Monday, March 19, 2012

Garden Seeds // The Inexpensive Garden

As with any other home feature, gardening can get expensive.  If it is your passion like mine, it can be downright deadly for the wallet.  Here are some tips on how to build an inexpensive garden:

Plant from Seed
Orchid Vine from
Grow annual flowers, herbs and vegetables from seed to save money.  This requires additional planning as seeds should be planted earlier in a season than a transplant or mature plant from a nursery.  Seed packets range in price from $1-3 per packet.   For larger quantities and greater savings, buy from a seed catalog.  Seeds will last longer than one year (despite the expiration date on your packet), so buy in bulk with friends and split the cost.  Harvest seeds off your plants for the following year to save as well.  

Host a Plant/Seed Swap 
Each year, I host a neighborhood plant/seed swap.  This is a great way to network with your friends and neighbors and get new plants for your garden.  Here is how it works:  Everyone brings some seeds, citrus, plants or vegetables from their garden.  Lay it all out on a table.  Discuss or label what each item is and then begin swapping!  If you don't have anything to bring, then just come and learn how to get started in the garden.  Invite your friends with gardens and tell them to tell someone.  Invite neighbors you may or may not know who have gardens you admire.  Gardeners love to share their plants!  Last week at my swap I came home with some red hollyhock seeds, a bag of tangelos (I now want a tree), two agave pups and loofah seeds.  I also met a new gardener/neighbor who was riding by on her bike.  She introduced herself, went home to get a plant and came back to participate.  All for free.

Look for Bargains at the Nursery
Some nurseries discount plants once a week when they receive a new shipment.  Ask a garden employee what day their shipment usually arrives and shop the sales rack on this day.  For example, the Lowes around the corner from me discounts their plants on Wednesdays.  They often put perfectly healthy plants on the 50% off rack just to make room for new ones.  

Cereus Cacti from a friend
Propagate, Propagate, Propagate
The best example I can give for this is cacti.  Cacti are very expensive in the nurseries - the retail mark up on all plants is over 300% (according to my sources)!  Most cacti are easy to propagate.  If you have a friend or neighbor with beautiful cacti, ask for their pups or cut off an arm for your own garden.  I have acquired many of my desert plants in this manner.

Compost not only makes great sense, but is a savings in the long run.  Your compost set-up need not be fancy.  A couple piles in a corner of your yard works just as well as an expensive drum from a catalog.  Compost results in both good soil and excellent fertilizer.  I haven't bought any fertilizer for my vegetable garden in years!

Who doesn't love saving money?

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