What You Really Do and Don’t Need for Gardening

What You Really Do and Don’t Need for Gardening

This is a guest post from Katie at Imperfect People. She’s a blogger friend who lives a debt free life and has many great frugal ideas. Here are her thoughts on frugal gardening. You can subscribe to her RSS Feed here.

I find it amusing there are so many different ways advertisers are trying to get you to spend money to make your garden beautiful. People have been gardening for centuries without all the fuss.  Over the years in the garden I have learned a few tips on what you really do need and a lot of things you don’t.

1) You DON’T need commercial fertilizer, you DO need compost.

  • Compost has all the nutrients you plants need, plus it is free!  I collect all my kitchen scraps (most anything but meat or dairy) in an empty coffee container on my countertop.  But any container will do the job.

  • When it gets full, I take it outside to my compost container. A.K.A  a trash can with holes drilled in the sides and bottom. I also add a shredded newspaper about once a week.   I put the lid on and roll it around the yard a few times a week and there you have my $12 compost container that works way better than anything else I have ever tried.  Instructional video here.

2) You DON”T need landscape fabric, you DO need mulch

  • Black landscape fabric is designed to go under the mulch to prevent weeds.  While it is effective, it is also aggravating and expensive. A green and free alternative is newspaper and or cardboard.
  • Spread several layers (about 10) of damp newspaper, or cardboard over the surface of your garden.  This is a great chance to reuse/recycle your waste.  If you are anxious to get started and don’t have that much newspaper or cardboard on hand you can ask some friends for theirs,  or contact the local newspaper as they often have end rolls of paper without print that they discard with LOTS of paper left.  FYI cardboard from cereal and cracker boxes work great too.
  • Make sure you overlap every piece because grass is RELENTLESS!   Then cover it all with mulch.  I use pine straw since I can rake it up for free but crushed leaves, bark, or cedar mulch is all great too.  When you are ready to plant just tear a hole in the paper/cardboard, and plant.  As a bonus the cardboard or newspaper will eventually breakdown making great food for earthworms!
3) You DON’T need Sprinkler Irrigation, you DO need drip irrigation.
  • Drip irrigation is MUCH cheaper to install and uses way less water than a sprinkler irrigation system.  It is also very easy to do yourself…no really it is.  Step by step instructions here. Most garden centers sell everything you need.  All my hose outlets look like this:

  • I have my drip irrigation on a $30 timer that automatically waters my garden everyday, and a hose on the other end for watering plants not on the drip.  A hose splitter like this is less than $5.
  • This makes watering much less of a chore and gives my veggies the water they will need EVERYDAY during the heat of the summer.
  • If a drip irrigation is for some reason not possible, make life easier for yourself and plant your garden on a regular route you walk everyday.  The walk to the car, the walk to the mailbox etc.  Above all, CLOSE TO THE HOSE!
4) You DON’T need a green house, you DO need an egg carton and a plastic bag
  • Egg cartons are the perfect size for seeds.  The plastic bag (an old bread bag is perfect) keeps the soil moist.  Once seeds have germinated remove the bag, when they plants are strong enough you can transfer to the garden.

Do you have any gardening questions?  I love to help!  I would also love to hear ways you save money in the garden.

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