Friday, June 27, 2008

Frugal Gardening

Here's a peek at our little garden. We have limited space to garden in (obviously!) so we try to make the most of it. Here are a few frugal tips we've used:

1) Start plants indoors, from seeds. We picked up most of our seeds at 10 for $1 at a local discount store and started them a few weeks before planting time in an improvised windowsill greenhouse. This tactic has saved us from purchasing "pre-started" plants for a much greater cost.

2) At the end of the planting season, stake out nurseries. In July of last year, we noticed a "free" sign next to Wal-Mart's Bonnie-brand herbs and vegetables. We scooped up Greek oregano, sweet marjoram, several jalapeƱo and habanero plants, squash, green pepper, and tomatoes. We harvested dozens of peppers, plenty of herbs, and a few squash before the frost came. Most of the tomatoes didn't have time to ripen, but we made fried green tomatoes and they were delicious! We like to garden, so the minimal time investment was worth the joy of harvesting our own free, homegrown herbs and vegetables. As an added bonus, the Greek oregano wintered over well and is exploding in one corner of the garden (bottom left).

3) If you have limited gardening space, like us, plant the herbs and vegetables that are most expensive at the grocery store. We took that tack this year by planting cilantro and dill. My husband has a few signature recipes that call for these herbs, and I frequently make salsa, so having "free" herbs makes a big difference in the expense of these recipes.

A few frugal gardening practices that I haven't yet tried mainly revolve around composting and natural fertilizers. I can't wait until we're able to have our own compost heap--how weird am I? We haven't yet made the leap to natural fertilizers because we're having some trouble figuring out what kind of soil we have. Some of our plants thrive, but others are really struggling, namely our thyme and basil. To any gardeners out there: what are your favorite natural fertilizers? How do you practice frugal gardening?


Niki said...

Mmmmmmm...I love fresh cilantro! It is a must in homemade salsa...yum


momof4sweetsisters said...

We've been going to the 4-H garden with our girls. They use rows. At home we plan to go the Square Foot garden method (check your library for the book)- If interested. It's great for small spaces. We implemented some of the techniques last year. Our big season are fall and winter here! I really like composting. The book above explains easy ways to amend your soil. Hope this helps!

cakeybakes said...

Don't worry about the thyme, mine took off the third year! It is now HUGE. Basil has never done very well for me except in pots. It seems to like potting soil better than garden soil. It is beautiful in pots anyway, and it's not very hardy, it also has a tendency to go to seed very quickly in the heat. I always lose track of mine in the summer. Be careful with the dill it tends to be very invasive if you let it go to seed! Good luck with the composting!