How to Garden on the Cheap

More and more families are starting vegetable gardens to help reduce the grocery bill. Often they find that gardening can itself be quite expensive. At least, if they buy all their accessories from the gardening catalogs or the local hardware store. There are more creative and decidedly cheaper ways of getting the job done, though. Here is my top ten list for gardening on the cheap:

  1. Banana peels—besides just putting them in your compost, banana peels are great for direct application to your garden. Roses especially love banana peels. Banana peels are rich in potassium which roses and other plants love. So, eat bananas and put the peels under your rose bushes or around your vegetable plants.
  2. Coffee grounds—a great source of nitrogen for your plants. Top dress your plants with coffee grounds and add the filters to your compost pile. You can also make a fertilizer ‘tea’ by putting 1 pound of used grounds in a five gallon bucket and filling with water. Allow the ‘tea’ to brew and then water your garden with it.
  3. Tea leaves—used tea leaves also make great garden fertilizer. They are a great source of N-P-K and are especially beneficial around your acid loving plants. While you could just put the used tea leaves in your compost, top dressing your plants is a more direct and immediate use. You can also use the same idea as with the coffee grounds for making a fertilizer 'tea'.
  4. Eggshells—when planting your tomatoes, put crushed eggshells in the hole before adding the transplant. The eggshells provide the tomatoes with calcium. You can also place crushed eggshells around the base of the tomato plant on the soil surface to help keep cutter worms from felling your tomatos.
  5. Newspaper—black & white sections only can be used as soil cover to keep weeds away. Use multiple layers around your plants and water well.
  6. Cardboard boxes—broken down boxes can be layered as a base for a new bed or as weed deterrent in the paths of your garden. Be sure to overlap the ends so that weeds cannot find their way to sunlight.
  7. Tires—these are very versatile items to recycle in the garden. They can be used as beds, as “potato towers”, as compost containers, and anything else your creative mind can think of—if you need it contained think of tires.
  8. Milk jugs/soda bottles—“Cloches” or mini-greenhouses for your baby plants. Cut off one end and place over the plant. These cloches protect your seeds from cold and frost if you have started your garden early (or going late) and from bugs who want to make your plants their next meal.
  9. Pallets—these are generally available free for the taking and have a hundred and one uses. You can use the wood to form raised beds, compost bins, trellises, pathways, etc.
  10. Plastic grocery bags--even if you have cloth grocery bags I get you have a supply of plastic grocery bags as well. And, if you aren't as forgetful as I am and don't have your own supply I'm sure your neighbor does. These can be tied to a string or wire that goes around your garden space. A perfectly ingenious and cheap way to scare off the deer.

 Hopefully, this list helps you begin to look at your garbage in a whole new way. Gardening does not need to be expensive unless you want it to be.