Can you really save money by growing your own garden? The answer to this question depends on the steps that you take before sowing that first seed. Planning & prepping really is a big chunk of the battle. Today I have invited Amelia Robinson of RobinsonLovePlants.com to share her best frugal gardening tips with you!
Frugal Tips for Gardening on a Budget
Gardening is a basic homestead skill & a great pastime that uplifts your mood and helps you destress after a hectic day at work. As many gardeners will tell you, gardening can also save you a few pennies on your food budget. In this article, we have identified ways in which gardeners can save money.
Frugal Garden Tips 1-5
#1 Plant a crop that you like
When selecting the best plant for your garden, check your grocery list and see the type of vegetables you buy most often. If your family consumes a fair share of kale and lettuce, consider planting them in your backyard. It is a simple logic; you eat what you like. Planting your favorite crops increases the chances that you will end up eating it.
#2 Do your homework
Starting a vegetable garden is not as simple as buying seedlings and planting them. You need to give this investment a careful thought by investigating on the best crops that grow in your area.
Speak to experienced gardeners and get information on what crops do well and which plants do not thrive in your geographical location. Taking the time to learn will save you from making mistakes that will prove costly in the long run.
#3 Draft a budget
You can’t start on your frugal gardening journey without making a clear budget.
Make a comprehensive list of all vegetables and fruits that you purchase each time you go to the food market. Note the quantities of each type of vegetable and fruit and record the corresponding cost. You will be surprised to find out how much money you spend on groceries per week!
Those small items that you keep adding to the grocery cart only to forget to eat them and have to throw out with the trash.
A spreadsheet of your food budget will put things into perspective and focus your frugal gardening efforts.
Instead of growing food to save money as most gardeners will say, your goal will be more refined, and you will know exactly how much money you can save by planting a garden. Narrow the list down to the types of foods that cost a bundle and decide to grow them yourself.
The Homestead Garden Planner has a garden budget sheet to help you out with this! Budget for your seeds, supplies, tools, and anything else you might need for your frugal homestead garden!
Mama on the Homestead
#4 Choose easy plants to grow
When selecting plants to grow in the yard, avoid crops that need too much attention regarding maintenance. Remember, each plant you choose will require some form of capital right from the planting stage through harvesting.
Labor intensive crops may require you to hire additional help to grow then while you report to your day job. If the cost of hiring additional help cancels out the amount you stand to save, then it is pointless (financially) to grow this crop.
Do not let ambition distract you; try regular vegetables like kale, lettuce, cabbage, and spinach and find out the most effective ways of raising them without breaking the bank.
#5 Start small
This might be the most important of the frugal gardening tips because if you jump in too far too fast, you risk losing everything.
After identifying the possible crops to grow in your garden, narrow the list further and pick the most plausible options. If you are new to gardening, planting a broad range of crops can prove overwhelming as each crop has its unique maintenance procedures and there is so much to learn! Having too many plants demanding your attention with little time to learn is likely to lead to neglect of some varieties.
On the other hand, starting with a small patch of just two or three crops gives you some breathing room to handle each crop and learn the best practices that will maximize their yield.
Gauging how much money you can save by planting a garden is the first step in the gardening process. Back this up with detailed research on the best starter crops and experiment with different ideas until you settle for the plants that serve you best.
Last year I was going through a divorce and a move so I couldn’t have a “regular” garden. So I went small and practical with this bucket garden! If you are just starting out or don’t have a steady place for a garden, this is a great option to try.
Additional Frugal Gardening Tips from Jess 6-12
Amelia gave us an excellent list of frugal gardening tips & I have just a few extra to throw in as well…
#6 Repurpose Items for the Garden
You can reuse and repurpose household & farm items for your garden. For example–> Use empty milk jugs as planting containers, turn a 5 gallon bucket into a compost bin, start seeds in cardboard egg cartons or old yogurt containers, use an old wooden pallet as a garden container, and the list goes on…
#7 Start Plants from Seed
When you purchase transplants, you pay around $4/plant. If you purchase a seed pack from a reputable seed company, you get multiple (sometimes hundreds or thousands) potential plants for a fraction of the cost of one transplant.
Starting your own seeds is a great way to save money and have more control over your family’s food source!
#8 Save Seeds
Saving seeds is one of the easiest ways to save money on your garden. If you learn how to properly store your seeds, you shouldn’t have to purchase seeds again (unless you want a new variety that you haven’t saved from).
#9 Make Your Own Compost
Save kitchen scraps, grass clippings, cardboard, and other compostable items for next season’s garden. You can buy a ready made compost bin for this or you can make your own out of a 5 gallon bucket or a wooden pallet!
Compost gets expensive so creating your own compost can save a lot of money over time.
#10 Source FREE Resources
One of my favorite frugal gardening tips is to find free resources!
If you use the Back to Eden gardening method, you will use a lot of wood chips. You can save money by sourcing your wood chips from a local lumber tree trimming company. Just be sure that they can tell you the type of wood that you are getting as some wood types can cause the pH of the soil to change more than your plants would like.
Newspapers also make a great biodegradable weed barrier to go under the wood chips. You can find plenty of free or cheap newspapers at your local printing press. I got all of these newspapers for $5!
#11 Use What You Have
This one could possibly fit under “repurposing” or “source free resources”, but I wanted to give it a spot of it’s own… When you find yourself wanting or needing something for your homestead garden, shop around your property before you head to the grocery store or hardware store.
A recent example from my own homestead is my Back to Eden garden edging. I needed a border to go around the compost and wood chip layers that I had just laid down in my garden area, but pre-made garden edging is expensive!
I dug around in the burn pile left by the previous owners and there were two trees worth of logs! Those logs now border my garden and they cost nothing at all.
#12 Use Rainwater as Irrigation
Set up rain barrels to collect rainwater on your homestead. Use this water to irrigate your garden and to water your livestock. You can even set up a drip irrigation system with rain water!
#13 DIY Pesticides and Fertilizers
You can make your own pesticides and fertilizers for your frugal homestead garden! This not only saves you money, but it can give you more control over your food source.
The Homemade Homestead has my favorite recipes for pesticides, fertilizers, and more!
>>More Gardening Resources<<
- 30 Spring Garden Planning Resources
- 6 Benefits of Gardening with Kids
- What You Need to Know Before Starting a Personal Seed Bank
- 15+ Beginner Gardening Tips & Resources
- DIY Gathering/Harvest Apron Tutorial
- How to Make DIY Planting Containers
- How to Make a DIY Compost Bin with a 5 Gallon Bucket
- The Homestead Garden Planner
Amelia Robinson is a lover of plants and gardens, as well as an educator on this topic. It’s her goal to make sure that you get the chance to learn what you need to about gardening to succeed with your own home garden at the blog RobinsonLovePlants.com. You’re not going to find just a collection of basic articles about gardening here. Instead, she wants to answer the difficult questions for you. She tweets at @robinsonplants.