Gardening Tips - Cheap and Easy!
I love gardening so much I've been known to pull weeds at midnight under the light of a full moon. I'm also always looking for a bargain, so I've learned over the years that there are many freebees and cheap garden materials and supplies out there once you know where to look.
I'm fond of perennials, because anything I can plant once and keeps coming back is a winner in my book. Perennials can be very expensive in nurseries, so I've found a few ways to get free ones.
Exchanges: Check in your local newspaper, library or on line to see if there are any perennial exchanges in your area. I go to two, both put on by local Extension Agencies and Master Gardener groups. They are usually held in May. It's kind of a free-for-all and fun. Everyone digs up the perennials they have to divide anyway and takes them to the exchange. Of course there are a lot of the run-of-the mill plants, but I've also traded for very exotic Hostas, fancy Shasta Daisies, Iris and Lilies. Don't fret if you have nothing to exchange. Most of these groups are there to encourage gardeners and often will just give you a couple of plants if you tell them you're new' or having nothing yet. Also, at the end of the exchange, there are often leftovers that the folks are happy to give away. I always take extra Cinnamon Stick Ferns and ground cover simply because I'm trying to encourage people to replace lawn with groundcover and help the environment.
Several of our neighbors are gardeners and we swap plants, seeds and even fruits and veggies. This year I'm growing Acorn Squash and my neighbor is growing Butternut and hopefully we'll have good crops to share. This way we can save on garden space too.
Sales: Sometimes chain stores and nurseries over estimate the amount of certain perennials they'll be able to sell and mark them way down in price around the Fourth of July. Most perennials can be planted just about anytime, so there's no reason you can't take advantage of the sales.
Marigolds, Zinnias, Malva, Cleome, flowering vines all produce seeds that will grow next year. Just pluck the seed heads off when they're dry and put them in a paper bag and store in a cool dry place.
Dahlia and Gladiola tubers and bulbs store the same way - did them up when the tops die back. I store them in a cardboard box full of Styrofoam peanuts and it works great. You can store all the bulbs in one box, just try not to let them touch each other and make certain they are very dry.
Dill, lettuce, radishes, sunflowers, peppers, green beans, squash, melon and many others all have seeds worth saving. Dry them, put them in an envelope and label them - next spring you're all set to plant!
Harvest and save seeds at the end of the season. Dill, lettuce, radishes, sunflowers, peppers, green beans, squash, melon and many others all have seeds worth saving. Dry them, put them in an envelope and label them - next spring you're all set to plant! Tomatoes are great for this, especially if you purchased an heirloom or non-hybridized plant for your garden. I simply take out the seeds and wash the goo off in a strainer, then dry the seeds between a layer of paper towels. When they're completely dry, I store them in a paper grocery bag in a cool like the basement or garage or unheated room (we close off rooms to save heat bills in the winter so always have a room below 55F).
Roses: In August cut a section of stem that includes a couple of branch ‘bumps' or nodules. Remove all but a few top leaves. Dip them in rooting powder, stick them in the ground and cover with a large glass jar (big pickle jars work great). DO NOT remove the jar until the following May and you should see new leaves, this mean you've been successful in starting a new rose! Hybrid tee roses don't work well for this, but Heirlooms work great. I've been known to beg, borrow or steal a cutting (hey, it was broken off already).
Compost: Any good garden needs lots of compost. If you need more materials for your compost bin, ask a coffee shop for their used grounds, ask for manure at a horse or dairy farm (make sure it's composted to avoid weed seeds).
Ask neighbors for their grass clippings.
Water: Collect rain water. I have a 50-gallon pickle barrel where I collect rainwater that runs off the roof of the garage. Add a few drops of cooking oil from time to time to keep the mosquito larva from forming (the oil coats their wings when they try to ‘lift off' from the water. This extra water comes in very handy during dry spells and it's also cheaper if you have city water. The water quality is better as well, since there is no chlorine in it.
It takes a little time and effort - but if you're an avid gardener, the savings will be well worth it!