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Where to Find Free (or Almost Free!) Seeds for Your Garden

Gardening is a wonderful hobby. It brings beauty, joy, and can even provide delicious food. But seed packets can add up, impacting your budget. The good news? There are tons of ways to score amazing seeds without breaking the bank.


Scroll to the bottom to find the native wildflowers and plants for your region

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Here’s a treasure trove of places to look:

Community Resources

  • Seed Libraries: Think of it like a book library but for seeds! Borrow seeds, grow your plants, then save some seeds from your harvest to return. Search online to see if there’s a seed library near you.
  • Seed Swaps: Gardeners love to share! Look for local seed swaps where you can trade seeds you have for exciting new ones. Websites like GardenWeb and the Old Farmer’s Almanac often list events.
  • Your Local Library: Yes, some libraries now offer seed lending programs alongside their books.
  • Community Gardens: These gardens often have seed-saving initiatives or seed swaps as part of their programs. Get connected and reap the benefits.

Online Resources

  • Seed Saving Networks: Groups like the Seed Savers Exchange promote biodiversity through seed sharing. Memberships typically offer access to rare and heirloom varieties.
  • Social Media: Join gardening groups on Facebook and other platforms. Members often happily offer extra seeds or host swaps.
  • Freebie Sites: Pages like Craigslist, Kijiji, and the Freecycle Network may have gardeners giving away free seed stashes.

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Getting Creative

  • From Your Kitchen: Don’t toss those tomato, apple, pepper, or squash seeds – plant them. Experimenting with kitchen scraps is fun and surprisingly successful.
  • “Volunteers”: Did a surprise tomato plant sprout in your yard? Had wildflowers pop up by the fence? Let those “volunteers” grow, and you’ve got free plants.
  • Ask Your Neighbors: Gardeners LOVE to talk about their plants. If your neighbour has a gorgeous sunflower or a tasty tomato variety, politely ask if they could spare a few seeds once the season ends.

Tips for Success

  • Save Your Seeds: The most sustainable way to free seeds is to save your own! At the end of the season, let some flowers dry on the plant, collect the seeds, and get a head start for next year.
  • Store Seeds Properly: To keep seeds viable for future planting, store them in cool, dry, and dark places. Small envelopes or airtight containers are ideal.
  • Free Doesn’t Mean Unlimited: Be respectful when seeking free seeds. Take only what you can realistically plant, leaving some for others.

Bonus: Cheap Seed Options

  • Dollar Stores: You’ll often find seeds here for just a dollar a pack! Selection can be limited, but it’s a great way to experiment cheaply.
  • End of Season Sales: Late summer is prime time for clearance seed sales at garden centers. Stock up for next year!
  • Bulk Seeds: If you have a large garden, consider buying certain seeds in bulk. You’ll get a much better price per seed.
  • Bird seed: These are rarely cooked, baked, or prepared and will germinate if they haven’t been sitting around too long. Give them a 24hr pre-soak or a good watering when you put them in and you’ll be growing in no time. They’re usually available a lot more cheaply than buying the plant seeds (which are the same thing!)
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Easy ways to harvest seeds from kitchen scraps

Simple Seeds

  • Tomatoes: Scoop out the seeds and jelly-like pulp into a jar. Add a bit of water, letting it ferment for a few days. Viable seeds sink to the bottom; discard the floaters. Rinse, dry on paper towels, and store.
  • Peppers (Sweet and Hot): Cut open peppers and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Dry seeds on paper towels for a few days before storing.
  • Squashes and Pumpkins: Scoop out seedy pulp. Many seeds easily separate while washing others might need a bit of gentle rubbing to remove clinging fibers. Dry on paper towels and store.
  • Melons (Watermelon, Cantaloupe): Scoop out seeds and rinse under running water to remove pulp. Dry on paper towels and store.
  • Cucumbers: For mature cucumbers past the eating stage, simply scoop out the seeds, rinse in a sieve, then spread to dry on paper towels.
  • Beans and Peas: Allow pods to dry on the plants. Shell the pods to retrieve the dried beans or peas inside.

Slightly More Involved (but still easy!)

  • Strawberries: Blend whole strawberries and water, then strain the mixture. The seeds will settle at the bottom. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Passion Fruit: Scoop out the pulp, place it in a jar, and let it ferment for a few days. Just like tomatoes, good seeds will sink. Rinse and dry.
  • Avocados: Carefully remove the large pit, wash away any clinging flesh, and let it fully dry. (Note: Growing conditions and variety determine if you’ll get fruit.)

Important Notes:

  • Choose the Right Produce: For best results, use fully ripe or even overripe fruits and vegetables.
  • Hybrid Varieties: Saved seeds from hybrid plants may not produce identical offspring the next year. This can be fun and experimental, but keep it in mind!
  • Proper Storage: Always dry seeds thoroughly and store them in airtight containers in a cool, dark place for maximum viability.

With a bit of resourcefulness, you’ll never need to spend a fortune on your garden.

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What are the native plants and wildflowers for your region?

Here’s a high-level overview highlighting a few notable species from each region, aiming to encapsulate the diversity of native plant life across these areas.

