How to Save Money on Gardening

Gardening Tips
Save Money Gardening

Growing a nice garden doesn't automatically mean that you have to spend a lot of money. In fact, some of the most beautiful gardens with healthiest plants are grown by ordinary people who don't spend a fortune on their gardens.

There are many things you can do to reduce the costs that go into your garden. Here are some good tips on how to save money and still have a great garden full of healthy plants.

Grow Only What You Want to Use

It's important to grow only what you wish to use. It may sound like a common sense, but it's not rare for people to plant way more than they can use. It is particularly common with tomatoes. Sometimes you just can't use all of it and it goes to waste.

If vegetables you grow go to waste, it's also a waste of money. You invest a lot of time and effort into your garden, so you sure want to be able to use all of the plants. It's much better to focus your energy into a smaller garden than into one that is too big for your needs.

For example, if you've never tried certain vegetables, buy them in the grocery store first to see if you and your family like them at all. This will save you a lot of money and effort you would put into gardening.

It's also important to grow food to eat fresh. If you grow food in your garden, you will be able to have very fresh fruits and vegetables, much fresher than from any store. Don't ruin that by not eating the food you produce. If you don't get to eat all of it fresh, you should can and freeze it so you can get tasty fruits and vegetables in the winter.

Start Small and Plan for More

It's best to start small, until you get more experienced and until you decide which vegetables are ideal for your garden. Starting with one 3' x 8' bed is enough to get your garden going. You will be surprised to see how much food you can actually grow in such a small space and how big of a yield you can actually get.

Smaller gardens are also great because they save you a lot of time. Unless you have a lot of time to invest in gardening, it's vital to keep your garden small. When you find more time to dedicate to gardening you can always expand your garden and grow more vegetables.

Start with the "Classics"

When starting with your garden, it's best to focus on the "classics". It will save you a lot of money. "Classics" are the plants you can find in almost every garden: tomatoes, green beans, sweet corn, lettuce or squash. These plants are great because they are relatively easy to grow but have a lot of value. They are tasty so they can be used in many meals so they are great for your family.

While there are other plants you can grow in your garden, focusing on "classics" is a good idea, especially for beginners. It will allow you to save a lot of money and be very successful with your gardening attempts. You can always move to rarer plants later.

Buy Only Tools You Will Use

Never buy any tools or equipment unless you truly need them and unless you want to use them in your garden. Keep in mind that it's possible to grow a nice garden using nothing but a shovel you can buy for six dollars. Investing in tools you don't want to use is a waste of money.

If you are only starting out, and if you don't have a lot of money to invest, don't worry. You don't really need much except for some basic tools. A shovel, a garden rake and a hoe is all you really need. You don't really need to spend a lot of money on fancy tools. Once you discover your gardening style, you will probably want to buy a few additional tools, but it's important to understand that you don't have to spend a lot on tools and equipment.

Use Organic Methods

Organic methods will save you a lot of money. If you go organic, you don't have to buy chemicals and sprayers. The organic matter you need for gardening is free for the taking.

Even if you don't want to go 100% organic, using organic matter to feed the soil make the plants stronger and healthier, which will also save you money in the long turn. If you make your own compost it will cut down the waste and it will be great for your garden.

Garden in Permanent Beds

If you want to save money, gardening in permanent beds is the only way to go. If you plant your vegetables in beds you can grow more food in les space. In turn, it saves you a lot of money.

Also, intensive methods such as this one are great for controlling weeds. Weeds are definitely not something you want in your garden. Lack of weeds will save you a lot of money.

This type of gardening also requires you to water and add soil amendments where your plants truly need them. Less water and less amendments save money. Since you will never walk on the beds the soil will get softer and deeper, which is great for the garden. The soil in the beds will never get compacted so you will never need to use a tiller and you won't have to work up on the soil. All these things will save you money.

In short, using beds allow you to only work the soil you will truly use for your food. The paths between the beds can be covered in grass, just like the rest of your yard. Or you may pave them with stones or other materials if you like. Even if you don't use anything but dirt for the paths, the ground will stay tightly packed from you walking on them that they will never get muddy. This way, you won't have to worry about fixing your garden after rains and you don't have to worry about mud.

Here are some more useful tips and methods on how to save money on gardening. This time, we will focus more on how to choose your seeds and plants and how to prolong the season to get the most of the plants in your garden.

Strong, healthy plants will give a much better harvest, which means more food in your kitchen. It also means you have to spend less money on food. These methods can save you a lot of money in the long run, all by giving you a lot of healthy food to enjoy.

Use Free and Cheap Seeds

There are many cheap seeds you can try. Some garlic varieties, such as elephant variety, are very affordable. They cost about 16 dollars per pound in a seed catalog, while they can be found for 3 bucks only in a local grocery store. While not all products from garden departments at grocery stores are great, you will be able to save some money on seeds.

Sometimes, you can even get them for free. If you have old potatoes in the house, simply plant them in your garden and use them for growing new potatoes. Also, you should learn how to save heirloom seeds so you will always know if seeds you can get in farmers market are good to be planted or not. Another way to save money on seeds is to find a friend and share seeds and 5 packs of bedding plants with them.

