If you’re a keen gardener when spring arrives, you’re probably aware just how easy it is to spend a lot on new plants, possibly way more than what you’d bargained for. Yet, if you do a lot of the work yourself, getting ready for a spring garden can be a wonderful weekly activity from planting to blooming, and is a pleasant way to welcome in the new season without having to spend a fortune.
1. Start with a budget. If you know what your budget allowance for the garden is from the very beginning, you will have something to stick to and if there is anything left over, you can reward yourself with something extra. If you don’t have a budget, you will probably overspend, so don’t skip this essential step.
2. Use your own seed. Keep seeds back from the previous season from flowers and vegetables that grew in your garden. Allow the seeds to dry (to prevent mildew over winter) and place in separate bags, well labeled. Store somewhere that is warm and dry over winter. As spring gets closer, plant the seeds in seedling trays and keep indoors near a window that gets a lot of sunshine. Water and tend to them regularly and you will get a head start on the new season’s plantings.
- If you haven’t managed to do this from last season, ask your neighbors or family members who garden for spare seeds that they saved from their gardens.
- Look for discount days at your local garden center or hardware store to get seeds at a very good price.
3. Strike cuttings. If you fancy the plants that are growing in someone else’s garden, ask if you can take cuttings from them to strike your own. Many gardeners are very pleased to be asked this and will let you collect a few cuttings.
- Botanical gardens often have mid-winter to early spring pruning clear outs in rose gardens, etc. Phone up to ask when this happening and to see whether members of the public can get cuttings from these tidy-ups (just avoid picking out anything that is diseased or rotten).
4. Wait until frost season has cleared. Once the likelihood of frost has cleared, take the seedlings outdoors and continue watering them in their trays. Do this for a week or two, to help them transition from the indoor environment to the outdoor one.
- The budget-conscious gardener won’t rush this step, otherwise you’ll have to find more seedlings to replace the ones you’ve lost.
5. Create a garden plan on paper. In the same way that a shopping list helps you to curtail overspending in the store, a garden plan helps you to avoid over-purchasing of whims when you go to the garden center. Draw in the flowers, the vegetables, the ornamentals, the decorations, etc. that you’d like in your garden this year, in their exact places. This plan will guide you on buying “just enough” and no more. And don’t forget to take account of plants that you’re already growing yourself.
6. Keep an eye on garden sales in catalogs. When the sales are on, this is an excellent time to buy the garden sale items in bulk. Naturally, only buy what you will use but have an eye for a good bargain, including for updating/replacing, and so forth of new garden tools, hoses, netting, and other essentials.
- Only buy in bulk if it will be used and is a good price.
- Don’t go overboard on gimmicky things like plastic garden decorations. They clutter the garden and may not be made from very good materials. Put your money toward plants and gardening tools you really need instead.
7. Buy plants that have been reduced due to lack of adequate attention or overstocking. In some garden centers, there will be a section of plants that haven’t been adequately cared for, or that have not been selling as well as the store owner would like, going for a song. If you’ve a green thumb and you can identify the likelihood of successfully salvaging any of the poorer plants back to health, these finds can make incredible bargains.
- Be sure to tend to the weaker plants from the moment you arrive home. Give them better soil, keep them away from wind and heat to begin with, give them a tidy up and a nutritious feed. Remember to water them regularly until they start to thrive again.
- Spindly, too-tall tomato plants are a true bargain. Repot them and bury a good bit of the spindly stems. They will grow roots out of those stems into the new soil level and have a better root ball than the prettier ones that sold for full price.
8. Make your own garden decorations. Rather than buying decorative items for the garden, recycle and reuse household items to create new and amazing garden sculptures, feature pieces, water features, etc. Be as imaginative as you’d like and rope the kids in to help too. They can have great fun making a dinosaur garden with their toys, a fairy garden with their fairies, an animal garden for their pets, etc. Following are some more suggestions for you to make on a budget:
- Make your own bird feeder
- Create your own mini Zen garden
- Use rhododendrons to make a rhododendron decoration
- Turn a part of your garden into a faerie garden.
9. Keep it simple. A budget conscious garden is a simple one that is pretty, effective, useful, and pleasant all at once. If you can’t afford a greenhouse to keep tropical flowers, don’t aim for that. Visit the local gardens instead and see theirs and think about how much extra work is involved anyway! And there is nothing more appealing than a well-weeded, well tended garden, whatever your budget.
10. Be careful of cheap garden items, from tools to decorations. They may seem like a bargain but if they break, they need replacing and they can also become hazards if they break when working with them. Also, cheap decorations may contain hazardous parts for pets and infants, and they might be made from toxic paint or other dangerous components that your family and your garden can do without being exposed to.
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