24/7 MOMS Frugal Living Editor
Putting together an affordable, successful gardening experience is much like any other project you want to complete within budget. It takes planning, networking, and creativity.
Organizing for Your Garden:
Create a fun “Gardening Notebook”. A 3-ring binder with dividers, glossy page holders, and some paper will be a space you can plan and dream your garden into blooming reality. Include a calendar in your gardening notebook, so you can designate your gardening milestones, note when to plant/transplant/prune, etc. Keep your notebook from year to year, so that you benefit from your “growing experiences” as you learn what works – and what you need to research further.
When browsing websites or magazines, clip pictures and advice to add to your gardening notebook. You can also keep a list of favorite nurseries, gardening events, and websites that you’ll want to refer to later.
Keep a journal as you garden, in your notebook, to record your ideas, dreams and advice for future gardening adventures.
Utilize Facebook.com to post notices in your buy/sell groups and parent groups for gardening supplies. Freecycle.org and Craigslist.org are also good sources. Military communities are where you want to head when it comes to yard sales, as many families sell items related to gardening they don’t plan to take with them. Network with your in-person groups and social circles to let others know what gardening supplies you’re looking for.
Visit local farms and gardens for health plants. When you see a “clearance sale” on plants, negotiate for a better deal if you’re buying the plants that perhaps don’t look great, but are still worth having. Walk the neighborhood and see who is growing what. Often times, you’ll be offered “starts” to add to your garden. Farmers markets and gardening groups are great places to buy plants and get helpful advice about what grows best in your area. Stow away some garbage bags in your car for impromptu garden finds. Use coupons and other discounts to buy seeds and plants. At the end of the growing season, you can buy seeds for next year, keeping them in a brown bag in the refrigerator.
Container gardening is a great option for those short on space, who have wildlife to contend with, or are beginner gardeners. Kids love to grow things, and giving each child a large plastic storage box (clear makes for great root viewing) will start a great family hobby. Root vegetables, strawberries, and flowers grow well in containers.
If you’re new to gardening, ask your neighbors where they started and what crops work best for new gardeners in your climate.
Start your seeds in small plastic containers or egg cartons. For a “greenhouse effect”, recycle your clear plastic deli boxes as seed starter spaces. Venetian blinds make great garden markers when cut and labeled. Look for deals (or free) 5-gallon buckets which make great planters or gardening tools.
Garden Décor: Make the time in your garden fun and as efficient as possible. Find an old mailbox to keep your hand tools and gloves in, so you’re ready to work when you walk by. Create a space with handmade cement stepping stones, antique finds, or whatever crosses your path or inspires you. Some of the fun things I’ve seen are old furniture, bikes, beds and toys made into gardening sculptures. Find a comfy chair to sit beside or amongst your garden blooms.
Share your gardening ideas with us at 247moms.com. We’d love to know how you enjoy gardening and how you apply your frugality, to making it affordable as well.