One of the most common complaints I have heard about gardening (aside from the hard work that it entails) is how expensive it can be. I can’t deny that purchasing plants, fertilisers, potting mixes, compost and gardening tools can leave a significant dent in your wallet. However, there are ways that you can economise in the garden. In this blog post, I’ll outline some ways that I have managed to reduce the amount of money spent on our garden without it suffering. In fact, the garden has even benefitted from these measures as it has forced us to become quite creative with our gardening methods and techniques.
Making your own compost
By recycling your own waste, you can make compost that can be used to grow edibles and ornamentals in the future in your garden. The three traditional forms of composting are Bokashi, worm farms and composting bins. Click here to read part I, part II and part III to my guide on composting.
Propagate plants from seed
You can save so much money by propagating seedlings from seed rather than purchasing plants from the garden centre. It’s easy to raise most flower and vegetable seedlings from seed and it means you’ll be able to grow different varieties that aren’t available at garden centres.
All you need is some seed raising mix, plastic punnets, potting mix to pot up your seedlings as they grow, a watering can and some seeds. If you are germinating seeds in winter or spring, it might help if you use a heat pad to keep temperatures nice and warm overnight. Note that some seeds, especially root crops like carrots and parsnips, need to be sown directly where they are to be grown. In other words, don’t sow these ones in punnets for transplanting later or you will end up with forked veggies.
Save seeds from your flowers and veggies
Enjoy propagating plants from seed and want to save even more money? Why bother buying seeds when you can save seeds from your own plants and store them for sowing in future seasons. I have written a bit about seed saving in my blog, which you can read here.
Swap seeds with other gardeners
Save money on purchasing seeds by swapping excess seeds from packets or seeds collected from your own garden with other gardeners. Some gardening communities even have a little seed box which is passed from person to person, where they take and contribute what they want to the collection. Try to join one of these projects. They’re fun. It’s a great way to try new things and share what you have in your existing collection with other gardeners.
Propagating plants by cuttings
You’ll save an arm and a leg by propagating plants from cuttings. It’s really easy and doesn’t take much time. I have done a comprehensive blog post on this subject which you can read by clicking here.
You can propagate plants from your own garden or ask for or swap cuttings with neighbours or gardening friends. This is an economical way to start a garden, especially if you have just moved house.
You can also propagate more strawberry plants by ensuring that your runners form roots of their own. The runners will be attached to the parent plant so snip them off and voila, you have a new strawberry plant or plants for free. To read more about this, please click here.
Install a small water tank in your garden
It’s possible to save on the amount of water you use around the garden. One effective way of doing this is to collect water in a tank. This might be worth looking into, especially if your water bill is high, like ours. The tank need not be big. It’s possible to find some tall, slim ones which are ideal for collecting water for use around the garden.
Most garden centres will have a section with plants that have been reduced. Every time you go to the garden centre, it pays to have a look as you may be able to pick up an absolute bargain. Just be careful not to buy anything that looks like it cannot easily be revived. Obviously, some things in this section may not be marked down by much so it pays to do some quick calculations if it’s worth it to pay the full price and obtain a plant in perfect condition. One example of a bargain I picked up from the clearance section of a garden centre recently was a grafted standard lavender “Major” that had been marked down from $75 to just $15. This was the perfect purchase, as my existing standard lavender “Princess” had recently died and I had been looking for a replacement for some time, but was put off by the high cost of these plants. It was reduced as it had finished flowering for the season but was still well and truly alive. I am confident that it will reflower again in spring which will be perfect in timing, as my fruit trees will be in blossom. The bees that are attracted to the lavender flowers will hopefully pollinate the blossoms on the fruit trees.