Confessions of a cheap AND lazy gardener

curls(Z3 AB)May 27, 2010

Hi; I'm curls and not only am I a cheapskate I'm also lazy...

I buy my plants at Costco, Superstore, Canadian Tire etc, but RARELY at the nursery - always suckered in by sales too! When i buy bulbs i pick the one with the most per package :)

I know the types of plants I have, but i have NO idea on their variety! I'm always amazed when people are looking for a very specific cultivar! I just check the zone and i give it a go!

So don't think i'm not interested - mostly i lurk - but I have no plants that need special care - I may have the cultivar you're looking for, but I doubt it and I'd never know - oh and most of my yard is shady and dry (and i'm too cheap to use tap water unless desperate) so my photos are less than impressive, but i do like looking at everyone elses!!!!

Thanks for sharing all your gardening stories - i learn a lot :)

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How refreshing!

In this hyper materialistic competitive world, it's rare for someone to admit being cheap AND lazy all in one breath. =:)

I'm sometimes cheap, and sometimes lazy, but Never at the same time, LOL !

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 11:53PM
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Nothing wrong with buying stuff at big box stores, it's just that you have about two weeks to get stuff before it all dies :)

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 1:40AM
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xaroline(zone 3 Calgary)

Sometimes I am a spend thrift when it comes to gardening, but often I am cheap. I like getting seeds in swaps and my latest bargain was 5 peony roots at Walmart for $9.97----all look healthy. They just do not have fancy names.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 8:35AM
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bdgardener(3 AB)

You are not alone, things need to be strong to survive in my garden. It seems the more I take care of things the great chance it has of dieing. I lost two roses this year, that have been in for five years. It was the first year I covered them and that they had snow cover for the whole winter. Go figure. I bought that same package of peonies last year and all but one survived our weird winter. Here's to bargain hunting. cheryl

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 10:21AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

For me trading and growing seeds instead of buying plants is my cheapness.

I do like to know the names of my plants, it's an aesthetic thing and probably a little OCD of me. It bothers me that I have often got mislabeled plants from cheapy bulbs. Like the pastel mix tulips that came up red & white stripes and dark purple. Or my Bowl of Beauty peony which is not.

Oh and weeding with Roundup is my laziness.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 10:25PM
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weeper_11(2b SK)

Ha, yes, cheapness is a necessity for me. My first "greenhouse" stop is always superstore, early in the season when their shipment first comes in. To be honest, their supertunias, etc. are just as healthy as everyone the beginning. And they are so much cheaper. Plus, I feel it is my duty to rescue as many plants from the neglect and grisly murder that awaits them....:D

As for lazyness..I second northspruce about the weeding with Roundup. I have a lot of rock pathways that are sort of shady and don't grow plants between the cracks well, but the weeds have no problem - so I spray. And I edge my flower bed with a spade and then carefully spray out anything else that I can't get out in front of my raised bed. Because quack grass is the evil vegetation of hell and needs to be eradicated!! Plus, if I try to pull it out, I always end up just ripping it off and hurting my hands simultaneously...

I also agree with northspruce about knowing the cultivar name....definitely OCD with me. I keep a little notebook where I cut out and tape all the plant tags and write all the information down. And with certain plants I have this NEED to collect as many as possible, so then I've got to be able to differentiate between them. The garden is one place I can flex my control-freak muscles and my husband won't mind. ;)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 8:50AM
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bdgardener(3 AB)

There is know way I could keep up without round up. I have not bought a plant yet this year. Started them all from seed. But did almost have a real disaster with my tomatoes. Beware, I bought a different bag of soil, (organic like always) unfortunately I recycled the bag so I can warn you all about the name (stupid me, stick to what you know) opened the bag and it smelled very cedary (checked the label very carefully, it was for bedding and seedling transplants). It burned my young transplants, lost probably 30 or so plants. I start lots thank god, cause there was no way to do them all in one sitting. I will be much more careful next year. Though you should know. Cheryl

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 10:53AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Cheryl - I hear you about bad potting soil. I have bought many different brands of starter mix and the only one I have always had consistency from is the giant Sunshine cubes. Some of the bad soil - ugh, I've had bark, large chunks of wood, pigweed seeds (regularly!), sewage stench, liverworts, mold, fungus gnats, green moss already growing inside, you name it. I've also had really good soil from almost every brand. All I ask is consistency, is that so much?

