Thrifty Gardening Secrets
Written by: Dottie Baltz
Gardening doesn't have to cost a lot of money. If you are intimidated by gardening because you think it's an expensive hobby, or just want some ideas on how to save some money, then you need to read this article.
- Properly store your seeds so they are viable for many years to come. Store dried seeds in the refrigerator to prolong their life. If the seeds are in paper envelopes, put them inside a plastic air-tight storage container. Properly stored seeds can last for five years or more.
- Swap seeds with friends or online seed swaps. This is a great way to get new varieties for free or for the cost of postage.
- Save your own seeds.
Saving your own seeds is a great way to save money. Especially for annuals that have to be planted every year. If you are not sure how to save seeds, check out my article here.
- Propagate your own plants. You can start them from seeds or cuttings. For the price of one plant or less, you can have dozens of plants. Don't forget to divide perennials and bulbs to get more plants. Whatever you don't need can be traded at plant swaps or sold to make a little extra cash.
- Use newspaper under your mulch to maximize how well it works. To save money on weed control lay down at least 6 layers of black and white newspaper on the ground before you apply your mulch. You can use less mulch this way and it will block weeds much better than mulch alone. Depending on how much rain you get in a year, the newspaper could last a year or more.
- Make your own compost to enrich and fertilize your soil. You don't need a fancy storage bin or a large area to have a compost pile. My pile is in a shady area of the yard and I still have usable compost every summer. I don't turn it very often either, so it's not a lot of work. In late summer, I use what is ready in the pile on my gardens and then it's ready to be filled with autumn leaves, soil from containers and other plant materials. Bonus tip: Make compost tea for a faster acting fertilizer for your plants.
- Consider installing a rain barrel. A rain barrel can be as simple as placing a trash can at the base of a shortened down spout. I use my rain barrel to water all my container plantings. So far, I have not run out of water even though we have just one barrel. This will save money on your water bill, if you have public water, and save money on electricity and wear and tear on the pump if you have a well. It's also great for the environment as you will prevent water from going into storm drains. If you are able to place your barrel up hill of a garden, you can even use the barrel to water with a hose. You can also save water from boiling pasta or cooking vegetables. Allow the water to cool to room temperature before using and your plants will love it.
- Research your plant choices before planting. Just because a plant is sold in your garden center, doesn't mean it's appropriate for your yard. In addition to being able to survive winter, you want the plant to be compatible with your soil type and the amount of water your garden gets each year. If the information you are looking for is not on the tag or seed packet, research the plant online before purchasing.
- Utilize Freecycle and CraigsList. You can get free manure, gardening pots and supplies for free or very little money from these sites. Watch for bargains at yard sales and thrift stores as well. Be smart. If an ad seems weird, or you get a funny feeling about the person you are dealing with, walk away. But in general, these sites are pretty useful when it comes to bargains.
- Stock up on necessities at the end of the season. This may seem like a no-brainer, but at the end of the season, I'm not usually thinking about what I am going to need next year, but it's a great time to stock up on bagged mulch, bagged compost and other supplies. You may also want to look out for damaged packages throughout the growing season as they can be reduced as much as 50%.
Bonus Tip: Make your own bug sprays or anti-fungus sprays. Make sure you know exactly what your pest problem is and then research a homemade spray to deal with the problem. Many homemade sprays work just as well as commercial brands and are better for the environment.