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4 Easy Ways To Save Money On Your Garden

collage: bucket with gloves and trowel on grass/hands dumping a bucket of leaves/curly lettuce growing in garden
I love every phase of gardening! It is good for the soul!

Gardening To Save Money? Here’s What You Need To Know

After my son Erik and I spent a small fortune on plants last year, I’m committed to gardening to save money this year. I tend to get really excited about my garden when it finally starts feeling like spring, but my enthusiasm tends to get expensive (especially when my equally impulsive eldest son is there egging me on!)

In addition to the money-saving initiative of starting seeds indoors, I knew there had to be other things I could do to help save myself some money. So I did a bit of research, and came up with a few tips gardeners can use to turn the cheapest supplies into a more profitable garden.

Can You Really Save Money By Gardening?

According to Veggie Knowledge, the benefits to growing your own food go way beyond simple dollars and cents. But if you’re gardening primarily as a way to save money, it’s crucial to keep your costs low and take advantage of free and low-cost resources (more on that shortly!)

But it’s not just about your startup costs either — here are couple of other factors to consider:

  • Gardening takes a lot of time, and your time is valuable! I love spending time in my garden, but if you don’t, you may never feel like gardening is worth the time and effort it requires.
  • You’ll never make money gardening if you don’t eat what you grow! Grow things you like to eat, and when you have a surplus, use methods like freezing, canning, and dehydrating to preserve your harvest.

Related: 13 Clever Hacks That Will Save Gardeners Time And Money

What Are The Best Vegetables To Grow To Save Money?

The answer to this question depends on what your family likes to eat and the size of your garden, but generally speaking, tomatoes, herbs, and greens will save you the most money. Heirloom tomatoes are always pricey, and a single plant can yield dozens of them per season!

As far as herbs and greens go, they’re bound to save you money if you only cut off a handful of leaves at a time and leave the plant to continue growing. You can do this with lettuce, chard, and spinach too!

Learn More: Garden Like An Investor – The Best Things To Grow For Your Money

4 Smart Ways To Save Money On Gardening

blond woman smiling as she dumps leaves into a composter
Creating my own compost and using it in my garden brought the gardening experience full circle for me.

1. Take Advantage Of Free Soil Amendments

There are dozens of amend or improve your garden soil, like the compost and manure you can purchase in large bags at any garden center or home improvement store. But many people aren’t aware that there are other rich, organic materials out there that most people are just throwing away!

Used coffee grounds make a great soil amendment, as coffee grounds are rich in important nutrients like phosphorus and magnesium that help plants grow. (Not much of a coffee drinker? Check your local Starbucks — many stores offer bags of used grounds to gardeners for free! If you don’t see any out on display, ask a barista if they have any on hand.)

Leaves are also a surprisingly good organic soil amendment, and they’re even easier to find than used coffee grounds! When fall comes around, gather a few bags of leaves to keep until spring so you can dig them into your garden beds. Shredding the leaves before adding them to the soil will help them break down faster, and you can easily shred leaves by going over them with your lawnmower. Leaves are one of my favorite cheap soil amendments — it doesn’t get any cheaper than free!

curly lettuce growing in garden
Sharing and receiving seeds and seedlings turns this largely solo activity into a social one.

2. Find Free (Or Almost Free) Seeds And Seedlings

You can save a lot of money by taking advantage of free or inexpensive seeds and seedings. They aren’t difficult to find, if you know where to look, and it’s one of the best money-saving gardening ideas for spring.

For free seeds, check to see if there are any seed libraries in your community. You can take and use the seeds for free, then “return” the seeds at the end of the season by letting one or two of the plants go to seed. (Some seed libraries don’t even require that much — they just let you take the seeds you want!)

Related: Make Your Own Seed Tape To Make Spring Planting Easy

Plant sales can be another source of affordable plants. These events are often held at nurseries, arboretums, and botanical gardens, and can be a great way to get your hands on heirloom fruit and vegetable starts and hard-to-find cultivars. For the best deals at plant sales, wait until they’re almost over — you can often haggle over the remaining plants and make off like a bandit!

If you’re really lucky, you may be able to find plant giveaways hosted by local nurseries or gardening clubs. Get on the email list for nearby nurseries and garden societies so you don’t miss out on great opportunities like these.

assortment of gardening hand tools on rough white boards
The first time you use a new garden tool, it looks just like the old ones! Buy used!

3. Save On Tools And Supplies

Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that builds affordable housing, has a chain of stores called Habitat for Humanity ReStore that can be a great place to find discounted gardening supplies!

ReStores are like the thrift store version of a home improvement store — you can find building, landscaping, and gardening supplies at great prices, and because the items are donated, all your money goes to support Habitat for Humanity. Not only are you getting a great deal, but you’re helping out others! That’s my kind of win-win.

Aside from ReStores, other sources of affordable gardening supplies could include your local thrift store, garage sales, and even dollar stores.

bucket with gardening tools, gloves, and seeds on grass

4. Save Your Seeds

For about 12,000 years of human history, the only way you could ensure you’d have plants to grow next season was to collect and save its seeds. But since the emergence of commercial seed companies in the 1950s, it has become increasingly convenient to just buy seed packets as you need them, but seed saving is still the most cost-effective way to garden!

