One of the my favorite by-products of gardening is not the abundance of fruits or vegetables but instead the extra plants to share. Every time I get a new plant to add to our collection, I am immediately counting the days until I can propagate many more from it to plant more in my gardens and share with others. We even recently got a huge load of plastic nursery containers from a good friend to house our growing home nursery.
We are only beginning to reach the place where we have many extra plants that can be shared or more frequently these days, traded. Plant trading has become the perfect way for us to get more variety in our gardens for next to no extra cost. While we are always on the hunt for a good local plant swap, it’s rare that the stars align at a time when we have extra plants and have the time to attend a swap. That’s why we have been successfully trading more and more online. Plant trading ebbs and flows with the seasons, so it’s best to check around frequently especially in the early spring and fall. These are our 3 favorite ways of trading plants:
1. Local plant swaps
Hitting up a local plant swap can be one of the most valuable ways of acquiring free plants. Not only can you network with other local gardeners, but you stand a much better chance of finding plants that are already well adapted to your climate. Check out local community gardens, your local extension office, or botanical gardens for information on what might be going on in your area. One of the best in the Atlanta area is The Annual Seed and Scion Swap at the Wylde Center.
Always think outside of the box as well. We did pretty well bringing a flat of comfrey plants to the Maker Faire where a swap was set up. We were able to trade extra watermelon seeds and plants for all kinds of great stuff including a pink oyster mushroom bag.
2. Plant trading websites
There are certainly a wealth of great options around the web with many focused on more regional areas. Two of my favorites are Dave’s Garden and Gardenweb. The true standout is Dave’s Garden. It allows you to keep an inventory of what you have and what you want. You can search for who has certain plants you want and create a trade. You simply send someone a message or post in the forum to make offers.
We have a growing list on Dave’s Garden ready for trade. Some of our favorite acquisitions have been the Okinawa purple sweet potatoes and a wealth of beautiful ferns. The key to being a successful online plant trader is to ship safely and quickly. Dave’s Garden even sets you up with a great guide on how to get started shipping your plant rooted or unrooted starts.
3. Facebook sales groups
More and more people are utilizing the sales pages on Facebook to buy and sale items much like a garage or yard sale. These groups become a great place for people to connect to other locals to get rid of extra plants after dividing or cleaning out a bed. Keep an eye out and be ready at a moment’s notice to snag free plants or trade out extras. I know I definitely missed out on some great finds last year. In Atlanta, it seems like there is at least one group for every neighborhood, so I try to watch a handful of the groups that are closest to me.
Any resourceful gardener will agree that it’s tough to beat turning your extra plants into all new types of plants to try out. Plant trading is a time honored tradition passed down over many generations. Seed swapping and plant trading were how many varieties of new plants crawled out of some individual’s backyard and onto the main stage. Many of your favorite varieties of fruits and vegetables became popular simply by trading hands for many years. Try it out for yourself and start reaping the benefits of networking with other local gardeners and farmers and trying out all kinds of new plants for little to no cost.