By: Sarah Koontz
Are you interested in growing your own food, but struggle to find any extra room in your budget for gardening supplies? I have 10 frugal gardening ideas and tricks I have used to save money in my own garden, and you won’t believe how simple some of them are!
I have also included a list of 70+ of my favorite gardening resources. My hope is to be your one stop shop for frugal gardening ideas.
A few years ago, we decided to move out to the country so we could grow some of our own food and raise our own chickens. The very most important skill for us to develop was gardening, and we started from scratch!
I had tinkered with gardening in the past, but had always failed. This time was different, this time I was on a mission, and failure was not an option.
That is the thing about gardening, anybody can do it! It just takes time and energy and a bit of practice.
I love to research, and as I did, I discovered so many fun garden hacks that will save you time, energy, and money.
Here are the TOP 10 Frugal Gardening Ideas I use in my own garden:
- The Versatility of the Milk Jug: I also save all of my vinegar and natural laundry detergent containers. They have many uses in the garden, but here are a few of my favorite:
- Milk Jug Hot Caps: simply cut off the bottom and place them on top of your transplants to keep them toasty warm and protected from the wind. I leave the lids off unless the temps drop too low at night, then I pop the lids on. I love the vinegar and other more sturdy plastic containers for this job too (they hold up better).
- Milk Jug Seed Starting: Cut the jug around the middle about 1/3 up from the bottom and add a few drainage holes. Put soil in the bottom, plant your seeds, and tape the jug closed. You now have a mini green house to start your seeds in.
- Below Ground Watering: This one is genius, and it worked quite well for my tomatoes last season. Simply poke a bunch of holes in the bottom of a milk jug, and bury it beside your tomato transplants. When it is time to water, simply fill up the jug a couple of times and your tomato plants are in heaven!
- Don’t throw out used Yogurt Containers: This is another item I reuse in the garden. Any plastic container with a lid will work. I use them in 3 different ways.
- Cut them into strips = Free plant markers
- Poke holes in the bottom = free seedling pots
- Seed planting time = keep your seed packets dry and clean by carrying them around in a yogurt container while you plant (this seems a bit silly, but I have lost far too many seeds because they got damp in the garden)
- Garage Sale Finds: If you like to garage sale or shop at thrift stores, always be looking for items you can re-purpose in the garden. I got this “cube shelf” at a sale for 3 dollars last year and re-purposed it as a tomato trellis in my garden.
- PVC Pipe is the Gardeners Friend! My husband built me 3 hoop houses out of 2×4’s and pvc pipe last year. We are hoping to build some season-extending low tunnels this season. This is such a versatile product to use in your garden, and SO CHEAP!
- Tomato Trellis Hack: If you need something sturdy and cost effective to trellis your tomatoes, I highly recommend this method. We tried it last year with great success. Our plants were huge, and the trellis held them perfectly. We were able to get the stakes for free, and reuse some old fencing.
- Shop your local RE-Store Outlet for wood scraps, items to re-purpose, and old windows. We found a couple of windows for $2.50 each last year and made cold frames out of them. I have also seen people make planters out of old bath tubs…..
- Don’t toss the items you bring your plants home in from the greenhouse. I have been saving every pot, seedling tray, and cell pack for years and it is starting to pay off. At the beginning of the season, I wash and disinfect them with a bit of bleach and we are good to go.
- Drain tile: Check out the picture above of my tomato trellis’. Do you see the plastic tubes coming out of the ground beside each plant? I didn’t know what this stuff was until we built our house, but it is this amazing perforated tubing. I cut it into 2ft sections and buried it next to my tomato plants. It was much easier to use than the milk jugs, and my tomato plants grew over 6ft tall (in zone 4 mind you!).
- Weave your own twine pea trellis. This one takes a bit of time, but is well worth the effort.
- Get Chickens. I know, not everyone can have chickens. But if you live in an area where they are allowed, I strongly encourage you to get your own. They are fun animals to have around, but they are also a huge benefit to your garden. I winter my chickens in my garden and benefit from all of the cheap fertilizer come spring!
I have had so much fun learning how to grow my own food without breaking the bank on gardening supplies.
It has been quite a learning curve for me, and I am excited to share a compilation of some of the most helpful articles and books for anyone who is interested in starting their own frugal DIY vegetable garden. I have broken them down into categories for easy navigation. Enjoy! (Main Image Credit: Dollar Photo Club)
Are you loving these frugal gardening ideas so far? 🙂
Planning Your Garden
The first step towards success in your garden is planning! I use the Territorial Seeds Garden Planner to map out my garden in January/February each year. I highly recommend the Grow Great Grub book for anyone who has to plan a garden in a smaller space.
1. For Smaller Gardens: Gardener’s Supply Company Garden Planner
2. For Larger Gardens: Territorial Seeds Garden Planner
The whole idea of starting your own seeds can be quite intimidating. But it is so worth the effort! There is nothing like green growing things in your basement while there is still snow on the ground.
Best DIY Garden Projects
My husband is a saint and he has done many DIY projects for my garden. He is hoping to plan and build a greenhouse for me someday, but this summer we are focusing on building our own compost bin.
Frugal Gardening Ideas & Tips & Tricks
I love re-purposing items to use in the garden! We have a bunch of rain barrels connected under our deck, and we use an old hot tub pump to get the water out of the garden. We found the 250 gallon barrels on Craigslist and were able to set up the whole thing for less than it would cost to buy 1 new 60 gallon rain barrel.
Bugs and Weeds
If you do organic vegetable gardening like I do, then you will definitely have to get creative about pest control. Here are some great resources to get you started.
Did you hear me mention my chickens? I convinced my husband that we needed them for the garden (their poop is awesome fertilizer once it is composted) and that their eggs were just bonus. But I have been itching to try the worm composting bin.
Companion & Succession Planting
This is such an important element of Short Season Gardening. I live in Zone 4 (and that is being generous!), so I need to get as much out of my short season as possible. Being ready to succession plant and growing things in companion for better yields have been very important skills for me to develop.
I would not have the success I have in my zone 4 garden without season extension. I love being the crazy person who is out planting in April when most people in my area can’t plant until May 15 (and even then it is risky!). These articles really helped me get a jump on the whole concept of season extension.
Preserving the Harvest
What are you going to do with all of that zucchini? Another important skill for gardeners to develop is the ability to use and preserve the bounty. Here are some articles to get you started.
5. Canning 101
What are your best frugal gardening ideas?