Gardening on a Budget: How to Start Your Garden Without Spending a Fortune

Posted On Thursday, 20 April 2023 20:39

It's easy to suffer from sticker shock when shopping for plants. With spring upon us, it's time to reawaken our gardens and begin a new season of growth. But if your budget can't afford the rising cost of seedlings, soil, and fertilizer, there are ways to still enjoy a bountiful harvest this year without breaking the bank. 

Check out the ten best ways to start your garden this year without spending a ton of money.

Plants Have an Off-Season

One great way to have all the plants needed for springtime is to buy them in the fall. A plant and tree nursery may offer deep discounts on some of your favorite perennials, vegetables, and bushes late in the year. Just have a safe place for them to continue growing during the colder months. 

Use Seeds Instead of Seedlings

One of the nice things about seedlings is they are halfway to maturity, but this convenience can carry quite a hefty price tag. Instead, consider starting your garden with seeds. You can purchase these in bulk for a fraction of the cost of a single plant, and you'll end up with potentially hundreds of seedlings. 

If you're worried about the cost of starting seeds, you can use egg cartons to hold them until mature enough for transplant. Just ensure they get plenty of light and hydration while germinating. 

Swap Plants 

Imagine if you could trade some of your perennials for other flowers, vegetables, fruits, and herbs. You can! Plant swaps are a popular event found in communities everywhere that help local gardeners trade their seeds and seedlings for other species. 

Finding these get-togethers is pretty easy. You can go online and look for groups on Facebook, Instagram, and Craigslist. You may even come across public gardens you didn't know existed and can dig up a few plants to get yourself started at no cost.

Control Slugs with Beer

Pest control can be expensive, so how did farmers keep away slugs back in the day? They drowned them in beer! Slug traps are easy to make and only require a disposable container like a jar or cup inserted in the ground until the lip is flush with the surface. Then, add a bit of leftover beer to attract these slimy beasts to fall in and drown. 

Source Your Own Mulch and Compost

If you can afford your plants but don't have the extra money to buy fertilizer or mulch, you can always create your own or find someone offering some for free. Creating mulch is fairly simple and is made of old pine needles and leaves, which can be worked into your soil. Or, contact your local co-op, city management, or tree services. Many times, they offer free compost; you'll just need to figure out how to get it home. 

Create Upcycled Garden Beds

If you're starting your first garden on a limited budget, you can create raised beds without expensive lumber and hardware. Instead, keep things simple and fun by upcycling found objects around your home. For example, if you have an old plastic kiddie pool under your deck, you can create a few drainage holes and fill with soil to house your plants. 

Old tires, hay and dirt-lined tomato cages, and car tires are popular substitutes for raised beds and are ideal, too. Just look around your house to find large containers perfect for planting.

Ask Friends, Family, and Neighbors for Cuttings

Another great way to source plants for your garden is to divide a plant that is already large and thriving. Daffodils, Irises, herbs, asparagus, and many more are ideal to get cuttings from, and your friends will probably be grateful for slimming down their monster plant in the process. This is also a great way to create heirloom plants that can be passed down through your family and community for generations to come. 

Use Cardboard to Smother Grass and Weeds

If you can't afford to rent a tiller and want to spend less than half the day digging up turf, consider putting down layers of cardboard and building a garden on top. Not only will this save you a ton of work, but you'll return nutrients to the soil underneath. Newspaper will also do the trick, but put down plenty of layers so grass and weeds can break through. 

Grow Your Herbs and Veggies from Leftovers

If you want to grow lettuce, onions, or herbs, you don't need to purchase them at a nursery. Instead, use the rooted ends leftover during your usual dinner prep. In addition, many kitchen staples found in your store's produce section can be regrown and transplanted into your garden later. 

You'll need a few jars for this process because you'll insert the scrap vegetable and add enough water to only submerge the roots. Then, place your mini-greenhouse in the sun for a few days, and once you see growth, transplant it into a different container until big enough to survive in your garden area outdoors.

It's Easy to Start Your Budget-Friendly Garden 

With all these easy ways to save money on gardening, you may stick with these tips every year! It's easy to focus on the financial aspect of growing your own plants and not realize how many clubs and local organizations provide free resources for gardening. Community-supported gardens are more common than you think and can supply everything needed to create your dream garden. Plus, with a little resourceful upcycling, maintenance, and fertilization won't cost you a dime. Happy gardening!

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