Gardening can provide you with food and nourishment for the soul. It can also be really expensive. I can easily drop half my paycheck at the local nursery, but I don’t. If you are like me and obsessed with your garden in the spring, read on to see the ways that you can save money in the garden.
When we bought our home, there was minimal landscaping and the earth was neglected. Dried out patches and damp mossy bits made it a major project for me last spring. I refused to hire anyone, only out of my own pride for a green thumb and went straight to work.
One year later, we enter spring and all of my hard work last year was starting to bud (literally). The work was well received by the earth and I simply needed to complete some maintenance and replenish the few annuals and veggies I keep in the garden.
To clarify, when I say garden, I do not mean only a vegetable garden. All of your backyard garden from shrubs to butterfly bushes and tomatoes. These gardening tips will save you money regardless of the type of garden you grow.
1. Find Free Fertilizer for your Garden
Fertilizer from the store can be up to $40 a bag! Yes, people pay that much for poop and rotted things. (Guilty!) If you can, look around for local free fertilizer.
Do you know a friend who has backyard chickens? Offer to clean the coop and take some of it with you.We are lucky in that HisFi’s parents own a ranch and when we head up to the hills I can get as much horse dropping as I want for the garden. I found that our evergreen plants really love it.
If finding a local “source” of fertilizer is out of the question, consider starting your own compost and using this to give your plants some food.
Note: Do not use dog or cat droppings. The refuse you get from an animal needs to be from one who eats primarily plants. Other animals droppings are acidic and damaging the soil.
2. Local Plant Sales at Schools
Local High Schools in the area almost always have a horticulture program. It is one of the schools largest fundraisers of the year and you can get the best deal on plants that are native to the area. In our districts 3 High Schools nearby have plant sales in April and May, each specializing in certain plants. I have bought everything from a house cactus to my entire herb garden at the sales and spent only a few dollars.
Remember that it is still a fundraiser to keep these programs running and allows for students to compete in garden shows so feel free to drop a little extra in the bucket for your hanging flower pots. You can find out about the local plant sales on the school district website.
3. Plant Your Own Seeds in your Garden
While buying plants is always a little bit easier, planting your own seeds is so cheap. The packets are often only a few cents…yes I said it cents and you can grow them quickly in the right soil.
I have done seed swaps before with friends who have too many of one type. My Aunt has been kind enough to hand me some seeds every year for my garden. You can start your seeds inside in old egg cartons before transplanting to your garden.
4. Buy Bark and Gravel in Bulk from a Nursery
If you need mulch, bark, or gravel for any area it is cheaper to buy in bulk (plus you avoid the plastic consumption). Many places will deliver for a small fee and dump a load in your driveway. If it is too much, consider splitting with a neighbor to cut down on the cost.
5. Repurpose Containers for your Garden
I mentioned egg cartons above for starting plants, but you can also repurpose almost any
6. Sharpen Garden Tools
Instead of buying new gardening tools when yours get dull and a bit rusted, drop them with a local nursery. Often they will have a deal and sharpen for free if you buy a plant. At any rate, it is often cheaper than buying brand new tools.
7. Purchase Second Hand Gardening Tools
If you do need new tools because yours are totally busted or you moved and actually have a garden, consider buying second hand. OfferUp or Craigslist always have good deals on gardening supplies.
8. Propagate Plants
If you do not want to buy anything at all, it is totally free to propagate your plants or those of a friend. Read into each type of plant because the techniques vary.
9. Use Your Kitchen Waste to Feed the Garden
Even without a compost bin, many of the items in your kitchen will feed your garden. Coffee grounds and tea are perfect ways to add nitrogen to the soil and feed the worms. Sprinkle around the base of your flowering bushes for brighter blooms. Citrus peels work as a natural pesticide and can be placed the base of plants to ward off pests.