Frugal gardening tips?

oceanna(7 WWA)May 22, 2011

What are your favorite money-saving gardening tips? Please share!

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memo(Zone 4B Nebraska)

Buy small and divide in three years.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 5:58PM
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Learn about composting and then compost every free thing you can find. No need to buy expensive, toxic, and polluting fertilizers.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 7:21PM
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oceanna(7 WWA)

MeMo, you remember how old each plant is? Wow. I can't even remember their names. I should make a map or something. Do you do that?

Luckygal, when I compost in my black roller bin, it comes out as mud. How come other people get dirt out of theirs and I don't? lol. I can't think of a way to spread that little glob of mud on my lawn. I do have a very unsophisticated area that is where I dump all my shredded paper, lawn clippings, and weeds. I'm scared to put out food scraps as we have racoons living nearby, and I don't want them in my yard when I let my dogs out to pee. I'm also scared of attracting ... ugh ... shiver ... rats. What am I missing?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 8:20PM
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Wintersow wintersow wintersow. Plain and simple saves hundreds of dollars.

When you wintersow, harvest your own seeds and trade trade trade. Plain and simple saves dozens of dollars. See the Round Robin seed trading forum.

Go to plant swaps in your area. Plain and simple saves a couple of hundred dollars, and you get some awesome plants at the same time you get rid of the ones which have over-run your garden. Your "weed" is another person's desire, honestly.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 8:25PM
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Yep - trading is the best. I was in a Dahlia tuber swap this spring. Traded 22 tubers from divides, and received 22 new all different Dahlias. At 7 bucks a dahlia, that was over $150.00 worth of tubers.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 9:25PM
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oceanna(7 WWA)

Deanna, and Mandolls, sounds great. But I think I don't know how. Do you look up each type of seed you want to collect and division you want to make on the internet to learn how? That's kind of scary new territory to me.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 9:47PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

fill in the "holes" in the garden with annuals from seed. You can find great seeds at the discount store.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 10:01PM
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There is a basic pattern to harvesting seeds: Let the plant flower. Leave the flower on there and let it turn brown. Eventually both the flower and the stem below the flower will both be brown. At this point the seed pod is usually ripe, and you can often see it splitting, or releasing, the seed on its own. It usually takes long because you are watching it, which is like watching a pot boil! I did have one seed, Chinese Delphinium, which ripened very quickly, to my surprise. But, it usually takes a few weeks. When the pod and the stem just below the pod (not the whole stem) are dry then cut the pod from the flower, remove it, break it open. At that point your viability (means how much of the seed is good) will be increased if you just put it on a plate and let the seeds dry for a couple of days. Then bag it up, put it into smaller bags when it's time to trade, and you're ready to go!

It really is the same basic pattern. If you're new, like I was two years ago, and fret terribly about what the seed and pods should look like, like I did two years ago, the go to the seed site ( for wonderful info and pictures about what the seeds and pods look like, etc. And, there is a seed saving forum on the web! Lady's Mantle seeds really had me confused last year. Ask on the forum!

Once you get over the initial stress of feeling like you don't know anything, seed saving is so easy! And, it ain't rocket science. Mother nature is very forgiving! For me now my biggest challenge is learning which plants put out sterile seeds, meaning they won't ever sprout. Those plants are few in number, so don't let them worry you!

As for dividing, Mother Nature is forgiving there, too. You know how those weeds never want to die? You'll be glad for that quality when you manhandle a loved plant and it survives! About any perennial can be divided just by splitting it at the roots, and each section survives. Some perennials have special rules, but they aren't life and death rules. I.e. divide peonies so each division has at least 5 "eyes", but that rule is only so it will flower the next year and not about it surviving. If it doesn't flower the next year, it will flower later! Dividing is pretty basic stuff. Some things, like siberian irises, seem to have concrete roots, but I've ripped 'em with gusto and they just don't die! Ask for more specific help with plants when you're ready to go.

It's just so easy! Two years ago I was totally new, and I stressed so much, but it really is easy.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 10:16PM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

i cut out aluminum plant tags from sprite cans, poke a hole and wire them onto a stick. you can engrave the name on the plain side with a pencil by placing a piece of an old sweatshirt under the tag when you write. the green side kind of goes with the garden colors. its just as good a method as buying the fancy garden shop tags that cost so much. min

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 10:23PM
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Oceanna, if your compost looks like black mud it is too wet and likely does not have the correct balance of 'greens' and 'browns'. Greens are nitrogen-rich materials such as vegetable peelings and Browns are carbon-rich materials such as shredded paper or dry leaves. You might try adding some (or more) of your shredded paper to the composter.

I used to compost by only using kitchen veggie waste and had the same thick black stuff which is still beneficial but difficult to deal with.

