Money has been one of my biggest gardening challenges over the years. I married just two months after graduating from university and soon after that, we were expecting our first baby. By the time baby number three arrived just four years later, my husband decided he needed to park his career for awhile and stay home with our children. Childcare costs would have been more than his salary.
Keeping outdoor spaces free from chemicals that could harm us, our children and our dogs has always been important. Though much of my gardening has been accomplished through my own free labour, many of the cost-saving tips I use are environmentally friendly too. No costly and potentially dangerous fertilizers for us!
This past gardening season was another lean budget year as I had taken some time away from work. I had a great garden and my no-cost self-seeded snapdragons were still blooming in November.
So how do you keep the garden growing and keep costs down at the same time? Check-out my money-saving tips.
Top Six Money-Saving Gardening Tips
1. Compost: If you are not composting, you may be throwing away the best-ever soil enhancer. If you have the space, a homemade or store-bought bin in the backyard is great. If you can’t accommodate a composter in your space, there are bin-free options like saving eggshells, banana peels and coffee grounds, blenderizing them and adding directly to your lawn or garden beds. Friends also recommend vermi-composting (yes, with worms).
2. Perennials: I have often picked up perennials at end-of-season sales at great prices. Some can even be planted in fall. My personal favorites include hostas, miniature rose bushes, irises, lilies and sweet Williams.
3. Start seeds inside: If you have a sunny window. it is easy to start seeds inside. I regularly start zinnias, marigolds and tomato seeds indoors.
Many plants also re-seed themselves from year to year. I have had great results with poppies, cosmos, rudbeckia and snapdragons. Familiarize yourself with the appearance of the seedlings so you can avoid weeding them out in the spring.
4. Bulbs: Friends have given me bulbs from pots purchased at grocery stores. I also picked up some nice tulip bulbs at a deep-discount in early December a few years back. (The ground was not yet frozen so I was still able to plant them.) After the flowers bloom and the leaves turn yellow brown, I cut them back and they grow again the following season. Tip: squirrels tend to avoid daffodil bulbs.
5. Overwinter: My aunt Joan is an expert at overwintering plants. She still has some growing from my grandmother’s garden. (Grandma Dell passed away more than forty years ago!) Last year I started bringing in my geranium planters before the frost set in. They got a little spindly over the winter but flourished again when they were trimmed back and brought back outside in the spring.
6. Share: One of the best ways to expand your crop is to share with family or neighbours. Many plants like hostas and delphiniums benefit from periodic splitting to thrive. Your neighbour might also have an abundance of seedlings that would otherwise go into the compost bin.
Need more advice? Experienced gardeners like my aunt Joan are a great source of information. If you don’t have an aunt Joan of your own, consider joining a gardening club or an online forum. I recently joined The National Gardening Organization. It is free and I have learned a lot.
Do you have money-saving tips to share? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a note for me in the comments or message me via twitter @v_ferrier.
Happy planting, sharing and saving!