January 29, 2012

Bartering for Bell Peppers

My first opportunity to get seeds for free dropped into my lap today during a discussion with a friend who's new to gardening.  She's an amazing mom of a one year old, and interested in starting a garden to grow fresh vegetables for her daughter, but has no experience gardening or time to tend her garden.  I have experience with this as a recipe for disaster, having left a tomato plant behind on her deck when we moved, and finding it waterlogged and dead when I returned a few months later.

In my mind the problem is not bad gardening skills, but that the container didn't fit her lifestyle--which is insanely busy, and has several priorities before the plants.  Containers need more attention than a regular garden, and this one was especially likely to get waterlogged and fill each time it rained.  So, I suggested a square foot garden along the fence that got the most sun, and explained that it was easily built without tilling the ground (which isn't an option), and to take advantage of the rainy spring.

I'm looking at one of these two seed packets.
She commented that she really wanted to grow bell peppers, but knew she couldn't grow them from seeds.  So, I offered to bring her seedlings when I return in mid March to visit.  She would buy the seeds for $1.50 from the store, and I would plant them for her, bring them to seedling state, and plant them in her garden for her.

The tradeoff was simple--I would get to keep some of the seedlings for my own garden. It makes sense really, we frequently have to thin out seedlings, and a single packet of seeds provides more seeds than the typical backyard gardener needs.  If I am careful how I plant the seeds, I can keep the ones that would normally be thinned out, and she can have as many as she needs.  It's a great idea for both of us because she'd pay a dollar or more for each seedling she'd have to buy if I weren't doing this, and she would have to plant them herself.

I didn't plan to plant bell peppers, but I know that I'll enjoy them once I have them.  One of the elements of this experiment is the need to be flexible, and this is an opportunity to do so.  I'm going to see if she has any other vegetables that she wants planted, since at this point it's more an issue of numbers than anything else.  I'm really excited to get started!

Specifically, I'm looking at the Ferry-Morse variety pack of bell peppers because they will give the most options, and I really like how well their seeds do.  They're $2 in the store, but Home Harvest Seeds has them for $1.19.  Depending on the shipping, that's a good deal.  If the shipping is prohibitive, they also sell Ferry-Morse at a ton of stores:  Lowe's, K-Mart, Walmart, the Exchange at Langley, Home Depot, and Roses.  Of those, I suspect I'll get the best deal at Roses because it's a regional discount store where I've found good gardening deals before.  We'll see.

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