Frugal Gardening Tips and Cheap Garden Ideas

Using Weed As Free Garden Mulch

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?

Tips for frugal gardening

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.
  • Mulch your garden with free weeds which helps to build up the soil cheaply.
  • 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.

Goods that re-grow from scraps!

Image from WholeFoods
  • Use toilet paper rolls for seed starting pots.
  • 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.
  • Overwinter vegetables: 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, or anything gardening related.

Frugal gardening tips

Image from CustomMade
    • 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
    • Use cardboard to suppress weeds
    • Use cheap containers like burlap bags for potatoes. You can also re-use take out containers or even strawberry containers as cheap mini greenhouse for seed starting.
    • Garage Sales are an awesome place to find cheaper gardening tools, pots, or re-purpose items for containers.
    • Use branches to build trellises After pruning our plum tree we made this cheap garden trellis.
    • 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.

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5 thoughts on “Frugal Gardening Tips and Cheap Garden Ideas”

  1. I have to garden on a tight budget these days, which is one reason I started my ‘gardening offers and competitions’ Facebook group – there’s a lot of great deals out there, particularly on plants, and you can win some great stuff for the garden without spending a dime.

    My best tip for frugal gardening is to learn to take cuttings, and divide plants – so if you buy one, or are given one, you can turn it into lots of plants for free!

  2. We made our three bay compost system using discarded corrugated iron sheets. We used more of these sheets to make a raised veg bed. More recently some barely used corrugate sheets came our way from a local build and we snaffled 4 of them and used two to make another raised bed. I used bush rock to form the edges of garden beds, or tree rounds from cut down trees (we are on a slope and these help prevent soil slippage down the hill). I collect veg scraps from local fruit and veg store on a weekly basis to feed the compost bays, coffee grounds on a weekly basis from a local cafe for the same purpose and also take my neighbours brown cardboard and weeds and prunings (we hot compost) off their hands for the compost bays as well as composting our household scraps. Also used pallets for veg beds and kids paddling pools (they are cheap at Kmart or Woolworths) to make herb gardens. I try to grow all our veg from seed as much as possible rather than buy seedlings as it is cheaper. We get free woodchip for mulch by asking our local tree surgeons as we live in a gum forest area. Scored 13 cubic metres of chip on one occasion. I also take horse manure from RSPCA where I volunteer one morning per week. There is a lot of free stuff if you are determined to find it!

  3. So, I read a lot of gardening blogs. I also have like three planters on my porch at home. So, sometimes I wonder if you don’t need like a 1/8 of an acre or a 1/4 of an acre for gardening to be cost effective. For example, I buy seeds, but I can only plant a limited amount of them in my planters…because I have like 6 cubic feet of soil.

  4. So I was composting last year and I totally threw some old potato scraps in our compost, then I added the compost in my planter dirt. Sure enough, we had a potato plant growing in out potting soil that year. We cooked it up – it tasted great.

    In general homegrown garden food tastes better.


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