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Published: Wednesday, 4/29/2009

Toledo-area gardeners can share at free exchange


The economy has never been better for the free Perennial Exchange, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday in South Toledo.

Flowers, vegetable and herb starts, Ohio native plants, seeds, and gardening paraphernalia will be given away at the rain-or-shine event that s grown steadily for five years. Gardeners bring items to share and receive tickets to exchange for other goods. New gardeners with nothing to share will also receive tickets.

Plants can be dropped off between 8 and 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the Original Sub Shop, 402 Broadway, near the Amtrak station.

At 9:15 a.m., a free workshop, Edible Landscaping, will be given inside the shop.

Edible landscaping only makes sense, says Karen Wood, workshop presenter. It not only looks good, but you can eat it too.

She recently completed the intensive nine-week Master Gardener course offered by the Ohio State University extension service s Lucas County chapter.

The biggest bang for your buck is growing things you love, says Wood. I love eggplant and cukes.

Veggies need sun, and if your best light is in the front yard, you can unobtrusively tuck varieties around bushes and flowers, in the ground and in large pots. A trailing vine such as ornamental sweet potato or vinca would add flourish to a large pot with a pepper or tomato, she notes.

Consider the height a plant will grow to, along with the height of the surrounding plants when deciding on placement. You don t want a taller plant shading it, nor do you want a full-grown vegetable to block flowers that may bloom in late summer or fall.

Gardeners who have grown only flowers can easily expand their repertoire by planting herbs they cook with; onions and chives that zest up soups, potatoes, and salads; lettuces in shades ranging from yellow-green to dark red. Nutritious kale is an attractive frilled plant, that also comes in a blue-gray shade. Swiss chard varieties are green, red, and yellow-stemmed.

Several condominium associations and gated communities are changing their rules to allow vegetable gardening, Wood notes. Other than rows of corn, there s little that can t be worked into almost any landscape in an aesthetically pleasing way, she says. The rabbits would probably notice before the neighbors would.

Saturday, people should bring noninvasive plants that are labeled and free of weeds. Also accepted are good-quality garden tools, books, fencing, and decorative items.

The event was started by gardeners to share their bounty. It occurs on the first Saturday of May and October.

Toledo Grows, the outreach program of Toledo Botanical Garden, will distribute greenhouse starts and seeds. The Toledo Chapter of Wild Ones, a group promoting the use of native plants, will have a table. And experienced gardeners will be available to answer questions.

Information: 419-243-4857.

Contact Tahree Lane at:tlane@theblade.comor 419-724-6075.

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