There are many reasons why someone might decide to start their own vegetable garden. Perhaps they want to have more control over where their food comes from, or maybe they just love the idea of having fresh-from-the-garden produce available to them all the time. One common reason why someone might decide to plant their own veggies is to save money on their grocery bill. Knowing a few gardening tracks can go a long way.
Gardening, however, can be an expensive activity, and if it ends up costing more than the produce would’ve cost you to buy at the grocery store, the work outweighs the benefits. The following are some gardening tricks to keep your costs low so you can reap both the physical and financial rewards of growing your own vegetable garden:
1. Recycle Everything
Before you run out and purchase brand new items, think about how you can repurpose things you already have for use in your garden. For example, if you are planning on starting some seedlings in pots, instead of buying pots from the store, use items around your house like newspaper, vitamin pill bottles, juice and milk bottles. Be sure to wash them thoroughly and disinfect them before use, and always make sure to put some drainage holes in the bottom.
Do you have some spices in your cupboard that you bought for that one meal, that one time, and never used again? Spices like cinnamon, turmeric, clove, and mustard seed actually contain antifungal and antibacterial properties, and when sprinkled on top of the soil to prevent mold growth on house plants.
You can also reuse last year’s seeds if you have them. Before planting, pre-germinate them in water to see if they’re still active. This way, you can determine how much seed you actually have to purchase brand-new this year.
Are you constantly filling your garbage can with used coffee grounds? Instead, add them to your soil. They are rich in nitrogen and will gradually break down to nourish your plants. You can even water your plants with old coffee and tea. It is best to use organic coffee and tea for this, and works well for plants that love acidic soil.
Instead of purchasing plant markers, use twelve-inch, straight branches from willow, poplar, birch, or dogwood. Peel off a strip of the bark, and write the name directly on the wood. They will likely last longer than clay markers, anyways .
2. Choose your Plant Varieties Wisely
Depending on where you live, your growing season may be longer or shorter. Seed catalogs will tell you how long it will take until a specific variety of vegetable is ready to harvest, and so you should choose varieties that will reach maturity in the amount of time you have.
For example, some cabbage varieties will be ready in 65 days, while others can take as long as 110 days. If you live in an area with a shorter growing season, you should choose to plant varieties that will be ready within that time so you can actually enjoy the fruits of your labor.
You should also have a plan for what you’re going to do with your harvest when it is ready. It is likely that many of your vegetables will be ready to be picked around the same time in August, so make sure you know what you’re going to do with them so they don’t go to waste. Pickling, freezing, and canning excess veggies is a great way to continue enjoying your garden’s spoils into the winter .
3. Compost, Compost, Compost
You can make a compost “tea” using weeds, manure, garden waste, and veggie scraps, which can then be applied to your garden to return micronutrients to the soil and ensure rapid growth throughout the entire season . You can learn to do that using this helpful video.
4. Beware of the Critters
Some insects are very beneficial to your garden, and their presence should be encouraged. Bees, spiders, ladybugs, and even wasps can all help to keep your garden free of insects that might destroy your plants.
You may also want to cover your growing beds with a light row cover to protect them from insects like butterflies that may want to lay eggs on your plants, which can end up destroying them.
If you have a problem with slugs, you can also place a small bowl in an indentation in your garden and pour a little beer in it. This will attract the slugs, which you can then remove from your garden .
5. Plan Your Garden Well
Always make sure you space your plants apart properly to allow for maximum growth so that you get the most out of your garden. Although raised beds tend to be the more popular choice among home gardeners, if you live in an area where water is scarce, you should plant your garden in a hollow so that the available water goes to the roots.
If you live in an area where there is a large deer population, you may also want to consider building a tall fence around your garden, or else you’ll end up feeding the wildlife more than yourself. Finally, don’t forget to try planting some flowers, like marigolds or other companion plants in and amongst your vegetables which can discourage pests, and help to attract beneficial insects to your garden .
Keep Reading: Should Every School Have a Year-Round Gardening Program?
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