Gardening-Related Saving Tips

Katrina

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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

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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

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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

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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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Nekodaiden

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May seem like common sense...but alas, sometimes in my life I have to learn in areas...

I have a couple of lettuce plants going to seed. I was picking the flowers that have gone to seed (look like dandelion puffs, sort of), scrunching them, and separating them into a bag. This was taking a long time.

Now I've learned you can just take the seeding plant, cut it out of the ground and place it into a plastic (or other) bag and whip it around until almost all the seeds are off the plant and into your bag. Of course, you'll get some small plant material (mostly consisting of the puffy things that carry them on the wind) in there too that is difficult to separate...

...but separation can be achieved easily by briefly soaking all of it for a minute or two. This short period won't make them germinate, so they can be saved for later. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom, the un-viable seeds and other small plant material to the top. Drain off all the water and you'll have just the wet seeds. Dry quickly by spreading out in the sun.
 

Irene Adler

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Hey all

Two words: perennial vegetables.

Ok. More than 2 - once you have these, they keep coming back, so even if you have to buy at full price from a garden centre they repay more in continual cropping.

Don't know how to post a blummin link, so this came up on Google:
Top 10 Perennial/Ornamental Vegetables
Anni Kelsey
Wednesday, 12th November 2014
Edible perennial expert Anni Kelsey shares her 10 favourite edible perennials that are also beautiful ornamentals for a cottage garden! Now that's permaculture!

This is one version of my 'Top 10' perennial vegetables – a version drawn up with a mixed cottage garden style planting in mind. It's really hard to choose favourites and there are plenty of others that I love and would be in the top 10 if it had a different purpose.
1. Earth nut pea (Lathyrus tuberosus) - It has edible tubers, beautiful flowers, like bright pink mini sweet peas plus the plants fix nitrogen and bees adore them. This year they have been growing with (herb) fennel and Jerusalem artichoke and happily used them as a climbing frame.
Earth-nut-pea.jpg

Earth nut pea
2. Dahlia - Although I haven’t actually eaten this yet it is amazing for flowers with edible tubers too. I am following James Wong’s advice in growing them. I raised a few from seed last year, kept the tubers over the winter and planted them out in late spring. The results have been massive plants with lots of flowers all summer. When they have died down I will harvest tubers, save some and try eating the others. Various sources as well as James Wong suggest they really are nice to eat.
3. Skirret (Sium sisarum) - This is a top favourite and would be in any of my ‘must have’ lists. Its roots have a flavour between that of carrot and parsnip, it has attractive flowers which are good for insects and it grows without any trouble. At the end of the year you can save seeds and also take off the small plants that form at the base of the stem so they are easy to multiply.
4. Three cornered leek (Allium triquetrum) - These are in the garden from mid winter onwards (but from autumn in this mild year) and have absolutely beautiful flowers in spring, usually in May. The bulbs, stems and leaves have a garlic/onion flavour. They multiply quite rapidly and are all round super plants!
5. Buckler leaf sorrel (Rumex scutatus) - A low growing ground cover with attractive leaves but insignificant flowers. It has a fresh tangy, lemony flavour and is a good addition to salads.
6. Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) - This must be one of the easiest of perennial vegetables; they don’t seem to suffer from any bugs or diseases. Different varieties produce either red, white, cream, pink, pale orange or mixed colour tubers which taste lovely and lemony. They have attractive shamrock like leaves. I usually save some tubers indoors over the winter but they can over winter even in harsh conditions as I have found when some have been missed in the harvest.
7. Sea kale (Crambe maritima) - A great structural plant which looks marvellous in flower. I saw some growing in a lighthouse garden in Northumberland this summer. I have had difficulty growing it but will try again next year. I have tasted some foraged from the beach and enjoyed the flavour.
Sea-kale.jpg

Sea kale
8. Daubenton’s kale - An attractive plant, especially the variegated variety. It has a very mild flavour for a kale, is hardy and easily propagated from cuttings.
9. Scorzonera (Scorzonera hispanica) - This is another very easy to grow root vegetable. It is very tolerant of all manner of conditions and although usually sold as an annual I cut the top of the root off and replant it plus a few pared down leaves and they keep coming back. I don’t eat the leaves but a number of people have recommended them.
10. Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) - This is another climber and quite vigorous so you need to have a suitable place or it will sprawl over everything. It is a robust plant that has edible tubers. If you are lucky you will get flowers - I have for the first time this November and they are magical!
Mashua.jpg

Mashua
Anni Kelsey is author of Edible Perennial Gardening: Growing Succcessful Polycultures in Small Spaces.


Of course there is good old Rhubarb, one of the earliest to start growing here in the UK, and I guess if you have room, fruit bushes and trees, perennial herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Bay, Chives, Garlic Chives, Sage, Summer and Winter Savoury, even Lavender (for flowers), and not forgetting the more difficult to grow and expensive Asparagus. I have a Globe Artichoke that I don't do anything to that has popped up for the last 5 years - this was grown from seed. If I forget to harvest the flower bud early enough, it's fantastic for bees and pollinators, and a gorgeous purple-blue flower with large greyish leaves. I also have planted Horseradish, but, be careful - it's invasive like mint, so if you really like it you can keep control of it by digging up its tuberous roots regularly, or confine in a pot. Other good annual I have that pops up all over the place is the herb Borage - again for flowers, cucumber taste. Bees go mad for it.

