I love my vegetable garden. I spend most of my summer out there even when it really doesn’t need my attention. I get a thrill just seeing my vegetables growing. Yet even though I love my garden I’m not going to spend a fortune on it each season. I grow vegetables because home-grown are healthier and cheaper than store bought. Over the years I’ve learned how to have a great garden for less money.
- I grow almost all my vegetables from seeds rather than buying started plants. My son always gets me some plants for Mother’s Day but starting vegetables from seeds is a lot less expensive.
- Seed swapping is another way to save money. Get together with your gardening friends and trade seeds. I always look for heirloom seeds and that way I not only get seeds for this year but I can save the seeds from my harvest for next year.
- I make my own soil amendments. We have chickens so I have that manure in bulk. There are also several nearby farms that have cows. They’re always happy to let me go clean up their pastures for the free manure. I just mix the manure I collect with grass clippings and old leaves, add some kitchen trimmings like eggshells and coffee grounds, and let it sit over the winter. The next spring I have great compost.
- Re-purposing and reusing items I have on hand saves money, too. Use fallen tree branches as stakes or trellises for tomatoes and vining plants. Old lattice can be turned into a garden gate. Be creative. Try using old cardboard and newspaper for mulch.
- Going organic is also a cash (and health) saver. Chemical pesticides can be expensive and they aren’t healthy but attracting beneficial insects to my garden is free. Cover crops and companion planting add nutrients to the garden and give me additional crops.
- Free or discount items like listings on Craigslist or your local newspaper often have free mulch or even live plants. I also go to garage sales and flea markets as they can be great places to find things I can repurpose for my garden.
- I design my vegetable and flower gardens myself. There are plenty of design services and software for designing gardens but they can be costly. It’s free and easy to do it yourself. Just research which plants grow well together and the light requirements of plants you want to grow. All you need to do the layout is some paper and a ruler. I use Excel each winter to plan my garden for the following spring. That way I can ensure crop rotation and move things around as my ideas change.
- Get creative. I often drive our dirt roads to pick up large rocks I use to decorate my flowerbeds. I have a thing about rocks. You can often find furniture to turn into garden decor and garden decorations free by the side of the road. Look to nature for items you can use to dress up your garden.
- Take cuttings and thin bulbs to increase the plants you have in your flower beds. Start your cuttings in a pot with wet perlite and you’ll see roots and leaves in just a few short weeks. Research which plants can be grown from cuttings as some are asexual; genetic clones, and won’t reproduce this way.
- Flower trades are another way I’ve found to get free plants. I take bulbs or cuttings of plants and trade them for the new ones I want with friends. It’s a wonderful way to get free perennials
Do you have money-saving tips for the garden? Please share them!