One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has brought us outdoors more, whether it is to exercise, explore a new park or spend time in the backyard. Now that spring is here, you can add gardening to that list. Freshen up shrubbery, add color to your landscape or grow your own vegetables for a healthy outdoor pastime that can save money in your household budget. Here are some tips on how to build a frugal garden:
Forget expensive fertilizer. Compost your fruit and veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds and grass clippings to create rich organic fertilizer for your plants. Just throw them in an outside container and water it down every so often.
Check in at local garage sales and thrift shops for inexpensive containers to pot your plants. Get creative and poke drain holes in old kitchenware or wooden boxes to make your own containers with a funky flair. Get out the craft paints and have kids paint their own pots to grow their favorite veggie or flower.
Dollar store deals
Head to your favorite dollar store to stock up on inexpensive tools like gardening gloves, small rakes, spades, even seeds. This also is a fun place to score watering cans, containers and colorful bowls that double as plant pots.
Buy in bulk
If you are creating raised beds or have ambitious gardening goals, look in to buying garden soil in bulk, rather than bags. For smaller projects, head to your home improvement store and look for torn soil bags. Ask for a discount.
Mulching your garden will reduce watering costs and save you time and effort. Check with local tree services to see if you can pick up mulch after they finish a job. Try getchipdrop.com, which matches gardeners looking for mulch with tree services looking to dispose of it. You can also collect fallen leaves in the fall, shred them and use them as mulch.
Herbs are an easy entry into gardening, with a valuable payoff. Forget heading to the grocery store for fresh cilantro, basil, mint, chives and parsley. Think of how satisfying it will be to pinch off the leaves you need to add fresh herbs to your cooking. If you have too much to eat, freeze or dry them.
Start from seed
Those individual tomato plants at a few bucks apiece start to add up. Try growing from seed packets. This is a fun activity for kids, who can watch their seedlings grow to maturity and learn how to tend their own plants.
Reach out to fellow gardening enthusiasts in your neighborhood to see if you can swap unwanted plants. This can save you a bundle at the gardening store. Facebook groups for local gardeners and master gardening workshops also can be a good resource for free plants and supplies. Look for local gardening club sales to find plants that grow well in your area.
If you are trying some fruits and veggies in your gardening patch, collect recipes for when you are ready to harvest. That way if you have buckets of green beans, you are ready to prepare them in a variety of ways.
Springtime gardening will get you outdoors, bring fresh produce and herbs to your dinner table, offer you a healthy outdoor pastime and save you money at the grocery store.
Reviewed July 2023
Julie Landry Laviolette is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance, health and living well. Find her on Twitter at @JulieLavio.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Ameris Bank is not affiliated with nor endorses any of the companies featured in this article.