For those that follow along with our little farm and website – you know how important it is for us to keep things simple and inexpensive – and there is no better example of that than our garden.
When it comes to gardening, the simple fact is that it’s only expensive if you choose to make it that way. There are many ways to create, grow and harvest your own food without spending a bushel-full of cash.
With a little thought and ingenuity – you can nearly grow all of your own food for free! That might be more important than ever with the cost of fresh vegetables predicted to go through the roof this year! So as we prepare for the onslaught of full-blown gardening season – we thought for today’s Sunday update we would share some of the ways to save big on your garden this year.
Grow From Seed:
One of the best ways to keep your cost down is to grow your own plants from seed. It can be expensive buying all of your tomato, pepper and vegetable plants from a greenhouse – not to mention you are at their mercy for the varieties you want to grow. By starting your own from seed – you can open up your garden to hundreds of new plants – all at a fraction of the cost. In addition – if you choose heirloom varieties – you can save your seed from year to year and grow for free!
If you really want to be thrifty – check with your local library or community center to see if your area has a free seed bank. Our community here in Licking County has a wonderful program available through the local library that allows for anyone to have access to free seeds for their garden.
Preparing Your Growing Space: Keep It Simple – And Cheap!
Whether it is buying or renting a rototiller to prepare the soil, or purchasing expensive wood or stone to build raised growing beds – if you let it – setting up your garden can be expensive and time-consuming. The good news – you don’t have to do any of that to have a great looking and producing garden.
Although raised wooden or stone beds can be attractive – they can be expensive to create. You can accomplish the same effect with simple raised rows using just the soil as your edge. (See: Gardening with simple raised rows)
As for that rototiller – it’s simply not needed. In fact, using one can often damage and compact the soil and lead to more weeds. You can accomplish everything and more with simple raised rows, and at the same time save on gas, maintenance and the cost of the machine! (See: How to grow a great garden without a rototiller)
Don’t get me wrong – rototillers have a place – they are great for creating your first space from a grassy or overrun area – but beyond that – they simply are an unnecessary expense.
Fertilizers, Soil Additives and Bug Sprays:
Another way to save big is to forget about spending all of your money on expensive fertilizers, soil additives and bug sprays – you don’t need them!
When it comes to your soil – by simply creating and using your own compost – you can add all of the nutrition your soil will ever need without having to buy a single bag of expensive synthetic fertilizer. Compost is the king of building healthy and active soil perfect for growing all of your favorite vegetables. (See: The Basics Of Composting)
If you don’t have access for materials to compost – no worries – there is plenty available free for the taking right in your own neighborhood and community! Whether it be coffee grounds from a local diner, leaves collected from the curb, or spent hops from a local brewery – you can find free sources of compost with a little digging. 🙂 (See: 8 ways to find free compost materials)
If you do want to apply a little natural boost of fertilizer during the growing season – you can use that compost to create your own free liquid compost tea – one of the best natural fertilizers around! (See: How To Make Compost Tea)
And finally we come to those expensive and dangerous bug sprays that people seem to want and need every growing season at the first sign of a tomato worm or Japanese beetle.
First – realize that when you begin to grow organically and have healthy soil – many of those problems tend to take care of themselves. Second, realize that a few bugs here and there doesn’t mean you need to begin spraying everything in your garden. Most bugs can be taken care of simply by removing them from plants – and a few blemishes here and there on your veggies is worth saving yourself and your garden from dangerous sprays. If you do see too much damage to your plants – try using a simple bug spray made from hot peppers and garlic to help control the area.
So get out there and garden and start enjoying the taste of fresh vegetables – on the cheap!
Jim and Mary – Old World Garden Farms