Site Talk forum: Ideas for new seed swap system.

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Name: Morgan
IL (Zone 5b)
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molanic
Dec 29, 2015 4:48 PM CST
I know the feature is brand new to the site, and so am I. Smiling Everyone has been very helpful teaching us newbies all about it. While using the swap system I had some thoughts and I hope this is an ok place for ideas and suggestions, and not out of line.

I think having sorting options for the main swap list would be very helpful. I know someone had already mentioned being able to choose between sorting on common or scientific name, which would be great. If that is not possible perhaps just sorting on scientific name like the plant lists are, for the simple reason that it will keep like items together. Things without scientific names that are not linked to the database could just be at the top.

I also think it would be helpful to be able to sort based on when the item was added as well. Presumably each entry already has a time stamp since it is used in the events list. Or maybe even just have the plant names in the events list link to the plant database like they do in the swap list. Either way would make it easier to find out more about new additions to the swap.

I'm really enjoying all that is available on the site so far, it's some pretty cool stuff. Hurray!
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Horntoad
Dec 29, 2015 5:49 PM CST
The problem with name sorting is that there is no consistent entry format. Some entries are linked to the database while some are not. Some only have botanical names others only common some both. So trying to get the system to recognize and sort would be difficult if not impossible. You can't force members to link to the database because they don't always know exactly what they have. Some only know the genus, or only common name. Some plants aren't even in the database like daylily crosses that the member made themselves. If you are just looking for new additions to the swap then use the recent events link, everything in that list is by time of entry, with the most recent at the top.
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[Last edited by Horntoad - Dec 29, 2015 10:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 29, 2015 5:56 PM CST
Each person can create their own list any way it makes them happy but using only common names can be very confusing; the names may be regional and not recognized by folks in other parts of the country (or the world). It's always best to include the botanical name, or at least the genus if that's all that is known, whether first or second so folks know what they are getting in the swap.

Using the names that are in our database will help others to find the data needed such as zone hardiness, height, plus photos, etc. and may result in a better swap result.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Dec 29, 2015 9:38 PM CST
Although we did have a lot of discussion about being able to sort by name, this turned out to be not much of an issue for me in the beta swap. Go through the list before the swap starts and "star" the things you're really interested in -- I used a system where I gave 5 stars to 5 items, 4 stars to 5 items, etc., so that I initially had 25 things "starred." I figured if I got 25 packs of seed it would be well worth my mailing costs. After things got going, I marked (and picked) more things...

There is also a "recent events" feature that you can follow to see when new things are added, which I thought was helpful.

I do agree wholeheartedly that whenever possible, linking the list entries to the database makes things much easier, especially with plants that a person isn't familiar with.
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Dec 30, 2015 10:14 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Lots of good advice above.

On the sorting issue, it is definitely an issue that is high on my priority list. It's not nearly as simple of a thing as you might think but eventually I'll get it all worked out.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 4, 2016 7:33 PM CST
When I type a name manually into the swap list, I try to make it START the same way that similar plant database names start (so they alphabetize together).

For example, "Hot peppers" under "H", not Peppers or Capsicum.

Where the database uses non-adjacent naming, I try to pick one naming format and use it as much as possible:

Chard vs. Swiss Chard
Lettuce vs. Butterhead lettuce.

>> I think having sorting options for the main swap list would be very helpful.

I agree!

Or it would be nice to have the "search" feature available in every list.

I think that "swap name search" finds any words in any order in the name. (And maybe even synonyms from the plant database alternate names?) Searching for "tomato" does seem to find all tomatoes, even if some were listed as Cherry Tomato (under "C" instead of "T").

(Of course, it would probably also find a Salvia named "Red Hot Tomatoes".)

At least, if you search a list using the "swap name search", it finds them all and tells how the list alphabetized each of them. For example, searching for "chard" would find both "Chard" and "Swiss Chard" (and, if there are any, "Rainbow Chard"). Then you know the main places to look first in any alpha list.

