Ten Tips For Gardening on a Budget
With prices of everything on the rise, many are tightening their belts and trying to live more frugally. Growing your own is a great way to save dollars, but you can also save even more by gardening on a budget.
Here's our top ten tips for gardening on a budget:
- Collect what you can- Some materials useful for your garden that are often free to find include leaf litter, wood chip (contact your local arborists), coffee grinds, fruit and vegetable scraps and plain cardboard. These can often be collected from friends, family and local businesses and make great materials for the compost heap or mulch pile.
- Save the rain- Save on watering costs by collecting rainwater. It can be a bit of an investment to purchase a water tank so in the meantime, collect rainwater with buckets and barrels. Secondhand food grade barrels can often be found at local stock feed suppliers and are great to place under leaky gutters to collect water.
- Start from seeds- Starting your garden from seeds is far more economical than buying plants in pots and gives you a wider variety to choose from. If stored in ideal conditions, seeds often last a couple of seasons.
- Share equipment- Get friendly with your neighbours and local garden groups and share or co-own equipment. Depending on your garden, some tools are only occasionally required such as electric chainsaws, hedgers, fertiliser spreaders and lawn aerators which makes them easy to share.
- Barter your crops- Bartering is a great way to utilise items in your garden which otherwise may have gone to waste and provide you with something useful in return. In exchange for surplus produce, you can swap for other fruit and veggies or even garden tools and equipment. Search your local community groups online to find an existing group, or start your own!
- Buy in bulk- Purchase your compost in bulk amounts when you can from local landscape suppliers. Mushroom farms are also great places to buy inexpensive compost and may even lower the cost based on the more bags you buy.
- Repurpose- Reuse existing items in your home for the garden. Torn shirts and stockings are excellent plant ties when cut into strips and won’t damage your plant’s delicate stems. Reusable plant labels made from cut up icecream containers or yoghurt cups are great too.
- Save on soil- To reduce the upfront cost of filling up a new raised garden bed, fill the bottom third with salvaged logs (partially rotted is best), branches or other plant material. Over top of this, lay homemade compost, grass clippings and leaves. Finally yet importantly, add your quality potting mix on top. This is a method known as Hugelkultur and has recently become quite popular as an inexpensive way to fill raised beds. The materials slowly break down producing excellent soil that has great water retention and still allows you to plant crops in the meantime.
- Go organic- Save money on costly herbicides and pesticides by using other methods of gardening. Weeds can be hand removed, shaded out with plants and suppressed with mulch which reduces the need for sprays. Instead of pesticides, exclude pests from crops with netting particularly on fruit trees and brassicas. Netting is reusable and as a bonus, you won’t have to worry about poisoning beneficial insects.
- Ditch the grass- If you have a small enough yard, consider converting your lawn to a ‘’no mow’’ zone. You can create a wildflower meadow, rockery garden or use a native ground cover such as dichondra. This eliminates the ongoing costs of mowing and feeding your lawn and with the right species, they should require little maintenance saving you time too.