It seems that people use money as an excuse more often than space or time when it comes to growing their own food. Everyone has a budget to follow, and while vegetable gardening may be a part of that budget, there are likely some constraints.
You can grow vegetables without spending a lot of money by being creative and resourceful. You don’t need to buy a lot of gardening supplies; you can find what you need around your house or property.
1. Plant foods that are easy to grow and require minimal care. 2. Use organic methods to avoid purchasing chemicals. 3. Start with seeds instead of buying plants. 4. Collect rainwater to water your plants. 5. Compost your kitchen scraps to fertilize your plants. Here are some ways to save money when growing food: 1. Plant foods that are easy to grow and don’t require a lot of care. 2. Use organic methods to avoid buying chemicals. 3. Start with seeds instead of buying plants. 4. Collect rainwater to water your plants. 5. Compost your kitchen scraps to fertilize your plants.
Buy Seeds for Less
Some seed vendors, like Pinetree Garden Seeds, sell high-quality seeds for less. Their prices, selection, and seed quality are always outstanding. Another great, reasonable seed source is Botanical Interests.
Other seed sellers offer a lot of seeds for a lower price. This is especially useful for gardeners that grow a lot of row crops, like carrots, beets, and beans. Franchi Sementi (also called Seeds of Italy) is one of the best low-cost bulk seed sellers. (They also have fun European vegetable varieties.) Most packets cost $4.50 each, but contain hundreds of seeds per packet! It’s a super value. Pagano Seeds is another source that provides a lot of seeds for a good price.
Know What to Grow When
To be a successful seed grower, it is important to know when and where to sow different types of seeds. Planting the wrong type of seed in the wrong location can lead to poor performance or even death of the plant. Therefore, understanding the best time and place to sow various seeds can save money in the long run.
Plants that do well when sown indoors in containers include small-seeded, warm-season vegetables, herbs, and garden flowers, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, salvia, petunias, impatiens, and basil. I also start cabbages, kales, and lettuce indoors because they germinate better. I generally wait until plants are 6-inches tall or more before planting them.
It is best to plant large-seeded, fast-growing plants outdoors. Cool-season vegetables, like peas, carrots, beets, and radishes, can be sown outdoors in rows in early to mid-spring. Warm-season, large-seeded crops, and flowers, like beans, corn, okra, sunflowers, and zinnias, can be directly sown in fertile garden soil. I tend to start my cucumbers, melons, and squash in 4-inch pots of Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix outdoors in late spring. They germinate fast, and I let them develop several sets of leaves before planting them in the ground.
Reuse and Recycle
Clear plastic ventilated clamshell containers with lids and holes for aeration can be reused to start seeds. The lids can come in handy, and once they’ve served their purpose, the containers can be recycled.
When it’s time to move seedlings into their own pots, you have lots of options. These include yogurt cups, cut plastic bottles, plastic cups, or washed tin cans with holes punched in the bottom. Be sure to wash containers with hot, soapy water and rinse well before using them. Other options for seedling pots include halved toilet-paper tubes, paper egg trays, or eggshell containers.
Choose Cheap Stakes and Labels
Every kid in grade school starts beans or sunflower seeds in a plastic cup. You can still save the sticks as free planting labels. Another option is cutting up large plastic yogurt or cottage cheese containers into strips and trimming them into 3-inch labels. Simply using a sharpy to mark the outside of a cup or container is another option, but it’s always nice to have a label that you can transfer into the garden at planting time.
The most inexpensive stakes for holding up small tomato seedlings are twigs collected outdoors and then cleaned and cut to size. Wooden or plastic stirrers can also serve as small stakes. I usually secure plants with pipe cleaners or soft twine.
Always Harden Seedlings Off
Hardening off seedlings prepares them for the tougher conditions they will face outdoors. This process acclimates seedlings from their indoor growing conditions to the outdoors, where there are more fluctuations in temperature. If planted without hardening off first, seedlings may get leaf burn, have stem breakage, or die. To harden them off, place potted plants in a protected spot that gets a few hours of sun per day for at least a week. Then, each day, gradually move them more towards the light and exposed to more wind. After a week or so, they should be tough enough to plant in the garden.
Know When to Plant Outdoors
If you want your plants to thrive, it’s important to know when to plant them so they don’t experience too much cold or heat.
You can sow cool-season vegetables, seeds, and starts in the ground in spring as soon as the soil can be worked. To prepare the soil, mix in Black Gold Garden Compost Blend, and make sure to label the rows. Cover newly planted seeds with a layer of compost before watering. Keep the soil just moist, and the seeds should start to sprout as the soil gets warmer.
Warm-season vegetables should be started indoors three or more months before planting them outdoors. Plant these row crops outdoors after the threat of frost has passed.
If you want to grow any perennials from seed, you should start as early as January. By the time they are ready to plant in late spring, they should be a good size for planting outdoors. Keep in mind that some perennials won’t bloom the first year after being grown from seed, while others will.
