Updated: May 8, 2022
If you came here looking for free/cheap ways to garden, get seeds, seed catalogs, free plants or tips/tricks, then you’ve landed in the right place! This list will be ongoing, and I'll update it regularly with additions. If you haven't had the chance yet, please do sign up to become a member of our gardening community. It is 100% FREE. We don't sell your information, nor share it. By becoming a member, you will be notified via email when new information is posted, you can chat with other members or ask questions about your gardening troubles, be apart of different gardening groups like seed swapping, and participate in our forums section.
There are so many free or cheap ideas, tips, tricks, and things you can do to reduce part if not all of your gardening cost. You want to put the minimum amount of money into your garden. Your main goal should be to reduce or eliminate the cost of your grocery bill. So dumping tons of money into your garden really defeats this purpose. This is why I wanted to start compiling this list prior to the growing season. That way we all have time to gather supplies if you are new or replace supplies used from last year's growing season if you garden regularly .
I want everyone to be able to participate as we all find new ideas or old ideas we have tweaked. I may have been gardening over 20 years like many others have, but there is always going to be room for growth and new ideas/ways to do things. So in saying that, I will be learning from you all just as much as you learn from me and the community. Think of this entire site as your garden family. We are here to help each other succeed! I have tested all of the links listed here. I’ve filled out all the info and requested my seeds, plants, and catalogs. All of the ideas, tips, and tricks listed that are free are actual things I've done in the past and have had success with. I refuse to set anyone up for failure. Any affiliate links that I post I will label if they are mine, or a member of our website. Any and all commissions made from the links labeled as mine are used to support and maintain our garden community website. Good luck, and be watching your mail boxes like me for the free stuff you requested.
Please feel free to comment, message, or email me with suggestions or things you think should be added to the list. If you want to post affiliate links to products you've actually tried, tested, and got results with; I am open to that idea as long as you email it to me first for approval. If it hasn't been approved it will be deleted. I can and will be adding a group for anyone selling anything garden related. I just don't want the main feed of vital information bogged down with links and ads. Thanks in advance!
Things you can save from the grocery store: green onion ends, onion bulb ends, celery ends, lettuce ends, carrot tops, seeds from the fruit, potatoes that have eyes. I will be doing a blog post soon and video tutorials going over this.
Free Black-Eyed Susan or Milkweed seed packs- This website is amazing! They recognize the decrease in butterfly and bee populations. In response, they are advocating for National Parks all over the U.S. and giving away free seed packets to help save the bees and butterfly populations. Black-Eyed susans are great pollinator attractors, they help deter unwanted pests from laying eggs on your vegetable plants (like squash vine borers), and they are a perennial that you’ll never have to replant.
Pollinator Garden Mix contains 17 wildflower, ten (10) annuals for first-year color, plus seven (7) perennials for second and successive years’ bloom.
This website has a Pollinator Gardening Program. They have partnered with different schools and organizations all over the U.S. to help save Monarch butterflies. So far, over 20,000 schools, scout troops, and other organizations are involved. This is a great hands-on experience for the students to follow the development of the garden and observe the daily growth of the Monarchs. They do charge $1 for shipping to which I think is very acceptable for all the good they are doing with this program.
I recently came across a blog post about how the USDA gives out free RARE HEIRLOOM seeds to thousands of Americans. However, they will only send them if you can provide a good enough explanation as to what you are using the seeds/plants for like research to improve the quality of the plant or variety. Most of you have probably seen my recent TikTok about this. Please do not abuse this service. Your application for the seeds you request can, and will be denied if the USDA feels you are not using them in the manner for which they are providing them for. I added two varieties of Cherokee tomatoes and a few different varieties of Tommy Toe tomatoes to my cart when I ordered. In my description for why I am requesting them, I put that I am trying to create a variety of tommy toe Cherokee or micro Cherokee tomatoes. I received my email confirmation stating what I've ordered and I now am waiting for the snail mail to arrive. It does not ask you to pay for shipping either. Please DO NOT ABUSE this service. I will definitely keep everyone in the loop about this service and the experiments I am using them for in another blog post coming soon.
Free Seed Project This website is one I came across on a TikTok from user @lindsayjocrenshaw . Their mission "The mission of Free Seed Project is to increase access to organic gardening and healthy food for as many people as we can.". They have put together a seed kit of hearty veggies along with other seeds for people who cannot afford seeds, cannot find quality seeds, or people like my self who want to grow food for others. Check it out and see if you qualify.
Free plant/seed catalogs-
Select Seeds Free catalog Their edible seed packets are very reasonable in price and they offer a variety of organic heirlooms.
Burpee free catalog. We all know and have heard of Burpee. If you haven’t and are new, you will soon notice them everywhere in most stores.
Free Burgess seed & Plant Co. Catalog. When you order you get a variety of gifts! Depending on how much you spend you can get free huckleberry, cherry tomatoes, ranunculus, or windflowers!
