How You Can Make Gardening Cheap

Posted on Jun 28 2010 - 3:26am by Mike Lieberman

One of the reasons that people won’t start growing their own food is that they say that it is too expensive. There are free and cheap resources out there, you just need to seek them out. Here are some ways that you can make gardening cheap, so that you can start to grow your own food.

  • Local Department of Sanitation or Office County Extension They usually have free events or programs throughout the year where you can get free resources such as compost or mulch. This past weekend, I attended an open house held by LA’s Bureau of Sanitation where I walked away with bags of free compost, mulch and a tomato plant.

    During the week, at nine different locations, you can get free mulch and compost (at certain locations) at . All you need to do is bring your own shovel and container.

    Most cities usually offer compost bins at a discount to their residents as well.

  • 5-Gallon Containers Check your farmers markets, delis and restaurants. Most will gladly give them to you because they are just going to throw them away. If not, offer up a dollar or two. These are great to make self-watering containers with.
  • Soda Bottles Unfortunately soda bottles are everywhere. If you don’t drink soda, then check your local recycling bin or ask friends and family to save them for you. You can use them to make hanging soda bottle planters or self-watering containers made out of a soda bottle.
  • Coconut Shells If you buy coconuts, then save the shell and you can plant shallow rooted herbs and veggies in them like lettuce.
  • Horse Manure Call up any local horse stables or riding academies to see if they have any horse manure that you can take off their hands. Most usually do and will give it away for free or for a small cost. It makes a great addition to compost.
  • Cafes and Coffee Shops Hit up your local cafe or coffee shop and ask them for their coffee grinds. Most keep them on hand to give out to local gardeners. The grinds works great as a fertilizer and help to feed the plants. They also make a great addition to your compost.
  • Beaches The next time you are at the beach make sure to bring some sand and seaweed home with you. If you are having drainage issues, the sand will help with that. The seaweed will really help to mineralize certain plants.
  • Free Tomato Seeds WinterSown.org offers 6 packets of free tomato seeds when you send them a self-addressed stamped envelope.

These are just a few ways that you can make gardening cheap. Nearly all of these resources are readily available to you, you just might have to inquire a bit and seek some of them out. Lemme know if I can help you to find them in your area.

What are some other great local resources that can help to make your gardening cheap?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yleqMj1WouU

29 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Sketchkat06 June 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm -

    Other free resources? hmmm….

    Branches from friend's yards and public parks for staking plants.
    Sea shells and beach rocks for decorative mulching and calcium http://marysgardeningendeavors.blogspot.com/201
    Saving plastic or paper cups for seed starting. Between myself and two friends I now have a large collection of Starbucks cups, they are especially durable.
    Save milk/soymilk/juice cartons especially the waxed paper ones, they are great for growing small vegetables in and fairly roomy in a vertical way.
    Craigslist, I found a post one day for 4 or 5 small ceramic pots for $10 and came away with those, a couple of dozen plastic seed starting nursery flats and pots, and some plastic 4″ and 5″ pots with trays! Many people will post gardening stuff they just want to get rid of for cheap or free.
    Freecycle, look for your local one on Yahoo Groups. Postings by people in your area of things they will give away free to the first person willing to pick them up! You can also post things you are looking for, a person may see your request and realize they have it buried in their garage and offer it to you. I've gotten pots, plants and a bedframe this way 🙂

    That's all I can think of right now… Glad to see the coconuts are working!
    Mary C.

  2. Sketchkat06 June 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm -

    Other free resources? hmmm….

    Branches from friend's yards and public parks for staking plants.
    Sea shells and beach rocks for decorative mulching and calcium http://marysgardeningendeavors.blogspot.com/201
    Saving plastic or paper cups for seed starting. Between myself and two friends I now have a large collection of Starbucks cups, they are especially durable.
    Save milk/soymilk/juice cartons especially the waxed paper ones, they are great for growing small vegetables in and fairly roomy in a vertical way.
    Craigslist, I found a post one day for 4 or 5 small ceramic pots for $10 and came away with those, a couple of dozen plastic seed starting nursery flats and pots, and some plastic 4″ and 5″ pots with trays! Many people will post gardening stuff they just want to get rid of for cheap or free.
    Freecycle, look for your local one on Yahoo Groups. Postings by people in your area of things they will give away free to the first person willing to pick them up! You can also post things you are looking for, a person may see your request and realize they have it buried in their garage and offer it to you. I've gotten pots, plants and a bedframe this way 🙂

    That's all I can think of right now… Glad to see the coconuts are working!
    Mary C.

  3. Mike Lieberman June 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm -

    Love it. Thanks for more ideas.

  4. Meemsnyc June 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm -

    Save and trade seeds with other gardeners.

  5. Meemsnyc June 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm -

    Save and trade seeds with other gardeners.

