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Gardening Ideas On A Budget

Updated on July 7, 2015
Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard | Source

Its Time To Start Thinking About Gardening

The thrifty gardener prepares in January and February for bountiful crops and beautiful flowers in the spring and summer. Bulbs, plants and seeds are frequently cheaper through catalogs than going to the nursery. On cold winter days looking through seed catalogs and listening to my favorite gardening radio host, Bob Tanem, reconnects me to the garden and gives me ideas for the good weather and good gardening to come.

Another idea to think about early in the year, when you are pruning trees, be sure to save long straight branches for making latices and tee pees for growing beans and other climbing flowers and vegetables..


This year planning and composting during the winter in California will be especially important. We are in a serious drought and mulch conserves water in the garden better than anything else. I decided not to have a garden this year because of the drought, then I read Billy Buc's hub on self sustainable living and stopped in my tracks. If there is ever a time that you need a garden it is now. I have some ideas for watering and planting that will limit how much water you use and maximize your yield

Hard Clay Soil


Have Ground Need Help

In California there is soil and wonderful growing climate. Californian boasts of some the most fertile soil in the world. Lots of the soil is rocky and clay, which at first glance appears to be useless. That useless looking rocky clay soil is marvelous for growing wine grapes and olives. While it is difficult to work the results can be spectacular. Don't be discouraged if you happen to live in the rocky,clay soil area. Regardless of the soil you must prepare it for planting. With rocky soil you have to work to prepare a little more than in an area with sandy loam. If you don't like to work hard or spend to much money, I have developed tricks to make my soil productive with little cost. I read an article today that said now is the time to start chanting to yourself, Mulch, Mulch, Mulch, Mulching saves water. Now you say it. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch.

Fact About Mulch

Mulch comes from recycled organic matter. You can compost grass clippings and pruned materials for mulch. Wood chips also can be used as mulch.

Garbage company provided green waste bin
Garbage company provided green waste bin | Source


Composting is one of the most economic and useful gardening projects. Composting doesn't have to smell or be gross. There are tumbling composting bins, stacking bins, homemade bins and worm bins. You don't even have to have a bin for your compost. A neighbor grew up on a farm, in Germany. She thinks the bins are silly. Our local garbage company gives us a small pail for green waste, which holds about a gallon of kitchen green waste. It is airtight which eliminate orders. When it is full, during warm weather, neighbor digs a hole and buries the green waste. It takes about 2 weeks for small batches to compost. Green waste is anything that you peel off vegetables or fruits, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags and potato peels. I also throw in paper towels that I have used to wipe my hands. Because you need a balance of brown waste and green waste to make heat to compost. After I dig my hole and pour scraps in I use a shovel to chop up the materials into small pieces. Then I cover the whole thing with dirt and forget about it.

For a large area that you are just beginning to work with you can put down large pieces of cardboard. cover with dirt, then some kind of decorative wood chips. A few months down the road the whole thing can be turned and you have some nice soil to work with. This works best in the fall so you have the entire winter for the cardboard to compost.

The whole point of composting is to start a chemical reaction that causes your living food scraps to turn into lovely rich dirt. The dig a hole concept works best during the summer and doesn't necessarily heat up. It is easy for someone with a small yard and a desire to enrich their soil.

If you have a very little garden and no inclination to compost even on a small scale and have the resources I do recommend Amend as an additive to your garden soil.

Note: Don't compose tomatoes and tomatoes plants. They tend to harbor insects that you don't easily see as well as sprout in places you would never plant them.

Splurge On Kellogg Amen It Can Help Save In The Long Run

Amend The Soil

The key to any garden is to have good soil. You can spend a fortune on soil amendments without a good compost regiment. But there is always a plan B. There is a little paper that shows up in my mail box every Thursday, called the Penney Saver. In it is an advertisement for free horse manure with wood shavings. You drive to a local ranch and they load your truck for free. This is a magnificent deal. Caution! Fresh horse manure even with wood chips will burn the living daylights out of your plants. You need to set it somewhere and allow it turn into lovely de- composted material. The time it takes depends on how much you have.

The Garden

Plan Your Garden

Decide what you want to plant and where you want to plant it. If you need to work the soil planning a long way in advance is good. To be frugal you sometimes need time.The plan for this summer was to have a five foot garden on the side yard with zucchini, tomatoes, and Swiss Chard. Then in the back plant melons in a planter box. As the vines grow they will cover the cement reducing the heat radiated to the house. Because the vines will grow on the cement there will be little or no difficulty with bugs eating the melons, because the fruit will not be resting directly on moist dirt.

