Winter Sowing Seed Exchange ~ Suggestions for New Traders

trudi_d

Seed trading is a wonderful hobby. It's an excellent way to acquire new garden seeds at a very economical cost, and friendhips between traders are always rewarding. Seed trading can help you fill your seed box quickly with many different seeds, and your garden will be more beautiful than you can imagine because of all the new and exciting varieties you germinate and grow from those seeds.

==========================================
How do I start trading?

You need to post that you have seeds available to trade. In your post you list your seeds or you ask people to look at your trade list on your GardenWeb member page. You may also add your "wish list" to your post, or add any special information that you would like your traders to know when they trade with you.

======================================

How do I do it?

By trading your own seeds!

You collect ripe seeds from your own garden, dry them, and remove the chaff if possible...some chaff defies removal.

(For general information on how to save your own garden seeds please read the Seed Saving Forum FAQs, there's a lot of good info there and it's simply explained. Seed Saving is very easy to do.

===========================================

Package the seeds into seperate labeled packets, and then offer them to trade. The suggested GardenWeb minimum seed count per packet is 24 seeds (two dozen). Some seeds are very rare, or are difficult to collect, or are weighty and costly to mail and because of these reasons you may wish to put less than 24 seeds into a packet. ALWAYS put this information in your very first post when you offer an "under-count" package of seeds. This way there's no "hard feelings" later on, if a trader knows exactly what they're trading for they will be content with their trade.

Offer your seeds for trading only after they're made into packets. If you know how many packets of seeds you have to offer you can't "over-trade" them (arranging to trade more packs of seeds than you actually have made). Over-trading is one of the most frequent mistakes that new traders make! It is a major hassle to email someone and cancel a trade. Keep track of your seed packet count to eliminate this pitfall.

Someone will ask to trade for your seeds, they'll suggest choices of their seeds to you (or maybe they'll ask you to look at their seed exchange list located on their GardenWeb member page).

You tell them what you want to trade for and what you will send them in return. In you emails be very exact about what the trade is....haziness makes for confusion. Here's an example:

I will send you these seeds:

Crackerjack Marigolds Black-eyed Susans Blue Cornflowers Soldier Beans (12 seeds)

In exchange you will send me:

Pink Hardy Hibiscus Pony Tails Grass Morning Glory mix Balsam Impatiens mix

(Notice that this is an even trade....four for four. Be a polite trader please. Don't ask to trade three packs of your seeds for seven packs of the other trader's seeds...that's greedy and rude. Seed traders are friendly, encouraging, and often quite generous.)

Then you exchange addresses. If you can give a zip+four that's great....those extra four numbers help your trade go through the mail very fast.

You print a copy of the trade for your records, or save it into a notebook. It's YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to keep track of who you are trading with.

An easy way to do this is to printout the address correspondence and write on it the day you mailed out your envelope. Save your correspondence in a brightly colored pocket folder. Keep it by your computer and never walk it out of the room!!! If you don't have a printer you can keep track of your trades by writing down the info in a spiral notbook. Use one sheet per trade/sase. Write down the email of the person you're mailing to, what was sent and what is expected in return, and write down the day it was sent. An excellent suggestion is to put a piece of long ribbon through a ring-hole in the spiral binder and TIE IT TO THE COMPUTER TABLE so it can't disappear. When the seeds come in you can look up right away who they're from and send a THANK YOU via email. Then draw a line through the page to indicate that it has been completed....now you're done!

I save my "address" emails to a folder in my inbox that I've created called "seed trades". When the seeds come in, I pull up the corresponding letter, and I hit the "respond button" and I say, "thanks, I got the seeds!". Once you say THANK YOU your responsibility is done....all GOOD TRADERS acknowledge the reciept of the other trader's seeds and say thank you. You can then delete the email or move it to another folder called "completed trades".

After exchanging addresses you can mail your seeds. The seed packs are carefully wrapped with bubblewrap and placed in an envelope or you can use a padded mailer to send them. You need to cushion them in fat packaging so they don't go through the PO's automatic mail sorting machines. Always make sure that your email address is included with the seeds. If the trade needs to contact you later on the email address is right there for them to use. The post offive will charge a bit more for mailing a fat letter, it is because the letter gets out-sorted into "hand-mail". It's too fat to go through their high-speed mail sorters. The width should always be over a 1/4" thick to keep a letter out of the mail-sorters because these high speed machines will crush the seeds to powder. Bummer.

