Are you curious about low cost garden hacks that can help you save money?
We all love to save money for other fun things in life that we want to do. And I have found that garden inputs do seem to add up from year to year. It’s amazing how that happens when you’re crazy for gardening.
And over the years, there have been times where money was tight. Almost too tight to plant and grow a garden.
But when you love your hobby and need it to be sane, you’re going to do whatever it takes to make that hobby happen. I’m going to share with you some hacks I’ve found over time that have helped me save money on certain inputs…and on gardening as a whole.
A disclaimer before we start: There’s no such thing as “free gardening.” There’s always some input costs, so please keep that in mind. You’re going to be spending some money but I will try to guestimate what that might look like for you.
In this post, I will give you:
- low cost garden hacks that will help you save money in your home garden
- Different ways a garden saves money in the long run
- Answer the question: Is a garden worth it financially?
Let’s start getting some answers here!
Purchase seed and Grow Transplants Yourself
Buying plants in the spring or fall can be a pricy endeavor. Why not use seed, a little bit of potting soil and a grow light and grow your own plants?
Like I mentioned above, there’s a little bit of a cost to get started. The first year I grew transplants, I spent almost $300 to get started between containers, grow light, and seed. There are better ways you can cut that down further.
If you have a gardener friend, you can borrow a grow light from him/her if you can’t buy one right now. But you do need a grow light because seeds need 16 hours of light for germination. And if you start seeds in January/February, you aren’t going to get that naturally.
So, take advantage of friend you can borrow from or buy cheaper. Also, purchase a bag of clear solo cups instead of the plastic growing containers can help you save money as well.
Participate in Local Seed Exchanges
This is a great way to get some free seed that is adapted to your area. Local seed exchanges are fun events in your community where you can meet up with other gardeners and exchange seeds for free. This will allow you to get rid of certain seeds you’re not fond of or have an overabundance of to get seeds you really want.
And a lot of the seed you’ll find will grow heirloom varieties that will allow you to keep seed, which will save you money on seed in the future.
How to find local seed exchanges? Check with your local garden club or master gardener or your County Extension Agent for seed swapping events. There are even some online you can find through different Facebook groups and Forums. Just remember to get the varieties that will grow in your area.
Grow Heirloom Varieties to Keep Seeds Year after Year
Some of the best gardening hacks and tips revolve around saving seeds. Seed exchanges are great ways to get free seed or you can purchase heirloom seed at very low cost to grow yourself. After the up front cost of seed, growing good quality heirloom varieties will help keep your gardening venture sustainable year after year.
All you have to do is remove the seeds and keep them in a safe container.
Heirloom varieties are a bit more delicate than conventional varieties. The secret is to grow from great quality seed that is adapted to your area. Be sure to ask lots of questions at seed swaps about the varieties, in regards to diseases, best practices for growing and insect resistance. Also, how it will grow in a drought.
Use Rain Barrels to Catch Rain Water
We all wish for perfect rainfalls to quench our gardens at the perfect time. But more often than not, that just doesn’t happen. You’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.
And if you have to water 3-5 times a week, your water bill will add up. Water is a great resource to save on if you have rain barrels.
You can find rain barrels for cheap or free at land fills or around your area. Ask around your community first before you purchase anything.
Once you have your barrels, set up a water catch system with a funnel for the rain barrel. You can set it up
Learn Best Practices for Maximized Yields
There’s nothing more rewarding than learning the skills needed to cultivate and grow an amazing garden. Well, maybe except that you saved money doing it.
And simply knowing all of the best practices for growing a garden will save you money long term.
Best Practices include:
- Soil Health
- Planting Methods
- Care Through the Season
And that’s just a few of them. Stick with me and I’ll continue to teach you all of the best practices from my 33 years of gardening at all seasons of life.
Another great way to save money is to use what you have…even if it’s not “the thing.” It’ll still get the job done.
Use what you already have for Supplies
There are so many supplies out in the world for gardening. And so little money to buy them all.
But, let me tell you something. You won’t need every single garden tool out there. And if you look around, you might be able to find something just as good or better.
I’ve used rocks as a hoe or to make my rows. I use baling twine to mark my rows and also as trellises. If you think you might need something, I suggest looking around your property first.
Soil Test and Fertilize Accordingly
One of the most important Best Practices for growing pretty much anything is to know what nutrients are in your soil. And the only way you can do that is by soil testing.
There is a little cost involved in soil testing but it is so incredibly one of the most important factors in the average cost of a garden. If you get your soil bed right, you’ll have so much better luck through the growing season. You’ll save on disease and insect care. And your plants will produce even more produce longer.
Once you get your results from your soil tests, you can apply nutrients back into the soil. You can use compost or animal fertilizers that you already have from livestock. If you don’t have livestock but you know someone who does, there’s always plenty to go around. Get a hold of a farmer or chicken keeper to see if you can have some of their manure.
The cost of maintaining a garden is highly dependent on up front care. Implement those costs in the beginning and you’ll be set for the rest of the season.
Does Gardening Really Save Money?
Yes, it can. But you have to be careful because there’s always something to spend your money on.
Saving money by growing your own food in a garden is pretty similar to anything else you strive to save on in life. Keep your inputs low and use what you have on hand if possible. Another way to save when you have to buy something is to buy it in bulk.
Also, choose cost effective vegetables to grow. Is there a way you can make an income through the season by selling some? Check out your area market because there might be!
Finally, don’t be afraid to shop around to have the best deals. Compare prices and run the numbers. Be smart about how and what you spend money on. Remember that this is your money to spend and your values.
How to Start a Vegetable Garden on a Budget
Let’s face it. You’re going to have to spend some money on your garden to get it going and keep it going. There’s no such thing as “free gardening.”
So, I recommend simply staying on top of it by making up a budget at the beginning of the season. Know how much you can spend on gardening and stick to it. Know what you need to spend money on to be successful:
- Soil Nutrients and testing
- Certain tools to succeed
- Plant starting items
And whatever else you think you might need. I think you’ll find that practicing the steps above will help you to successfully save money on your garden. The best vegetable gardening hacks for saving money simply include just knowing what your needs are, making a budget, sticking to it and you’ll be sure to achieve a garden that is low cost as well as low maintenance.
~ Much Love ~
Low Cost Garden Hacks is a sample chapter in my book Smart Gardening Made Simple. You, too, can learn all the simple steps for becoming a smarter gardener.
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