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Is planting season upon us?

By Staff | Apr 1, 2011

Curly Kruse, left, a master gardener from Ida Grove, shows Jennifer Erickson and Laura Kuennen some reference material he uses in his gardening. Kruse brought a great deal of seeds to share with others, as well as a wealth of knowledge. A group of gardeners met on March 23 to talk vegetable and flower gardening and to exchange seeds.

IDA GROVE – A handful of gardening enthusiasts met last Wednesday, along with Iowa State University Extension specialists, at the Ida County Extension office to talk and exchange seeds.

Marla Seuntjens, Ida Country Extension office manager, coordinated the gathering which included Jerry Chizek, Region 6 Extension director, and a group of local master gardeners.

Ida Grove resident Curly Kruse was among those attending. He brought a table’s worth of seeds to the exchange as well as a wealth of experience. The seeds he gave away to fellow gardeners were cantaloupe, squash, radish, bush and pole beans, okra, carrots and sunflowers.

When asked how he gathered the carrot seeds, he said, “It takes a couple years to get your carrot seeds. You’ve got to let them winter over for a year. The next year the carrot will be near rotted but it will spring up an umbel that will have seeds that you carefully extract and dry for seeding the next year.

“One of my favorite terms is peduncle umbelliferous, which is the plant stalk that yields the seeds.”

Hope Ogren, of Ida Grove, shared columbine, delphinium, trumpet vine, and morning glory seeds, which are annuals.

“I just finished the master gardener course,” Ogren said, “and this is the first year I knew about it. There was a lot of good information and a fun exchange of ideas. We learned a lot from each other. I’ll bring more seeds next year.”

Jennifer Erickson, of Ida Grove, attended the seed exchange as she is a self-proclaimed “farmer wannabe” coming from Arizona to Iowa to try out her green thumb. She expressed interest in possibly becoming part of a community supported agriculture program by producing and supporting others who produce.

Among the group was Laura Kuennen, the regional foods coordinator for Ida, Woodbury, Sioux, Plymouth, Cherokee, and Monona counties. Kuennen, who is housed at the Woodbury County Extension office, was on-hand to learn from the master gardeners in attendance as well as to tout her “Flavors of Northwest Iowa” initiative.

The program is meant to support commercial horticultural growers by providing basic marketing support as well as workshops.

“We’ll be launching a site with a map showing locations of food growers and farmers markets. Right now we have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s blogspot.”

Director Chizek finished the seed exchange workshop with an overview of soil testing, a service offered by the Extension office.

Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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