4 Tips for Starting a Garden

by Miranda Marquit · 5 comments

Every year, my husband and I plant a garden. Our garden isn’t huge, but it is respectable. We enjoy eating fresh produce, and it saves us money in the summer, since we don’t have to buy as much food. However, getting started can be a little rough. If you want to make gardening part of your frugal lifestyle, here are 4 things you can do to get started:

1. Do Some Research

First of all, you need to find out what sorts of plants grow well in your location. You will quickly become discouraged and give up if you try to grow something that doesn’t do well in your area. You should also consider your soil. We have a lot of clay in our soil. As a result, we built garden boxes. We used compost and topsoil to fill them. Doing this can be a little costly initially, but in subsequent years, you can mix in a little compost and topsoil to add more nutrients, without totally re-doing the boxes.

You should also do some research about which plants produce more than others. Our first year, we bought 8 tomato plants. A family of three is quickly overwhelmed by the number of tomatoes produced on that many plants. It’s even too much to preserve through canning. Get an idea of yield before planting.

2. Plan for What You Want

Another consideration is what you want. Consider how much time you have to devote to the garden, and the types of plants that require more care than others. Many squashes don’t need a lot of care. My son grew some great zucchinis last year, and we enjoyed using them in bread and in different dishes. Think about what you will actually eat, and what foods you can make with the produce. We love berries, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, herbs, sweet peppers, peas, beans and apples. These are the things we make sure we take care of, and they are relatively easy to grow and preserve.

We enjoy corn, but it takes a lot of work to grow, and you can get it for cheap at the farmer’s market. Plus, it takes up a lot of space. So we don’t grow it. Same with many melons, which can be fiddly to grow in our climate.

3. Start Out Small

You don’t need a huge garden to start. In fact, if you start out huge, you might become overwhelmed. Begin small, trying out two or three of each kind of plant and seeing how they do. Next year, if you are happy with the results, you can expand your garden. Expand slowly so that you can keep up with it.

4. Purchase High Quality Tools

Garden tools of good quality may be a little more expensive, but they will last longer. Indeed, a truly frugal lifestyle is more about quality than cheap quantity. If you have to keep buying garden tools every year, you spend more in the long run. You don’t have to buy something top of the line and extremely expensive, but you could get something that is likely to hold up. Spend a few dollars more now, and you will have solid tools that will last for years.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Messner April 2, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Good post. Gardening is a great way to save money in an area of family finance where prices continue to skyrocket – groceries. I also read your article on canning. A great way to extend your savings into winter.

smartcookie July 20, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Save all your receipts, add them up at the end of the year, then divide that by pounds of produce your family actually ate. You will find tomatoes at 6 $ a pound. green beans at a similar price,. And those cukes you had to give away because the family wouldn’t eat one more don’t count.

karen ho fatt March 22, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Yes gardening season is around the corner again! My sister and family are moving into their new home -it has a small yard, very good and practical tips for here to start out with.
This also reminds me when my uncle also used to have a vegetable garden and the veges were delicious, he unfortunately has no time for gardening now.

kathleen January 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I keep a raised bed garden all the time. It saves money & we enjoy fresh veggies all year round. It’s also a good past time. We have all kinds of fruit trees & grape vines, I rather be outside than watching the dumb box (TV). I watch the news after dark. I also love to sew & design clothes etc. Try it, you’ll love it & save money.

Dale Ann Spriner January 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Freeze extra lemons. Grate the rind and all when you need lemon for a recipe. Most of the nutrients are actually in the rind so they are good for you and add loads of color and favor to any meal.

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