Everyone invited to come see what is growing at HPL


Last updated 1/24/2024 at 2:53pm | View PDF

There is a time and a place for everything, and few years back I decided both the time and the place had passed for the rectangular space in my backyard that housed my now-grown children's playset. That space had once been shaded by a large 200-year-old oak but was now bathed in full sunlight after having to remove the diseased tree. As I looked out our kitchen window wondering what would take its place, it hit me - we should transform the space into a vegetable garden!

That seed of an idea took root, and early that spring I chose a few heirloom tomato, pepper and cucumber seeds, set up a grow light and began to prepare the garden plot. As the seeds started to sprout, so did the interest of my teenage daughters, who would check on the progress of the delicate seedlings each day.

After the threat of frost had passed, we transplanted them outdoors and watched with anticipation as the plants blossomed and the first signs of fruit appeared. In just a few short months we were rewarded with the satisfaction of a bounty of cucumbers and tomatoes that tasted extra sweet knowing we had grown them from seeds.

Those tiny heirloom seeds that grew into the sprawling plants in the garden are truly amazing. They contain all the genetic material necessary to create an exact replica of the plant from which they were saved. As it turns out, they also carry the history of the people from all corners of the world who brought their cherished seeds with them when they left their home, providing a living reminder of the past.

Take for example the Cherokee Trail of Tears black bean seeds. These seeds were carried in the pockets of the Cherokee people, brought as a symbol of hope as they were forced to march from the Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma in the winter of 1838. The seeds of the Martino's Roma T=tomato have a different story. They were brought to the Finger Lakes region of New York by Italian immigrants tucked into suitcase linings and hat bands.

Beginning Feb. 17, these heirloom seeds and hundreds of others will be the newest additions to the Hinsdale Public Library's collection, the new HPL Seed Library.

Aligning with our mission to provide innovative educational and cultural experiences and our goal to offer experiential learning opportunities, the Seed Library will give HPL cardholders access to flower, vegetable and herb seeds to plant and grow at home.

To help get you started, we've tapped experts to teach classes on everything from starting seeds in the early spring to saving seeds at the end of the growing season.

• Feb. 17 - Seed Starting: Give Your Garden a Head Start

• April 20 - Vegetable Gardening in Containers and Raised Beds

• Aug. 10 - How to

Save Your Seeds

My vegetable plot is not large, but I have learned many important lessons from it as I experiment with different types of seeds and growing methods. I have even tinkered with growing vegetables in containers and raised beds, successfully growing French green beans in pot. During the short cold days of winter, the joy of planning a garden, starting seeds and anticipating their growth can provide a welcome source of warmth.

Our Seed Library is possible thanks to the generous donations of seeds from several sources, including Hinsdale's own Vern Goers Nurseries Inc., and our partnership with Hinsdale Central High School's Ecology Club and the HPL Junior Advisory Board, whose members packed and labeled each seed packet.

- Susan McBride is programming coordinator at Hinsdale Public Library and a longtime

Hinsdale resident.


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