Many of mine were gifts, roots cuttings, in the sale/clearance area in garden centres, car boots, cheap from DIY shops like Wilco, or pound shops so you don't have to fork out a fortune (see what I did there?). I also enjoy nasturiums for flowers and leaves, as although annuals, self seed pretty easily, as do pot marigolds (for petals only). Got those from cheap se ed packets in pound shop and they also pop up willy nilly. Good for pollinators too. For some reason, I have persistent Chard (sounds like an illness!), so I must not be chopping it back enough before it seeds.

Sorry for the long waffle, I got carried away! Someone, please, :hh: carry me away!
 

Irene Adler

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Being of a disorganised nature, or just impatient, I found some out of date seed packets of different greens. These I planted in big pots in the Autumn last year, and left them in the 'conservatory'. Some of them have actually grown now, but, being easily distracted and wandering off before labelling anything, I have no idea what they are. I remember planting: rocket, cut n' come again 'Spicy', 'Italian' and 'Hot', plus parsley, and forget the rest. Like mystery greens time because some of them have bravely sprouted.... Not recommended. I should have used the plastic pot for labels tips, in the garden hack... still I could have just thrown them away thinking that nothing would grow. Just shows. 🌿🥬
 

wonderfularizona

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I live in the middle of a desert. I will not even attempt to garden here. The water bill would be way too high.

I like the act of gardening. Actually eating the food would be a secondary concern to me. I would grow fruits like strawberries & raspberries and make my own wine. I might also grow some tobacco and smoke it myself. (I rarely smoke and drink in real life.)
 
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Nekodaiden

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I live in the middle of a desert. I will not even attempt to garden here. The water bill would be way too high.

I like the act of gardening. Actually eating the food would be a secondary concern to me. I would grow fruits like strawberries & raspberries and make my own wine. I might also grow some tobacco and smoke it myself. (I rarely smoke and drink in real life.)
Why not? I am no expert on gardens, gardening or the desert, but I do have a garden, and I have learned a little about people who are gradually turning parts of the desert into land suitable for crops.

With regards to water, I use (at least on parts of my garden) mulch for ground cover. Doing this keeps much of the water from evaporating, so saves on watering and water waste. If I lived in the desert I wouldn't give up on having an outdoor garden.
 
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Nekodaiden

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Being of a disorganised nature, or just impatient, I found some out of date seed packets of different greens. These I planted in big pots in the Autumn last year, and left them in the 'conservatory'. Some of them have actually grown now, but, being easily distracted and wandering off before labelling anything, I have no idea what they are. I remember planting: rocket, cut n' come again 'Spicy', 'Italian' and 'Hot', plus parsley, and forget the rest. Like mystery greens time because some of them have bravely sprouted.... Not recommended. I should have used the plastic pot for labels tips, in the garden hack... still I could have just thrown them away thinking that nothing would grow. Just shows. 🌿🥬
I've done the same. I have some lettuce plants that I know are edible but I don't remember the type of lettuce (and it's not a common kind found for sale). Now I use map to label stuff I plant on paper.
 

Irene Adler

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I live in the middle of a desert. I will not even attempt to garden here. The water bill would be way too high.

I like the act of gardening. Actually eating the food would be a secondary concern to me. I would grow fruits like strawberries & raspberries and make my own wine. I might also grow some tobacco and smoke it myself. (I rarely smoke and drink in real life.)
Ha, armchair gardener, that's what we call it over the pond... Hey, just a thought, what about growing something drought-resistant? Even aloe vera could be useful as the 'gel' you get from cutting a bit off helps sooth burns....?

Just for you I thought I would look something up you might enjoy:


I appreciate that it's not something you can do now, maybe you can find an on-line supplier? Even if it's only a case of potting up from seed, it's a start.... He he, just when you thought you got away with it....
 

Andy_T

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I went all in last year and bought a small plastic foil greenhouse, some planters and seeds, but unfortunately I forgot to water them every day, so the result of my gardening activities was negligible. Maybe I will manage to do better this year by remembering to water the plants daily.
 

Irene Adler

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I've done the same. I have some lettuce plants that I know are edible but I don't remember the type of lettuce (and it's not a common kind found for sale). Now I use map to label stuff I plant on paper.
Hello Nekodaiden

I have looked at mine this morning. One of them looks suspiciously like a dandelion leaf.... Don't tell me I am carefully nurturing a weed!
 
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Nekodaiden

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I went all in last year and bought a small plastic foil greenhouse, some planters and seeds, but unfortunately I forgot to water them every day, so the result of my gardening activities was negligible. Maybe I will manage to do better this year by remembering to water the plants daily.
Roots need water, to be sure, and proper nutrients depending on the plant - however they also need to breath. This means a soil that is not too compacted and not too water logged. You can kill a plant by over-watering just as by under-watering, and also by (depending on the plant), planting in a soil where it cannot breath (such as clay soils). A good rule of thumb in watering plants is to stick your finger in the soil - if it is cool, leave it. If dry, give it a good watering, making sure the medium is one where the water is allowed to drain out (so as not to water-log plants).
 
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Irene Adler

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I went all in last year and bought a small plastic foil greenhouse, some planters and seeds, but unfortunately I forgot to water them every day, so the result of my gardening activities was negligible. Maybe I will manage to do better this year by remembering to water the plants daily.
Hey Andy_T

I think that would help! Or maybe a watering device? I've seen some on-line that are as simple as sinking a clay pot in the soil next to a plant, filling it with water (the roots go round it to absorb water slowly), or, an up-ended plastic bottle with a loosened lid filled with water....