Inside: Who doesn’t love when something’s free? Discover how to get free seeds for your garden.
With visions of rows of lettuce, tall tomato plants and cucumbers curling up trellises, you head to the nursery to grab some seed packets and bags of soil. Only to realize you also need containers. And, maybe some transplants in case the seeds don’t work out. What about fertilizer? And mulch?
Suddenly this fun gardening project has turned into a money pit.
Gardening expenses add up. But that shouldn’t get in the way of the fun. Growing your own food has so many benefits. Fresh air. Exercise. The joy of picking a plump, ripe tomato off a four-foot-tall plant you grew from a seed.
You’ll probably still need to buy some gardening supplies this season, but I have a secret way you can save money. It may seem like a small money-saver, but you can get all kinds of seeds for free—if you know where to look.
3 little-known ways to get free seeds
The first option is by far the most accessible for newbie gardeners.
1. Find a local seed library
I recently discovered that my local public library offers a seed library. (The seed library is at the Ruiz Branch of the Kansas City Public Library if you’re local and interested.)
A little 20-drawer cabinet tucked away in a corner of the library houses dozens of herb, flower and vegetable seeds. All you do is pick out the ones you want and “check them out.” After you plant and grow your seeds, you harvest them and return them to replenish the seed library’s stock.
What a cool concept!
(P.S. If you’re in the Kansas City area, you can also check out Seed Savers KC, which offers a seed library with more than 200 varieties.)
How to find a seed library in your area:
- Check at your local public library
- Check with a community garden in your area
- Join The Seed Library Social Network, an online forum that can connect you to a seed library and other gardeners in your area
- Join the Seed Savers Exchange, a member-to-member seed swap
Even more benefits of seed libraries:
- Find seeds specific for your region
- Get heirloom seeds, old-time varieties that increase biodiversity
- Improve your community through teamwork and shared interest in gardening
Seed libraries aren’t the only way to get free seeds. If you’re an experienced gardener, you could start delving into saving your own seeds.
2. Save your own seeds
The first time I saved seeds from bell peppers was easy because the seeds are right there and easy to grab from inside the fruit.
But saving seeds from other plants is a bit more confusing. What’s the method for saving cucumber seeds? Or tomato seeds? And how the heck do you save seeds from a carrot?
While saving your seeds is the most cost-effective option (and a personal goal of mine for the year,) it’s best to take it in baby steps. Saving seeds requires more know-how than you’d first expect, as I found out when I started researching the best seed saving techniques.
And, if you’ve already started saving seeds, or plan to soon, you have another option for getting free seeds. From your friends.
3. Host a seed swap party
If you know a few avid gardeners, then host a seed swap party, where you each bring a few different varieties of saved seeds and swap.
If you’re not close to that level yet, keep this option in mind for your future awesome gardener self.
I can’t wait to watch my tomato, bell pepper, lettuce, basil, dill, kale and spinach seeds grow thanks to the free seeds from my local seed library.
Starting my garden didn’t turn into a money pit, after all.