Growing your own garden is a smart way to save money on delicious, fresh produce, but you don’t need to be born with a green thumb to harvest a fruitful bounty.
You also don’t need to spend huge sums on plants, gardening supplies, or hired landscapers either – despite what some nurseries or big-box stores might tell you.
From free seeds and compost to low-cost ways to care for your plants, here are some ways to continue gardening for dirt cheap.
Join a Community Garden
Community gardens are a popular option for people with limited space, particularly in urban areas. You get a small plot of land usually for low annual membership dues, and you can save money thanks to shared tools, free compost, classes, and advice from fellow gardeners.
The American Community Gardening Association website can help you find a garden. If the waitlist is really long at the gardens in your area or there isn’t one close by, the site offers resources and advice on starting your own.
Try Container Gardening
Container gardening is another low-cost option if space is scarce. Whether growing in pots on your porch, a window box, or maybe a creative vertical garden on a wall, container gardening cuts down on costs because you don’t have to use as much fertilizer, water, and other resources.
You can often create one using free or found objects, such as wooden pallets and boxes. It’s a great way to develop your gardening skills with minimal investment. Plus, the plants will brighten up your home.
Split the Costs
By connecting with other gardeners, you can cut costs tremendously. Together, you can buy in bulk and save on fertilizer, compost, plants, and other supplies.
You can host plant swaps and seed exchanges so you can diversify your garden without spending money. You can also share tools, equipment, and other resources.
To find your gardening community, ask friends, post on social media, or see if there’s already a gardening club in your area.
Test and Improve Your Soil
Healthy soil is the ultimate key to a healthy garden. You can do some simple at-home tests to find out how much sand, silt, or clay is in your soil. Inexpensive soil tests are also available at garden stores.
If you want a deeper look, most local extension programs offer free or inexpensive testing that examines pH levels, salinity, and the overall biological composition of your soil. After testing your soil, you can find out what to add to create a productive garden.
GROW PLANTS FROM SEED
Rather than buying seedlings, you can start your garden from seed for much less money, and in many cases for free. Most seed companies offer free seed catalogs to order by mail. If you order very early in the season, you can usually get discounts.
One seed packet is usually more than enough for one home gardener for a season, so this is a great time to go in together with your gardening pals.
Find out if there is a local seed lending library where you can “check out” seeds for free if you bring back seeds at the end of the season.