At the growers market in my local town yesterday, there was plenty of competition for the beautiful rainbow trout, the smoked garlic and the freshest looking tomatoes. Yet the biggest competition of all happened nowhere near all the food stalls, it was the nursery stall where people waited patiently in line for half an hour of so to by punnets of thyme and basil, buy their fresh tomato plants, invest in chilli bushes and investigate the camellia stalks. Gardening is officially in. So whether you’re an old hat or new to the whole business, here’s how you can save some money in the garden and, even, save money because of the garden! Inspired by Annie Spiegelman.
There’s really less need for fertiliser once you’ve set up a decent composting system. I keep a small bucket in the kitchen for all my scraps, and they head into a compost bin or my worm farm. It’s simple, cheap and saves significant outlay on store-bought fertiliser.
Divide And Conquer
Now is the time to do it. Head online and grab some tips about propagating your plants or talk to the kindly people at your local nursery. If you’re at a friend’s place and like some of their plants, why not take a cutting? It saves on money investing in new plants, and is always a good indication that the plant can survive in your climate.
The better your plants are fertilised (that wonderful compost again!), the hardier they’ll be and less prone to submitting to pests and disease. There are also lots of good homespun tips for protecting your plants, like surrounding them with coffee grind so the snails leave them be.
Whatever you use- whether grass cuttings, sawdust, bark or any of the other options- mulching your land once a year with 2-3 inches of the stuff will help retain the water in the ground in summer (a helpful hint here in Oz) and keep the plants warm in winter (a helpful hint for those of us crazy enough to live on a mountain). You’ll have stronger plants and a healthier garden.
Think Like A Plant
That’s right. You want your plants to be happy and healthy? Get in their shoes. Do they have unimpeded space to grow their roots, or is their soil full of stones and packed too tightly to breathe? Have they got any elbow room from their neighbouring plants. It’s tempting to crowd them all in together, but they’ve got better chance of success if you plant them further apart and cull when needed.
How Can A Garden Save You Money?
There has been a lot made of the money saving potential of a veggie garden. That’s a possibility, especially when it comes to growing foods like tomatoes and strawberries that are relatively easy to grow and yet cost the earth. I think the money-saving potential is more likely to appear in the enjoyment of the hobby and it’s relative inexpensiveness. A well-maintained garden never hurts a house’s value and it certainly can do wonders for our state of mind. I bought a tomato plant and a much loved chilli plant, so fingers crossed! Happy gardening.