Cottage Gardening forum: Share your money saving ideas!

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Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Mar 6, 2011 12:34 PM CST
When I was younger, I was so disheartened by the expenses that I thought were unavoidable. So many sources of information only address gardening in terms of what products, equipment, and modern cultivars are recommended to the home gardener. I was unemployed for the first few years that I lived in this home, but having the time to devote to the garden, I was determined to create a beautiful garden. Nowadays, when I stand back and look at the burgeoning beds overflowing with color, I'm amazed at how little money has gone into it. Below are some ways I found to accomplish the look I wanted to achieve, without breaking the bank. Please share your money saving ideas!

1.Seed starting: Seed starting can be challenging for the home gardener, especially those lacking experience, but is a great way of filling a garden with minimal investment. I was terrible with seeds for many years, till I discovered Wintersowing (or as I sometimes call it, seed starting for dummies). Unlike many seed starting techniques that require greenhouses, lighting, heating pads, various chemical products and growing mediums, Wintersowing requires only seeds, potting soil, and recycled containers. This site is great for explaining how the method works:

http://www.wintersown.org/

2.Composting: Poor soil is a common issue for gardeners today. Modern home construction usually entails bulldozing and leveling that often leaves the home owner with rocky clay subsoil. Leaves, grass clippings, vegetative kitchen refuse, and newspapers, all have the potential of becoming rich, fertile, compost- the best soil conditioner you could hope for! Lack of space for a traditional compost pile prevents a lot of people from composting, but there are other ways to make use of this free fertilizer. One simple method is to just bury small amounts of raw compost here and there throughout the garden. It doesn't take long to see the increase in your earthworm population. Lasagna gardening is another great way to use your raw compost, in a layered fashion to create new beds without digging. Mulching with grass clippings and mulched leaves is a great way to compost on site.

3.Recycling: I reuse anything I can. Every plastic pot is saved, bleached, and used over and over till it falls apart. Milk jugs serve as mini greenhouse containers for my seed starting. Old plastic window blinds and bleach jugs get cut up into strips I use as plant tags. All sorts of wicker, clay, and metal containers get spray painted and used for annuals on the porches. The top of my cold frame is an old sliding glass door. Its amazing how creative you can be with re-purposing items you have laying around!

4.Plant and seed sharing and trading. Gardeners are always finding themselves with surplus of various plants, and are usually happy to share. Plant swaps and trading can be lots of fun.

5.Propagation: Learning to start new plants from cuttings and divisions has been a joy for me. Great for producing more plants to plant, share, or trade!

6.Bargain Shopping: There are lots of great clearance sales to be taken advantage of. Box stores often deeply discount perennials and shrubs when they've finished blooming or are showing signs of distress (I lucked into 5 gallon Lilac bushes for $3.00 each because they had mildew on the leaves). Good mail order sources often have end of season clearance sales- I love ordering 50%off bulbs from Brent and Becky's the day after Thanksgiving! Box stores will often sell torn bags of potting soil, compost, and mulch for 50%off (typically not advertised, and you have to ask the clerk).
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Aug 4, 2011 7:16 PM CST

Plants Admin

Lots of great ideas here Neal. One of the first things I did here was make an "official" compost heap. Used pruned branches and old concrete blocks. I'm still a lousy hot composter, but it's way more organized and I get a good load of reasonable compost in the spring. Shredded leaves get added to the flower beds, as do the pine needles and they're great for protecting plants I'm zone pushing. I really like the look of pine straw mulch. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a source locally. I've also used the grass clippings to burn down weeds or lawn in an area I want to plant. I took the tines off of two old bamboo rakes. The do well as plant props, and when cut up with wire cutters, I use them to mark the locations of tender bulbs so I don't step on them. I paint some as well to help in the layout of different type and size bulbous plants.
Evan
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Aug 14, 2011 1:39 PM CST
Confused How did I miss this thread?

~~~I have a 75-gallon rainbarrel and also sometimes use the garden cart and other water-proof containers to catch even more rainwater running off the carport. It has a metal roof and I think that source is "cleaner" than what comes from shingled roofs, etc.

~~~I make a lot of my own insecticides and sprays. Plain old inexpensive hydrogen peroxide can be used very effectively in the yard and gardens. I also use Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Castille Soap mixed with water in a spray bottle to make insecticidal soap very cheaply. A couple of Tbls. in a quart will do the trick. Other liquid soaps can be used as well, but apparently peppermint has some insect-repelling properties of its own.

http://www.using-hydrogen-peroxide.com/gardening-with-hydrog...

~~~You can often scavage construction or demolition sites for materials you can salvage ... with permission, of course. Roofing jobs can yield lots of used asphalt shingles that can be laid down to make a weed-free barrier and walkway in the yard or garden. Just make sure to keep asphalt away from your edibles.

