One of the best things about growing things is getting free seed, that is IF you planted heirlooms. Hybrids, well they don't put out seed that is like the plant....ok, let me take that back, they MAY put out seed that is similar for the first year but usually they revert to their original "parents" within a few generations.
I like hybrid veggies, especially burpless cucumbers; but with all that Monsanto is doing with their GMO's and such, getting good heirloom seeds is becoming harder and more expensive. Unless you take advantage of a few tips.
Here are a few things I do: I get seed from friends who have heirlooms, there are many groups like yahoo groups that are about gardening and most have seed exchanges. Just be sure to ACTUALLY EXCHANGE seeds! Don't just wait for them to send you some and then disappear. You'd be surprised at just how many people do that. This is usually the second cheapest way (first being, people close by with whom you can exchange seeds or sometimes they will just give them to you).
Then the internet can be a great friend. Seed catalogs do have heirlooms, but be sure they ARE heirlooms...if they are NOT labeled as such, they probably are NOT. Now these seed catalogs, mostly have online sites where you can look at a catalog and order. And ordering has gotten MUCH easier these days but be careful of how you use your information!!! Make sure you do NOT click on those 'ads' on the sides of things unless you are on site you TRUST. Go directly to the gardening site and make sure that in the URL, there is ONLY their name plus 'dot come'. There should not be any other names or numbers. If you go through any other route, be sure you are going through a trusted site. Now that all that is out of the way, at this time of the year, many of these sites have major markdowns and free shipping coupons or enticements. For example, Burpee just had a major reduction on many many seeds and if you bought $50 worth, you get free shipping. (Yes I'm waiting for my order to get here, lol!) If I were to have bought all I bought for $50 at regular prices, the shipping would have been $13 and the cost of the seeds would have been over $200. And they are decent varieties.. Not all the "yucky stuff" that you may see in stores.
Speaking of stores, The Dollar General and Walmart have seeds for 20 cents to 3/$1 or close to this. However, if you go this route, CHECK the packages.... gently feel them to make sure that there are not only seeds in it but plenty of seeds. These cheaper packages are NOT always filled correctly. I've found many with one or two seeds and others with lot's of seeds. So check them all over. They do ok. In my opinion, just as good as the more expensive stuff. Now if you want to go with Ferry Morse, well I have to say they have a great customer service. I bought a pack of rosemary and none of it grew (probably my fault since I have two black thumbs) and they not only replaced that package but sent a freebie too!
Amazon and Ebay. Yep you can find lot's of seeds that are fairly priced and if you buy several from the same "store", they usually will toss in free shipping (and no taxes for many of the states). I love Amazon. If I ever put ads on my page, that will be one of them.
At Ebay, look for "lots of seeds" as in a bunch of packages for one price/bid. If there is bidding, bid, don't just automatically 'buy it now". You'd be surprised what you may pay. But there is tax and shipping usually at Ebay. (I like Amazon better, lol)
Lastly (but maybe not the last way...just the last way I will talk about) is saving your own seeds. Which is what I started out to tell you and got sidetracked. When you grow heirloom foods, let a few of the really good fruits (and veggies) go to seed. I think tomatoes are the easiest because you just pick when ripe and then mush out the seeds on a paper towel or three and let them dry. WELL OK, some people will wash them first and them spread them out on the paper towel or plate and let them air dry. That is probably the better way. Don't forget some plants are biennial and you have to leave them for two seasons before they make seed. Like carrots.
Other plants you can go online and find some great advise on how to save seed from specific plants. There is a lot of good info out there. For free. You don't have to buy a book. But my one final piece of advise is to go online and see what the seeds LOOK LIKE as they mature.
ok, I've blabbered enough. If you have a great way to save seed, leave it in the comments! :) take care!