You know the drill…

So where do I obtain those veg seeds to put into the garden when the weather perks up in the spring?

It’s a piece of cake growing vegetables from seed and it’s a simple as going to your local garden centre and choosing a suitable variety. Depending on the type of seeds, they’re not going to cost you more than £2.50 a pack which isn’t bad considering the value of the edibles you’ll harvest (which will taste a million times better than shop bought ones anyway).

As I’m forever watching the cash in my pocket, here’s some ideas for obtaining them at a reduced rate:

E-bay
I’m getting a lot of my seeds off e-bay at the moment as they are a lot cheaper that the shops but we still should support our local garden centre in other ways or they’ll go bust! You get great variety, good seeds and notes off the seller saying “Happy gardening, love Bob”. Now thats service!

Seed swaps
You get far too many seeds in a packet, so sow very lightly and save some to sow a fortnight later for successive sowing (so the harvest will be staggered and won’t come all at once) and some to swap with your gardening mates. You can find out more about organised seed swaps through asking about at gardening clubs, allotments or have a look at http://www.seedysunday.org

Special offers at the end of the growing season
DIY shops like Robert Dyas sell off packs of seeds cheap at the end of the growing season or when the packet’s sell-by date is fast approaching. Seeds can still germinate after the use-by date, the chances are a bit slimmer as the months go by, so sow them a little bit thicker than you normally would to compensate. I was told recently that seeds are still good to sow up to five years after the sell/use-by date.

Garden magazine freebies
Seeds, bulbs and plug-plants are usually given away free with gardening magazines to get readers in, so keep a  look out in the newspaper shop or those market stalls that sell recent back issues.

TV/Web promotions
The other year the BBC had their “Dig In” campaign where they gave away packets of vegetable seeds to encourage people to grow their own which is very commendable. The RHS have also also done similar promotions. Google “Free Veg Seeds” and check gardening forums on the web to find out what’s being given out and where.

Sunday paper offers
At certain times of the year Sunday papers do free bulbs, veg seeds and plug plants just for the cost of postage. Okay you are supposed to buy other stuff with it but I can never afford it. Most of the Daffs in my front garden are from The Observer or Saturday’s Guardian postage only specials!

Plant sales
Gardening clubs and allotments do plant and seed sales which are great for bargains and for rarer varieties, have a look in the local paper, on the internet or ask around at your local allotment. The Horniman Museum in South London does a very good one so I’m told.

Shops that don’t usually sell gardening stuff
There’s a shop nearby in Brockley called “Sounds Around”. This is a fantastic shop, described on the web as “Woolworths on steroids”, now that’s a recommendation! They sells pink plastic picnic plates, clothes pegs and porcelain teddy bears but also do a fantastic line in tomato plants. On holiday in Cornwall a couple of years ago the local Spar was doing some healthy Kale plants very cheaply. Keep a look out for plants for sale in odd places.

Getting seed off your own plants
Collecting seeds off your own plants, letting them dry out first then putting in a paper bag will save you some cash. I’ve had success with my own coriander, squash and melons seeds. With the latter two, the pulp must be removed from around the seeds before they are finally dried off, the same for tomatoes, courgettes and pumpkins.

So there you go, a few ideas to save your sheckles. If you’ve any free or cheap seed top tips, do let me know as I love a freebie!

This post was delayed due to a baby mouse (2cm long) running amuck in our hallway last night. This 50 year old writer was flapping about with a dustpan and brush, screaming every time the mouse moved while his 13 year old daughter caught it with calm. The writer will not win this year’s “London hardman of the year” award I’m afraid.

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