It's courteous to let your trader know when their seeds will be on the way. If you've promised to mail on Monday, but something happened to delay that then email the trader to let them know when the seeds will be mailed...and keep that date!

When the other trader's seed arrive look at your saved correspondence about the trade. Open the envelope and check to see that everything is just as promised. If there's a minor glitch (perhaps the wrong seeds were sent or something wasn't included) then when you email your trader to say "thanks for trading" let them know of anything that was amiss. PLEASE do this in a friendly and cordial manner, sometimes we all can get distracted by real life when we're packing our seeds to mail. Keep the the tone friendly, encouraging, and light, and suggest to the trader that on your next trade they can include the forgotten pack of marigolds. Keep everything in perspective...we're just trading seeds....not maseratis or stocks and bonds.

Once you've said a "Thank You for Trading" you're done with the trade. Store your seeds where they'll be safe and dry until you sow them, and dream and plan for your new garden and future trades.

=====================================

Can you show us an example of a good trade post?

Okay.....Let's pretend that "Gardener_Jane" has made a post that she has seeds to offer for trade. The following is her post:

Here's my list! All these seeds came from plants that were winter sown or reseeded in my garden. They are all hardy, beautiful, and easy to grow.

Perennials

Aquilegia (columbine, grape colored flowers) Aquilegia mix (columbines, nice selection from my garden) Asclepias Incarnata (swamp milkweed, pink flowers, will grow in dry dirt) Campanula Latifolia (mountain bells, purple flowers) Campanula Medium (cnaterbury bells...nice mix) Coreopsis Mix (1'-2' mix of strong golden flowers) Hibiscus Militaris (halberd leaved marshmallow) Inula Helenium (inula) Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry' (fountain grass "black moudry") Tanacetum Parthenium (feverfew) Tanacetum Vulgare (common tansy) Vernonia Gigantea (giant ironweed)

Annuals

Cerise Celosia (celosia...candle type, cherry pink flowers) Cosmos Sulphureus (bright lights cosmos) Daneborg Lace poppy (papaver somniferum, red and white flowers) Morning Glories (lavender) Nicandra Physaloides (aka shoo fly, apple of peru, black pod) Nicotiana Rustica (aztec tobacco, greeny-yellow flowers) Nigella (blue flowers, nice for drying...weird pods!)

Veggies and Herbs

Italian Parsley Bok Choy Ruby Beets Bright Lights Swiss Chard Soldier Beans (12 seeds per pack)

I'm looking to trade for other flower varieties I can Winter Sow in my zone seven garden. I am also interested in growing oriental veggies, ornamental grasses, and roses from seeds.

I usually mail seeds out within 48 to 72 hours after making a trade, and I send my seeds protected with bubblewrap. I'd like you to do the same for me please. If you need to make other arrangements all it takes is an email...I'm very flexible.

Thanks for looking at my list!

Gardener_Jane

=============================

Great post Jane ;-) Let's break it down:

"Here's my list! All these seeds came from plants that were winter sown or reseeded in my garden. They are all hardy, beautiful, and easy to grow."

Jane gives some vital introductory information. Her seeds are hardy for winter sowing, and she says they're lovely and easy to grow.

-----------

The list:

Perennials

Aquilegia (columbine, grape colored flowers) Aquilegia mix (columbines, nice selection from my garden) Asclepias Incarnata (swamp milkweed, pink flowers, will grow in dry dirt) Campanula Latifolia (mountain bells, purple flowers) Campanula Medium (cnaterbury bells...nice mix) Coreopsis Mix (1'-2' mix of strong golden flowers) Hibiscus Militaris (halberd leaved marshmallow) Inula Helenium (inula) Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Moudry' (fountain grass "black moudry") Tanacetum Parthenium (feverfew) Tanacetum Vulgare (common tansy) Vernonia Gigantea (giant ironweed)

Annuals

Cerise Celosia (celosia...candle type, cherry pink flowers) Cosmos Sulphureus (bright lights cosmos) Daneborg Lace poppy (papaver somniferum, red and white flowers) Morning Glories (lavender) Nicandra Physaloides (aka shoo fly, apple of peru, black pod) Nicotiana Rustica (aztec tobacco, greeny-yellow flowers) Nigella (blue flowers, nice for drying...weird pods!)

