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By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Last Tuesday night, the Walpole Library held its sixth annual seed swap, an event where community members are invited take whatever non-GMO seeds they want for free, with the only catch being that they’re supposed to donate seeds at the end of the season to restock the library.
It quickly became apparent that tomatoes were the seeds people were quickest to grab, while the seeds people were less enthusiastic about were corn and pumpkin.
Apparently, corn is too tall and shades the other plants in your garden, while pumpkins take up too much space.
But a crowded room filled with gardeners and hope-to-be gardeners weren’t going to grab their seeds and go when they had the opportunity to take some advice from gardener Debbie Wells for the better part of an hour.
Originally from Mississippi, Wells fielded a wide variety of questions about every aspect of gardening one could think of, from fertilization and water usage to dealing with pests.
While there were no plants Wells would discourage gardeners from planting, she did warn gardeners about her experiences with up to twelve-foot Jerusalem artichokes. Wells planted them in her garden a few years back and has found them a nightmare to get rid of.
“They’re big and they spread” she warned, “they’re hard to dig up, so I had to use plastic bags to block the sunlight. It took me years to get rid of mine.”
Insects and animals played a large part of the Q&A session, with Wells explaining that you’re better off the later you plant when it comes to bugs, but animals are far trickier to deal with. After a crowd member asked about rabbits, Wells repeated “rabbits,” then sighed before noting how many rabbits there are these days and how fencing to keep them out is pivotal, but not especially expensive, given how low the barriers need to be.
When groundhogs were discussed, Wells’ advice was far simpler but likely more effective: “To help with woodchucks, you need a dog.”
Carrots were an oft-discussed subject, with many people noting how difficult they are to grow correctly. Many remarked that when they’ve tried to grow carrots, the plant would flourish, only to turn out either warped or smaller than hoped for upon uprooting. One audience member said that this was because the ground is filled with rocks, saying: “My mantra at the community garden is ‘this is New England, we grow rocks.’”
Wells explained that while it is painstaking to dig up these rocks, “you could use them to decorate.”
If you missed the event and would still like some seeds, the seed bank is available at the Walpole Library for anyone that wants to grab some.
And if your yard has woodchucks, you should head to the animal shelter.