Tag Archives: cheap garden ideas

Have You Started Any Seeds Yet?

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Last year, I had spring fever so bad that I was putting seeds in the oven to help them germinate. Remember that story?

Well, this year I stuck to the plan and waited until Valentine’s Day to start my heat-lovers like tomatoes.

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The tomatoes germinated well, the dill and cilantro are doing great, and I even have some zinnias.

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I like to use inexpensive methods of labeling seedlings, and this time I had a yogurt container on hand.

Will these labels last forever?

No, but I really just need them to last a few weeks or until I can get the plants into the garden.

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I actually have daffodils this year, and they make me so happy! I love tulips and crocuses too, but North Florida is not cold enough for them.

I have already started planting my green beans, wax beans, and UFO squash. Pickling cucumbers have been planted with some dill.  Homemade pickles are the best!!!

Hopefully my ‘Royal Burgundy’ beans will be in the ground soon. I have never grown purple beans, and figured this year would be a great year to try them. Have you had them? What did you think?

If you are new to starting seeds, you may want to check out my posts on the basics of starting seeds, DIY plant labels, and how to prepare your seedlings for transplant.

Also, if you haven’t started a compost pile yet, my post Coffee to Compost- Literally! is a good place to get information.

Let’s get growing!

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How to Save Okra Seeds

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I love to save money in my garden. If your okra did well for you this year, consider leaving a plant or two to set seed for next year.

Saving your own seed means that not only are you saving money, but that you are also growing a variety that has already proven itself in your area.

All you have to do is resist the temptation to harvest the pods for my easy no-slime okra recipe, and wait for them to turn brown.

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When the pods begin to split, remove them from the plant. Do you see the brown seeds in the picture?

Store in a cool, dry place for next year. Remember to label them!

Don’t be like me, who has about a hundred tomato seeds from last season and was so sure she would remember what variety they were that she didn’t label them. I’m pretty sure they are ‘Roma’ tomato seeds; I hope I’m right.

Now you can use the money saved to buy a new variety to try, like purple carrots or yellow tomatoes!

Do you save seeds, or does the process intimidate you?

Propagating Torenia (Wishbone Flower) from Cuttings – More Free Plants!

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Torenia

Florida summers can be so hard on flowering plants. By mid-July, my tomato and cucumber plants are declining rapidly, succumbing to old age and oppressive humidity. Torenia continues to bloom heartily, even in North Florida’s hot and humid summers. It is easy to propagate too.

I am going to use the same technique that I have used on mint, basil, and tomato cuttings: rooting in water.

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Cleanly remove some cuttings, them remove the leaves that will be below the water or soil line. Leaves submerged in the water will decompose. Yuck.

Torenia rooted in water

Soon you will see white roots begin to grow. Most likely the roots will first appear at the nodes, or places where the leaves or branches grew from the main stalk.
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Once they have a good start on a root system, they can be planted in a pot of homemade compost or potting soil. There you are-new plant for free!

Baby the new plant for a few days, then you can put it in your garden.

For more tutorials on how to get free plants, you can read my Buy 2, Get 3 Free Tomato Plants post, or Have a Mint? Make Another Mint! You can also read about plant division in my post about sharing oregano with my brother.

Of course, a favorite money-saving post is How I Get Free Seeds.

Gardening is as expensive or as inexpensive as you make it.

What about you? Have you ever divided or rooted a plant before? Be careful, it can be addictive!

Be watching for an update on the monster tomato plant from the Florida raised bed garden and for pictures of some deadly pearly studs. Yes, some accessories can kill you! Any guesses about what the deadly pearly studs can be? Some of you may have seen them in your garden. Do you need another hint or can some of you gardeners already guess what they are?

Have a Mint? Make another Mint!

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Most of my herbs are for savory dishes, but one of my herbs pairs especially well with sweet. Mint is a wonderful herb to have in your backyard garden. I love to crush a few leaves to release the clean, fresh scent. It makes a refreshing hot tea on its own, and pairs nicely with iced tea, like in my refreshing mint-infused sweet tea. If you have a mint plant, but would like another; or you want to give one to a friend, mint is easy to propagate.

