Plant Swap: a Free Food Resource

Along the same lines as the annual FREE Seed Swap hosted by ToledoGROWs, the annual Plant Swap encourages local gardeners to split their perennials and bring splits, cuttings, or even gardening paraphernalia (books, tools, etc) to trade.  And the fact that this is a great FREE resource for plant starts (which equals FREE FOOD) and tools for the job is something worth planning for.

Toledo Community Plant Swap |

Attending this swap has been the best way to build up my edible landscaping around our home.  Just looking around our property and counting all the swapped plants growing in our yard still amazes me.  I hope to pass the blessing (and knowledge) on to many more neighbors.  —

Just think how “easy” this practice could wipe out food desserts if everyone who owns property practiced edible landscaping!


Rhubarb along the eastern back wall is a nice hosta replacement.

This rhubarb came from the Toledo Plant Swap and has been flourishing in our clay soil with morning and early afternoon sun.  I love how well it creates a nice “ornamental” border bush.


I have “grand plans” to transplant our strawberries along the (future) back fence.  They make a great ground cover and netting is highly recommended to keep birds and other animals from getting the fruit before it ripens.



Chives are a staple I think every home should have.  Each year I try to dig up a small root bulb or two to share with the other Swappers.  Chives are a great garnish to any dish.  Simply snip green tips from the blades just before garnishing.  Plus the cute purple pom-pom flowers are cute and whimsical.

Chives |
These are separated chives from my father’s plant back at my old childhood home. I love that they require zero maintenance from me and continue to grow and flower every year.


To round out our edible landscaping, we started asparagus from seed (from the Seed Swap) at the first or second year in our little house and we’ll be cutting our first spears this spring!


Perennial herbs are very common at every annual plant swap – and a great way to start your kitchen garden for next to nothing!  Think about your favorites that you use daily to get a list going of what to look for.

Basil, Cilantro and Oregano are our favorites.  Basil and Cilantro is an annual so it has to be re-planted every year *but* I’ve learned that if I let it flower and go to seed at the end of the year, it will reseed itself!  Oregano is a perennial and comes back every year.


Raspberry cuttings have also been known to be up for grabs, but you have to be quick to get them.  I was able to snag one large root bulb a few years ago to establish our back black-raspberry patch.

However, it hasn’t produced as large of berries as the ones that grew around my parents’ house.  So I dug up about 5 root clumps from home and transplanted them after digging out the old “bulbs”.  We’ll see if they took this summer.

Raspberry patch |
My raspberries came from 2 starter canes – one from the Toledo Plant Swap, and the other from my childhood home where they grow wild along the perimeter of the property.


I haven’t been able to source blueberries from the swap, understandably, so to add them to our edible landscape I picked some up at our local Home Depot from the (organic!Peaceful Heritage Fruit Nursery in Kentucky for the south wall of our new addition.

So far blueberries have been my biggest challenge to establish.  Our soil is very clay-based so trying to acidify and amend the soil is a challenge.  I’m thinking this summer I might try burying newspaper pots in the ground to keep acidic soil around their root base for a time.

Blueberry plants |
My blueberry plants arrived 2 months before my safe last-frost date so I put them in pots to move them inside when freezing temps threaten.



Of course, the second-best part to getting our edible landscape established is to pass on the bounty and plant-starts to the next novice at the plant swap.

The last couple of years I’ve enjoyed more browsing + sharing my own cuttings when I attend and less of the hunt for specific plants.  Plus I always meet one or two new friends who impart some gardening or frugal living wisdom.  Yay for empowering and supportive community events!

If you don’t have a local seed or plant swap (Here is NW Ohio’s group), I suggest starting one in your community.  I give ideas on how to start one here.

How have you built your edible landscaping?  What are your favorite community resources that helped you achieve a life you love?  I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!  

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