How To Get FREE Veggie Plants For Your Garden

by Tammy Taylor~

So I recently shared an update on my veggie garden progress.  If you’ve read it you know my peppers and tomatoes were pretty much a bust this year due to our weird spring.  You see, I planted seeds in my indoor greenhouse and placed that greenhouse at a south-facing window in my home like I always do.  But the constant cloudy weather this spring hampered a good germination.  The few plants that did germinate were hardened off & placed in the garden.  But you know peppers and tomatoes like a little more sun, a little more heat.  All those seeds were just a big, fat bust. I’m disappointed since RancherMan had requested a Pico-De-Gallo garden this year.  Garlic?  Check.  Onions?  Check.  Cilantro?  Check.  Tomatoes?  Hummm… But I was recently able to replenish some of the vacant areas in my garden.  It cost me ZILCH.  “How can you get free veggie plants for your garden?” you might wonder.  I’m so glad you asked!

Free Volunteer Plants. Tomato planting was a bust in the garden this year, will I do w/o tomatoes? See how I've outfitted my veggie garden with FREE plants #TaylorMadeHomestead

Volunteer Seedlings

The easiest way to get free veggie plants in my garden is to watch for volunteer seedlings.  On a typical gardening year I get several volunteer plants.  This year my first sighting was in the bed where I planted peanuts.  I saw there were several vines that sprouted up.  Now based on previous year’s plantings these vines could be spaghetti quash or heirloom pumpkin, or even cantaloupe.  (My guess is cantaloupe.)  I’ve allowed them to grow right where they are.  These vines make a great living mulch, especially here in my peanut bed where I’m needing the ground moisture conserved to allow underground peanut formation.  These vines will shade the ground and keep it cooler and preserve that precious moisture during those hot summer months.

Volunteer plant. Tomato planting was a bust in the garden this year, will I do w/o tomatoes? See how I've outfitted my veggie garden with FREE plants #TaylorMadeHomestead

But what do I see here among the other mysterious vines?  These leaves are much more cut, I’m virtually certain it’s a watermelon vine.  Well ok then – go ahead and help my peanuts little watermelon vine.  I’ll gladly accept any watermelon deliciousness that results!

Watermelon. Tomato planting was a bust in the garden this year, will I do w/o tomatoes? See how I've outfitted my veggie garden with FREE plants #TaylorMadeHomestead

And make no mistake, there will be lots of deliciousness that results from these volunteer vines.  Since we began beekeeping last year there have been many honey-making visits by our bzzzzzy workers to our garden.  Talk about a beautiful symbiotic relationship!  These honey bees are not only helping to assure my garden harvest success, but they’re also making some delicious honey for us!  You GO girl, shake your Honey-Maker!  LOL

Honeybee pollinating. Tomato planting was a bust in the garden this year, will I do w/o tomatoes? See how I've outfitted my veggie garden with FREE plants #TaylorMadeHomestead

Relocating Volunteer Seedlings

I’ve also found other volunteer plants in the garden that needed to be relocated.  Since my tomatoes that I planted by seed had been a big bust, I was beyond excited to find this tomato seedling happily reaching for the sun.  It too was in my peanut bed so it needed to be relocated.

Tomato planting was a bust in the garden this year, will I do w/o tomatoes? See how I've outfitted my veggie garden with FREE plants #TaylorMadeHomestead

I often relocate volunteer seedlings in my garden.  I typically give them a special place in one of the planting rows.  Heck if it wants to live & provide this badly, who am I to deny it!  As it turns out this volunteer is doubly exciting since it replaces one of the veggie plants that never sprouted.  Woo-hoo!

So what did I spy beneath my *compost tumber?  A closer look reveals yet another tomato plant, along with a vining veggie plant of some sort.  Just like my peanut beds, I like to plant vining veggies beneath my tomato plants to shade the ground.  So I dug up both plants and planted them in the tomato patch in my veggie garden.  Looks like I’ll have a decent-enough tomato crop after all.

