The much anticipated arrival of Spring means it’s a great time to get some seeds in the ground and watch them grow into flowers, veggies, berries, herbs and more! Growing your own produce may seem like an ideal way to cut back on food costs, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.
You imagine strolling through rows of lush plants, laden with ripe red tomatoes, plump strawberries and lovely squash…without having to spend a penny! But a costly trip to the garden centre for tools, seeds, plants, soil, pots and compost, followed by a few weeks of weeding only to find that some things never grew and others were devoured by bugs, birds, rabbits or other critters can cause some serious frustration.
So, what to do? How can you increase the chances for a satisfying experience where you reap the rewards (both financial and emotional!) of your garden, and decrease the chances of it becoming a money pit? Get started with these budget friendly gardening tips:
Don’t go out and invest in converting a quarter acre into a huge vegetable garden overnight. Get started with the things you would most like to grow and those that are traditionally fairly reliable (zucchini and bush beans for example.) You can start with a small plot along a fence or even just some pots gathered near the front door.
Do Some Research
Find a book specific to gardening in your area from the library, search for local gardening blogs or seek out advice from a nearby university with an agriculture program, gardening club or other agriculture resources near you. These are likely to provide much more specific information about what to plant, when to plant and how to care for your garden.
Reuse and Repurpose
Don’t feel that you have spend big bucks on new state of the art equipment, fancy containers and tons of gardening gadgets. Plants essentially just need the basics: good soil, water and sunshine. Take a look around for unused wooden, plastic, clay or metal containers that can be repurposed as planting pots. (Be sure not to use anything with toxic chemicals that could leech into the soil and then your plants.) Search for used equipment at yard sales or on craigslist rather than buying new. And some of the best items you can reuse in your garden are the ones you likely toss in the garbage daily while cooking…save your fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, egg shells and more and put them to excellent use in a compost pile! (Find advice on composting online or at your local library.)
Go For High Gardening ROI
When choosing which plants to make room for in your garden think about those that will offer the greatest return on your investment of time, space, water and money. Fresh herbs are often easy to grow and extremely costly to purchase at the grocery store. If you love having fresh flowers in your home and tend to splurge on new bouquets often you could see big savings by planting a cutting garden of zinnias, sunflowers, snapdragons, or whatever your favourite blooms are to enjoy all summer long.
What will you be growing in your garden this year?