How to Start a Garden on a Budget

In this economy, we need to find every way we can save money. Gardening is one of the top ways to do that. But, when you first start gardening the cost can really add up after you have purchased all of the supplies. Take a minute to think back at our history. Did our ancestors have fancy heat lamps, Miracle Grow®, and special pots? That didn’t stop them from growing their own gardens.

I start my garden year after year for less than $10.00. It is a little more work but if you get the entire family involved it can be a lot of fun. Also, it will teach your kids a good lesson on savings.

To start my seeds inside I buy dirt for about $3.00 for a 40 lb bag. Everyone says you need “good” potting soil. This is not true. Just make sure it is not hard. Some cheap potting soil has a few little twigs or pebbles but, that isn’t a big deal. If you are worried about it you can always sift it yourself. The so called “good” potting soil can cost you $10 – $20 for a 10 lb bag. If you are just going to put the seeds in the ground then the quality does not matter.

Now you will need some pots to start the seeds in. If you were to go out and buy these from the store you will probably pay about $3 – $5 a tray. These trays only have about 10 or 15 spots for seeds. If you are going to start a medium or large garden this could cost you quite a bit. I use newspaper pots. These are very easy to make. Everyone has or knows someone who has a bunch of newspapers laying around.

You could also go to your local newspaper and get old papers. You do not want to use the shiny paper though. It can contain metals that can contaminate your plant and the ground. Another plus to using paper pots is they are great for the environment. You can plant them with your plant or just throw them in your compost pile. Do a search on Google for newspaper pots for directions on how to make them.

Newspaper pots should be watered from the tray. They will suck up all the water they need when they need it. You can use almost any plastic or metal container you have lying around the house. I think those plastic under the bed containers work great. You can fit alot of pots in them. You can also use plastic bowls, bread pans, or old cake pans that you can not use anymore. If you use something you will use for food again do not use any fertilizer in them.

Seeds can be purchased for as little as 10 packs for $1. I sometimes buy the seeds from last year. A lot of people would probably disagree but, I have never had any problems. You plant more than one seed in a pot anyways. They would have to be really bad seeds to not get atleast one plant in each pot. Most think you need to order your seeds through the mail. I just go to any local store that has them on sale. The only way you would save buying from seed companies is if you were going to order in bulk.

Labeling your pots is a good idea. Unless you want a mystery garden. (Don’t laugh it has happened to me) You can use popsicle sticks. I buy a bag of cheap clothespins for $1.50 and write on them with a marker. The clothespins help to keep the newspaper pots from coming apart also.

If you start your seeds in plenty of time you don’t need heating pads or heat lights. Just putting them next to a south facing window works just fine.

Are you are cramped for space? Then forget the above and start your seeds in baggies. Take coffee filters, cut them in half, and fold the seeds inside of them. Coffee filters are best because the root doesn’t get stuck to it like they do paper towels. You can buy 200 generic filters for $1. Mist the filters with a spray bottle. Put one in a baggie and seal it. Again put it in front of a south facing window. The top of a fridge is warm enough to start seeds. Keep the filters moist.

Plant extras there are always people looking for starter plants to buy. This is the way I start my garden year after year. I always have plenty to go around.

Happy Gardening!

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