Gardening is often touted as a great way to save on the cost of fresh produce. But there is the cost of seeds, plants, soil, pots, tomato cages, lumber for raised beds, mulch… In fact, I’m finding there are a lot of up front costs when growing a garden. So how are some of the ways you can keep those costs low to have a frugal garden? I’ve got ten suggestions for saving on those costs.
1. Ask Your Gardening Friends What They Grow – There are some seductive pictures in the gardening catalogs that arrive in the mail. But you may be throwing your money away on something that is not suited to your area. By asking your friends or finding local gardening resources – like your state’s extension service – for advice on what grows well, you won’t be wasting your money on plants that won’t produce good results.
2. Ask Your Gardening Friends for Starts – I’ve found that if you ask, you receive. Gardeners tend to be a generous lot, and when they have extras, they are happy to give them away.
3. Craigslist and Freecycle – I continue to be amazed at the things you can find on Craigslist! Manure, lumber, plants, mulch…it’s all there. For true inspiration on how to use Craigslist to your advantage, check out my reader Amy’s garden. I’ve learned a lot from her site! After you search Craigslist, get on Freecycle. Its another great resource for getting FREE gardening supplies. Place a politely worded request for what you need, and wait for the replies!
4. Barter – I posted recently about the Front Range Trading Post. It is set up so people can barter for goods – instead of exchanging money. If you can’t find a similar arrangement in your community, start one! You can also join in any gardening organizations in your area. They will often hold plant exchanges.
5. Pick Seeds Over Plants – A packet of seeds can lead to up to 100 plants for the same cost as one plant start sold by the nursery. Sure it requires more work, but the savings are real.
6. Grow What is Expensive in the Grocery Store – I plan to plant several bell pepper plants. My family loves them, but they can cost well over a dollar a piece for conventionally grown at the grocery store! (don’t get me started on the price of organically grown!) Most of us have limited room for our gardens. Pick plants that are expensive in the store and preserve them for the next year. This will save you money in the long run.
7. Harvest Your Rainwater – Use a rain barrel to collect your roof’s runoff. Use this water on your garden. Water can be one of the biggest expenses in your garden. Rain is free. Free is good. At the very least, have a bucket in your shower. Catch all that water that normally runs down the drain while you are waiting for it to get hot. Use it to water. I’ve done this for years on my pots.
8. Repurpose in the Garden – If you plan to grow your garden in pots, think outside the pottery pot. Do you have anything else around the house you could grow your garden in?
What about your garden border? Gather up your glass bottles and upcycle your glass bottles into a border for your flower beds.
You can also use fabric scraps to tie up plants like tomatoes. Or use plastic knives to mark your crops. Use a clear shower curtain to shelter your rows. I’m sure you can come up with hundreds of ideas for repurposing in the garden.
9. Compost – Turn your trash into garden treasure. By composting your scraps, you have a free supply of nutrients for your garden. Who wants to buy dirt or manure anyway?
10. Swagbucks! – Join Swagbucks and turn those digital dollars into Amazon gift cards. When I decided to Sprout Microgreens over the winter, I used my Swagbucks to get the seeds for FREE! In fact, one $5 Amazon card bought me three packets of seeds. I’ve been sprouting the microgreens, and I have a packet of mesculan lettuce waiting to go in the garden! If you are new to Swagbucks make sure you read How to Earn Free Gift Cards in a Minimum Amount of Time.
AND A BONUS #11! Read the Greenbacks Gal - No she didn’t! Oh Yes I DID! Shameless plug here. But when I find out about a deal like 25 packs of organic seeds for the cost of shipping, you better believe I’ll pass it along! (which by the way – they gave them all out in just two days, so I hope you acted fast!)
Now I’d love your ideas! Please leave me comments with your frugal gardening suggestions!