Frugal Gardening

It seems like every spring I run short of cash when it comes to my garden.  With seed buying, potting soil, containers, and what ever else happens to come up, I try and look for inexpensive solutions where I can.  I thought I would do a post on ways you can save money when it comes to your garden.  I may add to the list as I find more ideas so check back often.  (By the way, this is more for my benefit so I can find all these great ideas in one spot easily.  Winking smile)

Seed Starting (make sure you cut holes in the bottom of your containers for drainage)

Egg cartons – top and bottom.

Milk jugs – cut off the top part of the jug.

Butter tubs, yogurt containers, plastic salad boxes, etc.  You can also use these to make plant markers.  Cut the sides down into strips, cut the ends to a point if desired then write what the plant is in a Sharpie.

News paper – Make a newspaper pot

Line your pots or containers with 6-8 sheets of newspaper to help them retain moisture so they won’t need to be watered as much. (wish I had seen this before starting my herbs)

To test for viability, place 10 seeds on a moist paper towel, and set the towel inside a plastic bag. Put the bag in a warm spot, and check it every three or four days. If fewer than half the seeds germinate, throw out the packet and order more.


Homemade Fertilizer Recipes

Save the water you cook potatoes and pasta in.  Once cooled to room temperature you can water your plants with it.

Use the water from your fish tank next time you clean it to water plants.

Make tea for your plants by soaking compost, rabbit droppings or worm castings in water for a day.  Strain and water your plants with.

Use crushed eggshells around tender plants to kill slugs and fertilize your soil at the same time.

Use the water from making hard boiled eggs to water your tomato plants.

Stale coffee and coffee grounds make great organic fertilizer. They provide many trace minerals and low, gentle levels of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.


If you don’t have access to horse or cow manure, put moist grass clippings into a black trash bag and let them sit in the sun for several weeks.  Use as you would manure in your gardens or let some soak in water for a day to make a tea as shown above.

Make your own Worm Bin.

Shred leaves with your mower and collect in a bag to add to your compost pile.  Layer with grass clippings or kitchen waste.  In the fall you can cover your garden beds with shredded leaves – the worms will love you for it and you will love the presents the worms leave for your garden.  Surprised smile

Keep an old blender on the counter and fill it with veggie and fruit scraps and when it is full, fill with water, left over coffee, and blend until smooth.  Then take it to the garden and pour it between the plants. Compost tea! No waiting for it to break down in the compost pile.

In the Garden

Use old pantyhose or tee shirts cut in strips to tie up your plants on trellises.

Save cardboard tubes from paper towel and toilet paper rolls to put around your plants at the base to keep cut worms and other pests off your plant.  You can also use them to start seeds.

Use empty milk jugs or soda bottles to water your plants.  Put some holes in the bottom of your container, bury it next to your plants leaving the top open for filling with water then fill as needed.  Simple drip irrigation.

A good soaking of water less often is better than a light sprinkling every day – for veggies and for your lawn.

Share plants with your friends and neighbors.  Many plants can be started by cuttings or by thinning.

Plant marigolds in your vegetable garden. They will attract insects that eat aphids and other pests.

Lay down old carpet or cardboard between your garden rows to cut down on weeds.

If you have any frugal tips to share – please do!

Until next time – Happy Gardening!  Money


About Garden Grower

A wife and mother of 5 who enjoys getting her hands dirty in the garden.
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9 Responses to Frugal Gardening

  1. katie says:

    Very good ideas! I already knew about the water bottles in the ground and was going to do that. We will have our raised beds done soon. Working on the compost for the beds now. We got a late start but im sure we’ll be fine. Here’s a something i’m having difficulty with…exactly how many seeds to start of each veggie? Perhaps you could do a post about that? 🙂

    • Nina says:

      I wanted to answer Katie: I always start extra plants in an effort to share those that I will not use. Nothing warms my heart more than being able to share what I start, or what I harvest. I would interested as well to see what Dawn has for an answer! Personally, I do raised beds using Square foot gardening as my planting guide. I estimate how many plants I will be putting in. I then at 25% more plants to help if some done come up, or dont transplant well.


    • Garden Grower says:

      Katie – hopefully you saw Nina’s reply to your post. How many? Usually I just wing it! lol Like Nina, I generally plant more than what I think I will need because sometimes some plants just don’t come up, or may fail along the way. If I find I have more then what I have room for I will share my extra’s. Last year I don’t think I had many extra plants but I shared some of my extra seeds with my sister who was starting her first garden (and I think I gave Nina some too – we often share). So I think mostly it depends on your space. If you figure how much space you are devoting in each bed to each plant (using the Square Food Garden method), then plant some extra seeds “just in case”. If you end up with more then you have space for – share with others or squeeze the plant into another space or put it in a pot. Hope that helps.

  2. Tammy says:

    We usually plan 2-3 seeds per plant. Just thought I would share. Great blog Dawn. I’m going to chck here more often:-)

    • Garden Grower says:

      Thanks Tammy! The older your seeds, the more you would want to plant. You can check your germination rate by putting 10 seeds on a wet paper towel and put them in a plastic bag. Give a few days to germinate. If 5 or less germinate it’s a good idea to toss the seeds and get new ones.

  3. Katie says:

    Thanks for the advice everybody! I’ve got pics of my coop and soon to be garden area up now. Good thing cause while it looks like the snowpocalypse won’t be hitting us down in SW Virginia, but the rain has started.

    • Garden Grower says:

      Love the chicken coop. Did you have plans you followed? I’m still not sure what I want. My hubby isn’t very handy but my friend said her hubby would build me one and I’m holding him to it – not that he has the time. Guess it could be a good project for the boys but I do want it to last a little while. lol

  4. Katie says:

    No plans, just designed it myself. I didn’t want to #1 walk inside it (ewww) #2 have to bend over to get eggs or clean it out #3 have a covered space for bad weather and #4 have a lean to style roof for the gutter for rain (plant waterer!). I’ll take some pics of the other side/inside. Its got 3 nest boxes inside and a roost. Both the doors on the other side open. Open one for just eggs or both for cleaning. Super simple to make. Well, it was super simple to design and watch my husband make. When the weather gets warmer I will cut some flap style, prop openy windows and cover them with chicken wire for good ventilation.

    And I thank my girls every day for their eggs. 🙂

    • Garden Grower says:

      Very cool! I would love to see more pictures. Sounds like what I would like to have. How tall does it stand? How do you clean it out – just take a scraper and drag everything out? I might have to show this to my friend.

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