It got me thinking about what I could do to reduce our spending costs this year. Afterall, you don't need a lot of money to grow your own food.
Here are some things we did this year to reduce our garden spending.
1. Trade seeds with other gardeners
We only bought $61 in seeds and perennial plants this year. While this sounds like a lot of money, to be truthful, $35 of that budget was spent on horseradish roots. Since horseradish is a perennial, it'll grow year after year, so that $35 will pay for itself! I am so excited about growing horseradish this year, and it's a good idea to buy perennials because it comes back, so the cost is only once. However, I don't need that many of the same type of seeds, so I traded them with other gardeners. Some seed packets contain 200 seeds, I definitely do not have space for 200 of the same plant. Therefore, I posted on this blog about seed exchanges and on Facebook and Twitter. I got a lot of great responses, and was able to trade my seeds for Canteloupe Melon, Thyme, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, Peppers, Eggplant, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Carrots, Okra, Brussel Sprouts, and Cauliflower. I also made my own seed packets!
Mike the Gardener has a seed of the month club. You can sign-up for membership for pennies a day, and every month, Mike will send you a variety of seeds. It's like your birthday everyday. And speaking of birthdays, Mike the Gardener also has a birthday club. It's free to sign-up and on your birthday, he'll send you two free seeds. This is what the hubs got on his birthday last week. Mike the Gardener sent him scallions and spinach.
We decided this year to recycle as many food containers as we can to use as seedling pots. Don't buy plant pots when you can get them for free! Here's my seed starting table. You see all those little white containers? They are all pudding containers that my husband takes to work. Yes, he eats a lot of pudding. LOL You'll also see mixed in butter containers, yogurt containers, and even paper towel rolls which are great to use as "pots" since they biodegrade into the ground.
I can't tell you enough how easy composting is and how beneficial it is to your plants. We made this free compost bin out of recycled wooden pallets. We compost all of the organic materials in our house, egg shells, coffee grounds, veggie scraps, you name it. And we have no shortage of leaves around the property. A few months of composting green and browns produces this black gold, we save money by not buying compost at the store. Gorgeous isn't it? It's so dark and rich! The plants love it.
5. Install a Rain Barrel
Last year, we spent a ridiculous amount of money watering the plants with the garden hose. So we installed 2 rain barrels. Our first water bill was $300 for 3 months, and with the rain barrel installed we reduced our water bill to $130. Not only are we saving on the water bill, we are conserving water! The cost of the barrels has more than paid for itself in the amount of money we saved on our water bills. Not to mention how great we feel for helping the environment by collecting water that is free from the sky to feed our plants.
6. Sign-Up for Contests / Giveaways
Around the gardening blogosphere, it's been all the rage to have "contests & giveaways". If the contest is giving away a gardening product that I believe in, I'll enter as long as it doesn't ask for any personal information. Through a contest giveaway, I won these organic fungicides and pesticides, and this canning book, which is a great way to preserve our harvests!
And speaking of giveaways, Jan @ Thanks for Today Blog is hosting a contest giveaway, called, the "Gardeners' Sustainable Living Project" to promote sustainable living and Earth Day. She is giving away a selection of prizes to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle, such as a rain barrel, a composter, gardening tools, gardening magazines, seeds, a whole LOT of gardening related stuff.
Go here to check it out: http://thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/2011/03/gardeners-sustainable-living-2011-win.html
This year, for the first time, I'm keeping track with how much we are spending on garden versus how much produce we grow to compare and see if we saved money by growing as much produce as possible, in hopes that we don't grow the $64 tomato ever again!