How to Get Affordable or Free Seeds for Your Garden
It's the time of year where garden enthusiasts begin dreaming up next season's garden. You’re diving deep into seed catalogs dreaming of all the plants you want to grow this year only to realize you can’t afford them. Seeds can be pricey, and with big plans for an epic garden the cost really adds up quickly. However, there are a few ways to acquire seeds at little to no cost!
The Dollar Tree
Did you know that the dollar tree has several different varieties of seeds available for just 25 cents a package? That is insanely cheap compared to the typical 3-6 dollar packets that are found from other stores or seed companies. What's even better is all the seeds they sell are non-GMO! They have a large range of flowers and vegetable seeds and you could possibly get all the seeds you need for your garden for less than 10 dollars! I recommend going to your local Dollar Tree very soon though because they do tend to sell out quickly.
Seed swaps are a super fun way to get free seeds, check on facebook marketplace to see if any local swaps are happening near you and if they aren’t then create a seed swapping event yourself. The beautiful thing about seed swaps is you typically don't just have to bring seeds to the swap, you could bring anything that you have that others with seeds may find valuable. There are seed swaps that not only swap seeds, plant cuttings, and bulbs but loofahs, soaps, baked goods, canned goods, herbal teas, lip balms and other such things! This makes the swapping even more fun and it allows those who may have not saved any seeds from the previous year to participate and get some free seeds by trading for them.
If local swaps are not an option for you then you should explore all the online options for seed swaps. Multiple seed swap groups can be found on Facebook, Reddit, Telegram and loads of other sites. Typically with a well arranged online seed swap all you need to pay is the postage to send the seeds.
A seed library is an amazing way to get free seeds. Seeds are donated to the seed library either by a company or by people who saved the seeds and then the seeds are shared with the community. Typically the library has rules as to how many seed packets you can take at a given time so that people can’t come and completely wipe out the available seeds by taking as many as they want. A 3-5 seed pack limit per week is typically the norm. The thought is that those who take, or “borrow”, from the seed library will return seeds at the end of the season that they have saved from their garden. Thus it is designed to be a system of give and take, where you can take now in hopes that you will give back to the library later on. Seed libraries are most often found at your county's regional book libraries or local community centers. You can do a simple google search to find the closest seed library to you, if there isn’t one near you then go speak to your local library and suggest that they start one.
Save Your Own Seeds
Seed saving is a simple and cost effective way to ensure that you have seeds for the next growing season. If you liked the varieties that you grew and how they performed then you should most certainly save the seeds! Most seeds are extremely easy to save. Though some seeds such as nightshades need to undergo a fermentation process to make them viable, learning how to save them can be a beneficial and helpful thing to do if you plan to continue to grow gardens year after year. When you save your own seeds you will likely end up with more than you will likely need to grow, share your saved seeds with the seed libraries or use them in seed swaps to acquire new varieties.
You would be surprised by some of the super affordable options to purchase seeds off of Etsy! This option is especially a good idea if you want to purchase bulk seed bundles at a low price. You can get flower seed bundles, herb seed bundles, vegetable seeds bundles and when you purchase them in a bundle typically the price per package ends up averaging out to around 1-2 dollars per package which is fifty percent cheaper than the typical price of the seed packets. The downside of this option is that you do not get to choose exactly what varieties you will get. There are also several homegrowers who sell seeds on etsy for far cheaper per package than you would find at stores or from seed companies.
Collaborate with Seed Companies
If you have an outlet such as Instagram, Facebook, or Tiktok where you have a following that is into gardening then you can offer to share videos, posts and stories to promote the seed companies in exchange for free seeds. You never know unless you try, so reach out to seed companies and see what they say! If they cannot offer the seeds for free then you could ask for a large discount in exchange. Depending on your follower count, engagement, and quality of content you can formulate an offer that reflects what you are able to reciprocate in exchange. The key to this is to follow up often with the seed companies you reach out to until a final response is determined.
Save Seeds from your Groceries
Sure, not all seeds from grocery stores are viable but a lot of them are!! Most organic produce that contains matured seeds in it that you buy from the store could be saved!! A few items that are really great to save seeds from the store are winter squash and pumpkins. It's easy to get the seeds out and dry them in preparation for planting during the next season. Organic tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant seeds can also be saved from store bought items but it's important to remember that they must undergo a fermentation process before they are able to germinate. Other great items that you can purchase from the grocery store to grow include fresh ginger, garlic, turmeric, or potatoes. These don't have seeds in them but since they are tubers and bulbs they will eventually sprout and you could plant them in your garden.
Not all gardeners can afford the high priced seed packets being sold through seed companies and stores but there are so many other ways to acquire seeds that won't break the bank! All these methods are tried and true and will save you hundreds of dollars in seed costs. You don't need to let your dreams of an epic garden fall away simply because you can't afford seeds.