How to Save Money in your Garden
By Cheri Le Brun
The cost of living is a hot topic right now with high prices causing shoppers to think twice before purchasing that impulse item. Garden centres are great places for keen gardeners to spend money, especially in Spring when we are all fired up with enthusiasm. Before you rush out to buy every gadget available, it might be a good idea to take a look at the suggestions below and save those pennies for purchasing plants instead. BTW, save the date for our Spring Plant Sale at HCP – April 29 & 30.
After scouring the internet for cost saving tips, I put together a list of my favourite tips to share.
Start from Seed
Seeds take more effort, but cost less than starts. Saving your own seeds and using them the following year will save you money on seed purchases. Often seed packets contain more seeds than we can possibly use before they are no longer viable. If you haven’t saved seeds, consider swapping a portion of your seed packets with a garden buddy. That way, you both save and have a larger variety of seeds to plant.
A great book on seed saving is Seed Libraries by Cindy Conner and is available in the HCP gift shop. The HCP library also has a large selection of books on saving seeds which you can view on the online catalogue HERE.
Re-Grow your Vegetable Scraps
Many leafy greens and also celery will re-grow if their bases are planted again or placed in water. Many veggies can be grown this way including cilantro, basil, mint, romaine, green onions and more. HERE is an article about how to re-grow different vegetables.
Make your Own Compost & Mulches
Most of us have realized the value of good compost and mulch. If you are still buying your compost and mulch, then this will be a great money saving tip for you.
It’s easy to make your two-bin composting system using pallets and zap straps. If you are even slightly handy, you can get more creative. If you have access to willow, you can “wattle” a bin which will be beautiful as well as practical. For a small space or a patio, consider making a DIY worm composter. Red wrigglers will give you nutrient rich compost which will be perfect for your patio pots and garden. Plus they love chewing up corrugated cardboard, newspaper and cardboard egg containers.
Check in with your local coffee shop to collect coffee grounds for your compost and worm bins. Coffee grounds are rich in Nitrogen and can also be used as a fertilizer. There are other household scraps that make excellent soil amendments. Eggshells are high in calcium. Soils in Victoria can often be calcium deficient, so this is a great addition and it keeps slugs at bay. I like to sterilize mine by heating it on a baking sheet and then crush it up to add as a soil amendment for veggie beds. And don’t forget the common banana peel which is packed with potassium and makes a great fertilizer for houseplants too. Just soak it in water for a couple of days and use the water for your indoor or outdoor plants.
Mulch is important, especially for retaining moisture in the hot summer. Mow and save your leaves to make mulch. Be sure to check with your municipality who often has free leaf mulch to residents if you are willing to pick it up. If you do end up purchasing mulch or soil, check with your neighbour if they want to split a load to save on delivery costs.
Make your Own Weedkiller
Not only less toxic, home-made weedkillers are also cheaper. A mix of vinegar, salt and dishwashing liquid sprayed on weeds in paving stones works well, especially on hot days.
A few drops of essential oils mixed with water such as lavender or citronella mixed make great bug sprays. A few drops of neem oil mixed with water keep scale insects off my indoor plants when used as a plant cleaner. Neem oil is fairly pricey, but it goes a long, long way. One word of caution is to make sure to research which essential oils you use and in which quantities as they can be powerful.
What cost saving tips do you have to share with us. Please email them to me ([email protected]) and we will share them in our next cost saving article.