~~~Share the purchase of gardening magazines and books among your gardening friends rather than buying them all yourself. Or frequent the library. Some books and magazines are must-haves for me, but others I may look through a time or two or just use minimally for reference. They don't all have to live at my house. (Took me a long time to acknowledge and implement this one!) Big Grin
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Aug 14, 2011 1:56 PM CST

Plants Admin

Dr. Bronners! Does that ever bring back memories. Big Grin I'll have to try that. Big thanks Tee.
Evan
Name: Sheryl
Hot, hot, hot, Feenix, AZ (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Southwest Gardening Keeps Horses Dog Lover Cat Lover Permaculture
Butterflies Birds Cottage Gardener Herbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Irises
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sheryl
Aug 14, 2011 7:32 PM CST
I am a rabid composter. My local coffee shop gets some tomatoes in exchange for all the coffee grounds, paper filters and tea bags they save for me. Such a deal. I also use a paper shredder for all of my junk mail (I don't do the glossy stuff and give the plastic-windowed envelopes a miss). Grass clippings are great for getting the pile to heat up. And I pick up truck loads of leaves from the neighboring city's green waste area; they're nice enough to load them in for me.

I also have old food-grade 50 gallon barrels under the water spouts and use that water until it's gone for just about everything.

I'm bad about seeds, but have successfully propagated a lot of things. My new variegated hydrangea *somehow* got mowed - the bush will live, thankfully, and I've potted up a few of the casualties, so now I have a few, yay!

Cardboard boxes without pictures are used around plants before putting mulch down.

Old cups with broken handles are used to water root coleus and other stuff that will root that way.

Um, um - there's more, I just can't think of it at this time.

In the end, only kindness matters.

Science is not the answer, it is the question.


Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Aug 14, 2011 8:23 PM CST

Plants Admin

Sheryl, I've been doing the cardboard or newspaper under mulch for a couple of years now. Learned that from father when helping around the yard. Is the problem with cardboard with pictures the dye bleeding off?

My experience with newspaper is 5 sheets will usually be gone in 1 yr. 6 sheets leaves remnants after a yr. A lot has to do w/rain I think. How about where you guys are?
Evan
Name: Sheryl
Hot, hot, hot, Feenix, AZ (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Southwest Gardening Keeps Horses Dog Lover Cat Lover Permaculture
Butterflies Birds Cottage Gardener Herbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Irises
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sheryl
Aug 15, 2011 7:19 AM CST
LOL, well having moved here only 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ, I don't have the history you do - but I will say that the cardboard I put down to do raised vegetable beds was well on it's way to rotting; I'm sure it's gone by now. In Phoenix, they could have picked it up and reused it as a box after 100 years. You're right, it's the rain - and bugs and worms, I'm sure.

This is a great thread, Neal.
In the end, only kindness matters.

Science is not the answer, it is the question.


Name: Maridell
Sioux City IA (Zone 4b)
enjoy the moment
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Maridell
Aug 15, 2011 7:44 AM CST
Oh wow, I just saw this too. Winter sowing sounds like my new venture in gardening. I have difficulties with seedlings....this just might be the ticket. And, I sure could stand to save some money since I am no longer working. Thanks Neal!
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Aug 15, 2011 8:19 AM CST
I'm so glad to see this thread revived!

Tee, the shingle idea is a really good one. A friend of mine has a veggie garden enclosed in electric fencing and has used shingles to keep weeds and grass from growing underneath. Works like a charm. You can mow right up to it and over it without displacing the shingles, so no additional edging is needed.

Maridell, I can't speak highly enough about wintersowing. I was so terrible for many years at seed starting till I discovered the wintersowing method. I also use milk jugs cut with a hinged lid for starting cuttings, that little greenhouse it provides is great for keeping the humidity just right.
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Maridell
Sioux City IA (Zone 4b)
enjoy the moment
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Maridell
Aug 15, 2011 10:16 AM CST
I have used milk jugs as mini green houses in my garden before, and to keep rabbits away from young plants. Got plenty of milk jugs, now to decide on seeds Smiling
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Aug 15, 2011 5:31 PM CST
i've been wintersowing for quite a while, too. Milk jugs and 2 liter pop bottles are all I use as containers. I've never found anything else that works as well.