Veggies and Herbs

Italian Parsley Bok Choy Ruby Beets Bright Lights Swiss Chard Soldier Beans (12 seeds per pack)

Janes list is organized well, it's in ABC order, and she's included both the common and botanical names of the plants.

--------------------------------

"Soldier Beans (12 seeds per pack)"

Jane lets us know that this seed pack contains just a dozen seeds because the count is under the GardenWeb suggested miniumum seedpack amount of 24 (two dozen) seeds.

-----------------------------

"I'm looking to trade for other flower varieties I can Winter Sow in my zone seven garden. I am also interested in growing oriental veggies, ornamental grasses, and roses from seeds."

Jane has suggested what she would like to trade for. She does NOT state that she is ONLY LOOKING FOR THOSE SEEDS so she may be open to other suggestions....you can still initiate a trade even if you don't have what she's looking for and she'll either say yes or no. Never take a trade decline personally. Jane may have a small garden so she only has room for her favorites.

-----------------------------

"I usually mail seeds out within 48 to 72 hours after making a trade, and I send my seeds protected with bubblewrap. I'd like you to do the same for me please. If you need to make other arrangements all it takes is an email...I'm very flexible."

Jane is letting us know what she does and what she expects.
--------------

"Thanks for looking at my list!"

Okay....Jane is friendly and she seems to know how to trade. Initiating a trade with Jane will be a good trade experience.

===========================================

I don't know the botanical names of my seeds, what should I do?

Just make a well described list, that's all.

Blue Bachelor Buttons Pink Cosmos Black-eyed Susans 3'annual plant with pink trumpet flowers, likes sun, pretty!
Yummy Canteloupes from my Dad's garden Bush Tomato, meaty, sweet, not too acid

That's a nice list!
===================== =====================

I see some traders offering seeds for SASE. What's a SASE?

A SASE, for those who might not know, is a

S - Self A - Addressed S - Stamped E - Envelope

You put your own address in the "to" position and the seed sharer's address in the "from" position. The sharer will tell you how much postage is needed. Don't worry if you don't have the exact amount because the stamps you have on hand value a few pennies more. The post office is always delighted to have another nickel ;-) And for 5 cents or so you don't have the hassle of delaying sending out the SASE. Always try to mail SASEs quickly. The sharer is waiting for it to arrive.

Whenever someone offers seeds for SASE you email them for the details....no SASE offer is ever the same....and I don't just mean that the seeds are different. What I mean is that everyone who shares their seeds has their own style, and whatever the seed provider suggests is what you should do.

There are some standard things that you should always do with a SASE offer.

Always write the name of the seeds you are requesting and your email address on the inside of the SASE flap...DON'T seal it! (I've done that a few times, lol.) When the person who shares their seeds gets your SASE s/he will see the list written on the inside flap and know what to put in. The folks who share their seeds do enough work, they shouldn't have to also look up the correspondence to figure out what to put in the envelope.

Some seed sharers will ask that you include a piece of bubblewrap, or they'll ask you to use a padded mailer, or they may have the bubblewrap on hand and you don't have to provide it.... or whatever else. There's a lot of differences between traders so their will be lots of differences in the way they share their seeds. Always follow their instructions and provide your email address with the list of seeds you're requesting and you'll get your envelope returned quickly to you.

------------------------

Seed Trading is fun and very easy to do. Please check this FAQ again in the future, I will be editing it and adding more info as I can.

The emphasis for the FAQ will always to be making seed trading more fun, more encouraging, and as ALWAYS, with everything associated with Winter Sowing, it should always be EASY TO DO!!!!

Good luck with your trades!

Trudi Davidoff

SaveCommentLike
Comments
Browse Gardening and Landscaping Stories on Houzz See all Stories
Regional Garden Guides Your Garden Is Stirring — Here’s What to Do in February
February is a good time to start seeds, shape up shrubs and watch for the earliest blooms. Here’s what to do in your part of the U.S. now
Full Story
Gardening Guides Exuberant Self-Seeders for Gorgeous, Easy-Care Gardens
Keep weeds down, color high and maintenance low with beautful plants that sow themselves
Full Story
Regional Garden Guides New Year, New Landscape — What to Do in Your January Garden
Whether you've resolved to make over your garden or just enjoy it more, these tasks can help
Full Story