Gardening can be both a budgetary savior and incinerator, and the initial costs can quickly deter any amateur green thumb from spreading their spade. Rather than spending big on an assortment of seeds that, in all likelihood, won’t sprout all season, here are some absolutely free resources to get your garden started.
Don’t Waste Your Compost
Those ends and nubs you cut off your veggies and toss into the garbage can come in handy when trying to start a garden. Take, for example, carrots: Put your carrot tops in a dish with a little water, and then set the dish in a well-lit room or on a window sill. Soon, you’ll have carrot tops to use in salads. Scallions, garlic, basil, celery, lettuce, and a cilantro all yield new crops for no additional cost as well.
Starbucks Gives Out Free Fertilizer—Kind Of
Garden need fertilizer? Instead of spending your hard earned cash at the plant store, snag some fertilizer with your morning coffee. Starbucks offers up their used coffee grounds for free.
In case you didn’t know, coffee grounds are full of nitrogen, perfect for compost piles and acid-loving plants. Just avoid over-spreading because the nitrogen rich grounds will sprout a ton of weeds.
Your Local Food Bank Might Give Away Seeds
America’s food banks distribute more than 3 billion meals annually. But some are passing out more than canned goods. In Missouri, food bank clients also receive seed packets and starter plants to help teach the hungry how to grow their own food. This concept seems to be gaining steam across the country—the Oregon Food Bank specializes in an urban gardening program where clients can grow their own food and even contribute to produce at stores.
Construction Sites Grow a Surprising Amount of Plants
Who’d expect road construction to be prime picking for perennials? These sites are often filled with plants worth saving like perennials, shrubs, and native species that you can often take home with you. Just ask and you may have some great additions to your garden, for free.
Ask for Free Seeds
It couldn’t be that easy, could it? Winter Sown teaches you how to start seeding in the middle of winter.
More importantly, they’ll send you six free packets of seeds that are perfect for winter sowing in your region—it doesn’t matter if you live in Florida or Michigan.
Beyond that, seed swaps, seed saving (from plants you see), and the classifieds are great places to quickly find free plants.
Sign Up and Get on the Mailing List
Pretty simple: Find a plant or seed catalog that you’ve never ordered from and see if you can get your first seeds for free. This listing alone has 71 free seed and plant catalogs, which could be just what you need to get your future garden started. Beyond that, hardware stores and grocery stores are known to regularly send out coupons for free seeds or buy-one-get-one-free seed deals. If you’re willing to sacrifice your mailbox, this may be the ideal deal.