Free vegetable seeds enhance the garden and add variety and fun. Grow a bumper crop this year by adding unique, heirloom, and unusual varieties, or simply enjoy the bounty available. With forethought and planning, you can find free vegetable seeds from local resources or online.
Get free seeds from a variety of sources. Use the method that works best for you.
Meet new gardening friends and find seeds locally through garden clubs, community posts, and the local cooperative extension.
- Garden Clubs: Garden clubs introduce passionate gardeners and provide social and educational opportunities. Find garden clubs through your local public library or in the local newspaper. Sponsor a "seed swap" at the next garden club meeting. Suggest that members bring all their half-full seed packets and trade with others.
- Community Posts: Small towns frequently have a town newspaper. Filled with local doings, social columns and more, many offer free classified ads space or very low cost ad space. Post a "wanted" ad and see what happens. Also try the bulletin boards at the local supermarket. Many supermarkets still have free shopper bulletin boards where you can post a flyer. Display your "seeds wanted" flyer and enjoy the results.
- Cooperative Extensions: Although the state cooperative extension offices disseminate educational information and diagnose plant diseases, they also attract local gardeners. Contact your local cooperative extension office and inquire about their Master Gardener classes, lectures and more. Here you'll meet other gardeners, and can begin networking with them to find your free seeds.
Free Vegetable Seeds Online
- The Freecycle Network is a non-profit group for people to give away excess items. People give away anything from furniture to gardening supplies on Freecycle. With over four million members in several countries, Freecycle is a great way to find free items (with no strings attached). Post wanted ads, or wait until the end of the spring planting season to see if anyone has leftover seeds.
- The America the Beautiful project saves seeds from going to waste when seed companies discard them. In 2005-2006, they saved 800 tons of seeds! They offer both flower and vegetable seeds. Most seeds go to groups beautifying areas, so this source may be best if your garden is community-based. A check is required for shipping and handling.
- Ed Hume Seeds offers free vegetable seeds. Plant a row for the hungry, and donate vegetables from the free seed offer to this worthwhile organization.
Gardening catalogs often include free seeds with every order. The catch is, of course, that you have to place a paid order first. Many catalogs entice orders with coupons. Common offers include percentage or dollar amount off the first order. Take advantage of these coupons and add plants to the garden while using the catalogs to get free seeds.
Saving Your Own
Many gardeners invest in open pollinated seeds when they buy packets of seeds. When you buy open pollinated seeds, you are buying a seed that has not been tampered with genetically and that will produce seeds that will actually germinate the following year. Most hybrid species will not produce viable seeds. There is a different process that you need to follow to save seeds from different plants.
- If using Freecycle or any other Internet resource, use common sense. Remember, total strangers read your post. Do not include personal information. Suggest pickups by mail or somewhere public. Never reveal personally identifiable information to strangers.
- Do not accept unlabeled, unmarked seeds. Memory plays tricks, and the gardener giving you the seeds may think he is giving you tomato seeds, only for you to find out later they're zinnias.
- Be careful with seeds gardeners collect themselves. Seeds collected by gardening friends or local garden club members may be cross-pollinated from hybrid seeds. These seeds occasionally yield odd results. Cross-pollinated hybrids look and taste differently from the parent plant varieties. Sometimes the results are fine, but often not worth the time and effort.
- Take some time to learn about seed germination. This will give you a better idea of how to best care for your seeds as they get started.
- Cucurbits like squash and cucumbers are often the easiest seeds to find for free. This is because most seed packets come with more of these seeds than the average gardener has room for in the garden.
Start Saving More Money with Your Garden
In the end, there are a lot of resources out there that you can use to find free vegetable seeds. No matter how you find your free seeds, make sure you understand how to properly grow them. After all, this is really about self-sufficiency and saving money. You don't want to go through all this trouble and then end up with a less than fruitful fall harvest.