Gardening is in. I should have thought so when Jamie Durie came on the scene, all biceps and easy chatter, but now I’m sure of it. While not everyone is throwing off the evening dress and grabbing the trowel, there seems to be a rather significant swing in interest towards all things green.
And not without good reason. For a lot of people, it’s a major source of relaxation. Others, it’s an interest they can share with others. And, for a lot of people, it’s a frugal decision. Planting a vegetable garden in particular has become incredibly popular, both as a reaction towards skyrocketing costs of fresh produce and quality concerns. An article in the Huffington Post suggested that starting a vegetable garden, purely for financial return, was not wise due to the time investment. Yet, the writer mentioned the benefits of fresh vegetables, the reduced need for other ingredients, the improved landscape from the house and the importance to be outside and active.
There are, of course, initial set up costs for the start-up gardener but there’s no need for the costs to put too much strain on your wallet. I am the queen of the New Hobby Purchase (before I had ever baked one loaf of bread, I was equipped with a bread stone and dough scraper) but a veggie garden can be set up with little more than some seeds, good will and hard work. Here’s how to do it cheaply and save big money.
A Small Plot
You might have visions of pumpkins as far as the eye can see, but the reality is that we would all quickly lose interest if we had to spend hours a day, harvesting, covering, de-bugging. Start small; maybe with one veggie or a small plot. That way you can see if it is your cup of tea and build from there.
Because we’re not gardeners, chances are it’ll take a while to learn what happens in each season. One piece of advice I read suggested planting seeds in early spring. Buying plants is far more expensive, and should only be done if you miss the early spring window.
Use Recycled Materials
If keen on a raised bed garden, use materials that are easily accessible to do it. A collection of solid stones from another part of the garden, or old planks you have lying around. If none of that is available, consider whether you really need to spend the money, or whether a flat bed garden will suffice.
Improve Your Soil
Move grass cuttings, and any extra cuttings you end up with, into piles at the back of the yard. Combine with compost materials, and turn occasionally. Within a period of weeks to months, you’ll be able to improve the quality of the soil into which you’re planting, saving on expensive topsoil.
Use Cuttings Or Seedlings
Before you invest in loads of seedlings and cuttings for your garden, ask around. Anyone with good plants is generally happy to give a cutting to a new gardener, and you’ll have a plant of good stock and save money on planting.
What To Plant
Experts suggest the biggest savings are in tomatoes, potatoes and salad greens. I would suggest the taste alone (and the pride of a good harvest) would make it worthwhile. Bon appetit!