Did you know that you can grow a garden virtually anywhere you live?
So if you don’t have acres upon acres of land, don’t think that you have to throw in the gardening towel. If you live in an apartment, you can probably container garden. If you live in the suburbs, you can raise a small raised garden bed.
But if you do live where you have a small amount of acreage or a large amount of acreage, then you can definitely grow a garden.
Yet, even if you can find a way to garden, what if your budget is super tight and you aren’t sure you can afford everything you need to create a garden?
Then I say, keep reading because I have lots of helpful information to help you create a productive garden on a shoestring budget.
Gardening on a Budget
Here is how to garden on a budget:
1. DIY Compost
When we first started growing our own food, I don’t mind telling you it was out of necessity. We were broke with 3 kids and struggling to keep healthy food on the table.
So we began to garden. Yet, when you go to the local nursery or big box store, you quickly think, “I can’t afford a garden.”
Yes, I know. Lots of people have turned gardening into this ridiculously expensive hobby where it is filled with $10 small bags of blood meal and décor items that are priced to be budget busters.
Well, you don’t have to give up your dream of a garden just because you can’t afford those items. I can’t afford them either. That is why I make most of my own gardening items, starting with compost.
Compost is great to place in your garden when it is in the early planting stages.
However, if you go to purchase it from the store, you’ll soon find that they are very proud of this item.
But instead of paying a premium price for compost, why not just utilize what you already have? Here is a great list of items you might use every day that will compost well.
So you now have all of the tools you need to learn how to create your compost and keep your budget intact.
2. Don’t Forget the Tea
You can easily make your own compost bin that will spin. My husband created one out of 3 metal poles and a plastic barrel.
First, he put 2 metal poles into the ground.
Second, he put a metal pole through the barrel.
Finally, he attached all of the poles so the barrel would spin above the ground.
Then we would dump our compost into the barrels and let them spin a little every day. With this method, a liquid is produced in the compost.
So we didn’t waste the liquid. Instead, we put a bucket under our spinning compost barrel to catch it.
Then we would pour it on our garden. This is called compost tea and is a great addition to any garden. Part of functioning on a budget is learning to waste nothing. This is one example of that.
3. Find Your Own Seeds
Next, you’ll want to learn how to find your own seeds to plant or where to look to find seeds that are very inexpensive.
So I’ve already covered a lot of ideas on where and how to find seeds for (almost) free, but I will recap a few of the main points.
First, if you want to save your own seeds, then eat the foods that you’d like to grow. Just be careful not to toss out the seeds.
Instead, let them dry on a paper plate or in a dehydrator. Once they are thoroughly dried, then you can store them in a plastic zip bag.
Next, you can actually purchase seeds very inexpensively. MIGardener is a great site that we use pretty regularly.
In fact, they offer most seeds for about 99 cents a pack which will give you a large harvest, or at least that is what we found in our experience.
Finally, I like to shop at Dollar General when the gardening season is closing out. I have been known to buy a pack of seeds for about a nickel or less with their discounts.
So I’m not sure if every Dollar General does this, but it is definitely worth checking out since we have stocked up on seeds by using this method.
4. Start Your Own Plants
If you plant a garden, and you are on a tight budget, then you will soon find that growing plants from seeds is much less expensive than purchasing seedlings.
Again, I’ve written a tutorial on how to grow your own plants from seed.
But the idea is to nurture the seeds yourself until they blossom into small plants. This takes some work but is definitely worth it because of the amount of money saved.
Then you harden the plants off (meaning you gradually allow them to adjust to outdoor temperatures), before planting them in your garden.
From there, hopefully, your garden will thrive with some additional TLC.
5. Muscles Over Equipment
If you want to buy lots of gardening equipment it is definitely available. There are tillers, tractors, and lots of handheld equipment too.
But if you are working on a budget, then you’ll want to focus more on muscle power than power equipment.
But leave the rest of the stuff on the store shelf. Those tools are created for making gardening easier, not cheaper.
Which means, yes, gardening on a budget can be back-breaking work. It can leave your arms tired too.
However, it is a great source of exercise and will help you to produce healthy food without costing you an arm and a leg.
6. DIY Fertilizer
If you have chickens, now is the time to put them to good use.
Again, we’ve created a really handy tutorial to show you how to take your chickens’ manure and compost it into a really nice garden fertilizer.
But a quick overview of the process is, you apply mulch to your chicken coop. The chickens will poop in the mulch and then scratch around in it as well. This will cause their waste to compost.
Then you’ll create a screen and sift the chicken poop mulch through it. The fine dirt that you sift out is what you want to apply to your garden. This will be nourishing to your plants and cost you virtually nothing.
7. Buy Cheap Grow Lights
The first year we tried to grow our own plants from seed, we were so excited. That lasted all of about ten seconds once we got to the store.
We were shocked to find out how expensive grow lights are. Obviously, we knew we couldn’t afford them.
Then my husband did a little research and found out that regular shop lights work just as well as grow lights do.
So we purchased shop lights at a much cheaper price and have used them to grow our own seedlings ever since.
Which leads me back to your budget. If your budget is tight or you just don’t want to spend the money to purchase grow lights, then seriously consider purchasing the shop lights instead and see what you think.
8. Container Garden on the Cheap
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that even if you lived in an apartment, you could still probably garden using container gardening.
But purchasing containers can get a little expensive. That is if you stick with flower pots and other decorative features.
Again, when you are on a budget, you have to go for what works instead of a what always looks the best.
So in our first year of container gardening, we were on a tight budget. My husband drove by a man’s house that had tons of paint cans in his yard. They were clean and empty. My husband just stopped by and asked if he could have a few.
Thankfully, the man was looking to get rid of them so he gave my husband as many as he could fit in his vehicle.
From that point forward, we grew many different things in those empty buckets. They worked really well. I also got over my fear of picking up stuff people were setting out for the garbage. You’d be surprised how often people just set things out to the curb because they have no use for them.
That is exactly how I ended up with some beautiful terra cotta pots I now container garden in.
So don’t be afraid to upcycle someone’s trash for your purpose. It is cheaper and quite functional.
9. Harvest Your Own Water
When you garden, it is pretty likely you will have a dry season. This means that your water bill (if you have one) could go up from having to water your garden.
Even though we use well water, my husband pays very close attention to not waste any water.
So we actually harvest rainwater and use it to water our garden and our animals too. You can harvest rainwater using these different methods.
But our favorite method is just putting a barrel under a roof (like on our chicken coop.) Then we attach a gutter so the water will run right into the barrel.
From there, my husband does a little plumbing work so you can hook a hose up to the barrels. Then we use the hoses like soaker hoses in order to water our garden.
It takes some work, but it is a great way to save water while caring for your garden.
10. Dig Your Own or Buy in Bulk
One of the most expensive parts of gardening is the dirt when you get started. If you do container gardening or a raised garden bed, then you have to fill them with dirt.
Well, if you go to the store, they like to charge a premium price for dirt. Don’t buy into that. You can either go dig your own dirt wherever you have permission, or you can talk to your local nursery about buying dirt in bulk.
In a worst-case scenario, buy actual cow poop. They sell it at most big box stores, and it is usually very inexpensive. Your plants will grow wonderfully in it, and you don’t have to pay a higher price for other dirt.
So those are my tips for gardening on a budget. I’ve used each of these points myself and have found you can save a lot of money and create a lush and beautiful garden without the added price tag.
But now I want to hear from you. Do you garden on a tight budget? If so, how do you do it? If you are looking to garden a little cheaper this year, in what areas are you struggling to cut costs?
We love hearing from you. Just leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.