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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Frugal Gardening Tips and Tricks

Whether you're starting your first garden or have been gardening for a few years, here are some frugal gardening tips and tricks to help you save money.

When we got married, we had an established garden at our first house.  We planted food and ate it and canned some leftovers.  It wasn't a big garden, so we didn't can a lot.

The next house didn't have the layout or the soil for gardening.  The yard was steeply sloped and what wasn't sloped had horrible soil.

Frugal gardening tips and ideas. This information is for beginners and for seasoned gardeners. This is geared for vegetable gardens, but there are some tips for flower gardens. Save at the greenhouse and with seed starting. Includes some DIY hacks to help you stay on a budget with your garden. These are easy tips that anyone can do. #gardening #garden #frugal #savemoney

Then we moved to the farm.  We now have four garden plots, so we have a lot of room to garden.  We have loam soil.  It's a combination of clay, silt, and sand.  It's perfect for growing food, so we have a great crop each year.

I can hundreds of jars each year between the garden and the orchard.  I make pickles, pie fillings, salsa, sauces, and veggies.  It helps us save a lot of money on our food budget.

However, we aren't saving money if that money goes into the garden.  I'd be embarrassed to admit how much we spent on the garden the first few years.  Between fencing, plants, watering, and weed control, we didn't save much money those years.

If you have a small garden, frugal gardening tips aren't as important.  If you spend a few extra bucks, it won't hurt your budget too badly.

But if you're large scale home gardening or really watching your budget, then you'll love these frugal gardening tips and tricks.

Frugal Gardening Tips and Tricks

Does Gardening Really Save Money?

Yes, it can save you money if you use frugal gardening tips and tricks.  If you buy brand new tools and buy your plants at your local grocery store or home improvement store, then you probably won't save money.

Even if you don't save money the first year or two, you will be enjoying homegrown food that tastes a lot better than what you buy at the grocery store!

Plan Your Garden

Before we get into frugal gardening tips, lets talk about planning.  We keep a journal of our gardening adventures.

We keep a sketch of where we planted, how many we planted, and were we got plants or seeds from.  We also record the dates that we started seeds or planted.  Then at the end of the year, we take notes on yield and other important information.

This helped us immensely the first season.  We planted north to south and discovered that those plants got ripe at different times.  That was wonderful for foods we don't preserve or just like to eat fresh.  It wasn't so great for tomatoes because it felt like I was canning them every other day for a month.

We also noticed after a few years that the most expensive seeds gave us a higher yield, so it saved us money.  We also know which greenhouses have the best plants.

Start From Seeds

This tip isn't for everyone.  If you're planting just a couple of tomatoes, a few pepper plants, and a few cucumbers, this will probably be more hassle than it's worth.

We plant over 10 of each type of plant, more for tomatoes, so we try to start from seeds when we can.  Starting from seeds does take some prep work and space.  You'll need a place to store them so they get natural light or have a grow light.

Seed packets are good for one year.  We use them the next year if we have leftovers, but we expect about half to actually grow.

You'll need to invest in pots or seed starters if you're starting from seeds.  We saved the packs from the greenhouse the previous year, and I'll also talk about some free upcycled seed starters below.

Don't forget to label your seeds.  Since we start a lot, we fill a tray with one type of plant and place the seed packet on a popsicle stick in one of the pots.

If you're mixing and matching, then you'll want to label each plant.  You can cut plastic milk jugs into small stakes or reuse some type of plastic or wood to make labels.

Seed Starter Pots

You could spend a small fortune just on seed pots.  You can reuse them for several years, so it is an investment.

We save the packs from the greenhouse for the following year.  These tend to break easily, but sometimes we can get two or more years out of them.

Cardboard Egg Carton Seed Starters

You can also use egg cartons.  Simply place potting soil in the sections and start your seeds.  These tend to dry out quickly, so keep them out of direct sunlight and keep watered.They are biodegradable, so cut each section and plant directly into the ground.

Toilet Paper Roll Seed Starters

You can also use a toilet paper roll to start seeds.  These are better for deeper rooted plants like tomatoes.  Learn how to make a DIY mini greenhouse with cardboard tubes to start your seeds.

Compare Prices

I would love to start all of our plants from seed, but we lack the space and some plants just do better when we buy the plant.  We don't have luck growing tomatoes from seeds, so I always buy them.  Besides, I buy several kinds of tomatoes so I can mix and match them for sauces and salsas.

We live near several greenhouses, so I called to compare prices before we shopped.  We found out that one greenhouse charged more per flat, but they had double the plants.  We could mix and match to make a flat, so it saved a lot of money.

Price per plant isn't the only factor though.  Make sure the greenhouse is reputable and that the plants look good.  One plant, pepper plants, were wilted and thin, so we paid more at the other green house for those.

You're not saving money if the plants die right away!

Buy in Bulk

Some greenhouses offer a discount if you buy in bulk.  Ask your neighbors, friends, and family if they would want to combine orders to save money.  We've combined orders with neighbors to save money, especially on seeds.

A five pound bag of potato starts wasn't much more than a one pound bag, so I bought the five pound bag and split it with a neighbor.  We even gave a pound to a family who was having a hard year so they could save money on their garden that year.

Weed Control

After plants, the biggest expense we have each year is controlling the weeds.  We have excellent soil for plants, and it's also excellent for weeds.

We invested in the rolls of weed barrier liner one year.  I don't even want to admit how much we spent only to have the weeds lift it off the ground a few weeks later.  Others have great luck with it.  Our garden just has crazy, crazy weeds.

Newspaper make a great weed barrier.  Spread the newspapers eight to 10 layers thick.  Wet the newspaper slightly to keep it down.  Wet it daily until it rains.  You can also cover it with mulch or grass clippings.


Growing plants takes nutrients from your soil.  You need to replenish them each fall and winter to keep the soil in good shape.

We age chicken manure and use that.  Horse and cow manure is also good.  If you can't get any, use grass clippings and dried leaves to mulch your garden.  Just make sure there are no herbicides or chemicals on the clippings.

Grass clippings are high in nitrogen and water, so they help the plants over the summer.  In the fall, add dried leaves.  Then till in the spring for better soil.


Whether you pay for water in a city or pay the electric for a well, water isn't free.  Save water and money by using a rain barrel or two to collect water.  Use this gray water to water your garden to save money.

Potting Soil

If you are growing flowers or vegetables in pots, you'll need potting soil.  I have some large containers that take a lot of soil.

I save soil by filling the bottom of the pot with rocks.  This also allows for better drainage.

We use styrofoam, reused of course, in the fairy garden pots.  We aren't growing food in them, so I don't worry about chemicals leeching into the soil or into the plants.


You will need some tools to start your garden.  We use buckets, a hoe, shovel, hand shovel, and gloves to name a few.

Quality tools are worth it in the long run.  If you're just getting started, it can be an investment.

I recommend getting the following:

If you don't have them already, look for used ones at garage sales.  They will probably be dirty, but you'll be getting them dirty anyway.

I tend to avoid cheap tools because they'll cost you more in the long run.  If you can't buy used, then consider investing in one good tool per year until you have what you need.

I hope these frugal gardening tips and tricks help you get started gardening.  It's a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth it.  You'll be enjoying your hard work from summer into the next spring if you preserve your food in the freezer or by canning it.

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Frugal gardening tips and ideas. This information is for beginners and for seasoned gardeners. This is geared for vegetable gardens, but there are some tips for flower gardens. Save at the greenhouse and with seed starting. Includes some DIY hacks to help you stay on a budget with your garden. These are easy tips that anyone can do. #gardening #garden #frugal #savemoney