Are you serious about saving money in your garden? Want to grow more plants without it costing the earth? There are some clever ways you can grow your garden for free.
Frugal gardening is about ‘thinking outside the square.’ With some basic skills and knowledge, there’s no need to spend a cent at the nursery to grow your edible or ornamental garden!
Save money by learning some simple skills, developing neighbourly connections and working with nature for an abundant garden.
Five Money Saving Tips for New Plants
1. Grow more plants with local or open-pollinated seed
The best seed is free from your own garden. Locally grown varieties from gardening friends and neighbours are a cheap way to start your garden. Even growing plants from commercial seeds is ten times cheaper than buying seedlings!
You can save a ‘packet’ (sorry for the pun!) by saving your own seed. That’s an average saving of several dollars for each variety! A skill worth learning.
Or, join a seed saving group. You’ll get some seeds for free in return for helping process seeds. It’s fun and even better, often accompanied by caffeine and food!
If you do want to buy seed to get started, check out the best places to source open-pollinated varieties and learn why this is important.
2. Propagate from plants you already have in your garden
Want to grow more plants? You don’t need horticultural skills to do this. It’s so easy! If you haven’t given this a go before, I’d encourage you to start by taking a cutting. Or divide any overgrown clumping plant that’s in need of a haircut.
If you need to prune a shrub or tree you’d like more of, it’s the perfect time to strike cuttings as well. If you visit an open garden or know a keen gardener, ask them when the best time of year is to take cuttings for what you’d like to grow in your area.
You can increase your success rate with a few other techniques like:
- Planting into sterile soil.
- Taking cuttings at the best time during the month.
- Dipping cuttings into a seaweed (kelp) solution or some honey to stimulate root growth (no need to buy expensive chemical powders & rooting hormones).
- Adequate warmth.
Watch this video to see how simple it is to take herb cuttings.
3. Swap or trade with a friend or neighbour
You can save even more by sharing your surplus and adding new varieties to your garden. I talk to one of my neighbours regularly and we share cuttings and seeds. One of the bonuses of sharing is it’s an opportunity to learn about a new plant variety and how to grow it in your own area.
If extra plants self-sow in my garden, I pot these up and sell or trade them for something I want to grow. So it’s a great way to earn an income too!
4. Allow plants to flower and self–seed
This is one of the most economical ways to grow your garden for free. Just let plants do what comes naturally! For example, many edible varieties of veggies, herbs and perennials will go to flower, attracting pollinators and forming seed heads where the flowers used to be.
5. Bury your food scraps
This is one of the easiest ways to allow edible seedlings to sprout and raise themselves. Instead of adding your household food waste to your compost or worm farm, rotate digging them into a little pocket in your garden bed. I sprinkle with a little bokashi (fermented grain) so the microbes are already present to start breaking this food down quickly.
“Just so long as the soil is moist, seeds from fruit, herbs or veggies will germinate at the right time and you’ll have freebies for your garden.”
The kitchen scraps provide food for the worms. The castings (manure) they leave behind create the perfect humus environment for seeds to germinate. I’ve had passionfruit, mangoes, avocado, herbs and heaps of veggies all volunteer to grow and it hasn’t cost me time or money!
Learn how to Propagate
I am a big believer in learning for free so use the knowledge base in your local library. There are loads of useful practical books that can help you start growing your own plants for free.
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