Building a garden from scratch is an expensive venture. Soil, planters, seeds, live plants, fertilizer and more figure into the expense.
It doesn’t have to be a budget-breaker, though. By using simple techniques, you can build your garden (both vegetable and/or ornamental) and save money at the same time.
Instead of buying soil bag by bag by bag, order soil from a local nursery and save. Move the soil to the place you need it by using a shovel and wheelbarrow. Give yourself time and pay attention to safety so you don’t get hurt. Save even more by two or three trusted friends buying in bulk, having all the soil delivered to one place and everyone helps everyone move the soil.
I ordered 5 cubic yards delivered in a dump truck in Feb 09. I paid $275, far less than if I had purchased dozens and dozens of bags containing topsoil. Soon I’ll be ordering 8 cubic yards (a full truckload) and save even more.
Save money on seeds by gathering gardening friends and ordering as a group. When the seeds arrive, divide the seeds among the group. This saves money on shipping and handling charges, and often bulk seeds are less expensive than individual packets.
Join or start a gardening club in your neighborhood or among your friends. Share the cost of soil delivery; help each other move soil, dig garden patches, plant, etc. This saves tons of money on hiring individuals to do it for you and saves on sore backs by having more help. You may find you can teach about certain plants and learn from others who may have more experience than you in gardening.
Once or twice a year some plants need to be divided. Sharing these divided plants can save a truckload of money at the gardening center. Some folks may have decided the “gotta-have-it” plant this year doesn’t work in their garden but someone else may want it. Allowing that person to dig it up properly and fill in the space or trade something for it saves both parties money. You may also obtain varieties of plants the garden center no longer carries. One rule to agree to plants have to be healthy and bug free before the trade.
Allow friends who live in apartments to join the club. They can agree to share costs and labor and enjoy part of the harvest. Apartment dwellers can also grow some plants in hangers over the winter that other gardens might not be able to.
Make sure your garden club rules are fair. If I grow a squash no one else wants, no one but me should pay for the seeds. At harvest time, friends can trade something they’ve grown separately for a squash or two. It does make for an interesting garden meeting.
Watch the neighborhood. Is someone removing a tree that you might like to have? Perhaps if you agree to split the cost of a live removal and fill in the hole with topsoil, they’ll often let you have the tree. The tree removal service may also offer a discount for delivery to your home. You can plant the tree, or hire them to do the job. Voila! You have a tree at a huge discount.
Additional points to keep in mind:
• When joining a gardening club, understand all the rules to ensure you have the most fun.
• When starting a gardening club, draft a set of rules that everyone agrees to and enforce them. This ensures everyone has fun and no hurt feelings.
• Garden produce is fresh and saves money at the store. You often can eat things the store doesn’t sell.
• When in a gardening club where produce is shared, make sure everyone agrees on what insect and disease controls are used so no one has a sensitivity.
Once you start saving, you may find more plants for your garden. That’s the fun part. Your friends can join in; everyone can save money and enjoy the harvest!