1. Check out online sales. Catalog suppliers such as Johnny’s Seeds regularly have sales on their web sites, often at 60-80% off the original price. These are often discontinued products that didn’t make it into the current catalog. It’s an inexpensive way to try new things though if you find something you like, you might have difficulty locating it to grow again.
2. Watch Your Weekly Flyers. Most big box retailers will run sales on seeds beginning mid-spring, too late for most serious gardeners who have already started their crops by February or March. Nonetheless, you can use this as an opportunity to round out your collection and stock up for next year, so keep an eye on their weekly flyers.
3. Beware of “Phony” Sales. Last spring I chanced upon a display of Burpee seeds with signage announcing 50% OFF at one of our regional chain stores. I loaded up my basket and left the store thinking that I had scored big. Later that week I was browsing a display of Burpee seeds at Lowes and noticed that the printed prices on the exact same seed packets were almost half of what was marked at the other store. That day I learned the dirty little secret of retail seed sales – the prices are printed on the packets per the retailers’ orders. I didn’t overpay but I also didn’t make out nearly as well as I thought I had.
4. Make An Offer. By the end of June the retail season for seeds has finished and store managers aren’t sure what to do with those denuded cardboard seed racks. Though the selection will be extremely limited you can probably get the entire remaining stock for pennies on the dollar just for offering to take it off their hands.
5. Join a Seed Exchange. Seed exchanges are loose communities of gardeners who love to share their favorite seeds with other gardeners, often for just the cost of postage. Obviously there are no guarantees about quality and you may not get what you expect, but that’s part of the adventure and you’ll make a lot of new friends in the process. To get started just type “seed exchange” or “seed swap” into your favorite search engine.