Friday, May 25, 2007

Gardening on the CHEAP

Although it would be nice to go to the local nursery and spent a few hundred or thousand dollars on plants and trees and shrubs (as many, many do), I tell you, there is a lot of satisfaction in getting the same gardening results without putting out the dough.
This beautiful dark purple Iris was given to me a couple of years ago from someone who was dividing perennials and knew I would give it a home.

There are so many ways to garden inexpensively that I doubt that I will be able to list them all. Here are some of the ways that I have increased my plants without spending a bundle.

1. Ask! If you know someone who has a plant that you covet, ask them for a small clump of it. It needn't be half the plant, just a tiny bit of it so you have a start of it. You will be surprised when the person says yes, and may just offer you bits of other plants also!

2. Start your own plants! You can collect seeds from your plants, your friends plants, plants at work or other businesses (ask first!). You can start the seeds the old fashioned way under lights, you can winter sow them, you can direct sow many options!

The infamous winter sowing!

3. Propagation! Taking cuttings of plants, trees, shrubs and starting them in a rooting medium will give you more plants.
Propagation using the oasis method.

4. If you move, take your favorites with you. When my mom moved to Arizona, I dug up several plants and shrubs and took them to my place. When we moved a year and a half ago, I dug up and moved many of those and brought them with me. While this seems like a lot of work, at least you know how well the plant grows, its growing conditions, where it came from, and you brought your memories with you.

5. Join a plant swap. These are loads of fun. Several gardening web sites have them in the spring and the fall. You enter your name and a list of plants that you would like and a list of plants that you have to offer. Your name and lists get matched up with someone with whose lists match yours. You get the name, dig portions of your plants, package them up and send them out. It is better than Christmas when you get your box. You don't know what is in it, but you know it is NEW plants!

6. Join a seed swap. These are normally done in the fall on gardening sites, but sometimes are also done in the spring. This is a bit different from the plant swap. You collect all of the seeds that you can and put them into packs and label them. You send a large envelope with all of the seeds you have to trade, there can be multiple packs of the same thing. Everyone sends their packs to one person, who sorts through and sends everyone a large envelope of different seeds from all of their cyber-gardening buddies.

7. Go directly to the bargain bin. If you cannot resist going to your local nursery, then go to the sale area. These plants, trees and shrubs may be runts, or may have gotten a bit of frost or they may have let them dry too much and they are in recovery. They could be just items that no one wanted and they are root bound in the pot. I once got a 3 foot Japanese Maple tree for $15. because a branch had been torn off, leaving a gaping area on the trunk. I took it home and planted it and now, 4 years later, who would know that at one time one side was on the bare side. Another time, another nursery, I got a 7 foot Tulip Poplar for $5.! It was sickly looking, but healthy (make sense?) so I took it home. I never had any problem with that tree and it looks gorgeous today.

8. Shop at the flea market or the farmer's market. I can't tell you how many plants and things I have gotten for a dollar or two this way. I know exactly where they are set up at the flea market and try as hubby can, he knows I will go right there! Rarely do I come home empty handed!
1 of 2 Holly shrubs purchased at the local flea market, $2. each.

9. eBay! I have done a lot of plant purchases on eBay. Always look for someone who has sold lots of items and has good feedback ratings. Usually items will be packaged well and sent quickly. I bought six 6 inch Japanese Maple's several years ago for $6. I gave 5 away and kept one for myself. What a great investment that was, as I have been able to shape and grow this beauty myself. It has been dug up and moved at least 5 times and doesn't seem to mind one bit.
This beautiful Japanese Maple was purchased several years ago, one of six, 6 inch trees for $6. on eBay.

10. I belong to a points program that allows me to get gift cards when I reach a certain amount of points. I always, always get gift cards for Home Depot, that way I can use them in the gardening department. I can get plants, but I can also get pond supplies, mulch, stones, garden art (if I don't make it myself!), fertilizer, etc. Also, I don't buy most of these items unless they are ON SALE. The gift cards I receive are worth $25-$75, depending on how long I can wait before cashing in those points!

