Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Growing Your Garden With Seed Swaps

lilacIf you have a tight garden budget and can't always buy what you want, seed swapping is a great way to expand your plants on the cheap. There are a number of gardening forums that allow seed swaps, generally its as easy as a private message, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE), and you swap seeds for your new seeds. Saving seed from your garden is not only a way to propagate your own plants but trade on what you have, all for the cost of a few stamps.

I ventured into the seed swap section of a gardening forum I visit often and was not only surprised at the ease of the set-up for seed swapping, but that there were a number of gardeners who will give excess seeds and yes, even bulbs, away for free as long as you send a SASE or pay for shipping costs. In my case there were lilac seeds coming available for free in both purple and white. I love everything about lilacs. We had three purple lilacs in Petaluma but there is only one small lilac here at our Eureka home. I've never had a white lilac and thought it would be dandy to grow my own from seed. I let the gardener know I'd be thrilled to receive any color lilac seeds he had available.

I also learned about some Italian Arum bulbs being given away by another gardener, which means paying postage for the package. I haven't heard back yet and it was a few weeks old post so I'm hoping there are still some available. I had a few Italian Arum bulbs in my garden in Petaluma, always loved the leaves and the red berries afterwards. I tried digging up the arum and a Jack-in-the-Pulpit that had beautiful leaves and a dark reddish/brown sphere that came up from the leaves in early spring, unfortunately I could not dig deep enough to get to the bulbs. Very disappointing, especially concerning the Jack-in-the-Pulpit bulb, which would be costly to replace.

I am hoping there are some Italian Arum bulbs still available since it sounded like there were loads of them to give away a few weeks ago. I have a huge amount of Orange Montbretia/Crocosmia bulbs in my garden that were here before I moved in, they are mostly unwanted, although a section in the front yard looks nice every summer. I had the same problem with these bulbs in Petaluma, they spread rapidly and tend to take over the yard. I'm sure some gardeners love them but I find them problematic. Perhaps I can offer some of these bulbs to other gardeners at the forums. I plan on checking into the gardening forum more often to see if there are freebie seeds and bulbs available, and will start saving some seed from my garden for future seed swaps.

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