Saturday, January 7, 2012

Gardening on a Budget

Gardening on a Budget

Guest Post: This post was written by guest writer James Lander. Lander is a regular contributor over at couponing site, Couponing. The site provides information on couponing etiquette and frugal living advice.

Gardening is a pastime that has drawn enthusiasts for centuries from all different backgrounds that garden for all different reasons. Many people who garden find it to be a highly positive force within their lives, either financially or simply for the pleasure that it brings. Gardening has experienced a rise in popularity recently as more people not only try to avoid high produce costs by planting their own crops, but as consumers grow increasingly wary of the mass-produced food found in many grocery stores. Then again, there are the gardeners who do it just because growing their own garden is so rewarding.

· Reuse equipment (from the garden and otherwise!) - One of the easiest ways to rack up a big gardening bill is by purchasing expensive gardening tools. Most gardeners only need the basics – some shears, a hoe, a shovel – and these don't need to be brand new every season. Likewise, when you find that you do need to add something to your toolbox, look around your house first to see if you can repurpose something you already own.

· Go organic – Again, not investing in outside materials is a great way to keep costs down, and this applies to the chemicals many gardeners feel are essential as well. By not using pesticides or fertilizers, you eliminate a significant cost for small gardeners. Instead, look into natural pest control options and consider composting in place of using store-bought fertilizers.

· Limit your water consumption – Buy seeds and plants that don't need a ton of water to thrive. Watering your plants throughout the day uses more water than most gardeners realize, and can be a huge financial drain. Consider making your own soaker hose, which allows your garden to be slowly watered all day, versus sprinklers or traditional hoses that waste water and don't get better plant coverage.

· Barter for your seeds – Although many gardeners prefer to start with seedlings, it is much less expensive to buy seeds and plant them instead, so opt for this option when you can. Many gardening communities also encourage a system of bartering and trading for goods and services, which is an excellent opportunity for you to save on allover costs by offering something else of value in place of money.

· Buy in bulk – This strategy works best for experienced gardeners who know what they and their families like to eat. Getting the bulk discount rate on a flat of tomato plants is still a waste of money if no one is going to eat them; if you've got a favorite vegetable to plant, you can often get a huge discount by buying larger quantities at a plant sale or from another independent resource. Nurseries are among the most expensive outlets for plant and seed purchases; look for deals from co-ops, plant sales, and online from individual gardeners.

· Garden together – Not only is gardening with friends or a gardening community more cost-effective, it's more fun! By sharing a plot of land with friends or neighbors, you reduce the amount of materials you have to provide. In addition, being part of a community garden allows you to reap the benefits of your neighbors' success and enjoy a greater diversity of produce in your harvest.

With spring just around the corner, avid gardeners are gearing up for the new planting season, and many are looking to do it on a budget. Frugal gardeners are on the rise; while the work they do may be hard, finding ways to save are easy.

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.

No comments: