I’m pretty sure one of the only things better than gardening is frugal gardening!
And before I jump in to my favorite gardening on a budget tips, I have to share about a misconception I hear all the time!
If you’re one of those people that thinks you might not have a “green thumb”, this is for you!
A green thumb isn’t a magical skill set that some people have and others don’t! It really just means that you’re willing to baby your plants and meet their needs!
If you’re willing to check on your plants daily and meet their general needs (water, sun, trimming, root care, pest issues), you too can have a “green thumb”!
If that list of a plant’s needs seems like a lot, just know that the best way to get comfortable is to learn by doing! That’s how myself and probably every other farmer or gardener you come across will tell you they’ve learned the bulk of their tricks!
You don’t need to know all about those things before you jump in. Start small, and learn as you grow!
*This post contains affiliate links to products I know &/or love.
One of my favorite resources for frugal gardening is the book Frugal Gardener by Catroina Tudor Erler. It was published in 1999 but is still applicable and full of great wisdom for saving money when growing your own garden.
I think sometimes we can get caught up in thinking we need every tool, every supply, every bit of knowledge all lined up like ducks in a row before we begin gardening, and I’ll hopefully help you get past that thought with this list.
Top Ten Tips for a Frugal Garden
Number One | Lean on Small Plants When You Have The luxury of Time.
When you’re thinking about your overall yard landscape and planning on adding trees or shrubs, keep in mind that the price increases dramatically based on the maturity and size of the plant!
Say you know you want a full size shrub or bush in a specific spot eventually, but don’t need it to be huge huge right away.
You can buy the smaller version, plant it, and baby it – and within a few years you’ll have the plant you always wanted at a fraction of the price!
If you don’t have the time to wait for the plant to mature, check craigslist before buying new!
Sometimes you’ll find people moving or transplanting items for a great price!
We needed hundreds of dollars of laurel bushes to help fill in some bare spots along our fence line, and were able to find baby laurel bushes on craigslist for just a few dollars a piece! They’re growing in nicely and it was much less than if we had gone to the store and purchased mature bushes.
Number Two | Think Outside the Box for Plant Starts & Seeds.
Plant starts and seeds don’t only have to come from garden stores!
I recently was blessed to receive some baby tomato starts and strawberry runners from a friend simply because she had an excess!
I’ve had other friends tell me that they’ve had great success with different online groups for local plant and seed swaps!
You can also create your own starts from some regular grocery store vegetables! My favorite ways to do that are:
- Green Onions – buy the regular bunches, usually about $1/ea and plant those live roots right into the soil. They’ll grow all season long from those same plants and you can just trim what you need off the top when you need it!
- “Seed Potatoes” – there’s really no difference between seed potatoes and regular organic potatoes you buy at the store except time! I like to buy the organic red potatoes from Trader Joes. We give them time to start sprouting from the “eyes”, cut them into small pieces and plant them into the garden! Super easy!
- Garlic – I like to get the big bag of California softneck garlic from Costco (it’s about $10) to plant. I break each clove apart and plant them individually, then harvest it all back up in the Fall.
Number Three | Start from Seed.
Even less expensive than starting plants from purchased starts is being able to start directly from seed.
For someone just starting out, I recommend their Victory Garden seed pack!
Aside from buying seeds, you can also harvest seeds in the Fall from your own vegetables and use them again the next season.
If you’d be interested in knowing more about that process, let me know in the comments below and I’ll work on that this Fall.
As a fun little freebie, I’d love to offer you these adorable DIY seed packets for collecting and storing any seeds you may harvest or receive from friends.
Number Four | DIY Seed Starters
You can purchase the handy seed starter trays & pods from garden stores, but if you’re looking for a even more frugal gardening option, you can make your own!
Take a piece of paper and cut it to about 4×12″. Roll it up into a tube (looks almost like a toilet paper roll), then stuff and fold one end up into the tube to create a closed end!
Add your soil and seedling and you’ve got a compostable/biodegradable starter pot!
Number Five | Make Your Own Compost.
Over the years we’ve come up with a system that works really well for our kitchen waste!
On our kitchen counter we have:
- One container for vegetable/fruit waste.
- One container for eggshells (we crush them up into a powder to help give our tomato plants additional calcium!)
- One container for coffee grounds from our french press (we sprinkle these on our blueberry plants – they love it!)
When we’re cooking or prepping we also set aside any items that might otherwise be considered waste that we can feed to our rabbits, bunnies and pony!
Number Six | Garden Tools
If you walk through the aisle of any home improvement or garden store, you can easily think you have to have a LOT of tools to have a successful garden, and I find that just isn’t true!
These are the tools I suggest you have on hand:
- Spade shovel
- Pruning Shears
- Hand Trowel – make sure to find one that is a solid piece from the shovel through the handle, not welded or joined together from two pieces. The solid piece ones will last you much longer without breaking at that stress point. This one is our favorite, everyone in the family has their own!
For my garden gloves, I love to buy the multi pack from costco. They end up costing about $1/per pair, and they are good quality that last!
Number Seven | Get Free Woodchip Mulch.
Check with local arborist and tree care companies to see if they would be willing to drop off wood chips at your place!
Most companies have truck loads of wood chips that they are happy to offload free to people for use in their gardens and yards!
We’ve got a large pile that we take from as needed, and it makes great mulch – especially when it has the added evergreen needles included.
Number Eight | DIY Natural Insecticide.
If you’re noticing aphids on your plants, try this!
Get a spray bottle and add:
- One clove crushed garlic
- A few drop Dawn Dish soap
- Fill half the bottle with water
Shake it all together and spray on the plants that the aphids are snacking on!
Number Nine | Dealing with Slug Problems.
Here in WA we have a lot of troubles with slugs munching on our plants.
I’ve used Sluggo before, but have found that the easier free way to deal with slugs is to bring my chickens with me when I’m working in the garden! They love the extra treats, and they rid my garden of a pest!
I’ve also heard that crushed eggshells around the base of plants (hostas, for example) can deter slugs!
Number Ten |Use your Garden Space for succession planting.
Being able to get multiple crops from your garden space helps make the most of the entire growing season! Here we’re able to get 3 crops of certain veggies when we do spring, summer and fall plantings!
One example is to do peas in the spring, green beans in the summer, and squash for fall!
I hope you find these frugal garden tips helpful.
If you’re looking for additional garden information, you can see a post we did recently on Starting a Vegetable Garden!
I also have a board on pinterest called Farmhouse Garden full of inspiration and tips!
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Until next time!