Oh, BTW, I am all about buying cheap flats of annuals too. If you can see them blooming and they're healthy and you know they're right, heck why not?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 11:05AM
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curls(Z3 AB)

Glad i'm not completely alone!

i have some kind of hardy lavender that i bought i think at zellers years ago that i'd love more of, but so far no luck! Perhaps it's some kind of sterile hybrid :( sometimes i DO wish i'd kept the tags :) Likely though I simply haven't made the proper effort to grow it from seed :)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 11:24AM
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At my house it is survival of the fittest. I never keep tags. Well some I do but forget what exact plant they are for. Did put some in with daylilies but the dogs pulled them out. No planning in my mish mash of a yard' Buy it and then find a place to stick it. Sometimes it works and sometimes NOT.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 11:54AM
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bemidjigreen(z2 MN)

I admit to being a plant addict and will pay the bucks for a specific cultivar, but this year I did adopt the lazy part. I didn't start anything from seed--which I have been doing since I started gardening 5 years ago. I figured the cost in water, time and electricity would make up for the expense. I also weeded with roundup this year---the battle against grass entering my bed just got to be too much for my back. Also, I decided to just use miraclegro rather than my usually fish emulsion and alfalfa tea--tied of hauling stinky buckets to the plants.

I think not starting from seed was a bad decision--I had a heck of time finding decide looking annuals--ended up paying more than I thought was reasonable for things like lobelia and pansies. I also was not thrilled with the local offerings for tomatoes and cukes. I will definitely start from seed next year.

However, the roundup and miraclegro have worked quite nice and might be my new habit!


    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 8:27AM
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My best cheapness adventure was the day we went to Canadian Tire, and they had what was left of their bedding plants on sale for 10 cents a pack! Yes, 10 cents. I got several boxes of kelsey onions, celery, and some flowers. I sold those onions at the farmer's market, and made back my investment in about 30 seconds! I planted the celery in my flower bed, in a spot where water runs off the roof, and grew some of the best celery I've ever seen.

I don't think I'll ever beat that deal again, but it was a lot of fun.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 12:59PM
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I filled up the low spots in my new garden with old potting soil that the previous owner left and my pots from last year.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 2:30PM
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I wanted to bring this back up now winter is here and the garden can't take ALL our time. I'm lazy and frugal as hell, but I still wind up spending too much money and working more than I ought on my garden.... I scratch me head every year! I avoid roundup by using old carpet as mulch (doesn't look as bad as it sounds, I swear). And you can't get cheaper than a fundraising hospice plant sale. Got awesome Kiska Raspberry canes 6 ft tall, big roots. I can't even tell you how cheap, it makes me blush. Delphs, alliums, crabapples, mmm.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 6:12AM
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This is a very interesting thread as I am presently working on a powerpoint presentation called...gardening on a budget. This is one topic that I have never heard anyone speak on in all the years I have attended gardening meetings/horticultural day events.

Gardening can cost soooo much yet, there are very creative ways to make it more affordable.

Does anyone have thoughts on
-garage sale finds,
-hosting a perennial swap with friends,
-garden club plant sales
-garden club member perks like discounts at local nurseries
-dividing and selling plants out of your own gardens to pay for the purchase of more perennials for yourself, etc etc.
-making your own garden art
-making your own perennial name tags

Yes, the discounted plants at Canadian Tire and Home Depot....Two of the best examples that come to mind....I have bought hosta at $1 per pot, that the store staff had forgotten to bring the hosta inside the store the night before and the foliage had been killed by the low temps overnight. I trimmed off the mushy foliage and the hosta kept growing new leaves! The second example... I picked up a couple of silver mound for $.50 each for a gallon pot, as the staff at Home Depot forgot to water the pots. They all came back, in fact some of the pots were so full, I divided them also, making them cost me only 25 cents each!! Oh yah...I forgot to add the tax on, $.57 per pot!!!

The use of chemicals at the acreage here I find a must. I use Roundup for weeds/quackgrass, Decis for spraying the potato beetles and corn borers, Par 3 for dandelions and weeds in the lawn, and malathian for mosquitoes, aphids and spider mites.


    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 9:44AM
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Brenda Yes I've participated in all of your ideas. I belong to the Hort Soc where I live and we have a plant auction every year along with a "sale "table at the table things are mostly 25- 1.oo
we also have several seed exchanges, people often bring in plants seedlings ( out/indoor) for people to have for free at our meetings(monthly)
most of the garden centres, some large construction places(sell soils gravel rocks) and even a chriropractor will do 10% if member of hort. soc.
there are lots of plant yard sales here -- private gardens and fundraiserers
I do make my own labels with mini blinds; cut up and written with #2 pencil it will go through several seasons before you have to write on it again.
Altho I am the grower for a green house here I'm all for looking for the deals and any castoffs others don't want
" give it to lois she'll take just about anything"
Superstore, Canadian tire and Walmart I find have great deals -be there early in the season tho
I'm a firm beleiver in recycling- both the giving and recieving)
Great topic How do other the rest of you proclaim your"cheap and lazy" titles I'm going to do Winter-sowing for the first time and hope to become even "cheaper and lazier".
Take care Lois

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 6:22PM
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Great thread - I love reading everyone's cheap and lazy methods. I don't think I've ever posted on this forum but am a northern gardener who is also frugal (cheap) and getting lazier with each birthday.

