So many of us are tight on finances these days. That’s been a driving force for the increase in home gardeners because produce prices have been steadily rising the past decade. There are endless reasons to grow food: the nutritional benefits or flavor of freshly harvested food, the increase in food recalls from contamination, the food security and knowing that your food hasn’t traveled miles to get to you.
Many of us think we can save money by growing food, but when you’re first establishing your garden you start to realize how much everything adds up. In fact the first couple of seasons you might not be saving money at all (although the gardening therapy and other rewards are definitely worth the investment). There are seeds, soil, soil amendments, garden beds to build, pots or lights to grow transplants, watering hoses, and so much more to purchase when you put in your first garden.
But what if you absolutely can’t afford to garden? What if your budget is tight and you wish to cut costs where you can?
Here are some Frugal Gardening Tips
- Free materials: there are many places to get free materials to build beds with or find some containers to grow food in. Keep an eye out for freebies advertised in your local paper, homestead facebook groups etc.
- Use Pallets: you can build so many things with pallets or plant in them directly. Just make sure they’re stamped ‘HT’ for heat treated not ‘MB’ for chemically treated. See 20 creative ways to upcycle pallets in your garden.
- Grow food from scraps: seems to be all the rage these days. Use the bottom of celery, lettuce, green onions & more to re-grow for more crops.
- Use toilet paper rolls for seed starting pots learn how to make them here.
- Local freebies check your local buy & sell, local homesteading/farming facebook groups, and bulletin boards for potential free gardening supplies. I’ve seen free manure or soil if you come and take it!
- Offering to do some weeding for fresh veggies: if can’t put in a large garden offer some of your time for weeding in exchange for fresh food.
- Leave veggies in the ground in the fall & they’ll regrow in the springtime!
- Re-purpose items like broken umbrella’s to make trellises.
- Trade: trade use to be the old stand-by! Trade your time (Babysitting? Building something?) for manure, soil, fresh veggies, anything gardening related.
- Keep your volunteer plants: Do you have potatoes or squash growing from your compost pile? Even tomatoes? Keep them, they’re free! Although sometimes they cross pollinated and you end up with rogue plants, most of the time they’re edible.
- Use your scraps to make compost: Learn how to compost so you can begin to make great soil and reduce your gardening expenses for healthy soil.
- Seed Swaps: buy a few packets of seeds but swap for more varieties at locally organized seed swaps.
- Buying seeds slowly throughout the year: invest in 2-3 packets of seeds/month $5-10/month so you don’t have to buy them all at once.
- Use cardboard to suppress weeds: here are some tips.
- Find cheaper containers like burlap bags (we grew potatoes!).
- Garage Sales are an awesome place to find cheaper gardening tools, pots, or re-purpose items for containers.
- Use branches to build trellises like this one.
- CHEAP soil amendments! Use eggshells, coffee grounds, or epsom salts in your garden.
- Choose the right crops to grow: It’s better to grow the fast growing crops that can harvested soon and multiple times in a season instead of the one time harvest crops. I discuss this in my garden planning book, as well as growing crops that have better dollar value than the produce items that are cheap to buy at the grocery store.
Read More from these great articles
- 25 Cheap gardening tricks for self-reliance
- 70+ Frugal Gardening
- How to start a garden on a budget
- Depression era gardening tips