If you’re new to the gardening game you may not know that there are groups out there that organize events known amongst the gardening community as a “Seed Swap.” These range from small affairs held locally to entire nonprofit organizations that facilitate the exchanging of seeds. One such example is the Seed Saver’s Exchange (www.seedsavers.org) which allows you to list your available seeds on their website as well as shop for specific cultivars offered by other swappers.
If you don’t have a local group that organizes this sort of thing and you want to exchange your seeds for a mystery assortment of other seed packs, there are some small online – just for fun – seed swaps that you can participate in. The basic idea is this, you save seeds from heirloom plants (open pollinated, not hybrids) that you have grown in your garden and sign up for an exchange event. Typically online groups will give you requirements such as how many seeds you should include in each pack and how many packs you must provide. Then you pack up your seeds, add an informative label, and mail them in. The organizer will then redistribute the seed packs that they receive. Example: If the organizer asks you to submit 40 packs of seeds, you will receive 40 different packs in return, from the other participants. IT’S LIKE CHRISTMAS!!! You send in seeds that you otherwise would not use (perhaps you have too many or they are a part of the fruit/veggie that you don’t eat) and you get new seeds in return. PLUS each packet is a surprise, they could be anything! AKA AWESOME!! Think of it this way; it is incentive to try new crops, new recipes, and there is a chance that you’ll end up with a variety that thrives in your gardening environment. Or, better yet, some rare varieties that you would not otherwise find in stores. WIN. WIN. Worst case scenario, you end up with a different type of seed that you don’t plan to use, so you gift them to a friend.
One potential downfall of seed swapping events is that, in many cases, you get very little information about growth requirements (i.e. germination rates and times, size, days to maturity, sun requirements, etc.). If you choose to participate in a seed swap be a good sport and provide as much information about your seeds as possible. Hopefully others will do the same.
This season, I’ve decided to participate in swaps with the two sites listed below. SeedMail requested 80 packets from each participant (registration for this year is now closed, keep an eye out next August) while the Super Duper Seed Swap only requires 20. Super Duper also holds multiple swap events throughout the year; fall registration opens October 1st.
If you’re looking to spice things up a bit and try some new fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers then I highly recommend you consider a seed swap. It will be an adventure, with a lot of unknowns and no guarantees, but that is what makes it so exciting. Cheers, friends!