Friday, January 9, 2009

Gardening on a budget

Just thought I would pass along some of my tips on anything to do with a garden. Over the years ive accumulated alot of stuff in many ways that have saved me a bundle.

Garden Bench-not something you "need" but nice to have. My husband was going to build me one. He went to the store and gathered everything and it came up to over $75 for it all. I found one for only $40 at BI Mart. Just needed to be put together and painted. So you can find them for pretty cheap. You can store pots, and shovels easily on one. It doesnt make you a better gardener, ive learned that. LOL!

Pots-I have alot of various sized pots that ive accumulated over the years. Some free from friends, some from free box's at garage sales, and some bought new. Large terra cotta pots were bought from Michaels with their 40% off coupon. Each one only cost me $3. They are about a foot tall. I gather them anytime of the year.

Shovels and gadgets-Again some were free, from friends, or found at thrift stores. But some were bought new. After the season of gardening is gone, most stores discount them for super cheap. There isnt alot of people running out to get these kinds of things so I almost always find what I need for super cheap. They are everywhere. Walmart, Rite Aid, Ace Hardware, and Target. Rite Aid has deep discounts for theirs. If its cheap enough, get it. Yes, you dont need it at that moment but get it then so you dont pay more when you actually need it.

Seeds and plants-Again after season sale. You can get seeds for as low as 10 cents. I just save them for spring. Bulbs can be bought for pretty cheap as well. Just plan where you want to plant them, plant them now, and reep the rewards next year when they pop up. During the summer I buy potted plants when I find them marked down. I did the whole front of my house for only $7. We just bought 6pks for 50 cents, planted them, dead headed them, and they bloomed for a couple of months. And for a fraction of the price. They just needed tlc. Seeds can also be bought off the internet or from catalogs for pretty cheap.

Soil,compost,etc-My #1 reccomended tip is to start a compost. Not only will this save you money from buying it, it will save you money on your garbage bill. We started on with a garbage can w/lid for $5. Look for one in a dark color, speeds up the process. Just drilled holes all over it. You can throw anything in but meat and dairy. Some would argue this but I choose not to have animals trying to get to my compost (make sure to get one with a secure lid) . We had a medium size garbage can we paid for each month and were able to get a small one because we cut down on our trash. Saved us $10 a month. You can throw in weeds, plant and grass clippings, food waste, animal poo, etc. Just remember to roll your can every week or so to mix it. Takes a long time to fill, but seems like it would fill fast. Mine fills about 2 times a year. Wonderful nutrient filled compost for free!
TIP-Starbucks puts their old grounds into bags and gives them away. Just give your local Starbucks a call to ask when they have some and you can just pick it up for free! Wonderful to sprinkle around your plants.

Garden beds etc-My husband builds me a raised garden bed whever ever we live. Usually built from extra wood scraps from other projects. My old house we build some from the left over wood from a play structure we built. This house we build one from left over wood from our fence. Pretty cedar shakes and all. Depending on your soil, you can just add some compost or leaves to fill it. My soil in the town im moving from is just rocks and clay soil so I have to invest in getting potting soil. My new home the garden beds are already built so bonus for me. Just use old tires if you dont have the money. My parents lay an old tire down, fill it with dirt and compost. This works well for them plus less weeds. Not the most pretty thing I might note but works well. Plus usually free. Almost everyone has old tires laying around.

Also make sure to put a garden bed in the sunniest area of your yard. Things will go super slow or not at all. The seeds can even rot if they get too much water and not enough sun. And if you have pets, invest in some screen of sorts or your pet will eat all your hard work. My dog did this at our old house and I just wanted to cry. Didnt get a single tomato that year. UURR. They will do just about anything to get to your produce. Make sure its safe and secure.

Mason Jars-Super cheap at garage sales. Second hand ones range from 10-50 cents. New ones are $6-8 for 6-12 depending on the size. Lids and seals can be bought seperate for $1-2. Just make sure you wash them carefully and look for cracks and chips.

Canning pot-I paid $14.99 at Walmart for a large old fashion blue canning pot. Old way of canning but frugal. If you find one at a garage sale, snatch it up! You can spend over 50 for a pressure cooker but I wouldnt. Big investment. Maybe ask for one on your birthday, Mothers Day, or even for Christmas.

Jar grabbers-cant remember the technical word for it. The tool that takes jars from the boiling water in the pot. Those can be $5 and up. I found mine at a thrift store for 50 cents each. They are everywhere. You just have to know what they are. I dont think the store knew what they were. Worth the money! I didnt have one last summer and used tongs. Not reccomended.

Hats, shoe's and gloves-Again wait for super sales on these. My hat (reccomended for those hot days) was bought for me on Mothers Day from my children. Make sure you get one that have chin straps or fits snug. Every time you bend over, this will be an issue. Shoe's were bought at Goodwill for super cheap. Gloves are also found super cheap from stores. I have tiny hands so it took me a while to find a pair I liked. Worth the money to get these. I had to dig up and turn soil in my last home and it took me hours of hard labor. Gloves saved me from blisters.

Pesty bugs and disease's-Use a soap/water mixture to spray on the plant. Keeps bugs off. Make sure the soap is a vegetable based one to be safe. For disease use a baking soda water mixture. They dont like it. Apply weekly. You can even use a pepper mixture. In a blender use the hottest pepper you can find with water. Blend for a minute or two. Strain through cheese cloth and put in a spray bottle. Again spray once a week. Just make sure not to get on your skin. You will suffer! Dont ask how I know this. LOL! This is a great alternative to all those ones you can buy. Most are not safe or organic. Rock salt works great for slugs. The biggest rock salt you can find. Slugs dont like it at all. Good alternative to the one you buy at the store. Its a powder and is hard to keep where you want it. Plus cant be good for the plants that will be growing around it.

Already grown pruduce-at the end of season they sell produce for super cheap at markets or farms. I bought a huge box of green beans for $16. I think it was about 15 lbs. I canned them during the summer. I think I made about 24 jars of beans with that. Still eating them now. Worth every penny. I even recieved a box for free. They were going bad so a gentleman gave them to me for free. I took them home, pulled out the bad ones, and froze them. Layed them on cookie sheets froze them, pulled them out and put them into ziplock bags. They were super yummy! and FREE!!!! Get produce at super discounts and freeze them. Any peppers can be done the same way. Chip into slices and freeze. Onions, berries, and even banana's can be done this way. Banana's you just depeel, freeze into small pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze. Can be used all year round for muffins, breads and anything you can imagine. And if you buy older banana's , you can get them for as low as 29 cents per lb. Super frugal tip!
If you dont like something or can use it quick enough, give it to a friend or neighbor. Later they will do the same. Kinda like the old saying "Pat my back and I will pat yours". Saves you both money. I almost always bake stuff, or have left overs and give them to my friends. And they do the same. I get many things like produce, soups, and baked items free this way. Feels good to help others and be helped out too.

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