Karen
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Aug 15, 2011 5:44 PM CST
Phooey, I have lost two replies to this thread. Somewhere out in cyberspace or something, I guess. Pfffft ... I'll try again tomorrow. Sad
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Sheryl
Hot, hot, hot, Feenix, AZ (Zone 9b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Southwest Gardening Keeps Horses Dog Lover Cat Lover Permaculture
Butterflies Birds Cottage Gardener Herbs I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Irises
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sheryl
Aug 15, 2011 7:42 PM CST
We'll be here!

Another thing - I had some of my older windows replaced this year. The old windows that were taken out can be used on top of a square of straw bales for cold frames, then the straw is used as a mulch in my vegetable garden.
In the end, only kindness matters.

Science is not the answer, it is the question.


Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Aug 16, 2011 5:00 AM CST
Shingles can also have stepping stones or gravel put over top to make a weed-free walkway.

I had windows, storm windows, and storm doors replaced this year also. I kept the old and very heavy storm doors to make into vertical gardens of some sort or a teepee trellis.

I use a lot of cardboard in the garden too. I'm trying again to upload a shot of my new lasagna bed. I started it last fall. By time to plant this spring it wasn't as rotted as I'd like but most of the newspaper was decomposed. The cardboard was soft so I poked holes in it and put more compost and topsoil on top and planted anyway. We had a lot of snow melt and good spring rains, but haven't had over 2" of rainfall in the past two months. We're dry bones here. Sheryl is apparently located fairly near me but some parts of Middle Tennessee have had some good storms and rains. We're still waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting...

The new lasagna bed area
Thumb of 2011-08-16/SongofJoy/b598c1
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
[Last edited by SongofJoy - Aug 16, 2011 6:07 AM (+)]
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Name: Janice
Cape Cod, MA, USA (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums Tip Photographer
Daylilies Roses Orchids Miniature Gardening Lilies Irises
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sandnsea2
Aug 16, 2011 10:16 AM CST
This is a great thread!
I do seeds, seeds and more seeds.... all year long! Everywhere direct seeding. Love the British seed companies for varieties not available here. Chiltern is my current favorite.
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Heucheras Hellebores Container Gardener
Birds Region: New York Irises Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lilies
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ge1836
Aug 16, 2011 10:58 AM CST
I compost thats as frugal as I get. Itry to look for bargains and I collect poppy and Larkspur seeds
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Bulbs Cottage Gardener Roses Irises
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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gemini_sage
Aug 16, 2011 11:05 AM CST
I've used old windows and straw bales as cold frames too, it worked really well!

Tee, your lasagna garden looks great! Have y'all noticed how many worms show up right under the cardboard? If the worms are happy, I'm happy, LOL.

I really need to get some rain barrels. Our water rates are particularly high here, which is why I don't really water plants in the ground much once they're established. We've got a jacuzzi tub that I use at least once a week (a great help for an aching back), but being so cheap and conservative with resources I was feeling guilty about using it much. That is, till I got the bright idea to use my bath water for plants. Worked out great, and whenever all the plants were dry this winter it was a treat- "oooh, I get a soak today!".
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Cat Lover Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds
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SongofJoy
Aug 16, 2011 11:45 AM CST
Thanks, Neal.

I got big into direct sowing seeds this year myself, Janice, and I ususally don't clean up my beds until way after things have gone to seed. I am pleased with the results.

This shot kills two birds with one stone (no offense to bird lovers). This is the rain barrel and also shows the two old storm doors I'm salvaging. I'd like to remove the glass, attach sceening, wire mesh or perhaps material of some type like heavy burlap to hold moss and soil and then plant them. Those old doors are so heavy that I cannot lift them myself and can barely move them otherwise. Once I get the glass out, they should be much lighter. I had first thought of using them vertically, but now I'm thinking maybe horizontally because those bars would make it so easy to plant. Big Grin


Thumb of 2011-08-16/SongofJoy/76624a
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Janice
Cape Cod, MA, USA (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums Tip Photographer
Daylilies Roses Orchids Miniature Gardening Lilies Irises
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sandnsea2
Aug 16, 2011 3:08 PM CST
Looks great, Tee! Love the rain barrel and the cactus.
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cat Lover Heucheras Hellebores Container Gardener
Birds Region: New York Irises Garden Ideas: Master Level Avid Green Pages Reviewer Lilies
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ge1836
Aug 16, 2011 3:49 PM CST
I forgot about the rain barrell.
Its DD's but sometimes I use it.
50 Gallon trash can with spigit and overflow hose. I believe there is a plan for anotherone on a lower level.

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