Cheap Seed Sourcing Alternatives

Discussing where people buy seeds from in an urban farming group I’m a member of, reminded me to post about an often overlooked place.
I really dislike paying $5 and being sent 10 seeds from a seed saver. Sometime it’s so they can maximise sharing, others it’s about profit (It’s not a dirty word and I still buy from some seed savers). However if there’s a low germination rate it’s not a very economical way of getting seed.

So I often go to organic/health food stores and buy seeds from the bulk bins. People often forget that those bins are filled with seeds! For a couple of bucks you can get hundreds if not thousands of seeds to plant in the garden. Also look in the snacking aisle. There’s a reason people joke that those health snacks are bird seed. Because they literally are! I recently bought some cow pea in the lentils section of my spice store. It worked out to be ~$3.50/kg, my last purchase of cow pea was ~$2/kg but that was in a 25kg sack! So while throwing a 1kg lentil packet onto your shoulder and walking to the car isn’t going to make you look or feel anywhere as awesome as carrying a sack of farm grade cover crop seed, it’s a great purchase for a suburban block. And yes it sprouted extremely well.

It’s bizarre how price is based on perspective. A friend mentioned you can grab a 2kg bag of sunflower seeds from the birdseed section of the supermarket for $3- So I grabbed some and soon had a lovely patch of yellow. A gardening store would charge over $30/kg for or in those tiny packets $3 for 25 seeds! So look around and you’ll be surprised at the many places seed opportunities are hiding.

Don’t forget your grocer / fruit market has plenty of seed hiding inside all that fruit and vegetable. For instance, I bought some spaghetti squash seeds a while back at $4/10seeds. I’ve had zero germination from them. I recently saw one in the local grocer. $6- gives me a whole squash worth of seeds plus a delicious feed thrown in! It’s a perfect try before you buy because after all how many times have you looked at a new fruit or vegetable and thought “Will I even like eating it?”, let alone buying seed and spending all those resources to grow it.

So if you see that unusual fruit/veg in the markets buy it and try and grow from it’s seeds. Worst case is you get a meal out of it.

Oh and before you ask, read the first sentence of this article :o)
That’s not to say we don’t have hybridised/specially bred seeds but for the most part our fruit and veg is pretty good (except for the spraying part) here in Australia. Imported foods however not so much which is why labeling laws are so important. Of course joining a local seed swap group is even better. It’s free and shares the load of being responsible for keeping heirloom varieties alive.

Happy seed sourcing.