11. Dig up and divide your plants. Even after being in the ground one year, most plants can be dug up, cut in half (or thirds or quarters) with a spade and replanted and ~WOW~ another plant!
12. Join a gardening club. Although I am not a member of one, they sound awesome, getting to check out others gardens and trade plants and information.
13. Volunteer with spring clean up at local public gardens. Many advertise for assistance in doing spring clean up and get to take home extra plants.
14. Buy your spring bulbs after the so called planting season. Spring bulbs do not have to be planted in the fall, it is just easier then because the weather hasn't usually gotten bad yet. I have planted my spring blooming bulbs in February. As long as the ground isn't frozen, you can plant your bulbs. Wait until everyone has bought and planted, then go looking to buy when they are all marked down to 50-90% off. There is usually still quite a good selection and there is still plenty of time to plant.
15. Remember to divide your bulbs. After blooming (or before, I have done this both ways), dig your bulbs up and divide them. This helps promote more bulbs, more plants, and less crowding.

16. Make your own mulch. This is a lot easier if you have a large piece of property. I collect our leaves in the fall, sometimes running them through the chipper/shredder, sometimes not. I then put them onto the flower beds. I also collect branches and sticks and do the same. I also rake up pine needles in the fall and use them as mulch.
17. COMPOST, COMPOST, COMPOST. I cannot stress this enough and it really should be at the top of this post and in between each item. COMPOST. It does not matter if you live in town and have a tiny yard, you can still make your own compost. Dig a small hole and bury your kitchen scraps, it won't take long for it to break down and start providing you with some added soil nutrients. If you are lucky enough to have a large amount of property, put everything you can find on your pile. It will break down and give you lots of black gold to amend your beds.
18. Go for a Sunday drive out in the country and look for those piles of field stone. If you ask a farmer out in the field, he will usually point you right to it and give his blessing for you to take what you want. These can then be used to line your beds or create a rock garden. There is nothing more beautiful (if you are a rock lover like me) than having some granite in your gardens.
19. Dig up your unwanted or extra plants and sell them or offer them for trade. I dug up a huge amount of Hosta's last year and put them up for sale at the end of the driveway. I ended up getting rid of every single one, but instead of selling them, I traded them for an even larger pile of Miscanthus, which I broke into 35 clumps and lined the front edge of our property with. Every one of them made it through the winter and are growing! Yippee!!
Miscanthus pile that I received in exchange for a wheel barrel full of Hostas.
20. Don't spend it if you don't got it to spend. Impulse buying is bad for your wallet and for your future! If you just have to spend money on plants, then keep a jar to collect your change or write a couple bucks into your budget each month to spend on gardening.

I hope this little list will give you a few new ways to garden on the cheap. Have I missed some great ways to save? If so, let me know, because I am always looking for new ways to save money and increase my gardens!


Sandy said...

awsome hints! I'm envious of your J. maple buy! WOW! We have been doing great with our own compost, in fact it may be big reason my new roses are doing so well. Some of my biggest challenges (besides money) are living on a nearly bare corner lot with no privacy, and a finicky hubby who is very opinionated about everything I do. I gotta say, though...I hve lots of irises, and I haven't bought any. In fact I've gotten a good amount of my flowers free one way or another. But theres still lots of sunny lawn that needs to be conquered! Lol!

Angie said...

Thanks Sandy! This is a post that has been going through my mind for quite awhile and I think I may have to do a Part II, as I have remembered many more things!
I know all about those finicky husbands-lol! Before we moved out here to nearly 4 acres, he whined about all of my plantings. Now I have his permission to do all the plantings I want.
You'll get rid of that pesky lawn in time, even if its a few feet a year! (Just move those rock borders out a bit at a time and he'll never notice until it's too late!)

Nickie said...

garage sales are great for finding plants for sale cheap, also for finding garden art pieces and pots...

sometimes people leave leftover divided plants to be tossed on garbage day. I have gotten hostas and lilies by checking out hte alleys and picking them up before.

Angie said...

ahh Nickie, that is a great idea that I didn't think of! I picked up some day lilies last year from someone who had put a cart at the road full of them! Thanks for the reminder. I will add it to part II.

Kylee said...

FABULOUS post! Seriously! Thank you for sharing these invaluable ideas and tips.

Angie said...

Kylee, Thanks for visiting and I am really glad that you enjoyed the post. Keep checking back for Part II!