With the price of everything on the rise, you might be wondering how you can continue gardening and keep it in your budget. It is possible to have a beautiful garden without spending too much money on garden supplies and plants. I’ve shared my five easiest ways to save money in the garden and hope they will help you continue to garden as the price of supplies goes up. If you are frugal, you can get ahead with a garden by planting vegetables from seeds, harvesting them and enjoying both fresh goods and your preserved items for the winter months.
Borrow from your neighbor
If you remember in my post, experimenting in the garden, I recommended chatting with a neighbor about what grows well in their garden. This will help you might walk away with some new, free, plants to add to your planting space. Not only will you get some great plants that are hardy to your zone, you will also be saving some money if your neighborhood friend is willing to share with you.
You could always offer a trade, or to share something in the future once your garden is established. In order to make things fair, but most gardeners are happy to share their perennials with neighbors for no price at all.
Once you have plants that are established enough to split, you can also go to a local plant swap to get some new plants for free or cheap. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your garden friends likely have extra tools, plants and seeds to share with you for free.
Start with Seeds
Although there may be a bit of an upfront cost to starting with seeds, in the long run they will save you buckets of money. You will need to purchase seeds, starting trays or pots (though you can easily reuse other objects in your house to decrease this cost.), and some kind of soil mix to get things going. If you have space you can set up grow lights, but you can also just do this in the spring in a sunny window.
Starting easy to grow flowers like marigolds, calendula, and zinnia are all great ways to save on garden filler plants. Some seeds require quite a bit of work to get started, but most vegetables and the flowers I listed above will be easy to get going inside.
To further save, use egg cartons, yogurt containers or pop bottle bottoms (cut the top off) to start plants. If using plastic containers, poke some holes in the bottom for drainage or be especially careful that they don’t get soggy.
Save your soil
At the end of the season, when you are cleaning out your planters, don’t throw out or compost the good loose soil that isn’t bundled up in roots because you can use that to start new soil the following spring! Remove dead plants and their root ball, put them in the compost, and place the dirt into a bag, old large pot, or anything else you think you could store it in for the winter.
In the spring, pull out the stored soil, add a bag of compost (you can purchase this in most home improvement stores or your local greenhouse, and sometimes your community will have free compost) and you have a great soil ready to use again. Just remember to always add some compost in the spring. If I’m not sure about the quality of the soil, I will sometimes use old soil to fill up the bottom part of a very large pot so that I am not using expensive soil to fill a huge area.
Use recycled pots
If you have purchased plants in the past, it is likely that you have some old plastic pots kicking around, but if you don’t you can be sure that someone you know does! Looking on Facebook marketplace, or your local garden community forum, you can usually find someone looking to get rid of old plastic pots for free.
They may not look fancy, but they will grow a great tomato plant the same as a brand new expensive ceramic pot. If you are creative (or have kids who are!), you could always paint or spray paint your plastic pots to add more color for the season.
Another place to look for free pots is outside of garden centers; sometimes they will have an excess amount of old pots and they will be looking to get rid of them for free.
As I mentioned above, you can use just about anything to start your seeds in and the same goes for growing plants. Old jugs, formula tins, buckets with holes in them and many other things can be used to grow plants in them. Get creative and save money in the garden!
Split your plants
In the spring and fall you can often split your established perennials to move around to other parts of your garden. Hostas are great for this! Check out this article from Better Homes & Gardens for more in depth advice on how to grow and split your hostas. Give them a year or two to establish, and then in the spring did out part of the plant and move them somewhere else. Lily plants are the same and very easy to split. Experiment with what you have and see if you can move it around your garden to create more plants.
Another option is to let plants go to seed and wait until the spring to see if they self seed in your garden; don’t pull out every little thing you see popping up in the spring if you aren’t one hundred percent sure it is a weed!
I have successfully grown self seeded bachelors buttons, lupins, columbine and prairie crocus just by leaving them to seed on their own, a very easy and free way to expand your garden.
Let me know below how you save some money in the garden.