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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gardening on the Cheap

by Mike

Gardening can be an expensive hobby if you let it but over the years Marisa and I have found ways to make it more economical. Here are a few of the things that we have found reduce our costs and make gardening more cost friendly.

1.Plan carefully for what you want. We sit down every spring and write in our garden journal what we want to grow. Make sure that you put in staples that you know your family will eat. You don’t want to waste time and money on something that no one wants. We usually pick a few new plants that we want to try each year but we don’t dedicate a lot of space to these plants until we try them and find out if they work well in our climate, and if we like them. After choosing what we want to grow, we map out our garden in detail. Since we have everything planned out we find that we don’t splurge on additional plants that we won’t eat or don’t have room for.

2.Grow your plants from seed. It isn’t hard once you learn how. You can create a nice seed growing rack. You can start your seeds in your window sills. You can also start a lot of them in the garden. It is much more economical to buy seeds than plants. In addition, if you buy heirloom seeds, you can harvest your seeds from year to year. Marisa and I don’t have to buy a lot of seeds anymore since we harvest from existing plants.

3.Get a gardening group together. You won’t usually need a whole packet of seeds. You probably won’t always use all of the seedlings that you grow as well since you usually start more than you need. If you can find a group you can share the cost of buying new seeds, mulch, and other expenses, and you can share seedlings which can reduce costs. If you can get the group to buy in larger units it will decrease your overall costs (think Costco). It also reduces your risk. If your seedlings don’t turn out, or your plants don’t yield as muc as you hoped for, some of the others in your group can give you some of theirs.

4.Make your own compost. There are fancy composters out there that work great but our garbage can composter has served us well and it only cost $15 to make it. It gives us wonderful compost from materials that would have otherwise ended up in the garbage. This is much cheaper than buying mulch from the store.

5.Reduce water use. One of the biggest costs to gardening in the city is water. An easy way to use less water is to make sure your soil retains water. There are cheap ways to do this. You can put leaves and grass clippings around your plants in the garden and they will help the ground to stay moist. You can also put down newspapers in your garden and it keeps the moisture in. Not only will you have to water less, these methods will also reduce the amount of weeding you have to do. If you live where it rains a lot you can also create a rain collecting system from which you can water your garden.

Gardening is a wonderful hobby that yields great results but it is even more enjoyable when you can make it more affordable.What other ideas do you all have to make gardening more economical. Please comment and share your knowledge with the rest of us.

6 comments:

Rachel said...

I've got a post on tips for frugal gardeners as well. Mine is a little different though as it's more about reusing materials for gardening, such as using popcicle sticks for plant tags. I'm planning on doing another one soon about other household items you can use in your garden.

mike said...

Rachel,

That is a great point that I hadn't thought of. Reusing items is a great way to save money and reduce our impact on the environment. I am excited to see the post about household items. Which one of your blogs will you put it on?

Rachel said...

Oh! I need to remove the Living Simply one and I don't post to that, but rather use it to design templates. It will be on the Dog Island Farm Blog.

Vegetable garden said...

I like the points that you have mentioned here,I do agree to all of that. I always thought of gardening as the best hobby to spend some time with.

KJ's Restart Button said...

Great pointers. thanks
Konnie

JoyceAnn said...

Hi ~ Enjoyed reading your blog post about cheap gardening , I'm thinking that next year I may try to start a gardening group like you suggested. I also want to make a garbage can composter.
I just posted about natural pest control for the garden on my blog. Would love for everyone to blop over and share the ways you deal with garden pest naturally.

~ Happy Gardening Blessings ~