Get What You Can for Free
Believe it or not, there are several gardening items that you can get without spending a single penny. You can usually get a big pile of mulch for free from your local utility company or local municipality. They spend a good deal of time processing limbs and brush that they cut from roadways and yards. These organizations are typically very willing to give it to someone who needs it rather than letting it go to waste. You can also sometimes get organic compost for free from recycling centers and sanitation companies, and some farms might give away manure for fertilizer.
Trade for Seeds, Clippings, and Seedlings with Other Gardeners
Do you have neighbors with nice gardens? Is there a local gardening club? Do you frequently talk to a lot of gardeners in nearby supply shops? Join some of the many online seed swapping groups. Many gardeners will be more than happy to trade for some of their seeds, plant clippings, seedlings and more, especially if their gardens are overflowing. Trading can allow you to obtain high quality plants and a wider variety of produce without spending a cent.
Build a Rapport with Other Gardeners and Garden Shop Employees
Your fellow gardeners can offer great tips on how to grow certain plants in the most efficient ways and where to get the best products for the lowest prices. In turn, you can also offer your advice and tips to other gardeners to help everyone save money and make their gardens flourish.
Having a good rapport with garden shop employees may also allow you to get good advice on which plants in the store are newest, which ones are the healthiest and when the store will have their best sales.
Make Your Own Insecticide and Fungicide
Pest control seems like a problem that requires a lot of cash, but there are many cheap and easy ways to make your insecticides. Most homemade options are organic and much safer for your plants than chemical products. For aphid problems, use tomato leaf spray. Alternatively, garlic oil spray will deter aphids and most beetles. For slugs, take an empty plastic tub about the size of a butter container and fill it halfway with beer. Bury a few tubs around the perimeter of the garden and cover the opening about three-quarters of the way with a small piece of wood or a rock. Slugs will be attracted to the beer, fall in and be unable to get out. For those with pets and small children, sprinkling diatomaceous earth over the area will also help deter slugs. Organic neem oil can be purchased in bulk relatively inexpensively and can help prevent or address a whole host of garden problems. Buy it in bulk and mix your own solution.
Beneficial bugs can also be an effective means to help rid you gardens of damaging pests. For instance, ladybugs eat whiteflies, aphids, and mites, and nematodes eat cutworms, beetles, and root weevil larvae. You can buy many beneficial bugs through specialty stores and online, but others can be attracted to your garden with certain plants.
Grow Vegetables that Can be Preserved
If you have a small family or simply grow more than you eat, don't waste the excess vegetables. Focus your growing efforts on plants that are easily dried, canned, jarred, frozen, and vacuum sealed. Most garden produce can be preserved. Some great vegetables for canning include tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, beets, cucumbers, carrots, peas, and beans. Don't vacuum seal vegetables such as celery, broccoli or lettuce since they will expel juices and gases that will make them go bad quickly. Some good veggies for vacuum sealing include squash, snap (green) beans, corn, blueberries, and strawberries.
Use Leftovers to Add Nutrients to you Garden
Are you boiling some potatoes or steaming carrots? Why waste the water in the pot when you can water your plants with it? Not only does using cooking water help conserve water and cut down on your water bill, but the nutrients left behind in the water from the cooked vegetables can be very beneficial to your growing plants. Compost your table scraps and yard waste. It’s not as complicated as many people make it out to be. For some composting tips, check out our 'Composting Basics' post.
Gardening is already a great way to save money from buying store-bought produce and can provide high quality food and much more diverse selections. But there are plenty of ways to save even more money without sacrificing the quality or quantity of your vegetables. If you follow these simple tips, you'll be seeing plenty of green in your garden and your wallet.