Vegetable gardening increased 19 percent last season as 43 million folks chose it as a hobby that also saves money. Then the newcomers went to the store and were shocked to find all the expensive gardening paraphernalia. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Vegetable gardening increased 19 percent last season as 43 million folks chose it as a hobby that also saves money.
Then the newcomers went to the store and were shocked to find all the expensive gardening paraphernalia. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Minimum for tools are a shovel, rake, hoe and a trowel. You could buy these for $120, or do what I do — hit the garage sales.
Everybody with a house has gardening tools. Almost every garage sale has tools. I’d say the average price of the quartet above is way less than $20.
Now that we have the tools, a watering system tempts. It can run in the many hundreds of dollars. Or do as my friend Marty Wenger does. She collects empty gallon milk jugs, punches a little hole in the bottom and fills them with water. This forms a drip-irrigation system, one jug per plant.
Marty fills the jugs every other week instead of having to water daily. She spray-painted them green to blend in and look less like a landfill. It works nicely.
Next we go to the fertilizer aisle. Plant food has exploded in price, almost as fast as oil. We know the concerns about adding powerful chemicals to our soil.
A compost heap is the solution. It’s a free source of the best stuff you can put into your soil. Don’t be put off by the $250 prices on compost tumblers. You can make your own heap bin for almost free.
Mine is four wooden pallets my neighbor found for me. Check with local companies that may have piles out back awaiting disposal. They may be happy to recycle them.
I wired mine into a box, the front being hinged. The open slats allow the air to circulate. I’ve been composting for more than 20 years and have excellent soil, all for free. (Since I compost leaves and yard wastes, I save on trash bags.) Fencing wire also makes a good heap.
Plants growing in composted gardens are healthier. They can fend off diseases and insects. I haven’t bought insecticide in years.
I do reserve some cash for plants. Four packs of veggies are about $1.65. You could get 10 times that by buying seeds, but then you’d have to start them. That means buying soil and containers and baby-sitting them for three months. If they die off, you have nothing.
I find transplants more reliable and well worth the price. I can buy what I need with no waste. If I start seeds, they are for plants I cannot find alive.
You do not need space for a garden. Find a neighbor with a good location. In exchange for the space, offer to share your produce with them. This was my first garden. I made a lot of mistakes, but that was not one of them.
Jim Hillibish writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.