Budget Gardening

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Brooke Edmunds, PhD, OSU Extension Service Community Horticulturist shared tips and tricks to save money in your garden this season.

Use seeds instead of purchasing starts. Although there is an initial investment of lights, trays and planting mix, it doesn’t take long to make up the money and start saving dramatically. For the same amount of money as a single plant you can purchase a seed packet with many seeds. Some packets have 100 seeds. You’ll have enough to trade with friends and get a wider variety. To save even more, reuse trays when starting seeds. If plants grown in a tray didn’t show signs of disease, just clean with soap and water. If there was damping off or any other kind of disease, wash them and then disinfect with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. To save even more, sprout seeds in recycled materials like egg cartons, newspaper rolled into cylinders or plastic cartons with holes punched in the bottom for water drainage. To save money next year, collect seeds at the end of the season.

Buy smaller plants. If you don’t have the space or desire to start plants from seeds but still want to save some money try purchasing smaller plants. A 4-inch pot instead of 1 gallon or a 1 gallon instead of a 5 – will save you a pretty penny and most plants catch up quickly.

Build your plant collection with cuttings. Propagating by cuttings can be as difficult or easy as you want to make it. You can propagate many different kinds of houseplants, shrubs, trees, vines.

Hold a plant and seed swap. Dig up plant “babies” or divide larger plants. Set aside some of those tomato plants you started from seed. Brew some coffee, invite some friends who have something to share and throw a party. There are also community seed swaps-so check your local newspaper!

Make your own compost. Making your own compost can save money especially if you use free materials like kitchen scraps and garden waste and build your own pile.” If you’ve got your own chicken or livestock or know someone who does, mix that into the compost pile for an even richer end result. Make sure you let it decompose well. A good rule of thumb is until there are no pieces of recognizable bedding left.

Make use of recycled materials. Garage sales, thrift shops and the classified sections of newspapers and online shopping sites often have gardening paraphernalia, everything from used brick and rock to pots and old tools, at greatly reduced prices or free. It’s also fun to forage for natural materials such as interesting stems or stones to make edging or bamboo poles for fences.

Split a load of mulch. Save on delivery costs by buying a load of mulch or compost with a neighbor. Save even more by keeping your eyes peeled for arborists taking down trees. They’ll often share wood chips that you can turn into mulch.

Shop sales: Search out plant sales, usually abundant in spring. Check newspaper calendars, ask friends, contact Extension master gardeners in your area to see if they are holding a sale or know of any. At nurseries, shop during the dog days of summer or in late fall. Also, some garden centers have a corner set aside for plant “seconds.”