Frugal Gardening Tips

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pea-plantA friend of mine decided to plant a garden to save on food costs.  He saved every receipt for his purchases and at the end of the year, he calculated his costs.  He was shocked to find out that he’d spent more money having his own garden than he would have if he’d gone out and bought organic produce at the local farmer’s market.

Gardening can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Grow Your Own Plants

Growing your plants from seed instead of buying plants can save you lots of money.  You can either start the seeds indoors or plant the seeds in the ground outdoors.

To increase your savings, use non-hybrid(open pollinated) seeds to plant your garden.  That way, you can gather seeds from the this years crop, dry the seeds, and save them to plant next year.  If you use hybrid seeds and save the seeds to plant the following year, you’ll get less than desirable results as a hybrid seed is the result of cross pollination of two different kinds of plant varieties. 

It can be very difficult to find open pollinated seeds, especially if you purchase your seeds off the seed rack in the store.  A great place to find open pollinated seeds is in an heirloom seed catalog.  Your local store might carry heirloom seeds too.

To save seeds, remove them from the vegetable and let them dry.  After they are totally dry, store them in a sealed envelope.

Use Only What You Need

When you purchase seeds off the rack at the store, each package contains perhaps hundreds of seeds.  Do you really need 150 radish plants?  Probably not. 

If you have leftover seeds, you can save them for the next year.  Each year, the amount of seeds that germinate from that package will be reduced, but the seeds can still be used.  If you want to do this, simply fold over the seed package and staple it shut.  Keep your leftover seeds in a dry location until you plant next year’s garden. 

Use What You Have

Frugal friends of mine used leftover PVC piping and string to create a trellis on which to grow their beans. Since the piping was plastic, it could be re-used year after year.

I am not very handy at creating such things, so I usually plant “bush plant varieties”.  I found open pollinated Italian bush beans and planted those.  I saved money because I didn’t have to create a trellis for the beans, and also because I found an open pollinated variety!

Instead of purchasing expensive containers to cover young plants to protect them from frost, you can simply cut the top off a plastic milk jug.  Put the jug over the plants overnight and remove in the morning after the frost is gone.

If you like to use “weed mats” to keep down the weeds, try using cardboard boxes or paper grocery bags instead.  It really does work to control the weeds, and as the board and the bags disintegrate, they enrich the soil.

Gardening is a great hobby.  In these difficult economic times, planting a garden is not only fun, it’s a necessity.  Happy growing!

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