Gardening has become one of my very favorite hobbies in the last few years. Notice, I say "hobby", not "mega money making venture", as I am not what one would call a "master gardener". (except in my own head)
For me, gardening is relaxing and very rewarding. Seeing something start from a tiny little seed and turn into a huge, robust plant, with delicious fruit is a truly remarkable feeling, kind of like raising a child, in one short season.
Speaking of the kids; gardening can be a great way for kids to start learning about responsibility. Plants and veggies need daily care, as would a pet. Thank goodness if little Johnny kills your bean plant, Animal Control won't be knocking on your door, you just plant more. No harm, no foul.
A common misconception is that gardening is a very costly hobby, (for me) it is not. I'm sure it can be, but you can have a perfectly nice garden, without spending a crap ton of money.
Here are a few ways I have found to save some "green" on your garden, this year...
#1. Make your own bed.
Buying a raised bed from the store can be a bit expensive, build your own raised garden bed and save the money for important stuff like soil. The one below is a simple design, but you could get fancy, if you want to and frame out the sides.
#2. Make your own compost!
I have heard tale of people who buy their compost from a store. Why would you do that, when you can make it at home, for FREE! Compost is nothing more than kitchen scraps, a little bit of dirt to start it off, a bucket with a lid on it and a few worms. I save everything from onion skins and butts to pepper peels, rinds of oranges, apple cores. Anything that is not meat or eggs goes in the bucket.
#3. Source your own worms.
Yes, that means dig them up from your own yard. Worms are beneficial for the garden and for the compost bucket (and for fishing) and can be found in almost any back yard or dirt pile, if you know when and where to look. Right after a good rain is the best time to find them, as they are close to the top of the soil. If you can't wait for it to rain, you could heavily saturate with a garden hose and sit back and wait. (If you're not "digging" the idea of touching the worms, you could always get the kids to do it)
#4. Acquire free plants & seeds.
For me, the biggest cost, in my garden is usually the plants or seeds themselves. Yes, they have tons of seeds at the discount store, but I had zero luck with them and you have no idea of the history of the seeds. Are they old, are they gmo, will they even germinate? Instead of worrying about all those variables, I make sure to get really good plants or seeds. There are several ways to do this, but my favorite is guilt. Yep, good old fashioned guilt. Every year, I guilt my kids into buying me plants for Mother's Day and sometimes my birthday. This year, I got 3 varieties of tomatoes and a habanero pepper plant.
If you don't have any family you can guilt, no worries, you can still get free seeds from various sources. The least likely place I have found seeds: the library. Yes, I said the library. I found a ton of amazing flower seeds at my library seed exchange. I got some morning glories, some cosmos, some milkweed (for the butterflies) and a few wildflower mix packs too. Check with your local library and see if they have a seed exchange, if not, start one. Here's a very inclusive list of seed libraries, worldwide.
No matter how you get your garden started, the goal is to have a beautiful place to relax and if you get some yummy fruits of your labor, that's a plus. Throw some seeds in the ground, sit back and let the magic happen. Happy gardening!
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