Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Swap! .....and some Thank You's!!

I started this blog back in January of this year. I wanted a way to extend the Master Gardener Mission of education. I also wanted this to be fun and inspiring, so that more people would get out and try things they never would have before.  I hope that I have done that for all my followers. I would like to take this time to THANK all of them, as of this writing, I am now at 30. I am also amazed at how many people have viewed my little piece of the internet. I looked at the stats before I started this post, a whopping 5441 people have viewed my blog, just since May. There are views from such places as Shri Lanka, Luxembourg, Australia and Sweden....just to name a few. I am honored that people from around the world have taken time to read my ramblings.
Today, I wanted to start getting the word out about the upcoming Fall Plant Swap. I have been doing the one in the Spring for 7 or 8 years now, last year was the first Fall one I had done. They have been so popular that I am doing it again.
What is a plant swap?
It is pretty much what it sounds like, you bring plants and you swap them. I have a little bit of a twist though.
Yes, everybody brings plants and we do swap them, BUT, how we swap them is the fun part.
All of the plants get laid out in the designated area, no rhyme or reason as to where or in any particular groupings. At the predetermined time, I yell GO and everybody chooses one plant. They then take that plant back to their vehicle or in some little spot, out of the way of all the action. When everybody returns, we do it all over again, this continues on until all the plants are gone. It sounds like there would be total chaos, but it actually goes very smoothly. Of course, the very first round, people tend to "guard' their first acquisition just before I say go....all the better to get there early to scout.
I also encourage everybody that attends to bring some kind of pot luck dish. After all the plants have been swapped, we sit around to eat, socialize and discuss the cool new plants we just got.
Hosting a plant swap of your own is really VERY easy.
Here are the key things you need to get started:
1) A place to hold it. This could be a park, school playground, or even a plant person with a very large yard and plenty of parking. Bathrooms are also a VERY big plus! Always check to see what kind of regulations or permission you might need to use whatever you may choose. If you want to do the pot luck after, it is even better if there are picnic tables.
2) Publicity. This can be the tricky part. There are many websites that can help you, Gardenweb,, are just a few that I know about. Starting your own Blog is useful. Then there is the local newspaper, library bulletin board, your local Master Gardener or Extension Agent. I tend to avoid garden centers, they may think you are competing with them. The sky is the limit as to who you can get to advertise your swap. If you know one plant person, tell them. They are sure to know somebody else and so on and so forth. Just as a side note, don't be discouraged if your first or second swap isn't what you expect. My very first swap only had 7 people show up, the last Spring Swap I had, there was 75 people and some 800 plants swapped!.
There is a fine line as to too early and too late to start publicizing. Too early and people may forget. Too late and people do not have enough time to start cuttings, seeds or such. I always start about 8 weeks out. Then an occasional e-mail or blog posting just as a little reminder.
3) Have Fun.
If there are people there that can ID plants, that is a super bonus. I have tried to get people to tag their plants, but there are many that do not even know what they are growing. I get the, "My grandmother gave it to me and she didn't know" or the "it's green and has a pink flower". This is where all my Master Gardener friends come in handy.
If you think you will want to do this again, ask for e-mail address'. If the people that show up have fun, they will gladly give it to you for a chance to do it again.
And that really is all there is to it.
The flyers that you use can be as plain or as fancy as you want. Here is a sample of what I use:

Do you have extra Tomato plants?
Plant WAY too many Marigolds?
Looking to trade for something you don’t have?
September 25th, 10am set-up and browse....11am swap...immediately afterwards...LUNCH!
 This year we are having it at Park Circle in North Charleston, by the Gazebo. There are picnic tables, bathrooms and LOTS of room for kids to play and even more room for plants, parking and food.
Pretty much everybody in Charleston is familiar with Park Circle....there are numerous ways to get to it, depending on which way you are coming. If you want or need directions you can E-mail me at, I will get it and respond ASAP.
The way we swap will be the same... the basic Free For All. I will say go, everybody will grab ONE (1) plant and take it to their hiding area. After everybody has a plant, we repeat the process. Nice and Simple!
I always get asked, what should I bring? Basically, if it grows, it goes!! Shrubs, saplings, houseplants. I also encourage folks to bring garden art, chicken wire, no longer needed tools, garden hoses, pots...if it is garden related, it will go also.
We will have plates, napkins, silverware and such, Please bring your own drinks and food for as many as you can. We like to do a Pot Luck style picnic and encourage everybody to stick around and participate. The socializing afterwards is as much fun as the swap itself, please try to give yourself enough time to stay and enjoy yourself!

I would like to invite you to my swap on September 25th, 2010 at 10am. I hope to see LOTS of you holding plant swaps of your own in the near future. Please e-mail me if you have one, I would love to see how it goes. Any questions? I would love to help answer anything you might have, to make it a little easier for you.
Here are some pictures from my last swap:

Happy Growing! (and swapping)


  1. I wish I could attend! SC is a little more than my gas fund will allow for. I will be sure to send you some seeds though. My radicalis palms should have some berries ripening soon...

  2. Darren, I'm so envious right now...I want to come! Maybe Steve and I can meet half way and have our own plant swap?!?! I'm so glad you give tips on how to host's really a GREAT idea!