Using an old play pen with a $1.00 roll of plastic from the hardware department at a Dollar General. Use tent stakes, or rocks to secure the bottom of the plastic. Be sure to make vent holes on top for warmer weather days and to ventilate. Using an old dog crate you can do the very same thing. I will do a tutorial video going over this soon. Below is a picture of the inside of a dog crate I used last year for my tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, and pepper seedlings.
Seed starter domes-
Free ways to start seeds- Save those egg crates! These make awesome seed starter trays when you are in a pinch. Styrofoam cups can also do the trick with a little plastic wrap secured on top.
Dollar General and the Dollar Tree both usually carry Jiffy or an off-brand of seed-started domes/cells. These trays range from $3-$5. I bought them a few three years ago and I am still using them to this day.
Seed starter soil-
Peat moss is your best friend here. I use almost nothing but peat moss to start my seeds in seed cells or dome starter trays. The Dollar General and Dollar tree typically sells a small bag of seed starting soil that's mainly made of peat moss for $3-$5 bucks. Lowes also carries a huge bag of peat moss (6 cubic ft) for around $12. This bag was enough for me to add to my compost and fill all 8 of my 5ftX15ft garden beds.
These are the pots I started using last year and surprisingly they held up good enough to re-use this year. I use these pots once the plants are too big for my seed starting domes. I usually keep them in these pots until my plants are ready for the garden, like my tomatoes every year. You get 110, 4” plastic nursery pots for around $11.95 from amazon. I also use these pots to grow window herbs inside my kitchen all year long. (*This link is my affiliate link. All commissions earned off of this link’s purchases are used to support & maintain this free website)
Tomato cages/Plant stem support or vines-
The most affordable way I have learned to create support for my plants including my tomatoes was using bamboo cuttings, and plant wire that sells for $1 at the Dollar General. I create a grid pattern for my tomato plants using this wire and the bamboo pictured below. I will be adding a blog and tutorial video on how to recreate this, in case anyone is interested in a super effective and cheap way to support your plants. Last year I was able to afford tomato cages. They honestly suck, and I was disappointed. I bought them from Wal-Mart. I will be going back to my old ways for support this year like you see in the pictures below.
Please also see the blog post/ video on the main page titled composting basics .
Most cities/counties give away free mulch and/or compost, but you have to pick up or deliver it yourself. Check your local city/county website for more information.
Save those leaves from the fall. These make for great mulch. Once spring has arrived, and all of the beneficial pollinators have vacated your leaf piles, chop those leaves with a lawnmower. Once chopped you can easily spread it throughout your beds.
Seedless hay is also an amazing way to mulch and retain moisture within your garden or beds.
Natural insect repellent-
Request a FREE sample of Natural Insect Repellent for your body to use while gardening Request it here.
For your plants, there are tons of free ways to keep pests away that are GOOD for the environment.
Hair cuttings- I go to local salons and ask for the hair they throw away. I use it around the borders of my garden to keep deer, rabbits, and other animals away. Yes, it works. I live beside Arkansas’s Hot Springs National Park. Deer are in my yard daily. They rarely touch my garden.
Neem Oil Spray, Diatomaceous Earth, Garlic spray, or pepper spray are all-natural remedies for getting rid of aphids, whiteflies, beetles, and other hungry little insects. I will also be adding a blog post and tutorial for making these before the growing season.
Cinnamon- This is so cheap. I mean 50 cents to a buck for a bottle of ground cinnamon. Sprinkle at the base of your plants to deter whiteflies and spider mites.
Growing Marigolds- I am a huge supporter of companion growing. Marigolds are awesome for this. I plant a lot of them in my squash beds to help deter squash vine borers from laying eggs on my squash plant. They are attracted to the pretty blooms squash make. When I plant marigolds I see a huge decrease in the number of vine borers on my squash crop. They are also pollinator attractors. Click here for a free PDF list and guide about companion planting.
Composting is the absolute best natural fertilizer.
Banana water, water used after boiling eggs, eggshells, tums antacids are packed full of calcium which helps prevent blossom end rot, worm castings, and rabbit feces ( it doesn't have to age, it can be readily used straight from your cage) are just a few off-hand.
I have always used river rocks. They tend to be a perfect size and are free. Do please check your local, and federal laws before removing rocks. You’d be surprised at how much trouble you could get into by removing something from a national or state park.
Once again the Dollar Tree and Dollar store win this one. Every year during spring I load up on their $1.00 bundles of garden borders. I use the wire ones for my lettuce, and cabbage each year. I create a border wall to hold the mesh down. This is how I keep those pesky cabbage worms from eating my cabbage. They last up to three years sometimes. This year they did not survive the lawnmower, and a teenager who didn't see them.
All of my gardening tools have come from flea markets, good wills, and yard sales. I have found better deals and more unique tools this way. If I cannot find them there, then I move on to the dollar stores. I have yet to find anything online that is free in this category. I will keep looking, no worries.