Frugal Container Vegetable Gardening in Action

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

I recently wrote about container gardening as a frugal alternative for those without a lot of yard space for growing vegetables. I took my own advice this year and planted vegetables in containers around our yard. My budget was tight for the project – only $100.00 – but I was curious to see what could be accomplished – and grown – with a small investment and some sweat equity.


I raided the garage for containers. I had several large planters stored in there from previous years’ annuals or long-dead houseplants. Some hanging baskets and old window boxes were returned to service as well. Then I got creative and found additional “planters” that began their lives as cat litter buckets, a dresser drawer and a deep plastic tray. They’re not traditionally “pretty” but we’re after utility for this frugal project. Besides, who’s going to notice the container when the veggies are growing?

To the garden center!

This is where having done some research is a good idea, to inform you about what grows well in your geographic area, the length of your growing season and how long individual vegetables take to reach maturity. As the most critical part of my gardening project, this shopping excursion was thoroughly considered before I set foot in the store. I had created a list of my “wants” (the seeds and plants I would look for) so my mission would have focus.

Buying seeds
I prefer growing from seeds when possible because they’re so much cheaper than plants – so the seed rack was my first destination. I went for variety in my garden, choosing  carrot, green bean, radish, parsley, basil, cilantro, lettuces, spinach and green onion seeds at no more than $2.49 for any one packet. Seed packs provide planting instructions, detailing how deep to sow and how far apart; unless you have a multitude of containers, you won’t use all the seeds in the packet at once. Many vegetables can be planted successively several weeks apart to provide a continuous harvest. Others that don’t fare well in the hottest weather, like lettuce and spinach, can be planted once in the spring and again in late summer for a fall harvest. Seeds I didn’t find on my “want” list, like thyme, sage and marjoram, I found in plant form.

Buying plants
I bought established tomato and pepper plants because our growing season isn’t long enough to grow them from seed, which would take longer. I go for the smallest plants available, however, because larger ones are more expensive and all I’m looking for is a headstart on the growing – not a fully grown plant. The two heirloom varieties of tomatoes and the cherry tomato plant were available singly in 3” pots and I found Roma and beefsteak varieties and jalapeño peppers in 6-packs (six well-established, smaller plants) all under $4 per container.

Buying potting medium
I found a terrific potting medium that was clearly labeled as being appropriate for both container use and for growing vegetables which even contained fertilizer! I put five large bags in my cart at $5 each.

To the garden!

The next step was to plant those seedlings! Many of my previous planters had potting soil in them already so, rather than waste it, I mixed it with the new potting medium. I situated the planted containers in various sunny spots around the yard. To save on my water bill, I collect rain in a bucket to use for watering the garden.

Now it’s a matter of time, sun and temperature. I’ll follow up later in the season on the harvest.

How do you garden frugally?

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