Many people get into gardening because they are hoping to save some money. After all, growing your own produce not only saves you a few trips to the grocery store, it’s also a much more cost effective way to have all your favorite vegetables on hand. But, as many new gardeners may discover, creating and maintaining a garden can become expensive if you aren’t careful.
Here are some quick tips on how to keep your veggie garden within budget this season.
Just like any other form of gardening, a plan is essential when you want to save money. By knowing ahead of time what you are going to plant and where you are going to plant it, you won’t waste resources. The most important part of a low-cost plan is to pick a budget and stick to it. It may be tempting to go over, but if you allocate funds ahead of time to specific garden costs, you will be less likely to spend on a whim.
Another great way to save money is to pick plants that are high yielding, but that are also produce you will use. It doesn’t make sense to grow something you won’t eat, so consider what you use frequently and focus on those plants.
Watch Your Water:
Water cost is not something that immediately comes to mind when you think about gardening. But, if you aren’t careful, it can quickly become one of the biggest expenses. A great way to cut down on your water usage is to have a rain barrel near your garden. By simply placing a bucket to catch water nearby, you can turn those frequent spring showers into your plants’ saving grace.
To water more effectively, plan to water your plants either early in the morning or later at night. If you water in the middle of the day, there is a greater chance of evaporation, meaning that less water will actually make it to the roots of your vegetables.
Mulch and Compost at Home:
Though it may be easy to just run out and grab a bag, most mulch and compost can be created for free in your own backyard if you are willing to take the time. Collecting grass clippings, straw, leaves, and pine needles is a great way to repurpose some yard waste that is on hand. In the same way, creating a compost pile by mixing leftover kitchen scraps with potting mix cuts down on your natural waste, and prevents you from having to use your limited funds to buy expensive, store-bought fertilizers.
Make Your Own Pest Sprays
As we talked about in previous articles, pests can be one of the biggest problems for vegetable gardeners. And, if your garden is being attacked, it may be tempting to run to the nearest gardening store and by those all-purpose sprays that promise to guard your plants. But there are so many simple, at-home remedies that are not only cheaper, but yield better results. For example, just spraying plants with soapy water can keep certain pests away without damaging the produce. Read my article about how to protect your plants naturally for a more complete guide to organic, cost-efficient pest control.
Seed Swaps and Bartering:
This is a great tool to look into after the season is over. Sites like Craigslist, OrganicGardening, or Freecycle are just a few examples of places you can go to connect with people who are interested in swapping their seeds for yours.
Along the same lines, once you have harvested some produce, it can be a great idea to barter with friends and coworkers. Trading for the things that didn’t make it in your garden this season will provide you with variety while also preventing the harvest you worked so hard to produce from going bad.
Bartering is also a great idea when it comes to acquiring other gardening supplies. Most of the time, someone has an extra shovel they don’t need or a truck that you can borrow to transport your seedlings. Offer your services in exchange for these smaller items that you can borrow.