Plant Swap

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» Introduction to Plant Swaps
Got a green thumb? Need to thin out your gardens and like to share your babies? Want to acquire some new and possibly unique or hard to find plants? Then you should go to a plant swap!

Plant swaps are generally very informal meetings in a park among generous and friendly gardeners who trade or give away plants, seeds and cuttings. They may include potluck lunches, door prizes or post-swap garden tours. Every swap is different, but they are all a lot of fun.

Even if you don't have any plants to share, I strongly encourage you to attend a local swap. Chances are you will make some new friends and leave with a bunch of plants as gifts. Many gardeners would rather give their plants away than have to haul them back home or throw them away.

It is always good form to let the swap organizers/hosts know that you plan to attend - especially if it is a potluck food event. The food volunteers need to be able to estimate how much food to bring.

If you are planning to attend a swap, here is a list of supplies that you should bring with you:
  • wagon - for hauling plants and supplies from the car to the event
  • paper towel & ziploc baggies - you can get the towels wet and wrap them around cuttings or bare root plants and secure them in the ziploc baggies to protect them until you get home. Ziploc baggies are also great for handling seeds.
  • marker and sticky labels - for marking ziploc baggies or pots to identify new plants
  • newspaper - lay it out to prevent your car from getting dirty when transporting plants
  • pen/pencil and paper - for taking notes on plant care or jotting down names and phone numbers of the people you meet
  • spray bottle with water - for the plants, especially on hot, sunny days.
  • bug repellent - depending upon your locale and time of year, mosquito repellent can be a necessity
So, what happens a swap? Well, some have fairly tight trading and some are very lax plant give-aways. But generally, folks will set their plants out on a table (hopefully labeled!) and place plants they have received underneath the table. If you see a plant you like (on top of the table!), you just ask the owner if there is anything you have that they would like in exchange for it. Sometimes they will just let you have the plant and sometimes they will reserve it for trading for a rare or exotic plant. It pays to show up early if you want to be able to trade for some of the rarer plants - these are usually first come first serve affairs.

If you are bringing plants to trade, try not to water them immediately before the event. It makes the pots heavier and increases the chances of them leaking and making a mess in someone's car. Everyone values already rooted plants over fresh cuttings, so if you are in an area where folks tend to trade rather than give, it is a good idea to start rooting your cuttings a few weeks before the event.

Well, that's about it. Just remember to have fun!
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