8 Ways to Get Free Seeds, my most viewed post of all time Real Men Sow history, is 2 years old today.
This milestone, together with my £5 a month spending limit pledge, provides an opportune time to refresh the original post. In line with inflation and the interests of providing a few more tips, I’m also going to name the new version ‘7 Ways to Get Cheap Seeds’.
These tips are all tried and tested by one of Britain’s tightest men (that’s me, by the way) since 2010.
THE COST OF A POSTAGE STAMP! The Awesome, Amazing Internet
Since recommending the very friendly and useful GYO seed swapping forum, I’ve also joined Twitter, where all manner of wonderful gardeners congregate and discuss vegetables. It doesn’t take long to build up some connections, especially if you check out the #allotment hashtag.
Within minutes this week, I’d swapped some of my spare seeds for courgettes and broad beans with the lovely lateral mac and impatient gardener respectively, all for the cost of a couple of stamps.
CHEAP! AND EDUCATIONAL! Magazine Giveaways
These seem to get better and better. When I wrote ‘8 Ways to Get Free Seeds’, the odd packet used to get stuck to a magazine edition here and there. Wasting time in my local WH Smith last week, I was astounded to see GYO magazine offering seeds of purple sprouting broccoli, turnips, chard, tomato, beetroot, and carrot. That’s 6 packs for just under a fiver.
If that’s not enough, the same issue is also offering savings of 50 percent on a 20 pack seed bundle. The bundle is only £12.90 and includes popular veg like beetroot, leeks, and tomato.
CHEAP! The Pound Shop
Every town has one, and if you’re passing they’re well worth a look for cheap seeds. The shop near where I work has a good variety of seeds for just 79p a packet.
CHEAP! The Allotment Shop
Some seed companies offer discounted rates to allotment and gardening societies, meaning seed prices in the allotment shops and committee sheds are cheaper than the nurseries and online retailers. In the past, I’ve picked up DT Brown Spring Hero F1 for the princely sum of £1.05, compared to £1.89 on the DT Brown website, and a packet of sweetcorn seeds for 85p.
CHEAP! Set up a Seed Buying Group
DT Brown offers these discounted rates to seed buying groups, as well as allotment societies. If you’ve got enough people prepared to join your group, you can take advantage of these special prices by ordering just £100 worth of seeds.
FREE! Start Saving Seeds
Some seeds are much easier to save than others, and for the teeniest effort, you can have free pea and bean seeds year after year. It is best to buy open-pollinated seeds initially, such as those available from Real Seeds.
Once the pods have died off and gone brown and dry, simply remove the seeds from the pods, clean up and store. Most seeds are fine for three years if stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
FREE! Sow out of date seeds
Don’t be afraid to try out of date seeds from your previous years’ stock. I’m not suggesting this always works, but I’ve sown seed that has been two years out of date and they’ve germinated with no problem. Before you shell out, check what you’ve still got laying around from summers before.
If this idea leaves you dubious, you could always try a quick germination test. Dee, from Greenside Up, wrote a good post this week that includes instructions on testing germination. If you get a good result from her quick test, then stick with the seeds you’ve got and save yourself some cash.