Monday, January 16, 2006

Getting Ready for Seed Exchanges

The dead of winter is a great time to begin preparing for next summers seed exchanges. As long as we are looking at seed catalogs and dreaming, we might as well start making our own lists. While cruising the seed catalogs keep your eye out, not only for what you want, but for what they are selling that you already have. You might be pleased to find that some of the things you think of as weeds are considered valuable as herbs, edibles, or wild flowers.

Those plentiful weeds in your yard, may be rare and sought after in another region. You may be surpised, but many of these volunteer plants may actually have trade value. Here is a great catalog to check out: You will probably find many of your common weeds listed here. Richters catalog reads like an herb encyclopeadia. It is also rich with color pictures. You can request a catalog be sent to you at their link above. And who knows, you may find a few things in there that you can’t live without.

If you are not sure of the identification of any of your plants, you can try taking samples to your local nursery. You can also look in the phone book under “UC Co-operative Agriculture Extension” (in your county listings) and let them know you have some plants you want to identify. They will let you know if they have someone available to help you. They often sponsor Master Gardner plant clinics, and if so, this will be a good place to find knowledgeable folks to answer your questions.

When making your list of seeds available for trade, you can include any vegetables, flowers, herbs, and usefull weeds you have growing. You can also include the leftover unused seed from packets that you have purchased. Most people will want to know if the seed is saved or commercial, and it’s date. For saved seed, people usually use the date it was collected. For purchased seed use the date printed on the package, or your best guess if the package is undated.

You may want to check out some other seed trade lists before you compose your own, just to get an idea of the type of formats people use. At the bottom of this post you will find three links to yahoo garden groups where folks arrange plant exchanges. Check the files section on the group called “seedswapworldwide” and “thegardenseedexchange,” you will find some trade and seed lists posted. If you know of other sites for people to check out, please post the link in the comments section.

Another site you will want to check out is “The Seed Site.” They have information on seeds and seed pods, harvesting seed – which includes information on trading, and so much more. Spend some time surfing this site, you will be glad you did. And you will probably find yourself going back again and again to answer questions not addressed anywhere else.
Once you get your list and seeds organized it is time to find some folks to trade with. Below you will find some friendly groups that love to trade seeds. If you know of other groups or websites for trading seeds, or have any questions, please feel free to post links in the comments section.

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