I often wish that my main swap list had the "search term" name-search feature, so that every time I add a plant to my swap list, I could check whether or not it is already in that list without checking three different regions of my Swap list for two or more synonyms (6 or 9 locations).

Very frequently, I want to add something to my main swap list, so first I search for it the only way I know how - by scrolling through my entire swap list. Often I miss it, add it, and then figure out days later that an item might have been entered twice, probably making it look like I have twice as many available to trade as I really do.

So I delete one of the probable duplicates, hoping that the other wasn't actually just from a different part of my stash and added on a different day, for example from a different vendor or a different year.

Since any given seed could have ??? different alpha names, and our swap lists are already divided into 3 regions, the only way I know to find something in the list is to scroll slowly past all of all three regions.

Lately I've been trying a two-step lookup. First I search the main plant database to find one (or more) ways that kind of seed might have been alphabetized. Then I check the list first at those points in the alpha list.

But since "My Swap List" has three regions, I still have to scroll through the whole list to find those 3, 6 or 9 locations.

(It would help a little if we could re-sort "my swap list" to merge the three categories, so we could find things in just one list, no matter which "region" they were in.)

My perspective is that "my swap list" just doesn't support alphabetical searching. You would have to know beforehand which of the three regions to look in, and every possible way the plant database might have formed the name.

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 6, 2016 7:14 PM CST
I assume someone else has suggested this, or you already considered it.

But I'd like add a "please" for this feature next time you decide to fiddle with the seed swap system.

When we view our wishlist, it would be great if we could have second checkbox like the "Exclude zero-quantity items".

"Exclude items I already have dibbs on".

Then we could scroll down our wish-list and only see the items we still might request.

Also - using the swap system for DnD's swap? It is still great! And I think it would scale up OK to larger swaps.

I hope it becomes a well-known "draw" for ATP, and attracts new members who have not yet been gardening so long as to already have all the seeds they ever wanted.
Name: Morgan
IL (Zone 5b)
Winter Sowing Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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molanic
Jan 8, 2016 11:02 AM CST
The wildflowers swap is going great! I had a couple more thoughts today. I think it would be helpful to have the option to be able to view our "sold" list grouped (and totaled if possible) by seed instead of recipient. So for instance... I could quickly see that I need to have 5 of the columbine, 3 of the daylily, and 6 of the tomato packed up and ready to go. I know people can "un-dib" items, but it might be helpful to keep up with incoming sold quantities during the swap portion and make sure we are ready to get our packages mailed out ASAP.

I realize many people are only listing smaller quantities of things that they already have packed up, but when you have a large variety of things to offer it is hard to predict how much of each item other people will want and pre-make the packets. Another factor is when you are adding items and setting quantities to the swap early on, but have no idea how many people are going to join until swapping starts.

I currently have 96 sold items and the swapping portion isn't even done yet. I decided to increase my "items per page" in my site settings to 100. Then I copied and pasted my sold list into a spreadsheet (as html). Then I was able to re-sort the list by seed name instead of participant. It works pretty well and I thought it might be helpful to others to have that sort of viewing option built in to the webpage.
Name: Morgan
IL (Zone 5b)
Winter Sowing Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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molanic
Jan 8, 2016 11:17 AM CST
Thought I would make a second post for another idea, just to keep them separate and more brief. Smiling

I saw some discussion on another swap that the UTC time thing is confusing people. I understand that the swap needs to have one set time across time zones, but couldn't it all be automatically converted to our local time just for display purposes when the page loads. I see it is that way already on other areas of the site, so maybe this is already the plan for the swap portion too? In case others haven't noticed the option to set their time zone in their preferences, maybe have a little icon with a flyout next to the time with a direct link to go to their settings and fix it if necessary?
Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
Feb 1, 2016 9:30 PM CST
We used the seed swaps tool quite successfully for our recent in-person MidAtlantic seed swap.

