Today's post is by guest blogger Vanessa "Nessa" Richins. You've likely seen her all over the twittersphere (@treesandshrubs) and she writes for About.com on trees and shrubs. Nessa is one busy lady but she took some time to share with us what she knows about a great source for free gardening gear and supplies as well all look to save a few bucks this year:
Several years ago, I started a local chapter of Freecycle. Since then we've grown quite a bit and now have 6286 members. I've learned that Freecycle can be an amazing way to get free supplies for your garden.
What is Freecycle? It's an online organization that connects people who are looking for items or have possessions they would like to give away. Currently, it is run using Yahoo Groups, though they are migrating slowly to their own website. Everything must be absolutely free.
I have been able to request and receive all sorts of seeds for my garden. I picked up many bricks for a project. People have given me extra plants that they had. When I needed pots for my gardening class, Freecycle was there. Fill dirt and manure are regularly offered up.
How do you get started? Go to Freecycle.org and enter your city in the search engine. They will be able to connect you to the group that is closest to you. Sign up and you are all set to go.
Here are some tips for a great Freecycle experience:
1. This is a mailing list: Especially with the bigger groups, you may get a TON of email. Consider setting it to digest or "special notices" and visit the website often for updates - it's faster and saves your email box from overflowing.
2. Give as well as receive: I would suggest starting out by offering something first, as it can seem greedy if you only come to request items but never participate otherwise. Most people have something lying around they no longer need - magazines, clothes, toys. Among many other things, I have given out bricks, landscape fabric, potting soil and fertilizers.
3. Don't ask for the world: This is not a magical wish granting list :) I have had to moderate out many messages where the poster wanted items like houses and cars. (Though, we HAVE had a few cars offered!) This shouldn't be too much of a problem with garden items. I would suggest asking for general gardening supplies instead of making a long list detailing every single item needed.
4. Follow the proper posting procedures: Each Freecycle group may be a bit different, but the general rule is to format your subject line in a certain way.
Here are some examples:
OFFER: Vegetable Seeds (Your City Here) WANTED: Gardening Supplies
TAKEN:Vegetable Seeds (to show that someone has been chosen)
5. Be polite and thankful: These are real people offering up their possessions. Be polite in your responses and posts. Don't email more than once to request items - wait until you get a response. If you are chosen, be sure to show up at the time and place given.
I have been able to get so many wonderful items for my gardening projects through Freecycle. I hope you will be able to use this service as you grow your $25 Organic Victory Garden.