There is lots of info on the "Soil, Compost and Mulch forum" and a useful link below at that same forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ on the Soil forum

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 12:33AM
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Oceanna - sounds like you are relatively new to gardening. Just keep reading on Garden Web. There is so much useful information here, and so many helpful people. I found the site about a year and a half ago, and have learned so much. I had tried growing from seed indoors previously with very little luck (or skill), look at what I have waiting to get into the garden right now (and this is about half). I started most of them to early - but I am still learning.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 7:00AM
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I've not done this but I suggest a plant exchange.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 8:17AM
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oceanna(7 WWA)

Thanks so much for typing all that about seed saving and dividing. This is so helpful. I've bookmarked this thread to save your words for future reference. :)
I admire those of you who can wintersew successfully. After reading here, I tried it once. My plants lagged all season behind the store-bought plants of my neighbors. They were small, wimpy, bloomed late and not much, and/or didn't grow veggies. Please tell me why yours are good?

Girlgroupgirl, I've sometimes sewed seed directly outdoors and been successful, though most don't come up. I do have a healthy group of (I think it's) delphinium coming up right now that I seeded outdoors last year. That surprised me. Do you start all yours indoors?

oh I love that tip! I'm always forgetting the name of plants, and the plastic tags don't last a year.

thanks! I add my shredded paper to my compost pile, but never have added it to that little composter. I'm sure you're right that I'm shy on "browns." I'll try that. I'm so glad I asked you. Thanks for the great links, too. I just saved them. Looks like I have a lot of reading to do.

Yes I really am very new to gardening with knowledge and purpose -- though I've been yanking weeds and mowing since forever. Oh my stars you have a lot of plants ready to go! WOW. Is that a screened porch, or what? I'm so impressed! Yes you are so right about GW -- I learn so much here every day. Now, please tell me how did you accomplish what I'm seeing in that picture?

Janna, I think that could be cool, if I knew anything about what I might have to trade. lol

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 6:49PM
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My friend and I go to many plant sales(fundraiser/church/etc) and buy plants cheap. And also divid and share with each other.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 12:34AM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Save any good messages to your clippings or have it emailed to your own email address, then print it off or save it.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 4:49AM
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Oceania - yes that is a screened in porch, its perfect for hardening off my seedings, dappled sun and softened breezes.

Do some reading on the Growing from seed forum if you are interested in indoor starts. I have a garage converted into a studio/workshop, which turns into a growing space March through May. (it really helps get me through the tail end of these long WI winters) I did spend about 125.00 on lights (cheap fluorescent shop lights) this year and about 25.00 on seeds, but the lights will last for years and I have often spent more than that ordering plants on line to counteract my winter blues.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 6:55AM
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kiskin(5/6 in EU)

I second to Deanna: winter sowing is one of the best ways to create an entire garden with the cost of the seeds only!

And if you are impetient (like me), then buy plants and start taking cuttings to multiply them. You see the results the same year (if you take spring cuttings) and the beds get even better next year.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 2:32PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Milk jugs and soda bottles. Both can be used for starting seeds outside on the porch and both can be used for cloches. Our spring winds are brutal and incessant. In the past they caused me to lose valuable gardening time by stressing or killing the plants. Now I cloche the new plants until June.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 2:44PM
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I also get plants free from mere cuttings. I also divide plants like a pot of creeping thyme into 4-5 pieces. As these are fast growers, I know I would have large pieces by the end of the season.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 9:49PM
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sprout_wi(z4 WI)

I collect seeds from plants that are past their prime and have gone to seed. You'd be surprised how many you can find. Then I trade them on the seed swap forum. I have literally hundreds of different varieties of seeds. I envy those who are able to winter sow their seeds. I have tried maybe five or six years and nothing. All I seem to do is waste/kill seeds. Not very frugal of me, I guess.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 10:12PM
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oceanna(7 WWA)

Mandolls, you have a great setup, and you sure do get a lot of wonderful plants from what you're doing. I plan to get some grow lights. You're inspiring me.

Kiskin, and Janna, do you have any tips about propagating from cuttings?

Tishtosh, do you cloche them with soda bottles? Or in milk bottles? When it comes to winter sewing, would you put your plants on a second story deck, or on the ground? Would they get colder on the deck do you think?

Sprout, I got a vision of you/me slamming on the brakes, running up to some stranger's house and collecting seeds. Made me lol. I think you meant you got all the seeds from your own yard? So how do you sow your seeds? Grow lights indoors?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 4:29AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Oceanna, I cloche with both, going by what I have around. When I sow the seeds in the jugs/bottles, I put them on my side porch to protect them from the wind (otherwise they would end up at my neighbor's). Either the deck or ground would work well, the seeds germinate when they are ready to for their individual needs.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 12:48PM
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newbiehavinfun(7a - Southern NJ)


Do you have recommendations for how to get inexpensive light system parts? I have been pondering a growing system for next winter/early spring, but the prices I'm finding are exorbitant! Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 12:50PM
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