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Growers share harvest at annual fall plant exchange

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As gardeners carry a buffet of plants onto the Montgomery County 4-H Fairgrounds, Susan Smith writes down her phone number on a sticky note for a man concerned about bees.

Growers come to the experts in the Montgomery County Master Gardener program throughout the planting and harvest months and now into fall as they prepare for the season’s first frost. Green thumbs shared part of their harvest with other gardeners Saturday in the program’s fall plant exchange at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.

“You get a lot of advice from people that’ve grown things that you haven’t,” said Smith, Master Gardener president, “and it’s a good way to try new things without costing you an arm and a leg.”

The Purdue University program trains volunteers to assist Purdue Extension with educating the public about horticulture. Local Master Gardeners come to the fairgrounds in the spring and fall for plant swaps and to offer tips for managing patches.

Katherine Melvin brought armfuls of tropical-looking elephant ears and rain lilies, which sat next to other plants on a picnic table in a food stand. She was looking to replace a day lily that succumbed to the dry summer.

“I don’t think we had 2 inches of rain from July until September. Maybe a sprinkle or two,” Melvin said.

The rain-drenched start to the planting season produced a bounty of crops for last spring’s exchange, but this time Smith said she didn’t expect to find the large selection of plants that gardeners were shopping for.

Native red bulbs were up for grabs along with succulents and black-eyed Susan. Rain barrels were also distributed.

The club hopes to sell plants during next spring’s exchange. Members also help maintain the plots at Nicholson Elementary and Crawfordsville High School while teaching gardening basics to children at the Crawfordsville Community Garden.

The club next plans to begin landscaping work at the Youth Service Bureau.

As cooler temperatures settle in, Smith said growers should watch the forecast before deciding to get the garden ready for spring.

“Take advantage of the weather that we have and the time we have it,” she said.

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