to plant things for the butterflies and the bees and the birds,” said Fenchak. “I’ve been an active member of Master Gardeners for about nine years. I’m retired and needed something to do. I love to grow plants, and I love people. (The members) become friends. They have a lot of good ideas.”

Diana Poffinbarger of South Haven used a set of teaspoons labeled “pinch,” “smidgen” and “dash,” which she used to separate miniscule rose mallow hibiscus seeds.

“These are a little bit smaller than a peppercorn. Some of them get so small that they’re like a fleck of pepper,” said Poffinbarger. “I’m using my fingernail to remove seeds from the pod in each segment, then the non-seed parts from the seeds themselves. Once you clean them up, it’s easier to see what you’ve got and to count them. We put about 10 to 15 big ones and 20 to 25 little ones in a little manila envelope.”

Gerry Lehmann of Portage is chairperson for the gardening show. He said the event takes garden enthusiasts beyond looking through a seed catalog on a wintry day.

“Our mission as an association is the enjoyment and education of all things horticulture, teaching others to grow, to spread the word about gardening,” said Lehmann. “(At the gardening show), we’ll have the seed and bulb exchange, garden and garden art related vendors, speakers. There will be gardening clubs, magazines, booths for used garden tools and more. It’s a big effort.”

The gardening show will feature perennials, annuals, vegetables, herbs and bulbs. Activities will include a photo contest, children’s corner, door prizes and more. To prepare and label seeds at home for exchange, visit www.pcgarden.info/ for directions.



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