I've bot lots of plants at yard sales but find many are somewhat invasive, or at least aggressive, which I guess is to be expected. Not always a bad thing in zone 3. Have also bot garden tools, wheelbarrows, plant pots, fencing, and various decorative tchotchkes at yard sales - can't beat the prices. I also buy many plants every year at a local church fundraiser.

When I belonged to the garden club here I got a few plants at the plant exchange - nothing very exciting but IMO not every plant has to have a fancy pedigree. I haven't done winter sowing *yet* but have direct seeded many perennials which gives great bang for the buck.

I do buy plants at nurseries and stores but much prefer when they are on sale and I know from experience I can often help a stressed plant to survive and flourish.

Garden art - yes, I had a severe addiction to glass garden totems but seem to have overcome it (fingers crossed). I also made a bunch of plant markers using old plates.

Don't use chemicals *yet* but the quack grass might tempt me. Hope to learn many more cheap and lazy ideas!

Here is a link that might be useful: more garden totems than anyone needs!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 8:57PM
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Hi Luckygal - I've seen your name on other forums.

If you haven't used chemicals *yet* try not to start. How much quack grass do you have? If it's not a massive spot, I have a solution that's worked for me so far......

Your plate markers sound very interesting. It probably looks quite pretty.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 9:14PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

Pass on your solution to quack grass, please! This year i had a different grass that may have come from the birdfeeder - the roots are so matted together that it's impossible to pull and needs to be dug. :-/ Story of my life with gardening, it seems... LOL

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 7:31AM
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Marcia, I've had a bad patch that's driven me crazy for over 5 years. It used to be the previous owner's vegetable garden, but was full of big chunks of branches, newspaper, and absolutely no organic matter, so it was just a big mess of clay, weeds and junk.

The space is about 20 feet wide and 6-8 feet deep with 3 year old junipers, compost bin, schubert chokecherry trees, around the perimeter.

After 5 years of pulling weeds and quackgrass I couldn't stand it anymore and also was tired of the losing battle.

So, here's what I did:

Pulled all the weeds, again.
Covered the area with a thin (less than 2 inches) layer of trucked in soil/manure mix.
Covered that with a thin layer of compost.
Covered with cardboard.
Another thin layer of soil, another thin layer of compost.
Grass clippings from the lawnmower bag x 3.
Water and rain.
Lawnmower bag or two of clippings every 2 weeks or so, or whenever I mowed the lawn.
Coffee grinds from the kitchen once in a while just for fun.

I picked approximately 5 tiny weeds during the whole season that were growing on the top. Two blades of quack grass came through and when I pulled them, the whole 2 foot root easily came with =:)

I have no idea what I'll encounter next year, but I've stored more cardboard in the garage in case I need it.

This of course wouldn't work for areas of the lawn, but I'm hoping some day I'll have a solution for that, too =:)

BTW Two years ago, against my better judgement, ( I don't generally use chemicals) I broke down and used RoundUp. Not a fan, and it didn't work very well. Yes, it may have killed the weeds that I sprayed, but there was no noticeable difference in the amount of weeds I kept having to pull. I should have saved my money, and my conscience.

I'm hoping for good things in the spring =:)

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 1:53PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

What about the plants that were in that area? Did you just work around them? What you were doing was similar to a lasagne bed.

My gardens are really bad and i've also toyed with the idea of burying things with soil - in the weedy areas, i mean. Using cardboard is a good idea. I'm thinking that i would have to dig out plants, add soil, replant and mulch like crazy.

I'm also resorting to Round Up to get rid of the horrible adenophora that is invading my beds. I painted some on the leaves this fall, but i might have been too late for this year as it doesn't look as if anything happened.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 9:39PM
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Hi Marcia. Yes, what I did was similar to lasagna gardening. With the leaves from the trees falling and the bit of chopped ones I threw around just before it snowed , I now have the makings of some new compost material also.

