Gardening is more an addiction than a hobby and there is a financial cost to gardening but here are some great tips I have used (and still use) over the years to save money . . . .
Definition of Frugal (ality) : “Practising or marked by economy as in the expenditure of money or use of material resources. Costing little, inexpensive. Practising economy. Living without waste, thrifty. Not costly.”
Have a list! Start with your “needs” such as large containers. We put a bird bath on our “needs” list as the birds have provided us with so much joy and entertainment although in the end we were fortunate to receive our current bird baths as gifts. Of course if you see something on your “wants” list that is so ridiculously low priced or free (depending on size) well, I guess you just have to buy it !
The Frugal Gardener
Gardening items for free from work and home
- Buckets (if used for storing chemicals clean well) – for growing, weeding, storing, watering
- Shredded paper for the compost
- Coffee grinds and tea bags for compost
- Plastic food containers and bases and discarded trays – from staff lunches
- Cardboard milk and juice containers for starting or transplanting
- Large plastic milk containers to use as cloches
- Small plastic milk containers can be cut to 3 or 4” heights to use to protect transplants from cutworms
- Styrofoam meat liners / base to set pots on and to shelter transplants from the wind
- Discarded coffee cups (cardboard) for temporary containers
- Egg cartons (dozen size) to grow seeds
- Egg cartons (20 to 24 egg size) to store fresh garden produce such as squash over the winter
From Construction supply stores
- Wood stakes for tomatoes (discarded lumber)
- Plastic containers for holding pots
- Discarded pots, trays and plastic wrapping from their own plants
- Wood pallets make a great compost bin (or if creative can be broken down to make containers, etc)
- Damaged items at great discounts (as long as you can repair them)
- Wood packaging also makes great raised bed gardens or cold frames
- Thick cardboard packaging to use as wind or sun protectors (cut to size)
- Recycle large used plastic bags
From garage sale – free to ridiculously cheap
- Hemp, left over macrame rolls
- Wood for raised beds
- Old plastic florescent light shades (great for seed starting outside if you can still find them)
- Garden utensils (aluminium edger have had for 15 years and it is as new)
- Plastic mesh and chicken wire rolls for detering raccoons and growing runner beans and pole peas
- Free pots and containers
- Bird baths and garden ornaments
- Window frames for greenhouses or cold frames
- You might be surprised at what you find !
Note : if you are not a garage sale aficionado – check out the local papers for a specific sale of “gardening” tools and supplies, home moving or estate sales.
From Thrift Stores – variety and prices vary greatly from store to store
- Cake and vegetable platter trays for protecting plants – large plastic trays with lids
- Buckets, plastic and ceramic containers for planters
- Tomato / peony cages
- Gardening tools
- Wooden or plastic boxes (which can be lined with plastic and used to grow vegetables in)
- Just about anything from nets for peas and fruit trees to venetian blinds and tongue depressers to use as plant identification markers.
When all else fails and you cannot fill your gardening want list from the above sources try :
From dollar stores – for example :
- Bamboo garden stakes – I use lots of these and they last for years – use also to mark perennials in the gardens
- Painting drop sheets 12 x 12 clear plastic – to tack to frame to make temporary greenhouse and protect tomatoes from rain in the Fall
- Large plastic bags (10 for $1) to cover plants esp. Tomatoes
- I have also bought vegetable and flower seeds from the USA for 3 / $1 – e.g alyssum, marigolds, squash, etc.
When buying fresh fish last year, the store was giving away 2 to 3 inch thick, very large styrofoam boxes with lids. When filled with earth these are great for starting plants outside, because of the insulation factor, and with the lid to keep the warmth in at night. All for free. There is a price to pay when disposing of styrofoam as it is not environmentally friendly so try and dispose of by giving away or taking to a centre which will recycle.
- If your neighbours are landscaping or dividing perennials they will probably be more than happy to share with you.
- If you buy soil or mulch it is cheaper to buy in bulk or by the yard or truck load, etc than in 30 litre bags.
- Of course, your “extras” can be given away for someone else to use.
Happiness is ….. a ladybird and a hummingbird also like my garden. (Liz)
Be creative … & Happy bargain hunting. Have fun.