Win/Win Volunteer Plants

And you know I plant sunflowers along the fence that divides my chicken run from my garden.  These sunflowers are beautiful to me.  And my mom loves them when she comes to visit.  Plus they offer shade to the chickens since they’re planted on the western side of their run.  Oh and the resulting seeds are shared with both the chickens and the wild birds, so I’m actually growing some of their food.

Of course I planted that row of sunflowers again this year, but some were spindly out of the indoor greenhouse because of the lack of sun this spring.  They’re kinda growing ok, but we’ll see how they do.

But THIS?  This little sunflower seed fell across the fence and sprouted in the chicken run.  RancherMan’s 6′-3″, so this reach means that dang sunflower plant is over 8-ft tall now!  The chickens are currently using its large leaves for shade right there in their chicken pen !  Beauty for me, shade for the chickens and food for them too later on.  That’s a win/win right there!

Enough Produce to Share

I didn’t plant my pickler cucumbers this year because RancherMan’s not fond of raw cucumbers.  I enjoy them but there are only so many cucumbers a girl can eat.  So I made refrigerator pickles with many of them last year.  RancherMan enjoys pickles and although that worked out great, again, there are only so many you can consume.  As a result I left them off the planting list this year.

After the garden itself was planted I felt a little sad.  I think I’m really gonna miss those cucumbers.  But wait, what’s this??  Yep, sprouting next to the chicken fence, a cucumber vine.  Yea!  So I’m tying it to the fence to allow it to grow up & along the fence.  This makes cucumber harvest easy for me, but also offers that all-important shade to the chickens during the hot summer months.  I’ll probably make more pickles this year and then pass them out freely to family, neighbors, church members, etc.  Y’all know how much gardeners love to share!

I love that none of these free plants required me to drive anywhere and buy anything.  None of them came with those dang plastic pots that need to be disposed of.  And since they’re volunteers they are typically a very vigorously-growing plant.  That stacks up to an awesome financial win as well as garden & environmental win. So keep your eyes open, fellow gardeners.  There’s often many opportunities to get veggie plants absolutely free!

~TMH~

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Volunteer Plants. Tomato planting was a bust in the garden this year, will I do w/o tomatoes? See how I've outfitted my veggie garden with FREE plants #TaylorMadeHomestead

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8 thoughts on “How To Get FREE Veggie Plants For Your Garden

  1. Rosie (@GreenRosieLife)

    I am quite a lazy gardener so do get lots of weeds growing … which also means I also get volunteer plants which quickly get popped in a new home to grow on as I pull out neighbouring weeds. I also allow potatoes to grow so long as they are not interfering with other plants I have actually sown … and I have not bought sunflower seeds for years! #WasteLessWednesday

    Reply
  2. Becca @ The Earthling's Handbook

    I love volunteer plants! My mom and I practice Darwinian Gardening, where we throw on some compost, plant a bunch of seeds, and see what comes up. I have gotten some very tasty squash and tomatoes from volunteer plants. My parents spread compost on a bare patch of lawn last summer and accidentally grew a huge squash vine that spread in several directions; they decided to mow around it and see what kind of squash they would get.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      I get the most vigorous-growing plants from compost volunteers, Becca! They really *want* to live! ~TMH~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      It’s so funny how different chickens can be! Other have told me how much their chickens love tomato scraps, my chickens won’t touch ’em. They’ve never messed with any of the vines that grow along the dividing fence. I guess that diversity is just part of the fun of keeping chickens! ~TMH~

      Reply
  3. Barbara

    I love my volunteers!! Usually its cucumbers of one sort or the other. But since they grow near the garden fence, they have something to climb automaticly. I have had so many different volunteers that it has been fun figuring out what it is and do I want to let it continue where it is or does it need moved. I am looking forward to this years volunteers.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Homestead Post author

      OMGosh Barbara, I totally know how you feel! I too get excited trying to figure out what plant the volunteer is and whether or not I should be relocating or allowing it to grow where it is. And since I plant almost 100% heirloom plants I know what to expect from that volunteer seedling. I’m super excited about my volunteer pickler cucumber vine too. A big bonus that it’s growing near the fence so I can train it up for easy harvest. Woo-hoo! ~TMH~

      Reply

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