Some years back We had a thread going about how to be a cheap gardener - here - the main responder isn't active now, so I'm starting a new thread.
By itself, gardening can be cheap or expensive. The most expensive plants are from the high end nurseries. From time to time, I might add something special from them, but I derive more pleasure from starting my own.
Most of my seed starts and cuttings, start life in recycled food containers - plastic juice cans and yogurt containers with holes drilled in the bottoms. I remember 40 years ago my mom's aunts were growing geraniums in tin cans, and I guess I continue that tradition in a way.
Here is my home office window now - it's all fig cuttings. This year I am adding a small fig orchard, heritage varieties from other hobbyists around the country. Informal cutting exchange through the mail. They are all in re-used containers. The saucers are plastic jar lids. I was acclimating them to outdoors, but the weather cooled down so they are inside for a couple more weeks.
So using recycled materials, and starting plants from cuttings and saved seeds is a good place to save money.
We saved cardboard and newspaper to lay on the grass for a new garden area. These are covered with a thick layer of leaves, raked last fall, and it looks reasonably natural. As the months pass, the grass will die, the cardboard with compost in place. as will the leaves. It will be a nice garden area.
I'm curious about what others do to make use of available resources and save money.
I use a bokashi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96fSXccQx9Q to compost vegetable kitchen scraps. It is a cheap system to use and my indoor and outdoor plants grow like mad on it.
Chris, thank you for that information. I watched the video - how interesting!
I wonder if earthworms could be added, or if they would make a difference.
I haven't got experience with adding worms, but whem I find one I put it in one of the flower boxes. I fill a bokashi bucket in three weeks; I think a worm would like older peelings and left-overs, but I'm not very sure about that.
I think earth worms speed the composting process. But my compost bins are outside and it doesn't matter if they sit around a while. I always add some to new compost bins as a started. Not because I know for sure, but because I like to do it!
It makes me feel happy whenever I see your fig cutting forest Sentient.
I'm naturally frugal, but I also have to be frugal on my small income. I compost, plant mostly from seed and cuttings, and sometimes rake neighbors leaves for my garden.
I don't yet use re-used containers except some white trash containers (1 foot diameter at the top), that I bought at a $1 store. My garden doesn't yet seem friendly to planting seeds directly in the soil, so I like to let them get large in the containers before transplanting. I use the large containers, so the roots don't get as pot bound.
Last year and this, I've purchased some seeds that were only 20 and 50 cents a packet, to see how they do. Not a very big study yet, but so far, so good.
I've not started saving seeds from my produce yet, but would like to try it when I learn a little more about it.
I think the easiest vegetables to save from year to year are potatoes and multiplier onions. Also perennial vegetables like rhubarb. From seeds, I have not been as diligent. This year I wanted to start more vegetables from open-pollinated seeds that grow true from the parent seeds. Life got in the way of early spring starting, but if I can get the raised beds put together by mid May there is still a chance for some. I have plans especially for Roma bush beans, some tomato varieties and chili pepper varieties, and snow peas.
I've tried "early starts" (like in Jan.) with all the containers, light source, etc. to keep the little buggers fluorishing, but I've given up doing that. I just got tire of messin' with it. Now, I just throw the seeds in the ground in April. I do allow many plants to go to seed, harvesting lettuce, spinach, parsnips, kale, etc. seeds for later use. I often get a second crop in the fall from those very seeds. Ah, the joys...
Randy, it does take attention to keep them growing in the winter. I usually start mid march to mid april. Each to their own - I like the puttering.
By using seedling from your own plants, you are on your way to developing strains that work well in your climate and garden. Over a number of years doing that, you could have a special variety all your own!
I hear some people eat leeks and put the end with the roots back in the ground. Has someone tried that? Does it work well and are there other vegs you can use this way?
Interesting idea. I did not know that could be done. Must take a while for the new tops to grow, but it would be a way to perpetuate a favorite variety if it works.
Some people cut broccoli tops and leave the main plant to produce more tops.
Of course, potatoes grow from the eyes that are not eaten anyway. I've had lots grow in the compost from peels that were thrown into the compost bin.
Jerusalem artichokes have a reputation for growing from tiny root pieces too, to the point where they are considered difficult to eradicate.