Melvalena and others: I'd love to hear more about your plant swap

msmashy(NJ/6)February 11, 2012

How it works and where you have it and any other info or tips.



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I'd love to tell you. I'm busy prepping for Hubby's Birthday Dinner tomorrow.. I'll post the info on plant swaps after I recover from that. :)

For now, you can check out the link below to the Texas Exchanges page. Look at threads about plant swaps in there to get an idea. The San Antonio bunch already has a post up about theirs coming up. But further down are more swap threads. These will give you an idea of how they work here in Texas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Exchanges Forum

    Bookmark   February 11, 2012 at 6:09PM
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Here in the PNW we have several each year. There are 4 Green Elephant Swaps, one in January for wintersowing and seed trades, one in March, one in June for vegetables mostly and another in November. Here is a URL for a description:

There are two Olympia trades every year, usually in April and October. It's a bit different since we also have a potluck lunch and a lot of visiting with old gardening friends. If the weather is nice (dry!) we set up our plants outside in a lovely setting beneath some trees, and if it's wet, there is usually the clubhouse so we don't have to get soaked:

I have two trades every year, usually in May and September. Because I live between Portland, OR and the Seattle-Tacoma area, some people have to drive quite a ways to get here. So I furnish hot dogs and hamburgers for lunch and welcome any potluck anyone wants to bring. People set their plants up outside and I have a large screened canopy if it's raining - no room for plants, but at least we can stay somewhat dry, and have our lunch under cover.
It is fairly standard to setup some trades beforehand, and those plants we keep separate from the others. A "freebie" area is almost always designated. The extras you don't want to take home can go there. We welcome newbies and are very generous, but we expect them to return in a year or two with their own trades. There is never any money involved, but plants, seeds, gardening books and magazines, garden art, etc. are always welcome. I try to label my plants with both the Latin and common names, but not everyone does. Nametags and unmarked plant tags are great, as well as notepads and pens. Mostly we just have a good time and connect with other gardeners.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pacific Northwest Exchange

    Bookmark   February 12, 2012 at 4:08PM
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Thanks for the info! I wonder if there are any where I live? I'll have to investigate!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 8:09AM
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I found out about plant swaps on my State Garden Web Forum. So first place I'd look is the NJ forum. I just took a peek and yes.. there were plant swaps in NJ last year. The threads about them are listed on the exchanges page. You'll have to scroll down to find them.

If you are close to another state, you can also check out that state's forum and exchanges pages.

For those who can't find plant swaps in your area I'll post later today some ideas on how to set one up yourself.

Here is a link that might be useful: NJ exchanges page

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 10:40AM
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Tips on setting up a swap if you don't have any in your area already.

1. Pick a date/time and a place. (find a partner or 2 to help you)

The date:

Your date should be sometime around the average last frost or later and not on a holiday weekend.
This gives people time to do the spring bed clean up, and divide perennials that need dividing and pull out extras of what ever they want to pass on, and also get them potted up and labeled.

When people take home starts of divided plants they'll want to get them in the ground as soon as they can and give them the best shot at getting established with the least amount of stress possible.

The time:

Some swaps start at 9am... some later. Its up to you. Try to gage travel time and set up time. Most of the swaps around here are on Saturday to give people time to get things planted on Sunday. But lots of people can't come due to work or children's sports activities. Carrie and I tried Sunday afternoons and it works out just fine. More people can make it then and plant out when they can.

The place:

Any place that has lots of parking, shelter in case of rain and restrooms close by. Parking is the most important, shelter is second in importance. Plants are messy.. so if you chose to a swap someplace indoors you'll need to be prepared to clean up. Outdoors is much easier, all you'll need is a broom. :)

We tend to hold them at public parks, which means someone has to reserve the pavilion, and pay the fees. You can solicit donations if you want. Carrie and I just pay for it ourselves. It doesn't cost much for only 2 -3 hours.

I have been to swaps at people's homes and its great. You get to see their gardens and it just feels more laid back. However if your swap has lots of people it doesn't work out so good with people trying to park and needing restrooms and traipsing all over your yard and house. :(

2. Rules...

read the rules other swaps use, and take what you want. Just keep it simple. Too many rules will confuse and keep people from attending. Each gardener makes their own trades and now has to do a trade they are not happy with.

