Friday, January 9, 2015

How to Prepare for Attending a Seed Swap

Here are a few tips for getting prepared for attending a Seed Swap:

~ Be sure to register ASAP for the swap you want to attend. Space may be limited and some swaps fill fast. 

~ You can bring unused seeds from purchased packs or seeds you gathered from your own garden. Carefully pack and label your seeds as best you can. The more information you can provide, the better.

~ Each seed pack should have a "useable" amount of seed. Use your best judgement. For some plants, like zinnias you might include 20-30 seeds per packet and for others, like tomatoes, you would only need to put in 10 or seeds in a pack. If in doubt, err on the generous side as you can always break up a pack amongst swappers later.

~ Did you know you can make your own seed packs? Get great free downloadable templates are here:

~ Please do NOT bring large quantities of seed in one bag. Seed swap organizers and volunteers are over-whelmed at the check-in tables already. Please break them up into smaller quantity packs ahead of time or we will not be able to put them out.
~ The definition of "seeds" is usually very broad so yes, you can bring bulbs, tubers, corms, acorns, etc. to the swap. They should be bagged and labeled just like smaller seeds.

~ Older seeds are fine as long as they were stored properly, if you can test for viability that would be great. Here is how to test for seed viability. (The exceptions are lettuce, onions, and impatiens seeds, which should all be less than a year old.)
~ Store seeds for swapping in a dark, cool (not freezing) spot away from any moisture. Glass jars are the ideal storage vehicle.

~ Make a list of your seed “wants” in advance.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the day and forget the basics that you came for or the rarities that you had been seeking.
~ Bring extra note paper and a pen/pencil as you will learn so much from others' at the swap and want to take lots of notes.
~ Bring extra seed bags and labels in case you want to swap directly with someone and need to break up a packet to share with them. 

~ Most seed swaps will have generic blank name tags -- but we ask participants to be creative and make their own tags or if you have your own name tag from work or another event, by all means bring it. (Some swaps will do prizes for the most creative name tags :-). We are trying to make these event green and eco-friendly.

~ If the seed swap gives out goody bags, when you get your bag at check-in, please make sure to label it with your name -- all the bags will likely look alike and can get easily mixed up. 

~ Bringing a few sheets of those personalized address labels you get with charity mailings will come in handy for this and for labeling your seed packets, giving out your contact information to fellow gardeners, etc.

~ If you are bringing seed catalogs for a give-away table, be sure to rip off the address labels and tear out any order insert with your personal information on it. Some swaps also welcome gardening books and magazines for swapping, so feel free to bring those too.

~  Most swaps screen incoming seeds and reject any GMO seeds and do not accept any seeds from invasive plants listings. See the listing at: for a start, your region's invasives list may vary. Check with your location state extension office, if in doubt about a plant's invasive status.
~ Most of all, have fun! 
Got more tips for seed swapping? Please share in the comments below.

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