I grow my own vegetables for a lot of reasons — for our family’s health, the exercise, and of course to save money. Saving money begins with not spending it which is why I’m always looking for clever ways to trim my vegetable garden costs. One way I save money is by making my own compost instead of buying it from a garden center. Here are 10 other tips for lowering gardening costs by using what you have instead of buying new.
Make my own hot house caps
Hot house caps warm the soil for seed germination and protect tender seedlings from the frost. I make my own from plastic gallon milk jugs which I’ve been collecting all winter. These can be turned into hot house caps simply by cutting the bottom off and placing directly over your seedlings.
Use egg cartons in lieu of peat pots
Egg cartons are perfectly sized for starting seeds and will break down in the soil once the seedlings are ready to go into the ground.
Whatever vegetable seeds I don’t use this year, I’ll save for next. Most commercial seeds are good for at least 3 years with some varieties lasting as long as five years.
Recycle potting mix
Used potting mix might be drained of nutrition but still has value. I recycle my used potting mix (what’s left in the pots after the plant has died) by pouring it into the compost bins which helps make the finished compost light and fluffy.
Animal bedding to improve soil texture
My soil is a bit on the clayey side and needs amenities like peat moss to improve the texture. Peat moss is expensive however which is why I use the soiled straw from the hen house and the soiled bedding pellets from our rabbit hutch to improve the soil instead.
Recycle trays and pots
I wash out and reuse the black pots and trays that plants come in which saves money too. Most of my pots and trays are ones I’ve salvaged from my neighbors recycling bins.
Make watering globes from wine bottles
For watering container gardens or newly transplanted vegetables, I turn old wine bottles into watering globes by simply filling them up with water and inverting them in the soil.
Use broken pots
Instead of throwing away my broken terra cotta pots, I partially bury them in the ground and use them to contain my herbs plants.
Fashion support stakes from water shoots
Water shoots are those fast growing branches found on apple trees that grow straight up wherever the tree has been pruned. I’ve discovered that water shoots not only make tasty treats for the rabbits, they can be dried and used as plant stakes for peppers, bush peas, and other small vegetable plants that need support.
Use offbeat containers for growing lettuce
I have a terrible problem with snails and slugs in my yard which is why I can’t grow lettuce in traditional beds. What I do instead is plant lettuce seeds in odd beat containers such as old watering cans and leaky galvanized buckets which are placed on elevated platforms to keep them out of the reach of snails.
When the goal is to save money, it’s amazing what can be done with ordinary items found around the house. Using what you already have is the most basic way of trimming costs and an easy way to trim hundreds of dollars from your gardening budget.
More by this contributor:
Why are my vegetable seeds not sprouting?
What vegetable seeds grow best in my area
Why I plant vegetables and flowers together