Tag Archives: how to get free seeds

February To-Do List

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Will spring be early this year? I sure hope so.

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Until then, I am enjoying delicious greens from the garden. The collards pictured above have survived our light frosts pretty well.

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Turnip harvest have been good, and the mustard greens and kale have kept us supplied with veggies.

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I have been pleased with the ‘White Egg’ turnips this year. Despite being planted too closely, they have still produced many turnips. We ate the thinnings as greens, and now they are bulbing up nicely, no succession planting needed.

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The shed bed has been producing mustard greens, and the garlic is progressing nicely.

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Broccoli has been a bust. Again. Last year I blamed myself, the weather, and the soil and decided to try it again.

This year, I blame it on the variety. I’m going to spend a little extra and get a named variety or hybrid for next time. Do you have a favorite variety that you recommend?

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The pac choi is bolting, and I welcome the cheery yellow flowers. I plan to let my mustard bolt too, I’m hoping for an impressive display from them.

My to-do list:

1. Start tomatoes and flowers on Valentine’s Day. Last year I had spring fever so bad…do you remember the strange place that I sprouted seeds?

2. Make marmalade!! I love it so much on homemade bread, with hot tea to accompany it. That combination makes me feel cultured and British. 🙂

3. Sketch out a garden plan. I hope to have most of my crops and seeds planted by mid-March, and then to just let them do their thing.

4. Get more green bean seeds. I’m going to buy some in bulk to save money. Maybe this year I will save some seeds from them. Saving your own seeds is a great way to save money in the garden. You can also get seeds for free; check out my popular post on How I Get Free Seeds.

5. Plant out sugar snap starts. Last year I figured out too late that the squirrels were digging up my peas. I found a few peas that I had managed to save from last year, soaked them, and planted them in flats. Hopefully it’s not too late.

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Are you ready for spring? I have to admit, I’m not quite as stir crazy as I was last year; maybe it’s because I have so many crops actively growing and maturing.

We are supposedly in for some cold weather this week. If you have raised bed gardens, look for a post soon on how to cover your raised bed.

Are you going to try any new techniques or varieties this year? It’s never too early to plan!

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How to Save Cantaloupe Seeds

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I had some yummy ‘Athena’ cantaloupes recently and decided to save some of the seeds for next year. ‘Athena’ cantaloupes are F1 hybrids, which means that they may not be exactly like the one I bought, but I’m not too picky.

After all, why buy seeds in a packet when I just bought some in a cantaloupe?

Let’s keep this simple, shall we?

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Scoop the seeds out of the cantaloupe.

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Put the seeds and pulp in a glass of water. Smush the pulp to release the seeds. Pour off the murky water and repeat the smushing and pouring process.

Once the water is clear the seeds are clean.

Dry the cantaloupe seeds for at least 24 hours.

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Store your seeds in a cool, dry place.

I recently visited a local strawberry farm. It was the end of the season, but I still managed to find some berries! You can read about that soon!

How I Get Free Seeds

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?