Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Seed Exchange 2024 Speakers Announced

UPDATE! More tickets have been released for both events! See full details at -



Here are the speakers for the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges 2024Seed Exchange attendees trade seeds, exchange planting tips, hear expert speakers, and collect goody bags full of gardening treats.

Saturday, January 27 at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD

Speaker 1:
“Growing Great Peppers
Speaker: Carrie Engel, Horticulturist, Valley View Farms
This talk will cover how a local business prepares its tomato crop for the spring season. From the beginning steps from seed selection, starting the seeds to seedling, to a plant ready for transplant and sale. It will also cover what varieties do best in our region.
   Carrie Engel began working at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville, MD, in 1972, and is well known in our area. Carrie appears with meteorologists Tony Pann and Ava Marie, weekly on the WBAL TV's Sunday Gardener. She was awarded the 2020 Professional Achievement Award from the Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association. She enjoys writing, speaking about gardening, photography, the Orioles, and spending time with her extended family. Carrie also enjoys traveling, especially road trips, where she looks for what is new in plants and gardening everywhere she goes.

Speaker 2:
"Setting up an Indoor Garden System"
Speaker: Niraj Ray of Cultivate the City  
This talk will cover setting up an indoor garden – from lighting and irrigation options to exploring hydroponic options and nutrient management, plus ventilation considerations.
   Cultivate the City is an urban farming organization based in Washington, DC. In addition to managing a network of school and corporate gardens, CTC also runs a rooftop garden center and nursery where they start most of their plants and hold weekly workshops. CTC focuses on growing hard-to-find and ethnically and culturally important foods- they have been practicing saving their own seeds for more than 5 years!
   Niraj founded Cultivate the City (CTC) in 2015 to inspire healthy and sustainable living by empowering local communities with the tools, training and resources for urban agriculture and vertical farming. CTC currently manages over 25 locations around DC, including a rooftop farm at the Washington Nationals Stadium. Niraj holds a B.S. in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology from the Ohio State University and a M.S. in Integrated Environmental Science from Bethune-Cookman University. He is a 2013 National Wildlife Federation Emerging Leader Fellow and formerly worked with the US EPA - Office of Water.  

Washington Gardener Magazine presents the 
18th Annual Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges
on Saturday, January 27, 2024, 12:30–4:00pm 
National Seed Swap Day!
at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD
 Registration is now open at 


Saturday, February 3 at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA

Speaker 1:
Seed Mixes and Substrates
Speaker: Carol Allen, Horticulturist
This talk will cover different seed-starting mixes and what they contain, which are the best to use, and which ones you should avoid. Carol will also talk about possible reuses of mixes and other tips.
   Carol Allen has been involved in many aspects of gardening and horticulture since childhood and likes to describe herself as a committable plant-a-holic. She has more than 25 years experience in the horticulture industry with special interests in Integrated Pest Management, landscape design, native plants, tropicals of many kinds, and especially orchids. Carol enjoys helping people understand how to care for their plants and holds a monthly diagnostic clinic in Washington, DC. After serving a term of two-and-one-half years as supervisory horticulturist at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory, Carol returned to college and earned a degree in horticulture. Fascinated by the interplay of pest and prey, Carol continues her education on plant pests and diseases. She enjoys teaching people how to outwit their garden pests with little or no pesticide application and also authors the “InsectIndex” column in the Washington Gardener Magazine..

Speaker 2:
“Seed Buying Tips
Speaker: Debby Ward of Prior Unity Garden
Enjoy Debby's passion for quality seeds and seed companies. She will talk about the different types of seed companies (seed houses vs small family farms). She will also pass on her a few of her favorite seed companies and why she loves them. Plus, she will cover types of seed (OP, F1, F2, and the different definitions of "Heirloom".) 
   Debby Ward is founder and owner of Prior Unity Garden - Growing Your Own Organic Food Made Easy. She has been gardening since she could crawl. Her family always had food and herb gardens in which she participated and she has continued that tradition. She loves to help grow gardeners and has taught for many local groups including The Mason Sustainability Institute, Master Gardeners in Fairfax County VA and the Grow Your Health Festival. 

on Saturday, February 3, 2024, 12:30–4:00pm
at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA
Registration is now open at 

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