1. Grow what you eat
Whether you buy materials from a farmer’s market, local farmers or chain hardware stores, here’s everything you need to know to get your garden growing on a budget.
While this may seem like common sense, it’s easy to get carried away when buying seeds and plants for your garden. Realistically, if you don’t eat a certain vegetable or herb now (kohlrabi and purslane, we’re looking at you), you probably won’t eat it even if you grow it. Save yourself time and money by only buying seeds and plants that you know you and your family will eat.
2. Buy seeds early in the year
According to Celeste Longacre, gardening expert and author of Celeste’s Garden Delights, you’ll find the biggest selection of seeds and the best deals in spring. “Many catalogues offer discounts if you buy the seeds before a certain date,” Longacre says. “Companies can also run out of specific varieties so you’ll want to get your order right in.” But you don’t need to plant seeds for every vegetable you intend to eat in the coming months.
3. Buy gardening equipment in autumn
Most stores try to clear out their gardening supplies in autumn. You’ll find gardening equipment – like shovels, spades, rakes and buckets – at heavily discounted prices that you can use for next year’s garden. Another great idea is to source good quality second-hand items.
4. Go in on seeds with your friends
It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you spend, the more you save, thanks to lower prices for higher volume. “Many companies offer deals if you spend a certain amount of money,” says Longacre. “If you get together with friends on your order, you can save.” If agreeing on seeds is a challenge in your friend circle, consider other uses for your yield.
5. Plant crops thicker than they actually grow
You can plant crops like beets, carrots, onions, lettuce, basil and rocket closer together than traditionally prescribed, according Longacre. For example, instead of planting seeds 25mm apart, plant them 13mm apart. This way you can thin them out and eat the thinnings while the crop continues growing.
6. Hit up a local farm's harvest sale
The harvest sale is basically the equivalent of a half-yearly or anniversary sale, so you can expect to find amazing deals. Harvest sales usually happen between late March and early May, with the majority being held in April. The earlier in the harvest season you go, the more options you’ll have when it comes to crops, but if you wait longer into May, you’re more likely to nab lower prices, as farmers are trying to unload crops for winter.
7. Invest in quality equipment
Spending a little more on quality equipment will be worth it in the long run. Not only will you avoid having to re-buy the same gear each year, but you’re also be less likely to deal with stuff breaking mid-season. Equipment worth spending a little extra on: weeders, shears and pitchforks. But no need to buy fancy or expensive pots and planters. Regular, plastic ones will do.
8. Tend to your garden regularly
There will be days when crawling on your hands and knees through the dirt doesn’t sound all too appealing, but doing just that is necessary in order to keep your garden healthy. If you get behind on watering, your plants will die, and you’ll have to spend more on new seeds. If you don’t treat a bug invasion right away, it’ll only get worse and cause more damage, both to your plants and your pockets. “The hardest part of gardening is that things need to be done when they need to be done, not when you feel like doing it,” says Longacre.
9. Ask about inventory
A lot of stores offer discounted prices for products that they no longer sell, but still have in back stock. Just make sure you ask why they’ve pulled the product before buying because you don’t want to end up with a mower that doesn’t run or seeds that won’t grow in your climate. “Go to their websites and look for discontinued or clearance items,” advises Longacre.
10. Plant at the right time
If you plant your crops too early, they will die. And if you pick your crops too late, they will also die. Timing is everything when it comes to planting your garden. You simply need to choose the right produce for the season and do a bit of research on the climate in your area before selecting when to plant your seeds.