How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden

Inside: Who doesn’t love when something’s free? Discover how to get free seeds for your garden.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic 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.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

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

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

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.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

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.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

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.

How to Get Free Seeds for Your Organic Garden |

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How to Start Seeds in Newspaper Pots

Fold newspaper pots to start seeds |

Gardening season is here! If you’ve never tried starting seeds, it can be really rewarding—and really frustrating.

Take it from me, starting seeds for the first time is a challenge. You wait and wait and wait. Then finally the little seedlings emerge—or they don’t. You have to tend to them to make sure they’re thriving. And it takes quite a while until they grow big enough to transplant to the garden.

Buuuuuut when you do, it’s so rewarding. It’s crazy to think that you started that little sucker from seed and now you’re eating tomatoes off of it! Here’s how I do it.

Start seeds in newspaper pots |

Folding newspaper pots

I like to start seeds indoors in newspaper pots. You fold sheets of newspaper origami-style into little pots to hold your seedlings. After your seeds grow big enough, you can even transplant the newspaper pot straight into the ground because it breaks down into the soil.

I learned how to make newspaper pots to start seeds by watching this video. After a few tries, you’ll turn into a newspaper pot-folding machine.

How to start seeds in newspaper pots |

How to grow seeds

After you finish folding your newspaper pots, fill them with soil. Then, use tweezers to place  a seed (or several) in each pot under the soil about 1/4 of an inch. Water the soil evenly. Keep an eye on your seedlings and follow the care instructions on the seed packet and you’ll be growing your own newspaper pot garden in no time.

How to start seeds in newspaper pots |


How to start seeds in newspaper pots |

How to start seeds in newspaper pots |

Bonus tip: I like to use leftover water to water my seeds. By that I mean, the water I used to soak a dish (so long as there’s no soap in it) or the water sitting in the glass on my nightstand from the night before. That way I don’t spend any extra money watering my seeds and I reuse water that would otherwise just go down the drain.

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Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

Spring Love

Chocolate Mint Plant |

Sorry for my absence. I’ve been outside enjoying the weather and doing lots of spring activities…planting a garden, hunting for morel mushrooms, walking my doggie, planting more plants.

Well, see for yourself…

Chocolate Mint Plant | redleafstyle.comCocoa Shell Mulch |

When I spotted this chocolate mint plant at the farmer’s market (top photo), I knew I had to have it. I’m already dreaming about baking scrumptious desserts and sipping on chocolate mint mojitos. I didn’t realize I was going to make a chocolate-themed garden, but that’s kind of what happened. The second photo is a sweet potato vine surrounded by cocoa shell mulch. Yes, cocoa shells! I found the mulch at my local gardening store.

Weeds |

This is what my garden looked like before. This plot of dirt covered in weeds sits in the back area of my rental apartment, which is a converted old house. The plot was clearly once a garden because it’s the only strip of dirt in a large area of concrete pavement. Plus, it’s lined with, now crumbling, bricks. It’s an extremely odd setup, which is fitting for the area I live in. It’s not really a patio; it’s not really a backyard; it’s just a random plot of dirt surrounded by concrete. I’ll take it.

And, take it I did. But it was a lot of work. Lots of weeds and lots of trash. Now it looks like this…

Garden | redleafstyle.comPlanting Flowers |

On to other spring enjoyables…

Cute Pup | redleafstyle.comSpring |

My pup and I enjoying the spring weather. Side note: I love dandelions, even though they’re technically weeds. I used to pick them and make “flower arrangements” as a kid.

Morel Mushroom |

Ever heard of morels? They’re super tasty mushrooms that only grow during the spring time. You can’t cultivate them. They only grow in the wild. My boyfriend and I have gone morel hunting several times this season and found bunches. This spring was the first time I’ve ever found any!

And…that’s what I’ve been up to this spring. Tell me about your favorite springtime activities in the comments!

Keep Up With Red Leaf Style!

Follow Red Leaf Style author Kirsten Hudson on Twitter @kirsten_hudsonGoogle+ and Pinterest.