You’re already being frugal by growing your own vegetables and herbs at home. But how can you save even more as an amateur gardener? Use these simple garden hacks to save money when creating your own harvest at home.
Get Free Mulch
Did you know that many cities and towns turn their clippings into free mulch for local residents? They typically use any pieces of branches, bushes and trees that have been trimmed in accordance with local laws (like those that are obstructing road signs or growing too close to power lines). The mulch they create from those trimmings is then offered for free to locals. Find out if your city or town participates to make sure you don’t miss the pickup dates for free mulch!
Use Your Kitchen Scraps
Some of the scraps that come from your very own kitchen can actually be used in your garden. So instead of wasting money on seeds, seedlings or plants, try these first. Here are some of the things you can grow from kitchen scraps:
- Celery: Cut off the bottom of a bunch of celery. Place it in shallow water in a sunny windowsill. Once a few leaves sprout, replant it in soil.
- Lettuce: Plant the base of a head of lettuce in soil and place in a sunny spot.
- Garlic: Take the cloves from garlic that has just started to sprout and plant them in soil. Place on a sunny windowsill.
- Herbs: Choose soft-stemmed herbs (like basil) and place them in shallow water on a sunny windowsill. Once roots have sprouted several inches, replant in soil.
Deter Bugs on the Cheap
Sprays to keep bugs away are expensive. Plus, they could potentially get harmful chemicals too close to your garden growth. But if you do nothing in the name of keeping your harvest organic, you could lose a lot of valuable veggies that you spent weeks nurturing. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to keep bugs at bay without having to use harsh sprays.
The first option is oil, which is great for getting earwigs (also known as pincher bugs) before they get to your food. Here’s how to set the trap:
- Find an old plastic container (like one for margarine, sour cream, yogurt, etc.).
- Cut hole about 1 inch from the top of the container.
- Continue cutting holes until you have 4-5 around the container, all about an inch below the top.
- Place 3 parts cooking oil to 1 part soy sauce in the container.
- Dig a spot in the garden that the container can sit inside. The holes in the container should be at ground level.
- Replenish with a new oil and soy sauce mixture once a number of bugs have been caught in the trap.
If ants are a problem in your garden, you can also try this simple spray to keep them away:
- Combine 1 tsp of cayenne pepper with 1 cup of hot water.
- Stir for a few minutes to dissolve most of the cayenne pepper.
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
- Add 1 tsp of liquid dish soap and swish to combine (avoid shaking as this will create bubbles).
- Spray the mixture directly onto the leaves of affected plants every few days.
Use Succession Gardening
If your vegetables all hit their peaks at the same time, you’ll have a harvest that’s much to large to consume at once. To make sure you have a steady supply of fresh veggies, use succession planting for your fast-growing crops, like beets and radishes. To do this, just plant a couple of rows every two weeks. They’ll continue to pop up over the course of the season so you get a steady, manageable supply rather than a huge influx all at once. This leads to less waste from your efforts!
Take Advantage of Vertical Space
If you’re short on space or just want to save more on your grocery bills with home-grown food, use vertical space to grow more plants. These are great spots to plant herbs and sprouts. You can even use the items you have at home to make your wall planters. Cut the bottom of an empty milk jug handle so it can hang over a bar, fill it up and use it as a planter. For a larger display, cover the back and sides of an old wood pallet with gardening fabric and fill the empty space with soil. Lay it flat while the seeds take root, then you can hang it up on a wall.
Tap water is fine for most plants, but rainwater is rich with nutrients that will benefit your plants and help them grow. Use barrels to collect rainwater to nourish your plants. As an added bonus, you’ll save on your water bills.
Gardening is a fun way to get in touch with nature. And with these tips, it’s also an affordable way to feed your family.