Should you buy seeds on Ebay?

How do you find free garden seeds? The better question you should be asking is how do you build your seed library quickly and inexpensively? The answer is this - source seeds from: family, friends, plant exchanges, online retailers, plant forums, craigslist, big box and garden retailers, in the wild, your own garden, and ebay.
saving seeds and storing heirlooms

Of these, "real-life" people are more reliable sources. But they probably don't have all the cool varieties you've always wanted to grow. Or... the cool varieties you want are not sold in regular stores, are outlawed for various reasons, or are just super rare.

Enter Ebay.

Almost everything is sold on ebay. You can buy from people in different countries. You can buy in small amounts or huge amounts. Shipping for seeds is cheap.
saving seeds and storing heirlooms

So should you do it? The short answer is Yes. I have built most of my seed bank from ebay. But..... you need to's not going to be perfect!

Of the seeds I've bought on ebay, at least 3 have turned out to be something different than advertised. Of course, you won't know this until a few months later when you've germinated and fully grown out the plant.

I bought ground cherries that turned out to be tomatillos (the seeds look identical,) scarlet runner beans that turned out to be purple podded pole beans. and a flat leaved swiss chard that turned out to be savoy leaved.

I've had some seeds that didn't germinate or didn't germinate well. But I've had that with seeds from amazon, retails stores, and online seed retailers. That just happens sometimes.
saving seeds and storing heirlooms

The trick with ebay is to make sure you are getting the seeds inexpensively. Then if it turns out to be a different plant or not what you expected, you didn't invest a ton into it. Also, know a lot about the plant you are buying so if you get something else  - you know what it is and whether it's safe to eat!

Because seeds take a long time to germinate and grow to an identifiable plant, you will most likely miss out on the "ebay guarantee" window. This is why it is so important to be sure and get them for a good price, read the seller's feedback, and buy a little at a time.

There will be auctions for 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 seeds. Buy the size you need for one season. If it's a plant that will give you seeds after harvest, keep that in mind. Just because 3000 seeds is cheaper per seed, doesn't mean you should shell out for that many.

Keep tabs on the sellers that sold you good seeds and visit them again when you are looking for more. Ditto on those that sold you bad seeds.

Most people are honest and just trying to make a living doing something they enjoy. I try to buy from people that save their own seeds, but even the ones that resell from wholesalers can have good products. I've even bought a few from out of the country. It generally takes a lot longer and the listings and packaging are usually in other languages (google translate makes this part easy enough,) but you can get many different varieties this way and diversity is usually a good thing.

****I should mention that it is not a "ringing endorsement" of ebay and this article is NOT sponsored by ebay. To be honest, I *hate* ebay and purposely go out of my way not to buy or sell on the site. But....they do have the best odds for wacky seeds at good prices

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