United States

Northeast

  • New York: Purple Coneflower, Black-Eyed Susan
  • Pennsylvania: Mountain Laurel, Joe-Pye Weed
  • Massachusetts: Mayflower, New England Aster

Southeast

  • Florida: Blanket Flower, Firebush
  • Georgia: Cherokee Rose, Swamp Milkweed
  • Virginia: Virginia Bluebell, American Dogwood

Midwest

  • Illinois: Purple Prairie Clover, Compass Plant
  • Michigan: Dwarf Lake Iris, Michigan Lily
  • Ohio: Ohio Buckeye, Great Blue Lobelia

Southwest

  • Texas: Bluebonnet, Indian Paintbrush
  • Arizona: Saguaro Cactus Flower, Desert Marigold
  • New Mexico: Yucca Flower, Chocolate Flower

West

  • California: California Poppy, Giant Sequoia
  • Oregon: Oregon Grape, Pacific Rhododendron
  • Washington: Coast Rhododendron, Western Trillium

Canada

Native and Non-Invasive Plants in British Columbia

  • Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata): A majestic evergreen tree that is iconic to the Pacific Northwest.
  • Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii): A towering evergreen, significant for its ecological and economic value.
  • Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii): Known for its beautiful, peeling red bark and glossy green leaves.
  • Shrubs
  • Salal (Gaultheria shallon): An evergreen shrub with glossy leaves, pink flowers, and edible berries.
  • Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea): Offers stunning red stems in winter and white flowers in spring.
  • Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana): A wild rose species with pink flowers and attractive hips in autumn.
  • Perennials and Wildflowers
  • Camas (Camassia quamash): Blue star-like flowers that were historically a food source for Indigenous peoples.
  • Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa): Attracts hummingbirds with its red and yellow flowers.
  • Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima): Produces vibrant pink or white flower clusters suitable for rock gardens.
  • Grasses and Ferns
  • Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia cespitosa): Offers year-round interest with its feathery plumes.
  • Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum): A tough, evergreen fern that thrives in shady conditions.
  • Non-Native but Non-Invasive Plants
  • Lavender (Lavandula spp.): Aromatic and drought-tolerant, attracts pollinators.
  • Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica): Offers striking blue flowers and is well-adapted to BC’s climate.
  • Peony (Paeonia spp.): Provides large, fragrant blooms in late spring to early summer.

Alberta

  • Perennials and Wildflowers
  • Prairie Crocus (Anemone patens): An early spring bloomer, symbolizing the arrival of spring in Alberta.
  • Gaillardia (Gaillardia aristata): A drought-tolerant wildflower with vibrant red and yellow blooms.
  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa): Attracts pollinators with its lavender flowers and fragrant foliage.
  • Grasses
  • Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis): A native prairie grass that is drought-tolerant and offers ornamental appeal.
  • Western Wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii): Hardy and versatile, ideal for soil stabilization and forage.
  • Non-Native but Non-Invasive Plants
  • Peony (Paeonia spp.): Hardy perennials that offer large, fragrant blooms in a variety of colours.
  • Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica): Features beautiful blue or purple flowers and is well-suited to Alberta’s climate.
  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.): Very hardy and low maintenance, with a variety of colours available.

Saskatchewan

  • Western Red Lily, Prairie Coneflower

Manitoba

  • Prairie Crocus, Purple Prairie Clover

Ontario

  • White Trillium, Eastern White Pine

Quebec

  • Blue Flag Iris, Yellow Birch

New Brunswick

  • Purple Violet, Fiddlehead

Nova Scotia

  • Mayflower, Pitcher Plant

Prince Edward Island

  • Lady’s Slipper, Red Oak

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Pitcher Plant, Labrador Tea

Yukon

  • Fireweed, Arctic Poppy

Northwest Territories

  • Mountain Avens, Bearberry

Nunavut

  • Purple Saxifrage, Arctic Poppy

This list offers just a glimpse into the massive botanical diversity across the USA and Canada, with each state and province boasting a unique assortment of native plants and wildflowers that contribute to the beauty and ecological balance of their respective environments.

How to Find Information on Native Plants and Wildflowers:

  1. Botanical Gardens and Arboretums: Local botanical gardens and arboretums often have collections of native plants and provide educational resources about them.
  2. State and Provincial Parks: Many parks offer guides or tours that highlight native flora. Their websites might also list species commonly found in the area.
  3. University Extensions: Universities with agricultural or botanical programs often publish guides on local flora.
  4. Native Plant Societies: Most states and provinces have native plant societies dedicated to the preservation and promotion of native species. They’re a wealth of knowledge and resources.
  5. Government Environmental Agencies: Look for resources from agencies responsible for conservation and natural resources. They often publish plant lists and guides.

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free seeds, cheap seeds, gardening, budget gardening, seed saving, seed swaps, seed libraries, community gardening, heirloom seeds, kitchen scraps, gardening tips, sustainable gardening, how to get seeds from kitchen scraps
free seeds, cheap seeds, gardening, budget gardening, seed saving, seed swaps, seed libraries, community gardening, heirloom seeds, kitchen scraps, gardening tips, sustainable gardening,

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