I don’t know about you, but I’m excited springtime is almost here and I’m looking forward to getting my garden planted. During the wintertime, I especially miss eating fresh vegetables from the garden. Vegetables from the store are so bland and just don’t compare with homegrown vegetables. Hopefully some day I can have a greenhouse and have fresh vegetables year round, but for now, I’ll have to be content without. Another reason I miss garden produce is the price, I don’t like spending dollars on produce I could have grown myself for pennies or less.
However, even though I spend very little money on my garden each year and still end up with lots of fresh produce, plenty for eating fresh and for preserving for later, it’s still very easy to spend a lot of money on a garden if you aren’t careful and stick to a budget. So, I’m going to share some helpful tips on getting as much produce for your money and hard work as possible.
Stick to the Basics
Many gardening tools advertised are unnecessary; you don’t need fancy tools to grow a garden. All you really need is a shovel, rake, hoe, and clippers. And if you have a large garden, a rototiller would be a good investment, also.
Start from Seed
Seeds are much cheaper to buy than plants. So, if you have a greenhouse or area inside that gets plenty of sunlight, consider starting your own plants from seed, several months early and then plant them outside or plant them directly in the garden. If you want free seeds, in the fall, save some seeds for the next year. If you want to learn how to save seeds, here is an excellent guide on saving seeds.
Make Your Own Compost
Compost can take a long time to make but it is very inexpensive and will build up your soil and make your garden grow so much better. Last year I added some good compost to my garden and it was amazing how much better it grew! Composting is also a good way to turn waste into something useful. You can compost grass clippings from your lawn, vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, leaves, manure, and moldy hay, etc. In most areas, you can easily find manure, moldy hay, and leaves for free on Craigslist.
Make Your Own Fertilizer
Making your own fertilizer is much better for your garden in the long run than commercial fertilizers. It is also much cheaper than most fertilizers you can buy. The Grow Network has an excellent article on making your own fertilizers. I haven’t tried all of them, but my favorite is using Epsom salts for tomato plants. Sprinkling a tablespoon or two under each plant helps tomato plants tremendously.
Mulch to Reduce Water Usage
Use wood chips, straw, leaves, grass, etc. for mulch around the plants in your garden. The mulch keeps the soil from drying out as fast, which means you won’t have to water as often and as much. Check Craigslist, in many areas, you can frequently get mulch for free.
Buy in Bulk
If you have a large garden or friends who also garden and would be willing to split it with you, buy your supplies in bulk. Most things are cheaper in bulk, such as seeds, plants, fertilizers, compost, etc. Though, always compare prices because occasionally the smaller quantity is cheaper.
Share a Garden
If you don’t have space or money for a garden, find someone who has a garden and offer to help in exchange for produce. Most people would be happy to have some help pulling weeds, harvesting, etc. and to share some vegetables with you.
Homegrown vegetables can be very inexpensive, if you follow my tips for gardening on a budget. Do you have any other tips for gardening without spending much money? I would love some more ideas, please let me know in the comments below.