You only need a few cuttings of fresh mint. If you want to start a mint plant for yourself, you can get cuttings from a friend. You could even use cuttings purchased from the fresh herb section of a grocery store.

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mint cuttings

Cut off the leaves so that the bottom few inches are bare. Leaves below the water may begin to rot and create a nasty, smelly situation.

Place the mint stems in water.

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You should begin to see little white roots begin to grow within about two weeks. You may have some that will not root for you, but most should grow roots.

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Once you have multiple roots a few inches long, you can pot them into some of your homemade compost or some purchased potting soil. Leave it in partial shade for a few days to harden it off ( or you can place it on the bottom shelf of your snazzy pallet potting bench).

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You now have another pot of mint for eating or giving!

If you are brave, you can skip the whole rooting in water process and put the cuttings directly in soil. I think it is a bit more risky, but it can save you a bit of effort.

If you make another mint, what would you do with it? Make more tea or give it away?

Have you used this process for another plant? It’s really easy to comment on my blog and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Money-Saving Garden Tips

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No grocery tomato can compete with a sun-ripened garden tomato. However, if that tomato cost you $32 to grow, was it worth it?

I believe that growing your own produce should not be an expensive endeavor. Gardening can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want it to be. If you are wanting to start a garden but think it will be too expensive, look for ways to save money gardening. When thinking about how and where to save money, consider the essentials of a garden.

Gardens really just need a place, some plants, a trowel, good soil, and adequate water.

If you are just starting to garden, don’t buy a ton of equipment to get a site prepared. The cheapest way to prepare a grassy or weeded spot is to cover your future garden site with cardboard and leaves in the fall, let them smother the grass and weeds, then remove them and plant your crops in the weedless spot in the spring. If you have to till the ground, try to rent a tiller. Even better, find a friend who also wants to garden and split the rental fee. Raised beds are nice too(see some posts here and an update here) but try to find scrap wood before buying new.

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As far as plants are concerned, it is far less expensive to start your own plants from seed. Starting seeds is free if you can get seeds from gardening friends who have extras. I have an entire post on How I Get Free Seeds, be sure to read it! If you already have some seeds, you may be able to get new seeds that you want by trading with a friend. I also buy seeds in bulk from Chaver’s in Milton. Many plants can also be grown from seeds gathered from produce you buy at the grocery store. I saved seeds from a tomatillo, but you can save seeds from many other vegetables and fruits. Sometimes results may vary, but it is a very inexpensive way to get started. Another way to get plants for free is through propagation- like in my B2G3 Free Tomato post.

Of course, there was the time that I turned $.10 into $54, that was pretty awesome too.

Fancy tools are pretty, but to start a garden all you really have to own is a trowel. A few more helpful tools that I use often are a shovel, rake, hoe, and pitchfork.

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If you already have rich soil, you can plant right in that. For most of us though, some type of amendment is needed. The best soil additive is compost. You can make your own from yard and kitchen scraps. If you are new to composting, I have simple instructions in my post, Coffee to Compost-Literally!

Some think that they can just add fertilizer without nourishing the soil. Think of the soil as a living organism; you wouldn’t just feed a junk food addict some vitamins and expect them alone to fix his health, would you? If you have unhealthy soil, a blast of fertilizer will not provide lasting results.

Cover crops are a good way to suppress weeds during the heat of the summer. I found a nitrogen-fixing cover crop for just 75 cents!

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Finally, your plants will need water. You can greatly reduce water usage by planting varieties suited to your area and by planting them at the right time. I also like to try to plant seeds before a rainstorm so God can water them. Mulching, in addition to reducing competition from weeds, can help to keep valuable moisture from evaporating.

If you want to garden, don’t let money be an issue. Start small, and only buy items as you find a need. You can start a garden inexpensively using these frugal garden tips. How do you save money in your garden? Please share your tips in the comments-we can all learn from each other!