If you are a beginning gardener or have a taste for the exotic, like me, gardening can be an expensive pastime. But with a little creativity you can cut your gardening costs down to a very reasonable cost. I am putting in a Recession Garden this year for under $20 that will feed a family of four. Most of my seeds were very reasonably priced or I traded other seeds for ones I needed.
To find a bargain or be a frugal gardener, look for seeds on sale, swap seeds or places to get seeds for free. And free is always good! It leaves money over for those unique plants and shrubs you may want to purchase.
Where to Look for Seed Bargains
- Many garden centers will have seeds on sale for 20 cents to 35 cents a packet for a limited time in the spring. If you see a sale like this advertised, get there quickly. The best selection will be picked over rapidly. Also with a 19% increase in gardening this year, seeds will disappear even faster.
- One place to acquire free seeds is at your local park. The seeds you pick up here will be for flowers, plants and shrubs. Native plants are important in any backyard-landscaping project. They keep our environment balanced and healthy plus add to the comfort of your home. Note: If you check out the local park, contact the park staff first. It’s always proper to ask before you forage for seeds on any property plus the park may have a seed collection program. These programs often include classes and a seed-trading program
Businesses and nonprofit groups often give away free seeds
The Ed Hume Seed Company will send you a free packet of seeds if you agree to “plant a row for the hungry.” This is a fun and rewarding project that I have participated in for years.
The Buzzy Blog gardening site will offer a free seed packet to anyone who sends them a photo of their garden. This is a limited offer and will expire 5/01/09
The Campbell’s Soup Company will send you a free packet of tomato seeds and donate food for charity if you buy a can of Campbell’s Soup and enter a soup code
WinterSown shares seeds that have been donated to its organization. They just ask that you send a self-addressed stamped envelope.
**** There are also many online seed and plant swapping groups. These sites all have rules and policies to follow. Seed swapping sites are fun and often lead to wonderful friendships.
A few seed & plant swapping group sites are:
- The Blossom Swap
- iVillage Garden Web The garden forum is where you will find the seed swaps. You will need to sign in to participate.
- Garden Here You will need to look for a local seed exchange in your area.
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac This is an amazing site with a lot of useful information besides the seed swap. The seed swap information is under gardening and seed swap.
- Seed Swaps
Other money saving ideas
At FreeTreesandPlants.com you can order plants and trees for free. You will receive a standard unit of two or more items (trees, bulbs, shrubs, etc.) for a $7.95 shipping fee. This business locates unsold nursery stock and has it packaged and shipped by disabled workers.
The Arbor Day Foundation has a great deal on trees for a very small cost. You will also receive newsletters and other offers if you choose to. I have participated in this program for years.
Look for a local plant swap or organize one. It’s amazing the plants and trees you can obtain through a plant swap. This has actually been my largest way I have increased my gardens and garden plants.
And last but not least is the grocery store. You can buy a bag of inexpensive dried beans and plant them. I use potatoes that have started to sprout and also use the garlic and elephant garlic bulbs for planting. You can buy the room temperature vegetables, fruits, and nuts (cucumbers, watermelon, squash, raw peanuts, etc.) Dry the seeds and plant them in the spring.
But with vegetable seeds, I recommend using seeds from a vegetable purchased at a local vegetable or fruit stand. Ask if they know if the vegetables are heirloom or hybrid. Hybrid seeds do not germinate as well or produce a product that is true to the vegetable you want to grow.
You can easily save money on your garden supplies by thinking creatively. Gardening is fun. Its great exercise. By growing you own healthy fresh produce you family will benefit with better health and better tasting food. It will also help stretch the family budget! And your backyard will also benefit with new plants, flowers and trees!