So you want to start a garden but you don’t have a lot of money. No big deal. Really. My first garden in 2007 was made using boxes. Seriously. It was the most rag-tag garden I’ve ever seen, but it worked. Of course, it helped that we had a lot of rain that year and a Texas flood, but it really was one of my best years of gardening. Based on that year, here are 5 cheap gardening ideas.

#1. Start your garden with seeds.

Instead of purchasing already established plants, buy seed packets. They are much cheaper and allow you to get more bang for your buck as you can use them for several years if you don’t use all the seeds in the first year.

It’s even better if you can buy open-pollinated seeds, which means you can save the seeds and use them year after year.

#2. Use cheap containers.

So you don’t have a lot of space or can’t afford to till a new garden area. That’s okay. My first garden was made with boxes and Christmas colored baskets from Hobby Lobby (got them for $.25 each during a clearance). I bought them out. See the picture below? The big box on the right is from a new toilet. My office was renovating the bathrooms at the time and the contractor saved me the box from the new toilet. Voila…I now had a box to grow potatoes. I’ve also used an old cast iron tub and even a small grill. Anything that can hold soil and drain water is a good container (don’t use anything that’s held chemicals, though).

5 cheap gardening ideas

#3. Start small.

No one said you had to create a garden on a massive scale. Start small and see what grows well in your area. Use what you have available at the time. Only have 3 containers? That’s cool. Plant in those containers. Add on as you have money.

#4. Start composting.

Compost is the BEST way to amend your soil. Start one today and by the following spring you should have some good composted soil to add to your garden. It’ll be full of rich nutrients that help plants to grow. And the best thing is that it’s FREE.

Collect all your vegetable scraps in a small container in the kitchen and as you chop fruits or vegetables, crack eggs, etc., add those things to the container (veggie scraps, egg shells, etc). Throw it out in your designated compost area and you’re good to go. Turn the compost every few weeks and it’ll start to break down into good, rich soil.

Don’t add any meat scraps or things that contain sugar.

You can easily put together a bin made out of pallets, chicken wire, or something similar. Scrounge around and see what you can find.

#5. Find a manure source.

Cow, chicken, horse, goat, or sheep manure is great for gardens. Make sure it’s fully composted though as fresh manure can burn plants…plus it’s just gross.

Check Craigslist or maybe make friends with a local farmer to see if you can have some of their manure. We had a neighbor who had cows that were housed next door to us. They always fed in one area and over time the soil was thick in that area with composted manure. Every now and then they’d push it out of the way into a big pile. It was black gold…perfect for gardening.

Composted manure can be just as good for gardens as regular compost. It’s perfect for amending soils and can be had for cheap (sometimes even for free) if you can find a good source. Check around and see what you can find.


Check out these other posts on gardening for tons of informational nuggets.

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