If you're a gardener, or interested in getting started with gardening, you're going to want to read below to find out how you can get free seeds. By saving your own seeds, swapping seeds, and becoming a member of a seed library, you may just never have to pay for seeds again.
Occasionally there are some free seeds that companies mail out to those who request them. The best way to find out about these free seeds is to follow your favorite seed companies on social media. Then you'll be aware of any free seeds being mailed out.
You may also receive some free seeds when you request a free seed catalog. There are more than 70 catalogs available that will be mailed to you for free, which will give you some great ideas for planning your own garden.
Save Your Own Seeds
Possibly the easiest way to get free seeds is to just save your own! But simply leaving them in a bag and tossing it in your basement is no way to handle it. Some seeds actually aren't even suitable for storing.
Take a look at these free resources to learn more about seed saving:
- Seed Sovereignty's Guide to Seed Saving (PDF): This is a detailed guide that gives suggestions for extracting and storing seeds in just over 20 pages.
- Seed Saving 101: This is a great resource for beginners that takes you through deciding what seeds to save, harvesting the seeds, and then tips for storing them.
- Saving Vegetable Seeds: A guide to saving vegetable seeds. It starts with some information on basic types of vegetable seeds and then moves on to how to harvest them and how to store them. Also included is a guide to planting those seeds when the time comes.
- How to Save Seeds: Includes details on how to store seeds from peas and beans, tomatoes and peppers, lettuce, and biennial plants. Also includes basic information on how to save seeds.
Use a Seed Exchange to Get Free Seeds
Exchanging seeds with others is another great way to get free seeds. You can give up the seeds you don't want while at the same time getting the seeds you do want. This is a win-win situation because you both get the seeds you're after but without paying for them.
Seed exchanges can be done in two ways. You can either meet with someone physically to swap seeds or communicate with someone over the phone, email, or a website to set up a long-distance exchange.
- Seed Savers Exchange: Search or browse vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts, grains, herbs, spices, and flower seeds to see what's available. Although most of these seeds are free, you'll be expected to pay for shipping and handling.
- Houzz Seed Exchange: Much like other seed exchange websites, this is a forum where members can post requests for exchanges. Communication can be done publicly or through private messages. Some of the posts are even information on local meetups so you don't have to send and receive the seeds in the mail. You can filter these forum posts by city or plant.
There may be local seed exchanges that you won't find on these websites. Do a general online search to find one near you that someone may have already set up. You may also try searching Facebook for seed exchange groups, or a "seed swap" event in your local area.
Get Free Seeds Through Seed Libraries
A seed library is similar to a book library in that you "borrow" seeds and then return an equal or greater number of seeds after the plant has grown. It's basically the same thing as a seed exchange except that you don't need to provide the seeds upfront. This method is particularly helpful if you're just starting out with gardening.
Seed libraries provide a way for you to grow what you want for free, and at the same time allow others to do the same.
Just like with seed exchanges, try searching for a local seed library to find one near you. The Seed Library Social Network may be a good starting point. You can find locations on a map to see all the different libraries that support borrowing seeds.