Getting ready to start your garden? Maybe you have never grown a garden and need seeds? This is a great place to start!
Being a gardener myself, I have often wondered how I could get free seeds. Where can I find them and how to start looking? There are some websites online. Should I call them, email them or sign up on their website? Well, it can be as simple as a small sign up or even better save your own seeds.
The best way to get great seeds is to save your own seeds, swapping them with others or even becoming a member of a seed library. This way you might just never have to pay for seeds again!
I mean it is just so economical and good for the environment.
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Save those seeds!
There are two different techniques to saving seeds. One is wet saving and the other is dry saving. You can read more about the differences between wet and dry seed saving here.
The most efficient way to get your free seeds is as simple as saving the seeds that you already have. Peppers, peas and tomatoes are the best for seed saving. These certain plants have flower that self-pollinates. They don’t require you to provide treatments prior to storing them. Unlike beets and carrots which are much harder.
When you are saving a seed, for example tomato seeds, let the fruit come to a full ripened stage. Next you would take a spoon and scoop out the seeds along with the surrounding gel like fluid. Then rinse the seeds and dry them out on paper towels.
Peppers are much easier. All you must do is wait until they become almost wrinkly. Then take the seeds out of the peppers and lay them out to dry.
The seeds should always be stored in a glass container sealed tightly. You can keep the different seeds in separate packets, but in the same container. Make sure the seeds will keep dry and cool at a temperature somewhere between 32 to 41 Fahrenheit. The refrigerator or a cooler is a great place to keep the seeds.
A good idea is to buy silica gel and add a small amount to the containers to make sure the seeds are kept dry. It will also absorb the air. If you can not find silica gel you can simply use powdered milk. You should use the saved seeds within one year.
Exchanging of the Seeds
I have never heard of exchanging seeds before. I have been growing my garden for many years before I learned about seed exchanges. It had just never occurred to me there would be seed exchanges!
Exchanging seeds is another way to get free seeds. If you have seeds that you just don’t get around to planting or you decide you don’t need, you can give them up. In exchange, you get the seeds that you do want. If they’re available.
One example is Seed Savers. Seed Savers is a non-profit organization located in Missouri since 1975. Here you can search for vegetables, nuts, herbs, berries, grains, flowers and spice seeds. Most of the seeds are free but expect to pay for shipping.
The Garden is another great site you can use. Here, there is no money involved. Instead all you need is an account where you can exchange seeds with other users. Or just giveaway your unwanted ones. The Garden has been around since 1971 with over 250,000 subscribers. So you are sure to find what you are looking for.
There are many local seed exchanges in the world. To find them you just need to do a simple search online. Social media is a good start also. There are a lot of groups on social media and different hashtags you could use to find one. Some keywords would be “seed exchange”, “seed swap” or “free seeds”.
Seeds do not have a long life so storing them and getting people to borrow, replant and give back seeds is a daily task for seed libraries.
A seed library is kind of like your local book library. Just with seeds. You simply “borrow” the seeds and then after the plant has grown, you return the some of the seeds from that plant. Just like some seed exchanges, you still need to give seeds, but a library doesn’t require them up front.
When looking for a seed library, just like you would with exchanging the seeds, you simply do an online search with keywords. One place you can go to is the Seed Library. Here you can do a map search of the many seed libraries that let you borrow seeds.
I love going to the farmers markets on Saturdays and Sundays with my family. All the produce is fresh and delicious. It is a great start for garden advice and some farmers here even hand out seeds or sell at a low price.
The most experienced gardeners have the best advice when starting your garden. Tips on how not to waste your money and how to avoid making mistakes. They can talk to you about any tricks and techniques that they have learned along the way.
If you want the very best results, and trusted seeds be sure to get seeds locally.
Other Ways to Receive free seeds
On another note, I had also never heard of companies giving out free seeds, bulbs or plants but some do. They are worth checking out.
There are plenty of ways to receive free seeds. Some include making a pledge. Freeplant Network is another non-profit that gives out completely free seeds, bulbs and other plants at no cost to you.
WinterSown provides a wide variety of free seedings. The only thing you must do is, select your preferred package then send a printed page and self-addressed envelope to Winter Sown.
Other Tips and Advice
You can ask around your family, friends and coworkers if they have any plants they don’t need or any plant trimmings. Some planet trimmings are great for re-growing plants.
For example, take the sweet and juicy pineapple. Before you cut the pineapple, twist the top off.
You do this by taking off a few leaves at the bottom of the stalk until you see the brown part. After that all you need to do it twist the top off and set it outside for a few days to dry. Finally, after it is dried you simply replant it. The roots will grow into a new pineapple plant when watered very well.
When you buy shallots or onions, instead of letting them go to waste in the fridge, cut it just above the white part and then plant the roots. Shallots grow fast this way. Since shallots and spring onions still have roots when you buy them, it is very easy to just stick them in the compost and grow new ones.
Local markets are another way to go. Many of these stalls have plants cheap and some even giveaway seeds. This is also a great way to rack up on free advice.
Just last year I went to my local flea market and walked out of there with twelve habanero plants and fifteen tomato plants for just eight dollars! By the time they started to produce I ended up having to give away free food because I had too much!
Being an economical gardener and doing my part for the environment, I am pleased with the way I save money, save my own seeds, get free advice and learn new things along the way. Gardening is a way a life, it is relaxing and enjoyable. Getting free seeds and learning something along the way is just one part of it.