Essentials of Gardening 2.0 – How to garden on a budget

Gardening is an expensive hobby. You may grunt in disapproval, or burst out laughing, but I would shush you and move on; for if you think what I said is untrue, you’re a novice. I can finally call others ‘novices’ confidently, having successfully made it through harsh Indian summer and winter and back to skin-burning, plant-dehydrating, life-sucking summer.

So as I was saying, gardening is an expensive hobby. But it need not be so. The reason I started the blog was to help urban gardeners live their gardening dream, and cost effectiveness is a very important factor there. Hence, today I’m here to tell you how to save money while creating your perfect garden.

Pots:

If you have a yard, this is not a big problem for you. But even yard owners like to have potted plants on the porch or inside the house sometimes. Potted plants are more mobile and there is scope to beautify the pot to make an arrangement look attractive.
This is the first step where you can burn a hole in your pocket if you aren’t mindful. Do not go about ordering pretty pots online and use up your salary.

  • Go to your local nursery and buy affordable Terracotta pots. To know why Terracotta pots are great for your plants, read this
  • Once your garden is established and you feel the need to upgrade your pots to new quirky and pretty pots, look at DIY options before buying expensive pots. Paint your pots or look at your household junk for planter options, this post can give some suggestions.

Soil:

You can always buy packaged potting soil online. But do you need to? Most of the land in India is extremely fertile with good soil. Understand your climate and the soil around you. Is it clayey or sandy? What does it lack?

  • Prepare your own soil mix by adding needed nutrients to the soil you have.
  • Buy soil at ‘dirt’ cheap rates (did you get the pun? 😀 ) from local nurseries, and mix manure as needed. Local nurseries would usually sell you soil that they have repaired to give best results. Even so, if you feel it lacks something, make your own amends!

Manure:

This brings us to the next component, manure. You can buy expensive packaged compost online.

  • You can also buy compost and cow-dung manure at your local nursery at 1/4th the price. Take your pick.
  • Better still, make your own compost! For FREE.
    The information on how to make your own compost from kitchen scraps and plant waste is very easily available on the internet.
  • Learn online what minerals you plants need. Add dried banana peels for Potassium, crushed eggshells for Calcium and Epsom salts for Sodium. Throw used coffee grounds and tea leaves in your flowering plants and see them respond!

Plants:

Next and the most important, the plants. You will have to buy some; you can’t get your garden started for free.

  • If you buy from your local nursery, it’ll be cheaper than ordering online.
  • Bring home native plants. They cost less and live longer, thus bringing down replacement costs.
  • Collect seeds from plants in parks, take cuttings from parks or friends (for plants that root with cuttings).
  • Do seed swapping, or just request people (friends/neighbours) for seeds and cuttings. People like helping others and your requests would be granted more often than you expect.
  • Request people for leaves of succulents, or one fledgling from a large group (e.g. Aloe Vera often produces multiple tiny plants). DO NOT ask someone for the only plant they have 😛
  • Join local or online plant swapping or sale groups, good deals can often be found.
  • Learn which vegetables/herbs can regrow on their own and save seeds/cuttings to plant from kitchen supplies.
  • Save seeds from your own plants to regrow them if needed. Learn more about seed saving here. You can also use these seeds to help someone else who’s setting up their garden, or as a token of thanks to those who helped you! 🙂
  • Research to find plants that produce more flowers (or fruits or vegetables) per plant and with less effort so that you don’t have to serve them crazily to see the face of one bloom. For example, my Sadabahar and Plumbago plants in summer and my Calendula and Marigolds and Desi white roses in winters. They bloom their heads off, and give off a sense of a fuller garden with five plants which sometimes ten plants can’t. Similarly for foliage, buy plants that are more spread out so that your area looks full with fewer plants – e.g.Ferns or Money Plants (Pothos) or Silver Dust or Purple Heart.

Maintenance:

Where there are plants, there are pests. It’s easy to buy insecticides and spray but they may be harmful to good organisms such as Ladybugs too. And they aren’t too cheap either.

  • If you’re growing food, insecticides cover your food with poison. Use home-made and natural insecticides! Edible oil, dishwashing or handwashing liquid, Neem oil, Baking soda etc are all home-made, organic and non-toxic. Instructions to prepare your own concoction and its usage are readily available on the internet.
  • Be mindful of your plants’ water, manure and pruning needs and you will not need a gardener either in all probability!

Water – Yes, water. Plants need less water than we think they do. Overwatering is more harmful than underwatering.

  • Do not overwater your plants. You save money on your water bill as well.
  • Use wash water from your vegetable and rice/pulses for your plants. It not only uses up water that would otherwise go down the drain, but is also good for your plants.
  • Regulate the sun exposure your plants get. If you live in the tropics, do not keep plants in full sun all day in summer. You will dehydrate them during the day and then overcompensate by drowning them in the evening.
  • If water is scarce where you live, use plants that use less water such as bougainvillea, cacti and succulents and generally plants native to your region as they would have adapted to less water.

So that is all I had to say on this subject today.Every hobby needs some investment but if you follow these tips, gardening would not burn a hole in your pocket 🙂

For any help or queries related to the post, please comment on the post and I will get to it. Until we meet again, take care and keep gardening 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s