The following is a guest post by Adrienne May.
With the first few signs of spring starting to show, it’s time to break out the gardening gloves and start thinking about what plants you want to grow. But not everyone has unlimited income, and many gardeners have to be economical about their plant and tool choices. Here are some ways that you can save money while you grow and tend to your garden on a budget.
photo by brianjmatis
Planning your garden before you buy anything can save you a lot of time and money on frustrations and unnecessary expenses. Think about the space you will be using. Is it a corner of your backyard? Will you plant the flowerbeds in the front of your house? Maybe you want to set up a container garden on your patio.
Think about the space and measure, and calculate the square footage of the area you will be using. Draw this out on graph paper, with every square representing a foot, and you will have an erasable, to-scale garden that you can plan and adjust before you spend a dime.
What kind of plants do you want? Where do you want them? How big are they once they reach maturity? Doing research and being able to visually see where your plants will go and how much space they require to grow will save you a great deal of trouble.
A Seed to Grow
The most economical way to grow plants is to start your own from seeds. You can get packets of seeds at nurseries and hardware stores for very inexpensive prices. You can also talk with friends and peers and organize a seed swap, especially if you and those you know harvested the seeds from your own plants the year before; you can also find seeds on sites like Craigslist, and the National Gardening Association website.
You can also take initiative for next year and save the seeds from your plants this year to eliminate this problem altogether.
One of the best ways to save money in the initial gardening stages is to refrain from buying mass-manufactured seedling containers. Often these are extremely overpriced, and the plastic containers can contain harmful toxic chemicals that can poison your garden, like BPAs and phthalates.
Instead, save your egg crates from the store. These are the perfect size for planting seeds and nurturing and observing them closely as they germinate. And if you buy biodegradable cardboard egg crates, you can cut the wells apart and plant the seedling and the container in the ground. This takes care of the extra step of transplantation, as the cardboard will break down in the soil, and your plants can grow without shocking the roots.
Keep the Tools Simple
Another way to cut costs is to buy only what tools are necessary. Unless you are a professional gardener, you probably don’t need that 30-piece, all-in-one deluxe tool kit. The essential gardening tools that you really need are a shovel, hoe, spading fork, gardening shears, and gloves, and maybe sunblock.
It’s also very tempting to buy shiny, new tools each year, but if you invest in pure steel tools, you won’t ever have to buy them again. Aluminum is fine for light gardeners who don’t need to use them much, but if you’re a heavy gardener working every day, steel tools will pay for themselves for many years to come.
You can save yourself many pretty pennies by using home remedies instead of store-bought chemical gardening solutions. Instead of buying pesticides and weed killers, you can find several easy and inexpensive home remedies to take care of your plants’ ailments.
Some common remedies for weed management include pouring boiling water on the weeds. You may need to do this twice if the weeds are especially tough. You can also use newspaper under mulch to keep weeds at bay.
These tips and more can help you maintain a beautiful garden with minimal trouble. You’ll be able to plant them from seeds, watch them grow, make sure they’re healthy, and make sure that no harmful chemicals are introduced to them. This will make your garden, and you, happy, healthy, and prosperous.
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Adrienne May is a military spouse, a mother of three and is the featured author for the Military Spouse Central blog with an active social network of over 100,000 military spouses and family members. Follow her on Google+ or tweet her at @AdrienneMay.