It would be nice to have the option of setting up the swap with dates that are more appropriate for an in-person swap... eg, just one cut-off date rather than stop trading by, mail in by, etc.

Several people have suggested that the same tool would be really useful for our regional plant swaps, maybe with some tweaks (although I suppose we could just read "pot" where it says "packet" and so forth). I just posted a link to this thread on the MAG forum, to direct that discussion here.

:-)
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
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Weedwhacker
Feb 1, 2016 9:37 PM CST
Jill, I was impressed that you were able to make the system work for your swap... I'm glad it worked out, but I think it would be great if it could be more flexible to allow for plant swaps and the in-person swap that you had. Thumbs up
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
We're all learners, doers, teachers
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critterologist
Feb 1, 2016 9:52 PM CST
I think we could make it work for the plant swap without Dave doing any tweaking, but it would be clunky... we'd just have to use that comments field to make it clear we were talking about a seedling or plant division, not a packet of seeds.

I wonder if duplicating the tool and changing it just a bit so it's plants rather than seeds (two separate swap tools) would be easier than adding more options so the same tool can be used for both plants and seeds... ?

Our group has done an increasing amount of pre-event swapping by using want/have lists. We create a separate thread where people make ONE post apiece with their lists, editing them as needed. We have another thread for discussion and requests. By swap time, a person's post might contain a list of "haves," a wish list, a list of promised items, and a list of what they hope to receive. That takes a lot more editing and effort than using something like the seed swaps tool!
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Feb 1, 2016 9:58 PM CST
Right, maybe two that are almost, but not quite the same, systems; so when a person signed up to host a swap they could choose --- "seed swap" or "plant swap." But then maybe have options for the in-person-type swap dates and such.

The way postage keeps going up, I think there may be more and more interest in in-person swaps!
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Silver Spring, MD (Zone 7a)
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ssgardener
Feb 2, 2016 8:25 AM CST
Jill, thanks for letting us know about this thread!

Thank You! @Dave for setting up the seed swap tool! It was pretty easy to learn to use. My favorite part was being able to see all of my "sold" items grouped together.

I have some suggestions for future tweaks of the system.
*Different sorting methods
--option to not see my items on the list of available seeds
--option to sort by most recent additions
--option to sort alphabetically by people
--option to sort by botanical name. I realize sorting by common name would be almost impossible, since some plants have several common names. If the scientific name isn't known or listed, that item can just go to the end of the list.

*Ability to request items that have not been offered yet
--For the Mid-Atlantic swaps, we used to write up both our haves and wants. This year I wanted parsley seeds, but there was no way for me to communicate that using the seed swap tool besides writing a separate comment. Having a separate comment thread for wanted items might get too confusing.
--Would it be easier for the swapping tool to link to the "wants" section of my Plant Lists? Or even a way to link the "haves" and "available for trade" items on my Plant Lists to the swapping tool?

*Allow newcomers to join the swap late, while active swapping is happening

*To repeat Jill's request, omit the mailing section for in-person swaps

Thanks again, Dave! I realize in-person swaps are much rarer than mailed-in swaps at ATP, so our requests may be at the bottom of your to-do list. Big Grin
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Feb 2, 2016 8:53 AM CST
ssgardener -- at least a couple of those things are already part of the system; you can set the availability for any item as "not public," and then only you can see it. And, while you can't exactly sort the entire list by people, you can view just the list for each individual participant. Also, you can list any "wanted" items in your infobox at the top of your swap list.
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Silver Spring, MD (Zone 7a)
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ssgardener
Feb 2, 2016 9:06 AM CST
Thanks, Sandy!

Weedwhacker said:ssgardener -- at least a couple of those things are already part of the system; you can set the availability for any item as "not public," and then only you can see it.


I actually do want the items to be public, but I don't want to see the items that *I* posted while browsing the list of available seeds. It would be nice to have a box that says "exclude my seeds from view" or something like that.


