Contrary to popular opinion, gardening isn’t necessarily expensive. In fact, gardening lends itself quite well to the budget-conscious. Mother Nature will provide much of the materials and there are ways to save on the things you need to purchase.
Gardening Tips that will Save Your Budget
Build a Compost Bin – Soil amendments are a big expense, but you can cut down on or completely eliminate this cost with a compost bin. You can get one of those fancy tumblers or build one yourself out of landscape timbers or hog wire or even a rubber trash can. If you have the space you can just have a pile. Whatever compost bin you choose remember to layer brown and green materials, keep the pile moist and turn it every so often.
Save on Supplements – Wood ashes, banana peels and egg shells can be applied to the garden to help enrich the soil. Use wood ash to sweeten the soil for alkaline-loving plants such as broccoli and peonies. Banana peels are a great source of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Ground eggshells will help prevent blossom end rot by supplying calcium to tomatoes.
Make More Plants – Choose plants that multiply. What could be more thrifty that free plants? Many species will multiple and spread. You can dig them up and divide them for more plants. Daffodils, hellebores, daylilies, hostas and many types of ferns are prolific spreaders. You can propagate other plants such as hydrangeas and roses from cuttings. And finally, many annuals and biennials will produce seeds for saving.
Think Native – Plants that are native to your region are better adapted for the challenges in your garden. You’ll save on water, pest and disease control and fertilizer. Your favorite local independent garden center will have the best selection of plants.
Buy in Bulk – Bagged soil, mulch and humus are convenient, but you’ll save a bundle by ordering these by the cubic yard. One cubic yard covers 108 square feet 3 inches deep. And be sure to check to see if your community offers free mulch made from collected yard waste. Compost too.
Invest in Expert Advice – Starting a new garden or overhauling an existing one? Splurge on a professional consultation. You don’t have to commit to a full set of drawings to get help from a garden designer. Paying a small consultation fee will save you money in the long run. Even if you have a clear picture of what you want to do, you will benefit from a conversation with a designer.
Use What You Have for Paths – Save money on pathways by using inexpensive or free materials such as mulch, pine needles and pea gravel. Line the path with newspaper to suppress weeds and top with your chosen material.
Take Advantage of Rain &ndash Set up a rain barrel or two under downspouts to collect rain water. Similar to compost bins, the device you use can be as simple or sophisticated as you want. A few key things to keep in mind are: use a food-grade container, elevate the barrel to improve the flow of water and cap the barrel with a screen to keep out debris, critters and mosquitoes. Water collected in a rain barrel isn’t safe for drinking, but it is suitable for a lot more than watering your garden. Use it to wash your car, rinse muddy shoes and hose off the sidewalk.
Get Crafty with Straw Bales &ndash Much like duct tape, there isn’t much you can’t do with a straw bale. Make a straw bale cold frame or winter shelter, a raised bed and you can even plant right in them. Break the bale apart to spread on the ground as mulch or for erosion control. I use wheat straw as a path material between my raised vegetable beds. Be sure to get straw and not hay, which will sprout in your garden. When you are done with the straw bale add it to you compost pile.
Buy Small – The beauty of plants is they grow so you can purchase small plants that are less expense than mature ones. Purchase bare root roses and fruit trees, gallon shrubs and quart perennials, start plants from seeds.