Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Swapping knowledge (and plants)

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten Updated: May 20, 2013 - 7:58 AM

A stormy Saturday morning didn't deter the hard-core gardeners who turned out for our Greengirls plant swap. Despite the dark clouds, the mood was light: Yes, gardeners were in their element.

I'm a casual gardener, but have high hopes of some day being one of those hard-core g

There were plenty of plants at the Greengirls plant swap!

There were plenty of plants at the Greengirls plant swap!

ardeners. And what better way to soak up knowledge than to surround myself with it? Enter the plant swap, where a couple of dozen gardeners came with everything from daylillies, hostas and ferns to impressive tomato plants, chives and flats of purple mountain spinach -- and umbrellas. There were deals being made, questions being asked and answered and plenty of commiserating about not only the day's weather but the crazy spring that has left most of us behind in the garden. It was inspiring.

I left the plant swap drenched and cold (note to self: wear rubber boots next year), but full of fresh ideas and motivation. I spent time online looking at garden plans, and reading -- with interest! -- the Farmer's Almanac site. As the day went on, my imaginary gardens grew bigger and bigger. The cutting garden was full of daisies, my favorite flower, and my vegetable garden would not only feed my family, but my friends and neighbors, too. My yard was looking amazing.

Then I stumbled onto this bit of advice from the Farmer's Almanac: It's better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated by a big one.

And that advice came at the perfect time -- before the digging started. I've now decided to grow in phases. I'll add space for a few more vegetables this year, while staking out places for the perennial garden I'll add this fall. I'll chip away at things over the summer and fall to better prepare myself for next year's gardening season. And then, when I attend the Greengirls plant swap, not only will I know what I need for my gardens, I may even have plants -- or stories -- to swap.

How have you dealt with garden expansion? I'd love to hear your successes and tips.

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