Here are some money saving tips on gardening equipment and supplies from the ThriftyFun community. Post your own here.
I have two answers: the first is for cheap gardening. I always buy supplies and equipment after the growing season! Late fall is the best time to buy all supplies for next season. Check your local home store for clearance items. I also share with a neighbor. She uses my equipment and vice versa.
Flea markets are good places to scour for used garden equipment. These are especially fun in August and September during small town harvest festivals. You can find piles of old farm and garden tools and other useful tidbits that even if a bit rusty, can be resurrected into service with a bit of oil and elbow grease. Also scout out estate sales and yard sales. If you need to use larger tools, like a roto-tiller or trimmer, consider renting them for a day or a weekend and splitting the cost with a friend or neighbor. Good tool maintenance practices will extend their life.
When I moved into my first house, I didn't have any garden supplies at all. Since we had just closed, and money was tight (isn't it always) I went to yard sales looking for anything I could come across. I found lots of stuff, including a shovel, a pick, a pole saw, an axe, and others. The pole saw was $10, but still a good deal (I got it at a flea market). The other stuff was $1 or $2. I also recall seeing spreaders (the kind you use to fertilize the lawn) for around $5.
The trick is that you have to go real early on the first day of the sale. There were a couple of places that had yard tools advertised, but by the time we got there, they were already gone.
One thing you can do is have a compost pile. This makes good fertilizer, and really does enrich the soil. They have commercial bins you can buy, or, for a small pile just find a spot in the backyard. They are stinky, so be prepared for that.
Cheepie small garden tools, hand trowels etc., work just about as well and for as long as their more expensive counterparts. You can pick them up at the grocery or drug store for about a dollar each.
If you are planting seeds, there are opportunities for seeds from freebie sites on the web. There are hundreds of freebie sites, and most have ads for others. There are lots of free things available.
When I buy tools I try to buy one that will have multiple uses. For example, I don't use a spray bottle that contained fungicide for misting so I have to buy 2 spray bottles. But instead of buying a typical spade, I bought a shovel with a 12" long skinny blade, slightly rounded on the tip. It works great for general digging, edge, and post hole digging, like for my mailbox.
Also, instead of buying replacement wood edging (flat on 2 sides, round on 2 sides, goes around flower beds) I will be taking an old edging post and make a mold in sand. Then I will make smaller edging pieces from cement. They will last much longer than treated wood. But they have to be made smaller, like 12" segments, because they are heavier.
Also, I did not buy a pair of small pruners, because large pruners can be used for large and small jobs. But I did buy a pair of large pruners which can be sharpened by myself easily.
We also have a local plant swap twice a year. Everyone brings plants to swap. If you want to take 4 plants, then you bring 4 of your own to swap. Every 5 minutes the coordinator announces it's time to pick 1 plant. We all go around and pick one plant we like. When everyone has their plant, we take another turn.
There are always lots of plants left over that people just wanted to get rid of, so those are just freebies you can take. We also have lunch before the swap so people can browse what is there and what they want to pick first. This group has a Yahoo email group where you can request people to bring certain plants you like and they will just give it to you at the swap. They are very nice!
I also save clear plastic bottles to be used as sun hats outside in the spring when the weather is a little cool. I can also use them to start seeds. I cut the top but not all the way off. I leave a little plastic to make a hinge and a little greenhouse. Then I put in dirt and seeds and keep it moist. A little 10:1 water:hydrogen peroxide solution keeps mold from growing.
The easiest and most inexpensive way to acquire seeds, plants and shrubs for your garden is to swap with fellow gardeners. If you're just getting started with gardening, consider offering to trade recipes, home-made baked goods, craft items or services like weeding, dog walking or baby-sitting, in exchange for garden goodies.
Another great option is online garden forums. Many gardeners have extra seeds that they are willing to share. Again, if you're just starting out and you don't have anything to offer in exchange, offer to pay the postage. Send a pre-paid envelope and enclose you're favorite recipe as a gesture of thanks.
Many odds and ends around the house can be recycled into useful implements for the garden. For example, nylon stockings can be used to secure bending plants, to store spring bulbs or slipped over ripening tomatoes to prevent chipmunk damage. Broken blind slats make great plant markers. Plastic cat litter containers can be cut in half and used as growing containers or seedling cages. Store seeds in glass jars, plastic food container with lids or paper bags. Before you toss things out, try to think of ways to use them in the garden.
Organic weed and pest control is cheaper for you and better for the environment. There are hundreds of books and websites (including this one) offering recipes and tips for controlling weeds and pests using common products that most of keep around the house.
Start composting-indoors or out. Nothing is better for your plants and your throwing out the waste anyway.
By Ellen Brown
Also, for cheap or free gardening supplies, you can join your local Freecycle group! Freecycle is about keeping good usable items out of our landfills which saves the environment. Here is a link to the main page: http://www.freecycle.org From there select your area of the country, your state and finally the group you wish to join. It isn't just for gardening!
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