And, while you can't exactly sort the entire list by people, you can view just the list for each individual participant.


Also, you can list any "wanted" items in your infobox at the top of your swap list.

That's what I did, and it's fine, but when you have 20-30 participants, it's a lot of extra steps to check what each individual person has listed on their infobox. It would be great if it was in the same format as the "wants" list, so that it's presented in list format.


Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Feb 2, 2016 9:16 AM CST
LOL - I totally misunderstood the part about not being able to see your items; thought you meant everyone!

"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
We're all learners, doers, teachers
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critterologist
Feb 2, 2016 10:14 AM CST
If there's a way to integrate a wishlist, cool... but checking the info boxes for participants is just as easy as our previous method of scrolling down through the haves/wants thread to see what people were looking for... although if there were a way to see if somebody else had already supplied a wish, that would be cool!
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: David
Lucketts, Va (Zone 7a)
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greenthumb99
Feb 2, 2016 10:38 AM CST
Think that the idea of a plant swap tool similar to the one for seeds would be an excellent addition to the site. It would provide an orderly presentation of all the plants offered, automatically modify what is still available, and automatically keep a record of plants one is "getting". It would eliminate endless checking to see if someone has requested from you and having to go in and edit your post. New additions to offers would appear at the top of the lists, eliminating going through everyone's "Haves" to see if something new has been added. This tool need not eliminate associated threads for discussion.
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 2, 2016 11:45 AM CST
critterologist said:I think we could make it work for the plant swap without Dave doing any tweaking, but it would be clunky... we'd just have to use that comments field to make it clear we were talking about a seedling or plant division, not a packet of seeds.

I wonder if duplicating the tool and changing it just a bit so it's plants rather than seeds (two separate swap tools) would be easier than adding more options so the same tool can be used for both plants and seeds... ?
...


Hi Jill!

What fields would be wanted in an ideal online plant-swap system? I can barely guess what those might be. But if Dave knows what would be wanted in the most ideal case, he could whittle it down to what would be easy to merge with, or diverge from, his current seed-swap tool.

I see two main options: one would be for people trying to gather together a mass order to a company that only sells plugs in whole trays if one kind of plant, and the other would be a regular person-to-person swap of plants or cuttings they mostly grew themselves.

The "Mass-order" thing is (or was) being done over in Cubits by Mamajack (I think, though I haven't seen those emails lately.) I think they do it by hand, with C-mails and pencils.

One field I can think of that plant-swappers might want is what KIND of plant: potted plant, rooted division, bare-root division, rooted cutting and bare-naked, fresh cutting (if anyone mails fresh cuttings around the country.

Once upon a time, someone talked about "I could start some cuttings of that for you, but only at a certain time of year". Would anyone try to do a swap where people signed up far ahead of time for cuttings that required pre-planning before the cut, and maybe rooting time afterwards, before it was ready to ship?

I think, for a postal swap to work, there has to be just one date and just one central person, to receive, divide up, and re-mail all the packages. Then, swapping "scheduled cuttings" might require each trader to make the cuttings and hold them (rooting them) until the agreed-upon date. So there might have to be a "spring cuttings date" and (I guess) a "dormant-hardwood-cuttings date". Presumably those would be totally different swap events.

Or, I don't know ... would people swapping plants be more willing to pay lots more postage and just mail cuttings person-to-person? Then the execution of each swap could occur at any time. The swap "system" would become a way for people wanting certain things to find other people willing to send them. The main advantage would be that any one person might send plants to people A, B and C, but receive plants back from people X, Y and Z.

Maybe "plant swaps" deserve their own thread? I don't have enough ideas to start that thread myself.

Indeed, I just had my very first-ever possibly-successful cutting. I keep trying to root stem sections from two rose bushes, and one of them finally developed a root! Until then, all I ever managed was to rot cuttings.

This was the first one that rooted instead of rotting.

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