Look around for sources of free seeds or even for free sources of seeds. Internet is full of places where you can get stuff on discount. However, make sure to always buy from a reputable place. Use lumber yard and hardware stores. Their selection of seeds and other gardening materials may be limited, but they have good prices and you don't have to pay for shipping.

Start Your Plants Early

Getting an early start on your plants is a good strategy that can save you a lot of money. Unless you live in a warm climate that is suitable for plant growing throughout the whole year, you will want to use the growing season as much as you can.

Starting your season early will help your plants get established before the insect population gets too big. It's true that starting early bring certain risks, such as a late freeze, but more often than not, it's very helpful to start early and it will help you save a lot of money.

Be Smart when it Comes to Canning

For the best results, don't plan any complicated canning or preserving at first. You will need to do all of them in the hottest and busiest part of the summer, which can be a very overwhelming task. Freeze only a few major things, but do your best to eat everything you can fresh. Wait to do the canning until you get a better idea on what you really want to do.

If you happen to grow more than what you can eat, consider giving away some of it to friends or family. They will sure benefit from fresh vegetables. Only after all of this think about canning and preserving.

To preserve your food, it's best to use simple, easy and low-cost methods, such as freezing, drying and bulk cooking. Don't waste your money on fancy, expensive methods. Also, always make sure to preserve only the very best and eat those that are less than perfect first.

Keep Your Garden Going

For the best results, keep your garden going as long as possible. The easiest and cheapest way to achieve this is through succession planting. For example, instead of planting 10 cucumber plants all at one, plant a few every week or so. It will keep them coming.

As soon as one crop is finished, yank it up and plant something else on its place. Never hang onto failing plants just because they will still produce an occasional squash or a tomato.

It's particularly important to take action around the middle of July (in zone 6) to clear all of the space and plant your fall garden. It is usually hot in July which will make your work more difficult, but it will sure pay out. You will get the fresh produce in September and October, which will further save you a lot of money.

Extend the Season with Protection

Protecting your plants against the cold can prolong the season and give you more of your plants. Use simple cold frames and plastic tunnels to shield your plants. They will extend your season and allow you to grow and harvest fresh produce well into winter.

These tips will allow you to have a very long season, which also means more fresh food for your family and a great saving in money. Unless you live in a very cold climate, you will probably be able to get some food from your garden at least 9 or 10 months a year.

Get Informed

Make sure to be informed about gardening and to always learn more. Read, visit websites and gather information. While gardening is sometimes very simple and basic, there are many tips and tricks you can learn to become an even better gardener.

Remember: a knowledgeable gardener will know how to choose the best seeds and seedlings, and also how to tell when a certain produce is ready to be harvested. Knowing these things will give you healthier plants and a better harvest. It will also save you a lot of money.

Here are some additional tips you can to do save even more money in your garden. Each of them is fairly simple so everybody can do it. It's important to understand that doing just one of these things will save you a bit of money.

However, when used together, these tips can save you a lot of money in the long run. It's important not to underestimate the power of smaller tricks because savings do add up.

Here is a list of additional tips and tricks you can use to save more money in your garden:

  • Collect things. Stuff like bricks, stone, lumber, screen wire, wire mesh fencing, plastic sheeting, rebar, fence posts, compostable materials, various containers, garden hoses, plumbing pipe, string - these are just some of the things that may prove to be very useful in the garden. Collect them and place them in your shed or a basement. You never know when you might need them in your garden.
  • Know what to do during holidays. If you know you will be away from your garden for a week or more, plan ahead. It's a bad thing to come back from a vacation only to realize that your plants are past their prime and that your harvest is lost.
  • Recycle through composting. You can actively recycle a lot of organic waste by composting. It will give you fresh compost full of nutrients and help your future plants without spending any money.
  • Think about edible landscaping. It is fun, effective and it saves you money. You can grow food on almost any plant in your yard.
  • Use recycled containers. Instead of buying expensive containers, use recycled ones or the old containers from your house. This is particularly important for small containers made to start seeds. You don't really have to spend much money on those.
  • Make your own potting soil. Save on potting soil by making your own.
  • Save the seeds from heirlooms. If you have good heirloom plants, or any healthy, strong plants, think about saving their seeds on time. This way, you won't have to buy new seeds for the next year. In fact, it's a good practice to always save leftover seeds from year to year. Especially if you've bought some expensive ones. Don't waste any of it. They can last for long if kept in a dry, cool, dark place.
  • Propagate to get the most of the harvest. Take a great care of your plants and they will give you the most. Make sure to never have overcrowded plants, because they will not be fully productive. It often happens to strawberries. If overcrowding happens, it's best to divide your plants (for strawberries, it's best done in mid fall). Propagating your plants from cuttings and divisions will help you get more plants without spending any money on them.
  • Collect rain water. Rain water can be used in many different things in your garden. It's free water you sure want to use. It will save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Watch for sales and flea markets. Find great classifieds and know about local flea market sales. These places will allow you to buy seeds, plants, gardening equipment and materials at a low price. Make sure to get as many things as you can through great deals and sales. It will save you a lot of money and make gardening more affordable.

Photo credit: Miia Sample

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