Gardening On A Budget
By Sana Athar
Spring has nearly sprung and with it brings the question: to plant or not to plant. Oftentimes people think of gardening as an expensive hobby but I have found it to be a relaxing activity that makes me feel good. It’s exciting to watch your plants grow and when it starts to fruit, it’s almost the same joy as holding a newborn in your arms.
We follow up on our gardening series with tips and tricks for gardening on a budget to help save money while keeping plants in perfect condition.
There are many ways to use recycled containers in garden; as watering can, for growing seed or as planter. Here are some things you can use in gardening.
Milk jugs: as a planter or watering can
Plastic food container with lid: as green house or for seed starting
Paper or plastic cups: really good to start seed in. Just make sure to make some holes through a pin or pencil for drainage.
Egg Cartons: A personal favourite. I tear up both sides then line one side with plastic wrap and put the other one on it and fill it with my compost and seed starter. It can be planted directly in garden because of being compost friendly.
Egg shells: I haven’t used this as of yet but people use egg shell as seed starter pot.
Shredded paper, toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes: all can be crushed up and its pulp can be used as seedling starter.
Yogurt cups: as seed pot
Seed trays: sold at dollar stores
Plastic watering bottle: cut in half and use as pot
Aluminum containers: use as planters
Aluminum tray: I use it as seed pot tray. Cases of soda and canned products can also be used as tray to hold all seed pots
Instead of overspending on mulch, we can use recycled paper, cardboard boards, and newspaper as mulch. Grass clipping are excellent mulch as well. You can also save on mulch and potting soil by getting discount bags that have tears in them. Don’t miss any sale.
Although seed are sold at dollar stores as well, you can try harvesting your own to save some more money.
For fleshy vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons, pick them when they are fully ripe. Scoop out the seeds, along with the gel surrounding them. Put the seeds and gel in a glass jar with some water. Stir or swirl the mixture twice a day. The mixture will ferment and the seeds should sink to the bottom within five days. Pour off the liquid, rinse the seeds and spread them out to dry on paper towels.
Saving pepper seeds is even easier. Allow some fruits to stay on the plants until they become fully ripe and start to wrinkle. Remove the seeds from the peppers and spread them out to dry.
Beans and peas need to be left on the vine until the pods are dry and crackly.
Corn should also be left to dry on the stalk until the kernels dent.
Potatoes (with eyes) can be half dipped in water held by tooth picks just above water. It grows its roots in a month.
Onion and garlic can be grown from their bulb. Some are grown in water until they grow new greens and some are harvested for their seed and re-grown again.
Not every avocado pit will produce roots, so your best bet is to try two or three pits at once. Leaves will appear in few weeks.
For cabbage, place leftover base and leaves in a bowl and add a small amount of water in the bottom. When roots and new leaves begin to appear, transplant the cabbage into a garden.
The next option is to trade plants and seeds or share with neighbours.
Buying perennials will save money in long run. Because it will grow by itself year after year. Although they cost more in beginning but with proper care it will be ease of mind to see them grow every year. Examples of some of such plants are tulips, lilies, roses, daisy, hydrangea, cornflower and lavender among others.
Weed and Bug Killer
DIY weed or bug killer use safe ingredients and there are many ideas you can find online. Some people use sugar mixed with cinnamon and chili powder which feeds your soil and kills weeds. This mix also keeps bugs at bay. People also use eggshells around the base of the plants and edge of the garden to keep snails and slugs away.
Vinegar can also kill weeds be careful though, it kills grass too.
Boiling water and bleach can also be used as an effective weed killer.
DY fertilizers are easy to make at home.
Banana peel is excellent fertilizers just chop into small pieces and voila! Put in your pot. It provides Potassium.
Coffee and tea grounds: Acid-loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas love them due to its high nitrogen content.
Dead leaves, glass clippings and weed are high in nitrogen and an excellent fertilizer.
Epsom salt are rich in magnesium .
Egg shells are great for providing calcium to plants. Wash them first, and then crush. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers.
Remember, gardening is a labour of love, it takes time and patience but the results are truly worth the wait.
About the author:
Sana Athar is a stay at home mom to her three little angels. She lives in Milton, Ontario where she works on her passions: gardening and cooking for family and friends. An MBBS from Karachi, Pakistan, Sana is currently working on obtaining her license to be able to practice medicine in Canada.