  6. Mike Lieberman June 28, 2010 at 8:07 pm -

    Word. Need to do more of that.

  7. Mike Lieberman June 28, 2010 at 8:07 pm -

    Word. Need to do more of that.

  8. Whenuwish1 June 28, 2010 at 9:53 pm -

    I have found that the best place to get buckets is at my local grocery store bakery department. They get their icing, glazes and garlic butter spread in those big white buckets and they will gladly give them to you to avoid having to carry them outside to the dumpster.

    I don't know where you can get empty soda bottles, but the grocery stores will also provide the stackable holders once you find them.

    Saving and trading seeds and plant clippings is AWESOME! Learn to propagate from clippings — it isn't hard. And not only do you have plants, but you have memories. For example, I have hydrangeas growing that I started from my grandmother's plants, I have iris and hostas from my mother's gardens……they are infinitely more special because they come from people who love me…..and I will pass them on to people I love.

    MJ

  9. Mike Lieberman June 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm -

    Awesome. Thanks for the additional ideas. Great point about how the passing down of seeds can be tied to memories. All the more reason to do so!

  10. Bill June 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm -

    I generally find myself on construction sites. When the landscapers attack, they throw the buckets away. I am also making my own veganic manure; which may not be practical in an apt. But throw your vegan leftovers in a blender and let it rot. stinks like hell but its good stuff as far as a soil amendment.

  11. Mike Lieberman June 29, 2010 at 4:30 pm -

    Totally. As long as you can keep a lid on the food, it's all good.

  12. Sylvana June 30, 2010 at 1:41 am -

    Great ideas. I always use our city compost site to get FREE compost for growing things in 🙂

  13. Mike Lieberman June 30, 2010 at 3:59 am -

    It's great that cities have resources like free compost available. Now only if more people took advantage of them. I'm tempted to grow something straight into compost.

  14. Michael July 1, 2010 at 2:46 pm -

    Great ideas. I'll have to check out Starbucks for coffee grounds.

  15. Mike Lieberman July 1, 2010 at 3:29 pm -

    Cool. I know that Starbucks definitely keeps them for people.

  16. Tamara Jo Rankila July 2, 2010 at 4:36 am -

    I just joined a seed club for $23.00 a year I will get 4 packets of seeds each month and double the month of my birthday . So by April I will have to start a war to grab more land from the neighbors! And the seeds will be suited for my zone. What I don't use-will be passed on to others.

  17. Mike Lieberman July 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm -

    Nice. I want to look into getting and swapping more seeds as well.

  18. Kristen July 3, 2010 at 4:10 am -

    Great ideas!! I will have to check out the free compost!!

  19. Mike Lieberman July 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm -

    So many free resources available. Get it girl.

  20. Sketchkat06 July 14, 2010 at 12:35 am -

    Speaking of hanging garden pots, I just read this post by the Cheap Vegetable Gardener today on how to make a hanging hydroponic garden with recycled soda bottles
    http://www.cheapvegetablegardener.com/2010/07/c

  21. Rainboweu March 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm -

    Hi, loved what I saw so far. I never had a green finger, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and I sure got a lot of motivation here – Thanks.

    What a lot of people do over here is really simple: If they eat a tomato for instance they like (usually from a home grown sort) then they just keep the seeds…! That’s as free as it can get! The same goes with peppers, cuccumbers, pumpkins and a lot of herbs.

  22. Mike Lieberman March 16, 2011 at 10:36 pm -

    It’s so simple, yet we’ve made it so complex over the years, huh?

  23. Anonymous June 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm -

    Well, the existing gardening content really shows the best of information about how to make cheap gardening. And the existing information is really looking so promising and amazing about it. This one is really one of the great experienced post for me. And according to me, hydroponic is really the best way for the same thing. Because of this one is one of the cheaper soil less gardening. And the products of this type of gardening are really found so organic.
     

  24. Margueriteinnc January 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm -

    Is the company Seeds Now a reputable place to buy non gmo seeds

  25. Mike Lieberman January 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm -

    Yes. That is why I have partnered up with them.

  26. Paul June 13, 2013 at 5:49 am -

    Taking sand from the beach is a terrible idea. Encouraging everyone to take from public places and contribute to their erosion is irresponsible.

  27. lgcamp February 1, 2015 at 12:58 pm -

    It’s also FREE to make compost. All you need is grass clippings and brown tree leaves. Run your lawn mower over the brown leaves in the Fall and that will grind them up. If you attach a bag to your lawn mower, that will capture all the ground up leaves for you and you can dump them in with the grass clippings in a trash bin that you have drilled holes in. Free compost!

  28. lgcamp February 1, 2015 at 12:59 pm -

    I thought he said seaweed, not sand.

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