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Our rules are simple: You don’t have to bring a plant, but everyone must take at least one plant away.
The baby tomato plants that Melissa and I started from seed last month are always a highlight of the spring swap. Since seed packets usually contain about 30 seeds, there are plenty of plants to share.
This spring my sister brought flats of her beautifully tended flower seedlings all the way from Virginia–another highlight.
One tip: Make sure you have lots of labeling materials on hand. We used scissors to cut up plastic 4- packs. Popsicle sticks from the craft store, sharpies and wine box dividers were great for marking plants.
The rest was easy- It’s a perfect time to share your garden–great weather and lots of flowers.
What would you bring to a plant swap?
- Invite gardeners of all skill levels including children. Plant swaps are a great way to share the love and foster new gardeners.
- Swap plants should have their own area–away from any plants you’re keeping for yourself. Consider dividing the area by sun and shade plants and making quick and easy signs.
- Make sure all plants are labeled. We provided popsicle sticks and lots of sharpie markers.
- Put out a couple of easy reference books so your guests can find out more about plants they might not know. I like Pam Beck and Laura Peter’s Best Garden Plants for NC and Steve Bender and Felder Rushing’s Passalong Plants.
- Share the work. I told guests to bring their own trowels and pots. I made a list of plants that could be dug up, like the Helleborus, showed them patches and let them go.
- Finally, give some care instructions. Melissa and I both gave away a lot tomato seedlings so we gave out sheets about how to take care of the plants. Here’s a copy, plus some of the primo plants that were shared at our swap.
“It is a sin to live in the South and not grow tomatoes,” anonymous wise person
Tips for taking care of your Tomato—
- Tomatoes like full sun and lots of food and water. I use a time released fertilizer called Osmoscote and any brand of lime, mixing a handful of each into the planting hole.
- Plant your tomato deeply. You can strip off lower leaves and place so that just the top few inches of the plant stick out of the soil. Roots will form along the stem and make a stronger plant. (Note: Do NOT treat any other plants this way—most hate having their feet wet)
- Tomatoes do NOT like to grow in the same soil year after year. This can create soil borne viruses which might wipe out your crop. Try to rotate the plants around your garden—hard if you don’t have a lot of sun. Planting in pots is another option. Just make sure the pot is large enough for the plant. Bigger is better.
- If using a pot with one of the planting mixes that feed up to three months, like Miracle Grow, don’t add any additional fertilizer, but do add the lime. And if the pot is black plastic, consider insulating your tomato plant’s roots by wrapping the inside of the pot with bubble wrap or black news paper. Black can get awfully hot in our Southern summers.
All that said, have fun with it. Tomatoes love the south, esp. the cherry varieties. It’s hard to go wrong.