How To Grow A $100 Per Year Garden
By Melissa J. Will
To Grow A Great Garden On A Small Budget
These cheap garden ideas are offered
for anyone starting a new garden on a very low budget. Truthfully, when I
started my first garden from scratch, I probably should not have been spending
even $100 per year, but I did it anyways.
More than anything, I wanted to have
a beautiful garden despite the fact that I knew next to nothing about
gardening. I simply started digging and let experience be my teacher.
When it comes to saving money, I
endorse any frugal approaches that are legal, ethical, beneficial to the
environment, and cause no harm to others.
Here you will see all of the ways I
saved money growing perennials (mostly flowering ones), fruit trees and
berries, vegetables, and a few annuals (youâ€™ll see why below).
I hope you will find some useful
ideas and encouragement to start your garden, no matter how small or what your
Gardening is a brilliant love affair
that can quite happily carry you through your entire life if you let it.
Started In Gardening
When I started my first garden, I
set a budget of $100 a year simply because thatâ€™s about all we could afford.
While figuring out cheap garden ideas started out as a necessity, as time went
on, it turned into a fun challenge.
Even when I could spend more, I
wanted to see what I could accomplish while staying within that initial budget.
And living debt-free has its own rewards.
Getting a garden you love without
spending a lot of money doesnâ€™t really have a magical formula. Itâ€™s really just
takes patience and effort.
You have to be willing to spend some
time finding the right items at the best price, accept that there will probably
be some extra physical labor involved hauling your finds and fixing them up,
and non-conformist creativity always helps.
I had to let go of fixed ideas about
how things â€˜shouldâ€™ be, and open up to new and unique ways of making a beautiful
Sorry, No Gazebo For You!
The one thing the $100 budget canâ€™t
bring you is good professional landscaping, hardscaping with fences, arbors,
and other structures, or major structural changes to improve the grade of the
property or other shortcomings.
If you have these building
skills-great, but even salvaged materials will probably go way beyond the
frugal budget Iâ€™m talking about here. So put all that aside and look at what
you can do with a small budget and determination. The bigger ticket items like
fences, sheds, arbors, and decks can come later.
I Save Money In the Garden
Many of these ideas are not only
good for the wallet and benefit the plants, but are good for the environment as
well. Triple play!
Collect Rain Water
- Use rain barrels or other containers to collect rain
- Do not grow plants that need coddling. To me, all
perennials, once established, should be able to tolerate normal seasonal
- I do not water my grass lawn or garden beds. The only
exception is newly planted plants and containers. $Free
Do Not Water Or Fertilize Grass Lawn
- I never water or fertilize (or chemically treat) my
grass lawn and i only cut it infrequently (using a push mower).
- During summer droughts, it goes dormant and dry-looking
but thatâ€™s the nature of the beast. And the good news is, dormant grass
doesnâ€™t grow or need cutting. $Free
No Harmful Chemicals
- Yes, a home garden is an investment, but when your livelihood
does not depend on it, is there really any justification for poisoning the
environment to deal with a pest problem?
- Avoid fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides.
- To enrich the soil, I rely on compost and mulch created
from my own food scraps, fallen leaves, and branches.
- Pest control is done on an individual basis, often
relying on hand-picking to get rid of the beasts.Â
- I also have this list of natural pest remedies
from talks given by master, organic gardeners.
- If pest problems reoccur, look at the cause. Sometimes
rearranging plants, avoiding broad patches of one type of plant is enough
to confuse the bug(gers). $Free
Budget For Good Compost & Soil
- How does a new gardener know if their soil is good for
growing? Look for clues. Ask neighbors. See whatâ€™s growing around your
home. Is it thriving?
- My first garden was solid clay soil. So solid I could
not get a shovel into the ground with standing on the shovel and jumping
up and down with all my might/weight. Thatâ€™s not good soil!
- The biggest mistake I made when starting out as a
gardener was to avoid buying good compost before I could produce enough of
- I could write a novel on the value of good soil,
particularly the top 6 inches or so. Itâ€™s precious, essential, and the key
to healthy plants.
- Recently we moved to a new home and I started my
current garden from scratch. Knowing better, I put a bulk of my current
budget into improving the soil. Think of it as plant insurance. $Good
Investment with long term returns
Use Your Leaves
- Itâ€™s common practice in many areas to rake up leaves
and send them away each fall. Unless they are diseased, this is a big
waste of a valuable resource for the garden.
- Leaves are an incredibly rich
source of nutrients for your garden.
- I save all the leaves I can get (and ask the neighbors
for theirs as well). I break them down with the weed whacker and spread
them over the garden beds.
- Think of how a forest thrives: those fallen leaves are
not just protection for the soil below but breakdown into a big dose of
Watch For Good Yard Waste
- Not only do people throw away all sorts of useful
household items, but they also dispose of a lot of garden items such as
plants, pots, and tools that may just need a little TLC to be in good
working order once again (or repurposed into garden art).
- Another favourite find is branches and tree stumps. If
there is no sign of disease, I take them home and use them. Iâ€™ve made
fences, trellis, plant supports, chairs. $Free
Find Plants â€“ Cheap Or Free
- Paying full price at the start of the gardening season
is expensive and unnecessary.
- You can find plants free, barter, trade, or buy at a
deep discount instead.
- This can work if you donâ€™t get completely fixated on
having a particular plant NOW.
Hereâ€™s some alternate suggestions:
- Tell everyone you know what you are wanting. Itâ€™s
amazing how much stuff (including plants) is just sitting around waiting
for you to say you need it.
- Check yard sales, horticultural society and garden club
- Watch for ads for plants and other outdoor stuff like
garden pots, furniture, trellises, bricks, stonesâ€“ some even say you can
take them free of charge if you dig them up.
- Place your own ads asking for free plants (or barter).
- Watch for deep discount days at garden nurseries and
end of season sales.
- Find out about memberâ€™s discounts and discounts for
store clubs and horticultural society members. $Free or $Cheap
This idea will work as well as your neighbors
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Fred Yancy, Broker