Money-Saving Tips for the Organic Gardener

Posted on February 10, 2016 by Becky Staneruck

The stigma that “going organic is expensive” – just isn’t true. Organic gardening creates a sustainable landscape, one that in the long run will rely less on man-made chemicals as your soil health improves and sustains “life” naturally. There are several ways you can grow a “green” garden and save money. We’ve collected some great money-saving tips for the organic gardener that will help you cut costs while doing right by Mother Earth.

Mulch to save money on water. Apply a thin (1 -2 inches) layer of organic matter such as wood chips, hay or leaves to your garden. Mulch helps soil retain moisture, which means less frequent watering. That translates into smaller water bills! Mulch also has the added benefit of providing nutrients to your plants as it decomposes.

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle! These tricks will save you money while cutting down on waste.

Start your seeds in yogurt cups.
Re-grow veggies from scraps in masonry jars or glass cups.
Make seed starter pods from cardboard tubes. Cut the tubes into 2″ – 3″ sections, put them in a waterproof tray and fill them with damp soil.
Clamshell-style packaging converts to mini greenhouses perfect for starting seeds. You often see this style of packaging when you purchase berries, tomatoes and other goods at the grocery store.
Make plant labels from plastic containers like yogurt, sour cream, etc. Cut them into strips and write the plant names on them in permanent marker.
Prevent line breakage and jamming on your string trimmer with a quick spray of vegetable oil. Do this before you attach it to the trimmer.

Measure once by turning a long-handled garden tool into a measuring stick. Take a tape measure and a permanent marker and mark inch-long increments on the handle of the tool. You’ll always have a measuring stick when you’re spacing plants.

Clean salt deposits from clay pots with equal parts water, rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Spray the mixture onto the pots, scrub with a brush and let it dry before using it again.

Protect young plants from overnight frosts and freezes by covering them with old sheets. Don’t forget to remove them in the morning!

Keep your fingernails clean while playing in your garden by gently “clawing” a bar of soap. This seals your nails, keeping dirt out. When you’re done working, just wash up with a nailbrush.

Homemade hose guides will keep your plants safe when you pull the hose around your garden. Pound a foot-long piece of steel rebar into the ground at each corner of your garden. Put an upside-down clay pot on each one and then add a right-side-up clay pot.

Naturally beautiful plant markers are easy to make. Using a permanent marker, write your plant names on the flat surfaces of different sized stones and put them next to your plants.

Put the damper on damping-off fungus, a nasty invader that attacks young seedlings, with a spot of chamomile tea. Add a bit to the soil at the plants’ base once weekly. You can also use it as a spray.

Compost it! Make your own compost with leftover vegetable scraps, shredded paper, dry leaves, garden clippings and some soil. Soon you’ll have concocted humus and you’ll have the best amendment in town.

Help your acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, gardenias, azaleas, camellias and blueberries by recycling leftover tealeaves and coffee grounds. Apply a quarter-inch layer once a month to keep your soil slightly acidic.

Control aphids by washing them away. Take the hose and give ’em a strong blast of water. You can also use an organic insecticidal soap. If you have kids who like to play in the garden – or, if you’re a big kid yourself – forget the hose and grab some tape! Wrap the tape – sticky side out – around your hand and pat the leaves of your aphid-infested plants. Whatever method you choose, focus on the leaves’ undersides as that’s where aphids like to hang out.

Try these money-saving tips for the organic gardener. Your budget will love you, your plants will adore you and Mother Earth will be healthier, too.

Courtesy Kellogg Garden Products

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