7 Ways to Save Money in the Garden!

We like to think we are resourceful and nowhere is this truer than in the garden. It’s not surprising the premise of Food2Soil is reusing, repurposing, and recycling nature to improve soil and plant health. Below are a few additional strategies we both use, that do not cost much (if any) and will help keep your garden happy and your bank balance healthy.

Create Gold from Waste
Starting with the most important resource of them all…..drum roll….food waste.
The best thing you can do is compost your food straps. However, if you don’t have the time, space or motivation, there are other options, such as worm farms, Bokashi bins, FOGO bin (if available) and ShareWaste app – this app is brilliant, I even use it on holidays, food waste is too valuable to go to landfill 🙂)

Soil Saver
If you need to buy a lot of new soil or compost, best to do it in bulk through your local landscape provider, they will usually deliver as well. New soil is often be microbially dead, best to add Food2Soil to inoculate it as soon as its in place (or well before planting).

Save on Plants
Collect and save seeds. For trees and large shrubs, a good technique is to lay an old sheet down and gently bash the branches of the seed laden tree (ensure the seed is ripe first or you’ll just be beating the tree up for no good reason!) This works wonderfully for acacias, bursaria and any plant that produces large amounts of smallish seed
Take cuttings from trees and shrubs. Especially good at this time of year, this works particularly well when deciduous trees are dormant in the winter. However, these guys are very slow to root well and you need to be very, very patient. Just because there is new growth on the upper part of the cutting doesn’t necessarily mean there are lots of corresponding roots underneath. Gently tug the cutting and if it is resistant to being pulled out it is likely to have developed roots.

Where you can, start your plants from seed, though a word of warning, for cold climate dwellers, temperature of the soil will greatly impact germination, also, some seeds need special treatment, for example hard coated seeds need to be nicked or heat treated before they will germinate. So be prepared and do your research for best results.
While we are on the topic of seeds, save seeds from your favourite produce, rinse and leave to dry on a windowsill, then bag them in a paper bag for next year (don’t forget to label the bag).
Cuttings from evergreen shrubs can be propagated all year round. It is a good idea to join local gardening sites or groups such as ‘seed savers’ . An example of a Canberra based one is Canberra Organic Growers Society (COGS). Gardeners are such generous sharers and will happily give you ideas of plants to propagate and possibly a bucketload of their own cutting too! We have had success with hydrangeas, rosemary and many succulents (these are the easiest to start with)

Divide and Conquer
Some plants become overcrowded and will benefit from being divided. Best to gently dig up and use a sharp spade to divide the root ball, making many small plants. Agapanthus work well as do Peace Lilies and rhubarb. These are perfect for gifts or to fill a spot in your garden

Trash to Treasure
Collect fallen leaves for mulch. We keep re-usable garden bags in the back of the car and stop when we see a large collection of leaves in road gutters. If you’re lucky there will be decomposed material as well, you may even get worms and organic compost in the mix… bonus!
If you need building material or sculpture items for the garden, such as old pavers, bricks, statue pieces, pots etc, it is a good idea to visit a local recycling/resource centre first. In the ACT, Tiny’s Green Shed is a good place to start, but Gumtree and Facebook are also great options.
There are many local farmers or urban growers who may have an abundance of organic material, for example straw, hay or manure (chicken, horse, cow etc). Be on the lookout and don’t be afraid to ask someone, it may be beneficial for them as well.

Save on Quality and Concentration
Using concentrated products such as Food2Soil will last you a longer time and therefore save money. A 2L of F2S will provide 20 x 10L buckets of solution and the more you feed your garden, the less you will need over time. Once per growing season, and monthly in summer and spring. A 2L will last the average home garden 6 months.
Quality gardening tools are worth spending a little extra on, they will save you money and heartache in the long run. Trust me, a $3 plastic bucket will only last you as many months for dollars you spent! Another item not to skimp out on, is a good quality hose and connections, cheap hoses will give endless grief in the garden, another example where I have lived and learned.

Plant for Climate and Season
Lastly, we can’t recommend this last one enough. Be sure to plant for your climate and season. You will waste money on plants that will surely die if they are not suited to the climate or planted in the wrong season. When I first moved to Canberra, I had a Frangipani in a pot, grown from a cutting, from Sydney. Being a novice gardener at the time, I tried to protect it during the first winter but inevitably it passed. Shame, I love the smell of Frangipani in the summer.

Gardening is a continuous learning journey, full of mistakes and triumphs along the way. There are likely plenty more resourceful, money saving ways to garden successfully, feel free to share them with Food2Soil team we are always on the lookout for more.