rief scroll through the archives here at The Hot Mess Press will let you know what an advocate I am for homegrown foods. I’m also passionate about foraging and implementing natural means for health remedies, cleaners, etc. Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies, but it can get expensive. Even if your garden is chemical free (which I hope it is!), seeds, plants, organic fertilizers and other supplies can be costly. Today, I’m going to share four tips to help you be more frugal when it’s time to expand your garden.
We humans waste so many resources without even realizing it half the time. Today’s gardening tips will also help you make better use of what you have. It’s similar to the age-old debate as to whether it’s better to purchase a home that already exists or build one. There are several ways to prepare for next year’s garden and expand what you have without making any new purchases!
Barter or trade to expand your garden
I believe that excessive consumerism has been a plague in our modern society. We often discard things that are still usable or buy new things we don’t really need, just for convenience. For instance (and I’m guilty of this myself), a shower curtain liner can be washed and cleaned. However, most people toss a liner into the trash when it starts to get cruddy at the bottom and buy a new one. If you have numerous people sharing a bathroom in your household, you probably go through several shower liners in a year. Is it a huge expense? Not likely, but the point remains — it’s wasteful. Bartering and trading is a simple way to expand your garden without making any new purchases!
Do you have a thriving strawberry patch while your friend has asparagus that’s doing well? Trade plants, and you both get a new perennial crop! Do you have more seeds than you need for a specific crop? Trade someone for a bunch of seeds for another crop you’d like to grow. Do you have a talent or skill you can use to barter for garden plants? Trading and bartering are fun, and it’s a great way to expand your garden without spending money!
Expand your garden by saving seeds from year to year
The initial purchase for heirloom seeds or plants grown from heirloom seeds tends to be a bit more pricey than hybrid varieties. However, with hybrid seeds, you have to repeat the purchase every year. With heirlooms, it’s a one-time deal! Heirloom seeds come from open-pollinated plants that can trace their lineage back to a parent plant. You can collect seeds from heirloom plants to grow the following year. The plants you produce will have the same characteristics as the parent plant. If you use hybrid seeds and plants for gardening, you might be wondering why you simply can’t do the same with them. The answer is complex and has to do with the sciences of F-1 hybridization.
In simple terms, however, if you save seeds from a hybrid plant, the crop you produce will not be pure. The characteristics of the new plant will be weakened and not true to the two strongest parent plants that were cross-pollinated in isolation to develop the hybrid. In short, this means the new plant won’t be as vigorous as the previous plant. And, each time you do it, the subsequent crop will be even weaker. There are ways to use seeds from hybridized plants, but it’s logical to assume that it’s beyond the skill and understanding of the average home gardener. Collecting heirloom seeds is a much better option to expand your garden for free! You can save and plant seeds from heirloom plants perpetually! They will always be true to the parent plant in color, strength, taste, etc.
You can also save seeds from flowers to expand your garden! How many times do we let marigolds, zinnia and other flower heads die on their stems? Perhaps you pick them off, but do you save them to re-plant the next year? Saving seeds for re-planting is an easy way to make gardening less expensive!
Divide a thriving flower, plant or herb crop
I have a thriving crop of Black-eyes Susans, Spearmint and Echinacea in my yard and I didn’t pay a penny for any of it! About 15 years ago, a friend of mine was clearing out overgrowth in her garden. She was dividing her crops and replanting them in other locations around her yard. She also was giving many of the dividings away! I happily accepted the gift and the small bunches of plants she gave me that day have grown into thriving crops. I have “paid it forward” by dividing my plants from time to time to give away to others, as well!
If you have a bare spot where you’d like to plant something in your yard, don’t rush out to buy anything. Look around the rest of your yard first to see if you have a flower or plant that is thriving enough so that you can divide it. Carefully dig up a bunch and plant that in your bare spot! This enables you to expand your garden without spending any money!
Take single cuttings from trees, flowers, herbs and more
You can propagate many types of plants, flowers and herbs by taking a small cutting. Do a little research first so that you know exactly where to make the cut. Once you have a snipping off the plant you want to re-grow, you place it in a glass of water. Every few days, you replace the water in the glass with fresh water that is room temperature. Eventually, your cutting will sprout roots! Ta da! You have a new plant for free! How long it takes for roots to grow depends on the specific type of plant. Could be weeks. Might be longer. Don’t give up on it.
When the roots are approximately four or five inches long, your cutting is ready to go into soil. This is a great, inexpensive way to get more house plants. If you don’t have house plants, you should ask a friend for some cuttings. Having live plants in the house is good for your health!
A recap of gardening tips to expand your crops without spending money
Here’s a list of the four tips provided in this post to help you get more flowers, herbs,greenery and vegetable crops without spending a tone of money on gardening:
- Trade or barter for seeds and plants.
- Collect heirloom seeds for replanting.
- Divide a thriving crop or get a small bunch of something from a friend who’s crop has become overgrown.
- Snip cuttings from plants, as lavender, a lilac tree, mint or a house plant.
If you’ve never tried gardening but would like to, you can find many articles about it in our archives!