3. Promote!

We use garden web for most of it. Post on the exchanges pages.
We watch our State forum and contact any poster who is close by to invite them. You can also use other garden forums where you can find local gardeners.

Encourage new gardeners. Even if they don't have plants to share, they can bring other stuff to trade. Eventually they will have plants to share.

I chat up people I meet at garden centers and Walmart too. :)

About a month before the swap I print up fliers and drive around locally. If I see a home that looks like someone _really_ gardens there I stop the car knock on the door and talk to them!
Be sure to praise their hard work, tell them about yourself and your plant swap. Personally invite them to come. Hand them that flier with ALL the details and a way for them to contact you with questions. I put my email address on it and the link to the Texas Garden Web exchanges page so they can check out all the pre trading going on.

If the gardener isn't home, leave the flyer for them.

I also sent out info to everyone in our HOA via email.

Just talk it up. Church, work, neighbors, PTA, what ever other groups you are involved with.

If you live in a small town, perhaps contact the local newspaper about it? If they (or you) can write up an article about it ahead of time, that could get some people to show up.

Supplies for your swap:

I bring:
extra tables, and a wagon for hauling plants. If possible have some teenagers to help haul plants to and from the parking lot.

a clip board with extra paper and pens
name tags and signs to put on various tables.

We set up a check in table: name tags, and sign in sheet. On that sheet get names, phone numbers and emails.

You'll want to be able to keep in touch with these people! We've established a little group on a yahoo list and have get togethers and garden tours of each other's yards and meals together a few times a year now. We do swaps in Spring and Fall.

Munchies...if you want or not its up to you. Pot luck meal or snacks what ever you decide you want to mess with. We're about snacks and drinks.. frees us up for more plant talk.

I usually bring coffee, cups, sugars, creamer and a cooler with bottled water.

Door prizes... if you want. There are several ways to go about it.

We set up an Orphan Table... this is where people put plants they do not want to take home and no one has traded for them. These are for anyone who wants them. If in the end there are still orphans you can take them home or pass them on to any group who can use them. Most of the gardeners I know are just happy to find someone to give their extras to and help someone get started.

Have someone prepared to take photos! You won't have time to do that yourself. You'll be busy meeting everyone, introducing people and talking plant trades!

Most of the people coming probably won't know each other or have never been to a swap, so its up to you (and your buddy) (s) as hosts to make everyone feel welcome and answer questions.

Its all pretty laid back and informal. Natural leaders in the group will emerge. Just try to make sure everyone feels welcome and valuable.

Grandbaby is calling...
if you have more questions just ask..I'll be around.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 3:05PM
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Thank you so much for all the great information! Do you know where I could find some examples of the rules people use?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 3:48PM
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google plant swap or plant swaps you'll find plenty.

There are rules posted in the Garden Web Texas forum exchanges pages.. just click on a swap and they should be posted in the thread. You may have to go to last season's swaps.

I'm sure there will be rules listed in the NJ forum's swaps as well. I didn't open any to see though. You should check out the ones there, you might find swaps close to you and not need to do all this work.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 4:25PM
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I've gone and gathered the rules from several of the Texas Swaps and pasted them into a word doc. Anyone who wants a copy just send me an email with Swap Rules in the subject and I'll send you a copy.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 5:00PM
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Wonderful! If you could email me at I would be very grateful! Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 5:47PM
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msmashy, where in nj are you? If south Jersey, close to me, I'd be interested in helping out! I have a good many seedlings right now, let me know

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:21PM
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let me know if you plan a plant swap- I told the people when I did the WS workshop that we should have a plant swap in the spring, but I didn't really set it up.

I'll e-mail you.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 6:00AM
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Thanks Ellen - I was going to look into if there are any plant swaps already planned locally first. If not I'd be interested in helping to pull one together.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 8:12AM
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Well ladies???

Are you getting a swap pulled together?

here's a link to ours in the Texas Exchanges Forum:

Here is a link that might be useful: thread in Winter Sowing Conversations

    Bookmark   April 30, 2012 at 8:50PM
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