Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned veteran, saving as much money as you can while growing organically and enjoying the best garden possible makes sense. After all, who wants to throw money down the drain? These practical yet unique tips can help you make the best of what you have so that you can hold on to more of that hard-earned cash.
1. Do your research
It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out or have an established garden – the more you know, the more you’ll save, and there’s always something new to learn. Research gardening websites online, read books, magazines and anything else you can find. Just keep in mind that when it comes to free advice (and even advice you pay for), profits may motivate some of it, so double check if you aren’t sure.
2. Be a savvy shopper
Before you buy anything, including garden-related items, it pays to comparison shop. Both price and quality can vary dramatically depending where you go – buying local is a good idea when you can as you’ll be supporting your local community, though you might find good bargains from online garden centers too. Be sure to factor in the shipping cost when purchasing from catalogs or online retailers. To avoid shipping fees, it may be best to check with your local nursery first. If that’s not an option, you may want to make a larger purchase via catalog or online so that you don’t have to pay any more for shipping than you absolutely have to.
When you are out and about, shopping at your local nursery or home improvement store, do your best to avoid impulse buys, and be sure you have an appropriate spot for that plant before you take it home or it could up being a total waste.
If you’re able to share the costs with gardening neighbors or friends, buying in bulk can save you lots too – the same applies if you need to rent equipment like a lawn aerator or tiller. If you can find one or more other people who can use it, you’ll pay a fraction of the cost. When you need gardening tools, pots, containers and so on, check yard sales and your local classifieds as they can be a treasure trove of good deals on supplies, especially when compared to the retail cost.
3. Think carefully about your garden’s location
It’s important to do some careful planning when it comes to the location of your garden because if it ends up failing or having to be relocated, it’ll be a big waste of both time and money. The position of your garden should first and foremost be chosen for convenience. After all, it is for your enjoyment. If you have to walk 10 minutes to get to your vegetable garden, for example, odds are, you’re going to forget about those important things like weeding, watering, and harvesting.
Pay attention to your yard in the months before planting, and note which areas get the most sun and which get some shade. A vegetable garden should be getting at least six hours of sunlight each day and have good drainage – plants can’t grow in waterlogged soil. The position of your garden should be somewhat elevated, if it sits on a hill or in an indentation in the ground, it will have a hard time drying out and your plants will suffer. The garden also needs a level location with loose, rich soil, and a water source nearby.
4. Make the best use of the space you have
No matter how big or small, you can make that return on investment stretch further by making wise use of the space you have. That means growing as much as you can, but in a carefully planned out way. You might consider square foot gardening, for example, which uses a square or group of squares to devote certain plants; create raised beds or even grow vertical. You might be surprised t find just how easy it is to train some plants, like cucumbers or tomatoes, to grow upward.
5. Plant from seeds instead of buying plants
If you buy plants from the store for your garden, you’re going to be paying a lot more than if you’d started them from seeds. Seeds typically cost just pennies, while plants can run several dollars or more. Plus, you can start seeds indoors to get a jumpstart on your harvest too. Just keep in mind that there are some plants that are particularly difficult to start from seed, or struggle at transplanting and may decide they don’t like their new spot in your garden. Do some research first about the variety you’re thinking of planting before sowing seed.
6. Save your own seeds
While it’s exciting to go through all of those seed catalogs in the winter and dream about everything you might be able to grow in the spring, it’s also easy to end up spending hundreds on all of those amazing varieties. By saving your own seeds, you can save big, just be sure to save non-hybrid, or heirloom seeds only. You can also spoil yourself and get a few new varieties each year as a special treat if you really want to.
7. Participate in a seed swap
If you don’t have all the seeds you need but have some, you can see if someone else in your area is in a similar situation. They may have some of the seeds you want and vice versa. This season, be sure to save more of the seeds than what you’ll need personally so you can do a swap next time. Not only is it fun, but those seed savings can add up rather quickly.
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