You shouldn’t start flowering annuals indoors until February and vining annuals in March or April. This is because they often grow quickly and can take over your indoor growing area.
Places To Grow
Make sure to drill holes in the bottom or sides of the container for drainage.
Use Buckets for Growing
If you need a 5-gallon bucket, you can get one for free from a bakery or restaurant. Just ask them. These buckets are food grade and just need a good cleaning. They even come with handles. The lid can double as a shallow tray.
If you want the outside to look nicer, you could always paint it.
Use Free Grow Bags
Many people have a lot of plastic bags that they got for free when they bought a lot of groceries.
The smaller sizes of these could be used for growing a head or two of lettuce or some herbs.
Build a Strawberry Crate Tower
The prices for terracotta strawberry planters or urns are very expensive.
You can make an inexpensive strawberry crate tower by repurposing “milk” crates from a department store or home center. To make the tower, you will need to add a roll of landscape cloth and a drilled-out PVC pipe.
Use Free or Cheap Raised Bed Materials
Although I tend not to prefer pallet wood, it can be used to build a raised bed or planter if necessary. Pallets are often free, making them a budget-friendly option.
You may be able to get some cheap wood at the lumber yard to build your beds with.
Some gardeners will use logs from trees to border their raised beds.
Use Free Material for Staking Up Plants
If you have long branches from your fruit trees, you can use them to stake up peas or beans.
Tomatoes can be tied up using old curtain rods or towel bars.
One way to support your vining plants is to tie a string to an overhead structure and let the plants climb the string.
Use Household Items for Plant Ties
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive plant ties at the nursery or garden center. Some of them may look cute (like flexible frogs), but they can be costly if you need a lot of them.
If you have twist ties from bags of food, you can use them as plant ties to keep plants from flopping over.
You can also use string or wire from an old telephone or network cable.
Some people even use old pantyhose cut in strips for their plants. The advantage is that they are stretchy, so they will stretch as the plant grows.
Build Your Soil And Feed Your Plants
Make Your Own Compost…
Bagged compost is very expensive!
It’s easy to build your own compost bin. You just need a small 3×3 area, chicken wire or deer fencing, and a few stakes.
To make a compost bin, pound some stakes into the ground, wrap chicken wire or netting around them, and secure with some string. Then fill the bin with leaves, manure, and other plant waste.
This saves you money in two ways: by not having to buy bagged compost, and by not having to pay to get rid of the waste.
…And Compost Tea
You can make your own compost tea by filling a meshed bag with compost and soaking it in a bucket of water for a few days.
To use this mixture as fertilizer, dilute it with water in a 10:1 ratio.
Get Free Manure
Manure is a natural by-product of raising livestock. If you know anyone with livestock, they may be willing to give you some of their manure for free. This is a great way to get nutrient-rich soil for your garden without having to pay for it.
You should compost fresh manure before using it on your plants, as it can otherwise burned them.
Be careful when using manure from animals that have been fed grass or hay, as these products may contain herbicides that can be harmful to your plants.
Switch to No-Till Gardening
The new way to garden is to not use a tiller to rent or buy.
Soil amendments and deep mulching are used to protect the soil from compaction and erosion, resulting in friable, nicely textured soil that doesn’t require deep tilling. Just a quick forking in spring will have the beds ready to plant.
Protect The Soil
Get Free Wood Chips or Make Your Own
Heavier mulching will help to suppress weeds better, as well as improve soil health and help conserve moisture.
You can usually get free wood chips from tree service companies if you ask them. Most companies have to pay to dispose of the wood chips they create when they cut down a tree, so they will often be happy to dump them in your yard or driveway if you ask.
Keep in mind that the mulch may not be as clean as what you get in bags or if you order it delivered from a landscape supplier. But your vegetables won’t care.
Or make your own.
If you have a lot of fruit trees you will end up with a lot of pruned branches every year. This includes everything from thin watershoots to thick dead branches. All of these can be easily shredded.
In order to do this, you will need to invest in a shredder or wood chipper. The electric ones are cheaper than gas-powered ones and work just as well for thinner branches. The cost of the shredder will pay for itself in a short period of time. Alternatively, you could rent one or borrow one from a neighbor if you only use it once a year.
Coarse mulch can be made from shredded branches, which can be used on flower beds, vegetable beds, or as a pathway. This mulch is an environmentally friendly way to save money.
If you have wood-burning appliances, you can use big branches that don’t fit in the shredder by cutting them into smaller pieces and stacking them until winter. These are good for starting fires.
Make Your Own Leaf Mulch
If you’ve got trees, do you go through the painstaking process of raking up all the leaves, putting them in bags, and leaving them at the curb for the city to pick up?
You now have excellent compost and no need to go out and buy it. You’re getting rid of a priceless resource for your garden by pileing up the leaves in a corner. wait one year and you now have excellent compost and no need to go out and buy it.
If you use leaves as mulch, you will end up with a rich, earthy leaf mold that can be used on your vegetable beds, just like wood chips or other mulch. The leaves will break down more quickly and help build healthy soil.