Groceries are often one of the family’s highest expenses. Growing your own food not only saves money, but it’s also one of the healthiest ways to feed your family. We’ve compiled a list of cheap garden ideas to help you create your own backyard garden even when you are on a tight budget.
Think of the lawn that you have been mowing every two weeks. Mowing is such a boring activity and that is why you are literally pushing yourself to do it every time. Now, try to imagine yourself harvesting some produce from that same space in your yard. Now that would be a lot of fun, right?
Cut Down on Your Grocery Bills with Creative Gardening Ideas
Starting your own vegetable garden in your backyard is not only a creative challenge but one that can teach practicality to the whole family.
Imagine how much money you can save and what valuable lessons you can pass on to your kids when you start harvesting juicy greens from your home rather than going to the grocery to buy them.
Here are some of the vegetables that you can grow in the home garden to save money:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Red Bell Peppers
- Lettuce, Spinach & Other Leafy Greens
Peas are a favorite for the early spring vegetable garden. They are quick to grow and fun for the kids to eat right from the garden.
Growing vegetables in the home garden is fairly straightforward even if you are relatively new to gardening. Basic information is provided on the back of the seed packet, letting you know when to plant, how deep to plant the seeds, and when you can expect your first harvest.
It’s also nice to compare notes with other gardeners in your neighborhood. Almost all gardeners are happy to share their own tips for growing and it can be fun to compare notes about the different plants you grow. They may also have some additional cheap gardening ideas they use to save money in the garden.
Finding Cheap Vegetable Seeds
The first thing you have to find out is where to find cheap vegetable seeds. You can, of course, pick up a few packets of veggie seeds at your local garden store or from one of the many catalogs like Gurney’s Seeds or online retailers such as Burpee.com. The Urban Farmer has a list of Discount Seeds available each year when they have a surplus crop. Johnny’s Selected Seeds also has a Sale page, where many vegetable seeds are offered at more than half off.
When you are gardening on a budget, consider trading seeds with fellow veggie growers. Most seed packets have more seeds than you can reasonably grow in a few years, so why not partner up others in your community, then each purchase just 1 or 2 packets each?
You can also find local seed swaps through your state’s gardening extension office. The Farmer’s Almanac has a Seed Swapping forum where you can post or reply to someone looking to trade seeds.
Finally, the GardenWeb has a Seed Exchange Section where you can find even more gardeners who want to participate in a seed exchange program. On the Garden Web, you can also find folks that offer free seeds in return for a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). Most avid growers have more than enough seeds to share & enjoy contributing to the cause.
Buying seeds will only be a start-up investment. When your garden is up and running, you can soon start to harvest your own seeds. You can swap seeds with a neighbor or co-worker who is also into gardening. And, there are seed swapping websites that you can look into.
Save More Money with These DIY Tips
1. Make your own Containers
One of the most exciting challenges for inexpensive garden ideas is coming up with your own containers. What makes a great DIY garden container?
The answer is very simple: anything that can hold soil, is relatively waterproof and you can punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage. The activity of creating DIY garden containers is so exciting, especially for kids. And you’ll be surprised as to how creative they can get.
Garden containers could be anything from pails that you are no longer using, empty one-liter water or soda bottles, coffee cans, wood boxes, and more. Garage sales are great places to find create containers. Just be sure to drill holes underneath to provide for water drainage.
2. Mix your own Potting Soil
Another challenging and practical gardening activity is mixing your own potting soil. It’s not just any kind of soil. To grow and harvest healthy and nutritious vegetables, the seeds have to be set on good quality soil from where they will get their fresh nutrients needed for growth.
You’ll need the following ingredients and tools to mix your own potting soil:
- Large Bucket or Empty Trash Can
- Pitchfork or shovel for mixing
- 1 Parts sphagnum peat moss, compost, and/or rotted manure
- 1 Part Garden Loam or Compost – see this article for DIY Compost ideas
- 1 Part coarse sand
The instructions are easy. Just mix all 3 ingredients in a large bucket or other container & blend well. This will save you a ton of money at the garden centers!
Here’s a great video – with a demonstration on how to make the above recipe for your own outdoor potting mix.
3. Freezing your Harvest
At harvest time, you will be in a situation where you have too many vegetables for your family’s consumption. The easiest way to preserve your harvest is by freezing.
Now, freezing does not only entail putting them in a freezer. Vegetables have to be blanched for 3 to 5 minutes. Blanching involves soaking the vegetables in boiling water and immediately submerging them in ice-cold water. This stops vegetables from losing their texture and many of their nutrients. The chilled vegetables should be packed in freezer bags or other freezer-safe containers.
A vacuum sealer is another great way to keep your vegetables in the freezer & keep them fresh longer. Vegetables typically keep about 8 months in the freezer. If you seal them first, they will keep up to 2 or 3 years. That’s quite a difference!
Ideas for Landscaping on a Budget
If you’d like to improve your back or front yard without spending any money, here are a few landscaping ideas that won’t cost you any money.
- Create a border with tree stumps. If you have a down tree in your yard, instead of hiring a company to haul it away, you can cut the trunk into sections and use them to line the back yard or garden bed.
- Recycle old wooden pallets. You can find free wooden pallets from many retail, or shipping stores. My UPS store gave me a few pallets that I used to turn into a gardening tool rack by simply painting them and standing them up on the edge. Just ask the manager of the store if they ever have any extra pallets. More than likely they will be happy to have you take them away.
- Find used garden tools and furniture for free. Craigslist and FreeCycle.org are two good places to find free items. A few other ideas to find free tools for the garden are Facebook and community groups.
- Invite friends over for a garden makeover. Let’s face it landscaping can be hard work. But it’s much more fun with a friend. Why not make a plan to work on a new project together. Come up with a few DIY ideas for both yards, vote on the options, then work on one for each yard together. Start with the easy ideas that can be done in a day for best results. This way you both get to give your garden a boost and have a lot of fun doing it!
- Transplant your favorite plants or flowers to a new area. If you have perennial plants growing in the garden, they often spread out, growing new plants in the same area. Many also need to be divided. Dig up a few daisy clumps and transplant them to a new space is an easy way to improve a new corner of the garden without spending any money.
Summary of Our Cheap Garden Ideas
You may or may not be in a tight squeeze right now but, it’s always a good thing to plan for the future. Treat yourself to an adventure and teach your kids all about practical living by challenging yourself to come up with some nice but cheap garden ideas and make the most of your outdoor space.