How to be a frugal gardener
Gardening is not an inexpensive hobby, however, you can certainly do more and spend less with a few simple tips.
1. Seeds: Start your plants from seeds rather than buying full
grown plants in late spring. Starting plants from seed is labour intensive, but it is less expensive to buy seeds than seedlings or mature plants later. Seed catalogues offer a wide variety of flower and vegetable seeds at reasonable prices that can be started indoors or sown directly into the ground. If you want to save even more, harvest seeds from your plants every year. Do a little research on how to dry and store them and you’ll have free seeds every year! One word of caution, if you collect seeds from hybrid plants they may revert to their original form. Also, if you are a newbie or brown thumb, it may be cheaper to buy your plants rather than start them from seed.
2. Planning: Smart planning
saves money. Effective planning of your garden not only allows you to make the most of your garden space but also ensures that you order what you need. A little bit of forethought allows you to order seeds that you need and avoid “spree” orders filled with things you’ll never have room to plant or duplicates of seeds you already have. There will always be a little something unexpected in the catalogue that you just have to have, try to restrain yourself and go back to your plan before you buy, if you can find a space for it, get it. 3. Companion gardening and crop rotation. It is easy to find companion planting guides online; we’ve run them in the past if you have back issues at home. These guides are great resources for planting vegetables and flowers together that will benefit each other. By planting plants that grow well together, you’ll not only save space but grow healthier plants naturally. Sketch out where you’ve planted vegetables and flowers in years past to assist you with crop rotation. Crop rotation is essential in vegetable gardening. Some plants will drain the soil of certain nutrients while others will increase nutrients. Beans, for example, will increase nitrogen levels especially if their roots are left to decompose in the soil. By rotating crops, you can keep your soil and plants healthy.
4. Divide, divide, divide. If you have perennials, and you should, divide them. Perennials are fantastic for the frugal gardener as they provide years of enjoyment. However, they can get out of hand if they are not pruned or divided. Hostas, for example, ideal for filling space in shady areas should be divided in the spring. Other flowers self-sow, wait until these little darlings grow up a bit and then move them to a new location, or harvest
seeds in the fall and place them in the ground where you want them to come up next year. Replant divisions for a fuller garden or consider plant swaps. 5. Trade with friends or join a
hort club. Just because you want to be frugal doesn’t mean you have to have a limited plant choice. Ask friends for cuttings and offer them some of your perennial divisions. Join a horticultural club or look for their spring shows. Clubs often have days for members to swap plants or fund raise by selling divisions or cuttings for bargain basement prices. And yes, you may even be able to pick up plants at the occasional garage sale. 6. Use organic pest control. Pest control products can be pricey, and sometimes they are the only choice. But before you open your wallet why not try some natural home remedies first? Vinegar works well for killing weeds and ants, use beer to kill slugs
and a good shot from the garden hose can break up clumps of aphids. 7. Buy plants in the fall. Most greenhouses begin clearing out their stock in late summer. Take advantage. You can purchase perennials, shrubs and trees for 20 to 90 per cent off their regular prices. Fall is a good time to plant as the soil is warm and the plant can expend its energy on growing roots instead of leaves and fruit or flowers.
8. Compost. You need to take care of your soil if you want healthy plants, thankfully this shouldn’t cost you a dime. Get a compost bin or make one with used pallet boards. If that’s still too complicated, create a section in your yard where you can mix your vegetable kitchen scraps, leaves and even paper. Turn it every so often to keep it composting. Be careful not to add weeds to your pile. 9. Get the right tools. There are so many gimmicky garden tools out there, and we are all suckers for one or the other. Some work well, and others sit forlornly on our potting bench. If you want to save money, forget the speciality tools and just buy the essentials — a hoe, pointed shovel, fork, rake, hand trowel, secateurs and gloves. You may even find these items at garage sales if you're lucky.
10. Do it yourself. You have the tools so don’t forget to do the work. Many people get started with good intentions to care for their garden and then begin to dwindle off. Gardens are a lot of work. You need to water, weed, trim, fertilize and take care of pest or disease problems before they get established in your garden. You’ve put in the time to plant and buy supplies so care for what you started. Whether it’s vegetables or flowers, you will reap the rewards of your garden only if you take care of it.
Growing your own plants from seeds can help you save money only if you know how to do it properly.
Making compost is a great to recycle kitchen and yard waste and fertilize the soil.
Save and trade seeds with fellow gardeners.
Share or replant divided perennials.