I fortunately only had to slit and cut holes in the cardboard to go around the tree trunks. That was the hardest part, as I used pretty thick cardboard. There weren't any other plants there, but I hope to change that if this method continues to work. I must say, even if it has to be redone next year, it was well worth having that area weed free for a season. Oh, I just remembered, I threw Lavatera seeds from my plants onto this area just to see if they'd grow next year. They'll help fill up the space.

Also, I planted a new clematis this year in a small spot that had grass and weeds. I removed the sod, planted the clematis, covered around it with cardboard, added a bit of soil and compost and now I'm just waiting to see what happens next year.

I also put cardboard around my grafted lilac ( which had tons of weeds growing around it) and once in a while put grass clippings over top as it looks better than weathered wet cardboard, and none of the weeds have come through yet =:) All I need to hope for is a supply of ink free cardboard for next year in case I need it. I'm not sure how long it takes to break down.

Sorry to hear about your adenophora invasion. It always seems odd that a plant could be invasive in such a cold climate. :D If you have lots of plants in your weedy area ( notice I didn't say weeds in your plants area) then it sounds like you may have to dig some of them out, add cardboard, etc. and replant. More work than I had.

Hmmm. Since this thread is "confessions of a cheap AND lazy gardener" I guess this is my confession of being LAZY when it comes to weeds.....or maybe it has more to do with my waning patience/tolerance for weeds, ha, ha!

I confess!

( Boy this reply is long. )

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 11:01PM
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Marcia and NAF
If you can't get your hands on cardboard try using thick layers of newpapers . They breakdown slowly making compost- just don't use coloured pages.
If you're starting from"scratch" and want to garden over grass etc. start off with layers of phonebooks and then start the layering of compost/manure, soil etc. The garden will by elevated above the surrounding area or it will help make an sunken area level--- this does work well and I've seen it several times and done it myself.
You can make a whole new area and the paths are created wherever the elevatated places aren't. Lois

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 4:40PM
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marciaz3 Tropical 3 Northwestern Ontario

I've done the newspaper thing too. Most of my newer beds are lasagne ones.

Next summer will be interesting. My silver-leaf dogwood has grown enough that it's overshadowing a few things that will now have to be moved. It looks like the whole bed will have to be redesigned. Knowing me and how fast i get things done, it might be more than one summer's project!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 5:37PM
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curls(Z3 AB)

Ok - the things i've done! My first house was all sun and dirt (previous owner ran out of money and didn't landscape... Bought sod for the outer edge and seeded the inside, so when it rained all my seed didn't wash away! Still proud of that brainwave!

I joined up here, introduced myself and whenever anyone offered seed packages to newbies i took em! People here were SUPER generous!

I joined the Horticultural society - pretty much for the plant sale! They let newbies choose 2 plants Plus i volunteered at the sale for 2 more plants!

I've had lots of plant / seed donations from my parents and from friends.

I HAVE sold plants, but mainly indoor and mainly because i was moving from south facing to complete shade and my plants wouldn't be appropriate.

I've bought from people on Kijiji and from church sale, but often those prices aren't great...

I spend all my budget on soil amendments versus the plants!

I've made seedling pots from newspaper instead of buying them...

I'm thinking of growing some plants for sale this year, I bought a cold frame greenhouse, and i'm definitely trying winter sowing! I just don't really want to do kijiji as i don't want that many people coming to my house... Need a different venue!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 2:04PM
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What about selling the plants you start at a garage sale? If you don't want people to come to your place then, if you have a friend that is planning on having one, why not have one together (at her place) and bring over your plants and sell them there?

This is what my girlfriend and I have done for the past 13 years. Thirteen years ago, she was talking about having a sale, so I asked if I could join her and bring some stuff into town to sell at her place. It would be a joint sale. I would pay for 1/2 the ad in the paper and it would be a fun way of spending a day together. It slowly evolved to basically a perennial sale and it always takes place on the last weekend of May.

We have lots of people that know about the perennial sale now and always come. As I have hundreds and hundreds of plants here on the acreage that cannot be purchased at local nurseries.... and each year I split different ones... people know that there is always something unique available at our garage sale. I also sell extra perennials at the farmer's market that takes place in June/July.

The $ made from the sale of my perennials goes back into the yard for the purchase of plants, soil amendments, tools, etc.

One year I purchased a large garden shed (metal so I never have to paint it!) and that was a very wise (but, expensive!) purchase.

This year I bought a sprayer and we used it to fog our yard for mosquitoes....they were so bad!

I pay for all the annuals purchased for the acreage and any tools that might need to be replaced. I have also taken trips to conventions, like the daylily Region 1 summer meeting in Bismarck this past August.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 9:54AM
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