Call it gardener's guilt: That strange sense of unease gardeners feel when they have extra plants and supplies but not enough land to use them -- and so away they go to the trash bin or the composter. PlantCatching.com is changing that. The site matches people with extra seeds, plants and supplies to other gardeners in the area who can use them.
Canadian gardener Nicolas Cadilhac started the plant-swapping site in April after spending "a lot of money to buy earth, compost, bulbs and perennials at the nursery," he said. "There were a lot of errors, dead plants, re-buys, compulsive buys. My neighbors had the same problem."
Through PlantCatching, gardeners with surplus items can post them through the "give" link at the top of the home page. That brings up a form requesting the giver's email, as well as plant name, color, location and other details. The donated item is marked as public, semi-private or private, depending on whether it's available in a public space for anyone to take, on private property or by contact with the donor. For public donations, PlantCatching has a label that can be filled out online, printed and attached to the item, encouraging more people to join the plant-swapping community, similar to the book crossing phenomenon of a few years ago.
Gardeners who are interested in acquiring donations can search the site based on location. The search starts with a one-mile radius and can expand to 10 or 20 miles. More than 300 donations have been made through the site so far by 175 gardeners, most of them in Montreal, Cadilhac said. The donations have included seeds, seedlings, compost, rocks, sand -- even a reclining chair. Fruit and vegetable harvests also can be donated.
Typing in my L.A. ZIP Code, I found no local donations. But the site has a system called "Seed your city" that is intended to spawn local participation by prompting gardeners to post fliers, use public media and "release" plants in public places with labels that direct passersby to PlantCatching.com.