View Full Version : Frugal Garden Tips

12-18-2008, 09:53 AM
Everyone loves to save money and if Gardening is one of your passions you probably spend your money there. If you are like me you are always trying to save a little money.

I get all my pots from nurseries - used and usually free - just wash them out with a little bleach water and they are ready to go.

If you are trying to root cuttings, a gallon pot with a gallon zip loc bag over the top makes a perfect mini greenhouse for rooting cuttings.

Never pass by a bag of leaves on the curbeside - it's someone else's trash and your treasure.

Use shredded office paper under your mulch or in your compost bins.

Save and trade your seeds - only buy heirloom so that you can save them.

You can build a small hoop house with pvc pipe and a few pieces of rebar and some plastic and heat it with a 60 wat bulb in about half the US - zone 5 or colder it won't work.

Do you know someone with rabbits - rabbit poop doesn't need to be composted before you add it to your garden beds.

Let's hear some more from you guys

12-18-2008, 10:12 AM
Love the rooted cutting idea. I will have to try it.

In terms of saving on pots you can start seeds in deli containers, coffee cans, tons of other things you probably already have.

For seeds there is a website that talks about saving seeds from vegetables that you get at the grocery store or farmers market, like cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes,...I've tried avocado from seed, indoors, but it didn't make it past 2 years.

12-18-2008, 03:00 PM
There are many houses in my area that are bein demolished and they have a lot of brick and concrete on the roadside. Would any of you use these free materials in building raised beds?

I too have grown avocado from seed. I killed it though while trying to cut something else back, so I'll never know if it would have produced fruit.

12-18-2008, 03:41 PM
Hubby and I are discussing this issue at the moment. We would have to undo/redo our entire yard to do anything on the magnitude of what Patti has accomplished. I've been talking about raised beds and pavers, having to make the entire yard flat and level, etc. but we are terrified at what it would cost to do all that! He choked when I bought the composter (that he insisted that I have! My little chicken wire ring in the middle of the yard filled up with "trash" was an eye and nose sore, and he wouldn't let me try composting again if I did it that way.)

Anyway, we have no idea how on earth we are going to afford all this.

I hope that the groceries we get will eventually pay for itself.

12-18-2008, 04:12 PM
Here's an image of a raised bed maid out of cinder block. I like the fact that they capped it off with a solid block. You don't need concrete with this method.


here is a cool image of a brick/stone raised bed


If you use brick you have to make the walls double thick if you want to go any higher than one row. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Garden Green
12-18-2008, 11:46 PM
I love the brick raised bed idea, no eventual replacement there. And stacked that way you could move it if the need arises instead of making it permanent.

Great pics! Doing something like that would definitely bring an old world feel to the garden. Love it!

12-22-2008, 12:26 AM
Frugal gardening is fast becoming a passion of mine. I spent way too much money on my garden last year, but then again, I had it. Since then I've heard of folks wanting to garden and didn't have any money. So I've been doing a lot of thinking and researching on it. I'd love to help folks garden for free, especially those hardest hit by the economy and really need it. So thanks for those posts above, I will file some of that info away hopefully for later use.

For now, I'll throw out some of the tid-bits I've collected to try to help folks.

- If you can't afford anything, you can turn even the worst soil into something growable in a year or so by adding your own compostables, lasagna style and mixing it in. Sure its work, but sweat equity normally is.

- Starbucks Grounds for your Garden is a great green that is just about free fertilizer at a 12:1 CN ratio. And since it's not 10:1, it will not burn plants like regular fertilizer. How cool is that, for free!

- Craigslist and Freecycle are great to find used wood to build raised beds if you so choose.

- Buy seeds from stores clearing out their packets after the season is over at pennies a packet. If that's too much, try for volunteers from organic storebought tomatoes, potatoes and the like.

- Buckets and pails left out on rainy days can become make-shift water barrels to water your garden. On the cheap note, I've researched creating your own rain barrels from cheap Craigslist 55 gallon food-grade drums.

- Compost is free, if you use your own scraps and yard waste, or those of your neighbors. Hot composting is easy and you can create black gold in a matter of months.

- I'm working on $30 hoop cover-based four season gardening, which is the ultimate season extender...

- Of course save your own seeds whenever possible (something I need to learn to do).

- Plant extras and sell seedlings to folks that don't want to take the time to do it themselves.

- Learn to save your harvest so you can eat well all winter long.

Well that's what's off the top of my head. Enjoy your garden!

12-23-2008, 04:05 AM
winter sow recycling or out door recyling to go boxes or rostisery chicken holders (my favorite green house) Lettuce containters the big rectangle type (another favorite) plant to share in yogurt cups, cottage cheese, starbucks cups,

milk cartons, quarts work great cut up for seed starting.

Gallon milk/juice/ water containers cut up for a mini cover for a delicate plant.

fence boards make cheap raised beds. Not super long lasting, but a start for a bed until one can afford brick cement block or lasagne.

Have a bamboo stand to grow your own stakes.

Save money on plants while you are waiting for your seedlings to grow, overwinter a few favorite peppers/eggplants/tomato plants indoors/shelted. There are a few pests added to the mix but hard pruning keeps em down.

Green onions can be planted back in the ground, for a quick regrowth and another crop(or just give em a hair cut) Plant sprouting garlic

wash shower curtains in the washing machine and reuse to cover plants (the gromets are handy)

Garden forums ~ Get into a few round robins and do some seed trading to let you try the plant and save seed.

