How to be a fru­gal gar­dener 34

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Ta­nia Mof­fat

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.

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