All plants have seeds, but some are easier to collect and save than others. Most varieties of squash have large, sturdy seeds that are easy to save, while tomato seeds are trickier because they’re small and slippery. Herbs and greens, on the other hand, have to be left in the ground long enough to send out a flowering stalk from which seeds can be harvested.

While the method for collecting seeds will differ, the process of saving them is much the same — you rinse the seeds, allow them to dry in a shady location for several days, then store the dry seeds in envelopes or bags until they’re needed. If you’re gardening to save money, saving your seeds is definitely the way to go!

What’s your best tip for saving money on gardening?

collage: bucket with gloves and trowel on grass/hands dumping a bucket of leaves/curly lettuce growing in garden

How To Save Money On Gardening

Jill Nystul
These four tips will help you cut back on some of the biggest gardening expenses!

Instructions
 

  • Use free soil amendments such as leaves and coffee grounds.
  • Find free or almost free seeds and seedlings by looking for seed libraries, plant sales, and plant giveaways in your area,
  • Save on tools and supplies at places like the Habitat For Humanity ReStore, thrift stores, yard sales, and dollar stores.
  • Save your own seeds for next year. Get a supply of heirloom seeds to start, and you can save them year after year.

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Homekeeping Tips

  • If you like gardening, you might be interested in Winter Sowing…I just tried it this year and was successful. . .which leads me to believe that anyone would be!!!! It was fun to “garden” in January, February, March and April. . .and I live in WI. Just google “Winter Sowing” and check it out! I think that you will love it!!!! Happy gardening!!!!

  • I am a big herb gardener. I recently gave a talk at the library. Jars of dried herbs are about 300% more expensive than a 3″ pot or packet of herbs. the audience was amazed. At the end if the season let the seeds set and then dry out and store them in a paper envelope. Likewise you can take cuttings at the end of the season and start the cutting inside until spring. There are a lot of cosmetics, culinary and other uses for the herbs. Make vinegar – 1 gallon of white vinegar can be divided into smaller containers (canning bottle). Fill the jar with a single herb or combinations. Put it away and shake it every week and in three weeks you have fancy vinegar. Go to the dollar tree and buy glass bottles. Wash them strain the herbs out if they are cloudy. Fill the bottle, add a lemon strip, Wrap a ribbon around the neck and gift the flavored vinegar to your friends for next to nothing.

  • I usually spend too much of my gardening dollars on soil & amendments. Last year I collected all the soil from pots of annuals and used that for planters this week. I also use cardboard as mulch, covering weeds and the soil around freshly planted rose bushes. It kills weeds, keeps watered soil moist and breaks down over time. For tougher spots, like areas that haven’t been gardened in years, I keep large dog food bags, cut them open and spread them over the area. I use spikes to pin them down, but rocks or pieces of coat hangers also work. After weeds are dead, I replace the bags with heavy layers of pine straw.

  • I am enjoying your articles. I have never had a great vegetable garden. This year the back lawn is coming out. I am going to try a no till garden. You do not turn the soil over, there is layer upon layer of mulch, leaves, manure etc. put down over the years like in a forest. Wood chips hold the moisture even during the summer so you do not have to use much water in your garden. My life changed when I watched the documentary film Back to Eden. Paul, the gentleman in the film has a garden in Washington state where he gets very little rain and all summer long he does not have to water. I’ve never seen a garden like it and the fruit and vegetables makes me want to visit his garden. His method cuts down on the weeds also and makes them easy to pull. There are also videos people have posted of their back to Eden gardens. Great garden here I come.

  • Keep your locsl JVS in mind too. My daughter is in the Greenhouse program and they sell plants and veggies as a learning experience. Great product and prices and you’re helping a high school student learn a trade!

  • Please everybody try to have a vegetable garden, at least one tomato plant and some herbs. It is so rewarding, healthy, and beneficial to our environment to reduce car trips to the grocery store. Worms love coffee grounds; my local coffee store gives grounds at 10 am and 4 pm to gardeners. I cover my kitchen waste with a few leaves and have the best growing medium ever. Watering is a major expense for many of us; garden cloth will keep down weeds, and there are PVC raised gardens (vertical gardens) that are water misers with high yield, but you must be handy to make this apparatus. Thx for posting a timely topic Jillee.

  • The Lowes store in our area always has a rack of marked down plants. The prices are severely marked down. They are usually the ones that look like they are on their last legs but are still alive and will do well in the garden. The only problem is they don’t look as nice as the fuller plants. I have purchased a few for only 25 cents and they are thriving quite nicely.
    Some avid gardeners have their own garden sale – like a garage sale but with plants only. Some good buys are usually available at them, too.

  • My local AL grocery store sells marked down plants. They are usually done blooming or dried up. All these plants need is TLC. I have purchased $7 plants for $2 and others for even less.

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