Save your own seed

Use craigslist and free cycle to ask for what you are looking for. I got a bunch of pots free! Bonus got 6 30 gallon pots. Although I didn't have a truck to pick up, a few folks give away free greenhouses, windows, materials, soil, compost, bricks ect.

Check out clearance plants, some places give em away. many gardeners disagree but I have rescued many a plant and it turned out well.

Getting sleepy, those are my cheapo ideas for now.

12-30-2008, 12:56 PM
I have been saving the "clamshell" plastic containers that cookies and stuff some in from the bakery dept at supermarkets. I figure they look like little greenhouses and I could put plant cuttings and start seeds in them. What do you think?

12-30-2008, 01:33 PM
What I call frugal My wife calls cheapskate , but anyway here goes, I use old beer cans cut in half to root seedlings. I built my raised beds out of salvaged hurricane lumber off the beaches. I built my chicken tractor out of old pallets. I use old tractor trailer tires for raised beds for our salad greens. (take a jig saw and cut out one of the sidewalls) I love these you can stick them anywhere. I grow our potatoes in above ground stacks of tires( no digging just hit them with the pick-up and grab your potatoes. And we use oak leaves ,seaweed and our rabbits and chickens for compost.

12-30-2008, 04:33 PM
Quiltygirl, I've been doing the same thing for wintersowing. They work great. Check out wintersown.org Trudi is great.

That's all good stuff Kevin. Use what's available to you! Way to go.

12-30-2008, 04:43 PM
Please share some pics with us.

12-31-2008, 09:14 AM
A shoplight fixture with flourescent tube lighting costs under $25 and can be hung on existing shelving stock you likely have or can purchse for (again) under $25 (rubbermaid shelving is ideal and very sturdy), and for this minimal investment you have an effective seed starting area. Even better with a heat mat - but the more frugal approach is to start your seedlings on the top of the fridge where it is warm and then as soon as they emerge move them to your light set up. Starting your own seedlings is very frugal - provides much more variety - and ensures you have the seedlings when you want them for optimal timing to plant out. Here is a great website (http://www.sherrysgreenhouse.com/pages/seedstarting/index.html)on seed starting and it shows the kind of light set up I am talking about in one of the pictures.

A well dug, well mineralized garden bed subjected to regular applications of good compost - needs very little by way of additional fertilizer. When I start a new bed it receives an application of rock phosphate, green sand, and dolomitc lime (because our soil is acidic in this area). About every 2 0r 3 years, I apply another very light application of rock phosphate and greensand to the beds and use dolomitic lime in the fall of each year where needed. I buy a large (40lb or 25lb) bag of rock phosphate, greensand, and dolomitic lime - about once every three years. The cost is about $60 for all three. With good basic soil care I get by annually with just one 25 lb bag of general purpose organic fertilizer (about $45) and 1 gallon jug of fish/kelp emulsion concentrate ($15) supplies my 700 square food garden for the entire growing season. The annual cost of soil amendments and fertilizer works out to about $80. From this modest investment we get heavy food production from a very small garden area.

12-31-2008, 09:42 AM
We are putting up our hoop house right now - pictures to follow. Made from PVC pipe and cheap rolled plastic. Of course DH wants one big enough to stand up in although I have built smaller ones inthe past for starting rose cuttings.

10 ft pieces of pvc pipe (so if you are taller than 5 ft tall you might want 15 ft pieces)
3 ft pieces of rebar

Pound the rebar in the ground about 1/2 the length in parallel rows about 6 ft apart
Stick a piece of pvc pipe on one side of the rebar "stakes"and bend it over and sick it on the rebar stake.
Cover with plastic

hold the plastic on the ground with old pieces of wood, rocks, bricks, whatever you have

I am 55 and it takes me about 15 minutes to build one. Run an extension cord and hand a light bulb. In warmer areas a 65 wat bulb will work just fine. Colder climates might need a heat bulb.

PLANT MARKERS - how many of you have tried to mark your seeds; bought fancy tags, etc. Used permanent markers and to no avail.

The best, longest lasting plant markers. Old plastic mini blinds - everyone has them; you can get them at the curb when people throw them out - they are everywhere. Cut them into lengths and write on them with a #2 pencil. I have markers made this way that have been under roses for 5 years and you can still read them. In a greenhouse environment they will last forever. The plastic will wear out before the pencil marking wears off.

12-31-2008, 09:55 AM
Hey Rosemom , I am considering building one of these also. How are you going to finish the ends .(loose plastic , framed door ,etc) ?

12-31-2008, 11:13 AM
Kevin in our climate and in yours - just hang the plastic and waight it down. This is a temporary greenhouse. It takes 10 minutes to take it down. Use some of your tires to hold everythingt down. Might not be the prettiest thing in the world but it does work.

12-31-2008, 11:45 AM
Kevin in our climate and in yours - just hang the plastic and waight it down. This is a temporary greenhouse. It takes 10 minutes to take it down. Use some of your tires to hold everythingt down. Might not be the prettiest thing in the world but it does work.

I'll bet if you planted some crops in tires inside the greenhouse, they would keep them warmer and thus producing longer.


12-31-2008, 11:59 AM
Hey Kim . I'm pretty sure you are correct . I first saw these tire gardens on a website called www.backwoods.com And keeping seedlings warm was one of the benefits they stressed the most . I however like the idea , that I can grow small gardens right on top of existing tree roots. my yard is planted pretty heavily with trees of all kinds.

12-31-2008, 12:18 PM
Hey Kim, I entered the wrong website on that last post. Sorry . the correct site is www.backwoodshome.com