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Gardening-Related Saving Tips

Katrina

Deity
Location
Canada
Even though growing your own food is supposed to save costs on groceries, I find that there are costs for doing the actual gardening. In my case, I pay a yearly fee to rent a garden plot. On top of that, I've had to buy my own garden hose, a shovel, seeds, etc. And of course there are all of those seed-starting kits and garden decor and other doo-dads that come in handy. How do you keep your starting costs low for your garden?

So far, I've thought of:

Containers
  • Use cardboard egg cartons to start seeds instead of buying peat pots (or if you don't eat eggs, ask friends/family to save their used egg cartons for you)
  • Save any leftover plastic plant pots and reuse them for things like growing plant cuttings, transplanting house plants into larger containers, etc
  • You can also use pretty much any container, so long as it has drainage holes (eg used yogurt containers with holes punched into the bottom)
Seeds/New Plants
  • Save seeds from your favorite crops to use again next year instead of buying new seeds (I do this with tomatoes)
  • For flower gardens, buy at least a few perennials. That way, you won't need to buy as many plants again the next year.
  • For indoor plants, take cuttings to increase your stock instead of buying more plants
  • Trade cuttings and/or seeds with family/friends/colleagues to get different plants for free
  • If you have coriander seeds in your spice rack, you can plant them to get cilantro instead of buying packets of cilantro seeds (I do this, and yes it works!)
Fertilizer/Soil Amendments
  • Supplement your use of compost (whether you use store-bought or homemade) with free organic matter (grass clippings, old leaves or pine-needles)
  • You can also add dead weeds as organic matter for your soil. They won't regrow so long as the roots are dead AND so long as they haven't yet gone to seed.
  • Instead of buying weed barrier, use old cardboard or thick piles of wet newspaper to suppress unwanted grass or weeds. This works well in veggie gardens that aren't on public display. The material will also break down over time and make the worms happy.
  • If you buy fertilizer, keep in mind that some are multi-use. Eg: tomato fertilizer doesn't need to be used just for tomatoes. It's designed to stimulate blooming and fruiting, so it works well for any flowering plants.
Also, for potted plants, I find that I can get away with the cheaper, lower-quality potting soil if I also buy a bag of vermiculite and perlite. All I have to do is add a bit of each to the potting soil, and that's enough to improve the drainage.

If you grow different types of plants that need different soils (cacti, orchids, tropical plants) it may be cheaper in the long run to make your own soil blends — with sand, sphagnum peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, compost, etc. — instead of buying separate bags of each specific soil type. Or maybe not. It depends on how much indoor gardening you do. In my case, I like being able to just whip together a sandy soil with what I have on hand, instead of running out to the store to buy more cacti soil.

I'm sure there are more that I can't think of right now. Share any tips you have!
 

Katrina

Deity
Location
Canada
Oh, and you should check to see what gardening programs and events exist in your community. I just found out that my city has a "seed library" where home gardeners can "borrow" different types of seeds. All they need to do in return is save some of the seeds from their harvest and give them back.
 

silva

Addicted Poster
Location
Ohio, U.S.A
Oh, and you should check to see what gardening programs and events exist in your community. I just found out that my city has a "seed library" where home gardeners can "borrow" different types of seeds. All they need to do in return is save some of the seeds from their harvest and give them back.
That sounds so complicated :fp:
 

Katrina

Deity
Location
Canada
I'm a firm believer it using anything that is free or recycled. :up:

Some great tips. Do you ever use rain water for watering instead of tap water ?
Sometimes, if I happen to have buckets outside while it rains. The initial investment for a rain barrel is a little too much for me right now, but I would like to have one eventually.

ETA: Actually, I could probably find a used one for a good price, but I have waaay too many DIY projects going on already!
 
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