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This post was originally published in February of 2017 and has been recently updated for your convenience.
15 Money-Saving Gardening Tips
Gardening can be a great way to save money on your grocery bill, but you really need to plan ahead and be careful.
Just like anything else, you can really get carried away with buying expensive equipment, fencing, seeds, plants, trellises, etc. and costs can get out of control.
Of course it doesn’t have to be this way, which is why today I’m sharing 15 Money-Saving Gardening Tips That Will Save You Hundreds. If you follow these tips, you’ll be growing tons of quality food for your family all while sticking to a budget. Happy Frugal Gardening Friends!
Start Plants from Seed
If you have the space and the desire, buying a $2 packet of seeds will go much further than buying plants for $2 or $3 each. Starting your own plants from seed is especially important if you have a large garden because buying several plants at a time can get to be really expensive.
Direct Sow As Much as Possible
If you don’t have the time or space to start your own seeds, make sure you are direct sowing as many things as you can because this is going to be cheaper in the long run than buying starts. Most things can be direct sown into the soil with great results, but things like tomatoes, peppers and cabbage need to be started indoors or bought as starts from the store because they take longer to grow. Check out my list of the easiest vegetables to direct sow here.
Find Free Soil Amendments
Purchasing soil amendments from the store is costly, so it’s best to source your own for free or cheap. Look around your own property first and see if there is anything that you can use. Next, check with your neighbors or on Facebook to see if you can find some good materials for free or cheap.
Free Soil Amendment Materials Include:
- Cow, Chicken or Horse Manure (make sure it is at least 4 months old or it will burn your plants)
- Pine Needles
- Grass Clippings (free from herbicides)
- Straw (free from herbicides)
- Dead Leaves (these should be in small pieces or they will mold)
Turn Kitchen Scraps into Nutrients
Another great FREE resource for soil amendments is right in your kitchen. I grind up our eggshells and add them to the soil for a good boost of calcium. You can also add things like used coffee grounds, banana peels and shrimp tails. Simply add before tilling or dig a hole and add amendments directly into the soil.
You may also like: Improve Your Garden Soil for FREE Using Kitchen Scraps
Preserve What You Grow
Gardening can really save you tons of money if you learn how to preserve what you are growing to get you through the winter months. Freezing, dehydrating and canning are great ways to preserve the harvest. Learning how to preserve your own food is am amazing money saver.
- Strawberry Freezer Jam
- How to Freeze Bell Peppers
- Oven-Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
- Dehydrated Apple Rings
Host or Attend a Seed Swap
A great way to save money on seeds is to find a local seed swap. This is basically where everyone brings in seeds that they have extra of or won’t use and then swaps them for things that they need. Check Facebook or your local library to see if there is one in your area and if there isn’t consider hosting one of your own with a few gardening friends.
Make Friends with Other Gardeners
Gardeners are notorious for being generous. Having a few in your life is bound to save you money. We gardeners love to share our bounty whether it be in free produce, seeds, plants, tools or advice. I’m ALWAYS giving things away during the gardening season and I’ve also been given many things by my gardening friends.
Mulch to Reduce Watering
We mulch our garden with cardboard and straw every year because it saves me a lot of time pulling weeds and it also saves us from having to water so often. If you have a large garden and live in a hot/dry climate mulching can really save you money on your water bill. You can also mulch using grass clippings, but make sure they are free from herbicides or it could end up killing your plants.
Borrow or Buy Used Gardening Tools
If you’re new to gardening and find that you need a few tools, try checking with family and friends first to see if they have any extra ones lying around. Next, check garage sales, thrift stores or Facebook before opting to buy new.
Learn to Save Seeds
Learning to save your own seeds year after year can really save you money. Buying all new seeds each season can be costly, especially if you have a large garden so anything that you can save yourself will add money to your pocket. Some easy seeds to save are sunflowers, beans, peas and okra.
Find Seeds and Gardening Supplies for Less
Most people buy their seeds in late winter or early spring, but if you wait until summertime, most farm and garden stores will have them as well as other gardening supplies on sale because they need to get rid of them. Seeds will keep for a long time. I just recently germinated tons of tomato and pepper seeds that were five years old.
Collect Rain Water
Watering your garden can become expensive, but setting up a system such as a rain barrel to collect rainwater is a great way to water your garden for FREE. Check out this tutorial on how to make a rain barrel from a trash can.
Start Seeds in Recycled Containers
You really don’t need complicated systems to start seeds. Consider using old salad containers, eggs cartons, milk jugs, plastic cups, etc. to get plants started. There are a ton of materials that can be used to start your plants in for free if you just use your imagination.
Only Grow What You Eat
One of the best money-saving gardening tips that I can give is to only grow what your family eats. If you go through 2-3 bags of salad per week then you should grow lots of salad. If your family loves salsa, then grow tomatoes, peppers and onions to make your own. It will do you no good to grow 30 heads of broccoli if your family doesn’t eat it.
Grow Edible Perennials
Another great money-saving thing to consider would be to grow edible perennials. Fruit is an especially great food to consider growing because you get such a good return with little work involved. Things like blueberries, raspberries, apples and peaches can be planted once and then enjoyed year after year.
BONUS TIP: Take an Online Gardening Class
The internet is an amazing thing because you can literally learn about anything you desire. Blueprint offers over 800 gardening classes that often go on sale for half price or even less. Purchasing a class gives you lifetime access and the ability to go through it at your own pace. Below are a few of the classes that caught my eye.
- Small Space Vegetable Gardening
- Vegetable Gardening: Smart Techniques for Plentiful Results
- The Extended Harvest: Vegetables for Every Season
- Designing Elegant Edible Gardens
Want more Money-Saving Tips? Here are a few of my favorite posts:
- How to Build an Old-Fashioned Frugal Pantry
- 7 Frugal Cooking Tips from the Great Depression
- 40 Groceries to Stop Buy and Start Making to Save Money
- 30 Old-Fashioned Frugal Tips from Grandma