Budget Gardening

Planning the budget garden

  1. Decide what you are going to grow in your garden. Decide whether you want to grow simple herbs, or a vegetable garden that you can harvest and enjoy. Keep it simple, in order to keep down the costs. If you’d like flowers and shrubs, consider where these are to be placed in the garden, for maximum show and effect.
    • For the sake of reducing costs, it’s often best to choose plants that grow well in your area and climate. This increases the chances that the plants will survive and won’t have to be replaced.
    • Perennials, shrubs and trees are good value because they don’t need to be replaced yearly. Once established, such plants can produce interesting foliage, pretty blooms and, in some cases, edibles, throughout different times of the year, not just the warmer months.
  2. Consider starting small, then growing the garden. If you have a large garden space, don’t attempt to cover it all at once. Instead, plan to plant a portion of the garden first, ensure that is doing well, then gradually increasing the area gardened. You can make use of seeds and cuttings from the initial part of the garden as well.

Finding affordable garden and plant supplies

  1. Find a good seed supplier. Seeds can save you a great deal of money over choosing seedlings. While seedlings are convenient, the amount you get for the price paid will be far less than purchasing seeds. Moreover, seeds give you a greater variety to choose from, including heirloom and long forgotten varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers.
    • Do some online research to find suitable suppliers in your area. In many cases you can have the seeds shipped to you after ordering them online.
    • Check the online prices against the local gardening store prices, to enable you to choose the lowest price.
  2. Look for budget associated gardening requirements. This includes potting soil, containers, digging implements, and so forth. Check the sales for some items, as you may be able to find good quality tools and gardening gear at reduced prices. Look for bargains related to buying in bulk, especially for soil, vegetable plants, garden stakes and fencing.
    • Look on Freecycle, Craigslist, or similar places to find infill soil. If you have the ability to transport this and you can verify it’s quality soil, this can be a free source of extra soil for your garden.
  3. Visit your local garden center. Check out their reduced price section on plants. Plants that aren’t thriving or selling as well are often reduced for clearance. You take a risk on the plant not surviving but if you’ve only paid a few dollars, it can be worth the try and many such plants do pull through given TLC.
    • Some plants, such as end-of-season tomato and bell pepper plants in tubs, may go for very little in order to ensure the store gets something for them. These can be grown indoors for a while longer, producing some fruits and vegetables for you as it gets colder.

Using your own skills to save money

  1. Save your own seeds. After each season, when the annuals are spent, save the seeds for next year’s blooms and crops. Ensure that the seeds are stored dried and place them in small envelopes. Label and date so that you remember which seeds are which. Store in a cool and dry place until the next season.
  2. Learn to propagate plants with cuttings, division, etc. There are plentiful instructions online for each plant type and how to propagate it from stems, pieces, etc. In some cases, it might be worth investing in rooting hormone, but read up on the plant’s preferences first. Growing more plants through cuttings and division can save a lot of money and can also be a source of meeting the people who are growing the plant you’d like a piece of!
  3. Make your own compost and homemade fertilizers. Doing this saves you a lot of money and it’s not hard to do. See making compost for instructions and check out How to fertilize a garden cheaply for a few ideas.
  4. Recycle and repurpose whatever you can. Use unusual containers for growing plants in instead of expensive containers. For example, an old gumboot, a spent kettle or a washing machine drum. Make use of palettes for raised garden beds, hanging boxes and vertical gardens.
    • Visit thrift and charity stores for items that are no longer wanted but can be put to good use in the garden.
    • Look online for inspiration in reusing materials to help build and tend to your garden. Image sites are excellent for assessing the opportunities at a glance.
  5. Follow the planting instructions with care. This can help ensure the best health and vigorous growth of the plants you’ve purchased, ensuring that they survive and you don’t waste your money.

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