Share Seed Orders

Ask Friends To Share Seeds

A package of seeds is almost always too big for a small home gardener like me. So I have friends who share seed orders. We not only share the seeds, but the shipping and handling costs are reduced, Since everyone has different ideas we try new stuff and sometimes we gets new favorites flowers or vegetables. Different people get different seed catalogs as well so variety is no problem.


starting plants from clippings
starting plants from clippings | Source
seed starts in  recycled yogurt containers
seed starts in recycled yogurt containers | Source

Share Plant Clippings And Blubs

Starting plants from clipping is easy and fun. Decide on the plants you want to start. Impatience, Coleus and Geraniums start easily from clippings. Examine the plant stem. You are looking for a for a place on the stem where a new growth is about to begin. Clip just below bump. Then place into damp soil or glass of water. If you plant directly into soil you must make sure the soil stays moist until you have indication the plant has rooted. That would be new growth. Cuttings you place in water are a little easier to determine when they root. When you have a nice root ball it is time to plant. Some of the plants you start should be in gift pots. Plants make great gifts. Ones you start yourself are inexpensive. I try to keep a couple on hand so I have a handy birthday or anniversary present. I also keep some nice containers on hand to transplant the plants I plan to give as presents.

Sharing clippings can be done any time of the year the plant is active if you keep the clippings inside and warm.

Crocosmia bulbs shared by neighbors
Crocosmia bulbs shared by neighbors

Bulb Sharing

It will be time to divide bulbs soon. When you see daffodils, tulips, iris in your neighbors yard ask them to remember you when they need to thin their beds. If you have bulbs that need thinning share your bulbs as well.

Recycle Garlic and Basil

I went to the garage refrigerator for some garlic and noticed that many of the cloves had begun to sprout. " what am I going to do with these?" Well I walk to the yard, where last years boxes were looking pretty barren and plugged the separated sections into the soil. The winter rains took over. Voila! I am on my way to replenishing my garlic supply and the boxes look nice with the pretty greenery.

I put my basil into a vase to keep it fresh. Sometimes it roots and once again I have a little plant to nurture. Later I can use basil in a tasty dish like pesto,

Egg shells make great snail repellent.  You can dry them and smash them with a rolling pin or grind them in a blender.  The smaller the particles the better.
Egg shells make great snail repellent. You can dry them and smash them with a rolling pin or grind them in a blender. The smaller the particles the better. | Source

Organic Slug And Snail Repellent

This inexpensive idea has brought great results this year. Ground up egg shells deter slugs and snails. They eventually dissolve into the soil enriching it with calcium. This is unbelievability simple. Spread egg shells on a flat surface and let dry out. Place them in the sun or heat them in the oven for until they are dry. Then using a pistil and mortar, rolling pin crush them to a course consistency. Store them in air tight container. When you plant a new plant or seeds sprinkle the egg shells around as you would regular snail bait. This is safe for dogs and kids. Get the kids involved in crushing the shells; even little kids will love crushing egg shells. Speaking of kids.

Hire A Student To Help

If you have a Young Life club at your local high school give Y.L. a call. There are always students desiring to earn money for camp. With a little direction these kids will weed, move dirt, plant. They will even do house work. Young Life is a great organization that gives the kids tools for life. They are also less expensive than most gardening companies and you get to invest in a young life.


The key trick to saving money while gardening is to enjoy spending time outdoors with friends and family. Do you know a more experienced gardener? Go ask about their garden. You will instantly have conversation that will stimulate you in the most delightful ways.


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    • kevin murphy-87 profile image

      kevin murphy 3 years ago from Ireland

      This is an awesome hub! thanks for all the tips :)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      I think your link makes a lovely addition.

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 3 years ago from Southwest England

      Fantastic ideas, and good advice on improving the soil - healthy soil makes healthy plants! Thanks for the link to my hub :-)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      EuroCafeAulait, Thank you for sharing. I love finding ways to economize making the world a better place.

    • EuroCafeAuLait profile image

      Anastasia Kingsley 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Cool and economical tips - tons of relevant information. Bookmarked and shared, thanks for writing it :)

    • profile image

      Olde Cashmere 5 years ago

      Very useful tips tirelesstraveler, excellent hub. Voted up, useful, and awesome :)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Peggy,I spent all winter amending a new garden plot. Planted and little has come up. Got any suggestions?

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Great tips in this hub regarding gardening that does not cost a fortune. We compost, share plants, etc. as you do. Voted up and useful.

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 5 years ago from U.K.

      This hub was really useful, well written and rich in detail thanks for sharing. :)

    • profile image

      tirelesstraveler 6 years ago

      Thank you, I am going to update pictures soon.

    • profile image

      carozy 6 years ago

      Great and helpful article!