Since it's on my mind right now and it's definitely that season (or at least, it's getting to be for those in colder places), I thought I would share some of the ways that I have put my garden together quite cheaply!
I didn't have much of a budget for gardening this summer, and I knew that buying all of my seeds would take up the bulk of it, so I had to get creative with the rest. I was working with a good sized plot (12 x 28 ft), that was fairly overgrown, with no raised beds and the soil was clay-ish and not very rich.
As you can see, my garden is not gorgeous (it's a little rough around the edges, literally!). It's not going to win any awards. It's certainly not as lovely as the perfect square foot gardens on the cover of my well worn book. But, it works and I am eagerly anticipating a bountiful harvest (leaving room for much human error, of course!). Even in all of it's simple practicality rustic charm it is a peaceful haven for me on lovely spring days, and I cannot wait to spend more time in it this summer.
I probably spent about $50 on seeds, plus another $7 on strawberry plants and $2 on onion sets. This is a lot, but it is because I bought all heirloom seeds, many of which are organic (which wasn't as important to me as heirloom, non-GMO seeds). I hadn't gardened last year, so I had to start from scratch, and next year will be much cheaper as I will already have many of my seeds.
The rest of what I spent was just on a few peat starter pots (about $4 I think?), and two bags of starter soil ($3 each), plus two bags of topsoil ($3 each) and a bag of manure (also $3), and then $13 on tools and $10 on gloves, bringing me to a grand total of $101.00. Considering how much produce we will get out of all that, and the fact that we will still have the tools, many seeds and the strawberry plants next year, I'm happy with what I spent. I know that it could have been much more!
Here are some of the ways that I kept costs low for establishing my garden this year:
- I found free composted horse manure from a local farm that I found on Craigslist in the free section (forget that I went to pick it up on a rainy day, by myself with both kids, and I had foolishly worn sandals, and it was disgusting- but other than that it was great, LOL!)
- We built garden borders (for raised beds) out of scrap wood we got for free. It doesn't look perfect or as pretty as I'd like, but it sure was cheap, and it's functional. We held the wood in place using old tent poles- you could use proper pieces of wood or long nails instead, but the poles work for us, for this year anyways.
- I did a bunch of calling around to find the best deal before I rented my roto-tiller and discovered that at one place (Home Depot) Tues-Thurs were half price until June, if I rented for a half day (4 hours).
- I had no garden tools this year (last time I gardened was at a community garden, and they had a shed full of shared tools), so I looked around on Craigslist and even asked on Freecycle. From that, I came up with some tools for $5 a piece, which is pretty good, but didn't end up getting those. Then I went to a garage sale and got 3 of the tools I needed for $1 each! That's my kind of price!
- I suppose it's getting a bit late in the season for this tip, but consider it for next year. I know that I saved so much money by starting my own seeds, rather than buying the plants already started. It cost more up front this year to purchase my seeds, but I have so many seeds left over for next year of most things (tomatoes, pepper, squash, herbs, etc.) that it will be even more cost efficient next year. It doesn't take that much work, and I just viewed it as a science activity with my daughter. She loves watering her "plants" and it's fun to point out how they're growing.
- Making my own compost will pay off shortly. I've been working on it for a couple of months now, and it's not quite there, but as the weather heats up more, it will go faster. I can't make as much as I need for this summer (hence the horse manure), but next summer I will be ready with more that I've made throughout the year.
- To continue to keep costs low, I am going to seek our more free sources of compost and manure to keep feeding my garden, as well as making some of my own. I will need some posts and wire to make a trellis for my vertical plants to climb, as well as supports for my tomatoes, but I will keep my eye's out on Craigslist and Freecycle for anythign useful, as well as garage sales.
And, here are a few more great, frugal ideas for your garden that I found today!
Get coffee grinds for free from Starbucks! I did this a week ago, and wasn't exactly sure what to do with them, except that I've often seen big bags of them offered with the sign "Grounds for your Garden". Here's a link that I found today with some interesting testimonials and ideas for using the grinds.
Grow potatoes in a garbage can! I had heard about this a while ago, and it's been on the back burner of my mind ever since. Today I decided to google it, and found these instructions. It sounds so simple, and anyone can do it, even if you don't have a real garden or yard! I have an extra garbage can without a lid that I have no other purpose for, so I'm thinking it's about to become a potato garden
Do you have any good gardening tips (frugal or otherwise)? Please share!!!
Part of Frugal Fridays hosted by Biblical Womanhood.