Sunday

Inexpensive Gardening Strategies

When you love to garden it's easy to get carried away with the latest gadget, lust after those adorable prefab greenhouses or just want a set of shiny new tools every year. Although new toys are fun, gardening can be less expensive than you think. These tips will help you grow some green the cash friendly way. You may need a couple of seasons to get a few of them to work for you, but they're worth the extra effort and gentle on the environment too:

Start your herbs and vegetables from seed and harvest seeds every season. This is one of the joys of gardening once you get the hang of it; schedule your starts early and find your plant propagating mojo.

Consider repurposing a leisure pursuit. This is a polite way to encourage you to become a scavenger. No one is advocating dumpster diving here . . . well, not aggressively anyway, but keeping your eye out for makeshift pots, crafting your own pavers out of broken pottery and giving a cracked pot a new lease on life with some super glue and a moss patina is a fun and useful way to expand your gardening skill set and make your dollar go a little further. You'll never look at a garage sale the same way again.

Start composting. Yes getting started can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. If you aren't into building your own lattice or rotating bin, try worm composting. It's fun. You can do it indoors if you have to, and you won't find better compost anywhere. If you have young children around, it's a great way to show them that bugs can be your buddies.

Mulch your dead leaves in the fall. Instead of bagging and disposing of autumn leaves, spread them on your flowerbeds instead. They'll give your garden a cozy winter blanket to keep it warm for the cost of a quick trip through your mower blades.

Mulch with newspaper in spring. If you want to give those tomato seedlings something to grow about, mulch them with a layer of shredded newsprint. It'll warm up their soil and keep that vital surface moisture from evaporating. Just put down a layer of shredded newspaper and cover with it with a thin layer of your regular mulch product for a pampered looking landscape. You can use half the mulch you'd normally buy. You can also make nifty seedling pots out of newspaper, but you probably already know that.

Add a rain barrel to your landscape. Rain barrels can accumulate lots of roof runoff from even a light rain. With water prices soaring, this found water may not be a good choice for your edible garden, but it's a great solution for your flowerbeds and lawn. You can make a rain barrel yourself cheap and become a water hoarding environmental superstar. Even if you save your pennies and buy a rain barrel setup, you may be able to get a credit from your local utility company to help defray the costs.

Share the bounty. Become a creative gardener by finding ways to swap, sell or share your plants or harvests. From exchanging seedlings with friends to selling some of your more exotic herbs at your local farmers market, gardening is a pastime that naturally generates its own bounty by means of propagation and the fruits (and veggies) of your labor. If you think about it a bit, you may be able to get that bounty to work for you in new and lucrative ways.

Think out of the pot or planter. If you're on a budget but have a couple of herbs or veggies that you really want to try, no one ever said that you have to start a new flowerbed to do them up proud. Find a spot for your plants of choice in an existing bed or start them in whatever container you can find that has good drainage. If you don't have a garden, ask a neighbor if you can use a corner of theirs.

Plants need good soil and regular watering, but they're not snobs about the accommodations. They'll like you if you give them a little attention, and they don’t really care about your wardrobe or taste in music. They're very democratic that way. If you have the money to start an indoor hydroponics set up, go for it. If all you can provide is an old colander with a bad case of warp, you won't be the first person to grow a bunch of chives or a lettuce patch in a make-do pot. Oh, if you're quick, you may be able to participate in a community garden by annexing your own plot (called an allotment) at a nominal seasonal fee. It isn't the most convenient solution, but being able to indulge your inner farmer may be worth the added hassle.

If you plant a seed, great things can happen -- so get started.

2 comments:

  1. I'm with you on the inexpensive solutions. These days, I'm always on the lookout for containers I can recycle. I get all the fast food cups and soda bottles and I root my cuttings in those. I also tried the newspaper pot.

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  2. Hey Chris,

    I'm really liking the Steak 'n Shake milkshake containers with the clear plastic dome. They're great half filled with vermiculite and sand for starting African violets and other baby plants.

    It's a nice excuse to head out for a sweet indulgence too. :)

    Sara

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