I’m not talking about the usual ways to get free plants. We all know to swap seeds and things like that. I’m talking about devious gardening here. Not theft, although in some cases, it comes close. Want to know how some gardeners get their vast collections of plants? If you promise not to judge, I’ll let you in on some of my more devious secrets.
First of all, we ask for them. We gardeners are mostly non-materialistic. When birthdays come around, we don’t have a lot of requests. Unless, of course, we’ve been doing this a while. Plants, bulbs and seeds don’t come cheaply when you’re planning a large garden. That’s why gardeners should always request them as holiday gifts, no matter the holiday. Be specific. Tell them what you really want. You want stuff to fill your garden with. It’s a no brainer.
We steal seeds. Oh, we’ll never go to jail for it. It’s not that kind of stealing. Watch us, though, when we visit the park or any other place where flowers grow. It might even be in your garden. If there are plants gone to seed anywhere in our vicinity, we’ll find them. We will steal your seeds right in front of you and without reservation. After all, you weren’t going to use them, were you? They were destined to blow away in the wind. Don’t worry, we’ll put them to good use.
How to steal seeds:
*Some seeds are prominently displayed in a dried pod at the top of the plant. (Picture milkweed pods and you’ll get the idea.) A light tug will displace the pod. Drop it in your pocket or a handy collection container to bring home. Sometimes the pod is the seed. Sometimes the pod contains hundreds of seeds. Sometimes, there’s just a few. It all depends on the plant.
*Most flower blossoms have seeds in the center. (Think sunflowers, marigolds and poppies) Just pop off a blossom or two to dry at home.
*Most herbs shoot an extra stem up with a blossom on the end. That blossom contains seeds for re-planting.
*As for veggies, you’ll have to cut them open to steal the seeds. They may not grow if the vegetable you harvest them from is a hybrid. Heirloom vegetables produce optimum seed for re-planting.
We know landscapers throw things away. Better yet, we know landscapers personally. We whisper in their ears quite frequently. We get to know them. We talk to them about common interests. We let them know we’ll take any and all unwanted leftovers off their hands. We’ll dig them up, pick them up, load them up and haul them away. All it takes is one phone call to make their job a piece of cake. We gardeners have the scoop and the cherry on top when it comes to finding discarded plants.
We will dumpster dive for plants. I’ve found plants in the dumpster at several major box store retailers. After Mother’s Day, I even found mums in a convenience store dumpster. I also watch for carts of plant discards at home improvement stores. Sometimes all those wilted plants need is a drink and some TLC. Most of the time, if you ask nicely, the employees will give discard plants to you at no charge. It feels like stealing, but it’s not. Winning!
Some sneaky gardeners steal fruit or floral cuttings to graft onto their own trees and shrubs. I’m not all that experienced at grafting. I have been known to try. In fact, my next project is to graft a few different varieties onto the apple tree in my yard. I’m not particularly fond of those apples. Maybe I could come up with a new type. Yes, gardeners are sneaky about getting plants. Who knows what we’ll think of next?
More from Jaipi:
Seed Starting Savvy: Five Quick Easy Tips and Tricks
Five Reasons Seeds Are Better Than Seedlings
Recipes for Organic Pesticides and Fertilizer