A patio or a small swatch of land can save you money and cost you very little if you garden well. If you think gardening necessitates expensive landscapers and soil with sprinkles of gold, you might want to reconsider. Use the following tips to grow a free garden and eliminate the cost of herbs, vegetables, and flowers.
Do Your Homework
Start by doing a little research online or at your local library to see what grows well in your climate and in the amount of sunlight your future garden’s space will receive. It shouldn’t take long to find out the most resilient crops. Start with those and work your way up to the tougher stuff.
If you live in an apartment, flat, condominium, or duplex, you may be limited in the amount of space you have for a garden. Some creative ways to maximize space are:
- Use planters or build a raised flowerbed on your patio.
- Work in tiers. Build a shelving system of sorts and spread your garden upward instead of outward.
- Consider gardening hanging plants. For example, some varieties of tomatoes will succeed as hanging plants, provided they are well protected from pests.
Upcycle an old plastic kids’ pool, pots and pans, or tin cans to create your own planters.
Make Your Own Soil
You’ve done the research and plotted your space. Now you need some dirt to grow things in. Look no further than your waste bin. That’s right, garbage (at least some of it) makes great soil with the proper mixture and nurture. It’s called composting. Use the peels and rinds from produce you’ve eaten along with coffee grounds, hair from your hairbrush, grass clippings, raked leaves, saw dust, and shredded paper to create nutrient rich soil for your garden. Note: it’s not instantaneous and may take you a solid year or more to get high quality soil, but it’s free! For more detailed instructions about composting, visit Eartheasy’s website.
The next step is to start growing your own seedlings. You need a home for the little sprouts to emerge. Use an old cardboard egg carton as a miniature planter. Depending on what you want to grow, you can use seeds or trimmings from foods you already eat instead of purchasing seeds or seedlings. For example, harvest tomato seeds and carrot tops, potato buds and herb sprigs. Once the seedlings have sprouted and rooted you can transplant them into your larger containers outside.
Sunlight is free, but water isn’t… unless you harvest rainwater. Use an old bucket or trashcan to collect and store rainwater to use for your garden. You can also use the gray water from washing dishes provided the dish soap you use is organic or all natural. To keep this stored water from breeding mosquitos and the viruses they carry, keep it covered. You can dip and pour the water from the larger container or rig a garden hose to a spigot at the bottom of it.
For larger gardens with direct sunlight, mulch can help you keep the soil around your plants moist. Many municipalities provide residents with free mulch if you’re a resident. You just have to shovel and transport it yourself. Aside from the labor, it doesn’t cost you a dime and keeps trees and limbs out of your local landfill.
Keep in mind that you can also grow flowers in your garden. Cutting fresh flowers provides you with free centerpieces or special occasion gifts in addition to beautifying the space around your home.