If you're a gardener, 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. 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:
- Beginner's Guide to Seed Saving: This is an easy-to-read guide for new seed savers. A small paragraph or two is dedicated to some common plants to teach you how to extract the seeds so you can store them for future use.
- 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.
- Basic Seed Saving: Download this free book called Basic Seed Saving for instructions on saving seeds from 29 wildflowers and 18 common vegetables, such as lettuce, peas, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.
- Saving Your Own Vegetable Seeds (PDF): This is another free PDF that you can download as a reference for learning about saving your vegetable seeds. You'll find information on radishes, soybeans, spinach, carrots, beets, and more.
- Vegetable Seed Saving Handbook: This is an online resource that has seed saving instructions for over 50 vegetables. Each section has the time frame the seed can be stored. Be sure to read their Storing Your Seeds section for more information.
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 vegetable, 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 in these websites. Do a general online search ([city] seed exchange) 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.