If you are just starting a garden, you may have many varieties on your wish list. Seeds are pretty inexpensive, but when you want to try many new varieties it can start to get pricey. However, there are ways to get seeds for free or for the cost of a few stamps.
One way that I have gotten free seeds is through gardenhoard.com. Katie has a really neat site that sells many varieties of seeds. However, she also offers some older seeds for free. Sometimes others will donate seeds to her. I have gotten seeds from her for two years now and have had great germination results. All you need to provide is your wish list and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). You can see the details on her site here. This year I’m really excited to try the ground cherry seeds. My ‘Black Krim’ and ‘Mortgage Lifter’ tomatoes have already sprouted.
I am grateful for the seeds that I have received from her and plan to donate some of my seeds to her this year.
Another great site that is so helpful to new gardeners is gardenweb.com. Their Seed Exchange Forum is a place to trade seeds, but sometimes generous gardeners will offer extra seeds for SASE. Those offers go quickly, so if you see something that interests you, respond right away. There is also a Newbie Project that provides many types of seeds to new gardeners.
I wanted to grow milkweed this year, and found an organization, Live Monarch, that is so concerned about the monarch butterfly’s food supply that they will send you free milkweed seeds. For a $1 donation, they will send you the equivalent of 2 packets of seeds. I donated to the organization and received my seeds and some information about the monarch butterfly. What you see in that picture is what I had left after I sowed some for this year.
Another source of free seeds is gardening friends. If you get seeds or plants from someone in your area, it is probably well-adapted to your climate and should perform well for you also. I have received seeds and plants from other gardeners who were only too happy to give away extras. In my hand you see some okra seeds that I was given this year. I feel the same way about giving away seeds. I am so happy to be able to give away seeds or plants that another gardener is interested in having in their garden.
Finally, your own garden can be a source of free seeds. If you learn how to save seeds from your flowers and vegetables, you can save yourself money on seeds next year (or have extra money to spend on new varieties 🙂 ). After all the seeds I saved last year, I may never have to buy marigold seeds again. Many of the tomatoes that I am growing this year are heirlooms, and so will grow true from their seeds. If your seeds came from a hybrid, you may or may not get the same result as the parent.
If you have a plant that has performed well for you, try to save its seeds. For example, I have been really impressed with my collards this year, so I may save their seeds to plant next fall.
Gardening can be as expensive as you want it to be. This is a way to try many seeds and save some money!
I have another post with more money-saving garden tips that can help you save even more.
Propagating cuttings from plants you already have or from cuttings given to you by friends can save you so much money and help you get more of what you love. I have some tutorials on how to propagate Wishbone flower (great for Florida summers!), start sweet potato slips (the easy way-no toothpicks or stinky water), and how to divide oregano. My favorite plant to propagate though, is the tomato. I love to get more tomato plants for free! It is great to be able to give extra plants away to friends too.
Do you know of any other ways to get free seeds?