SHOW ME THE MONEY – An Insider’s Guide to Garden Savings

When I started gardening, I thought it would be a great way to save money. I thought for sure that by growing my own vegetables and fruit I was certainly cutting out the middle man and that that would be reflected in my bank balance immediately. Don’t get me wrong, growing your own is going to save you money eventually but the set up costs and the overwhelming desire to have the best garden on your street can make you hand over your credit card with your fingers in your ears yelling “lalalalala” at the garden shop. I couldn’t tell you the amount of money I have spent on my garden over the years. Luckily before I returned to a student lifestyle AKA the 2 minute noodle diet, I acquired a few tips on things you can repurpose from around the house and use in your garden saving you that precious moolah. Plus, repurposing saves chucking more stuff in landfill which is mega important. Being thrifty is so in vogue right now.

Old Photo Frames

Whether they are big or small, any photo frame you have lying around your house is perfect for raising seeds and plants in their early stages in the cooler months. If you have a small photo frame that once housed a precious pic from your disposable camera days that is the perfect size for six tray of seeds or four eco pots that you are raising seed in. Some larger frames are big enough to stretch across a planter box in your garden which is great for plants that can’t be transplanted. Even if the glass in the frame has a crack or has been broken, tape it up with some packaging tape or something similar and you are good to go. We are using these frames to create a sort of mini glasshouse for your plants in its early stages. Make sure when you are using this technique over existing plants that you are still exposing the plants to the open air in some way as we don’t want the plants to overheat. Miniature glass/hot houses can cost $80+ and I bought a solid wooden frame with a hideous picture in from the Ecostore for $15 which is perfect. All I did was take off the back, take out the picture and tape the glass into the frame. It’s as easy as that! An added bonus of this project was that I felt as though I had done the world a favour by disposing of the truly horrible picture that had been in the frame originally. If you need a deal sweetener, that’s it.

Sticky things

No, not sticky things. Stick-y things. Like, things that are stick-like. Yeah, now you get me. Fragile plants often need a helping hand to strengthen them up and some plants need sectioning off from others. Gardening shops sell bamboo sticks which I must say are truly awesome as they come in a good range of sizes and are strong but lightweight. If you just don’t want to spend the money or you are improvising then look to things that are stick-like. Stationery is a great place to start. Broken pens, pencils and rulers can be used as little stakes for plants that need a helping hand and pens are usually a good size for the smaller plants that are being grown from seed in your garden. Some toothbrushes are good for this. Objects with longer handles that have broken off are also useful here. We used to break plastic fly swats at my house all the time and that length of handle is great for a garden stake and, because it’s made of plastic, it will withstand the weather conditions. Think outside the box, plenty of things are sticky!

Ribbon, String and Wire

We have all done that thing where we have kept the ribbon from around presents thinking we will reuse it and how often do we do that? Only sometimes. Use the rest of your ribbon or string you have acquired in conjunction with your sticky thing to section off beans and peas in your garden. If your plant has developed runners of any kind, (runners are very long, spindly growths from your plant that travel a long distance and deliberately wrap themselves around whatever they can find) then it is important you give them something to latch onto that won’t affect the development of nearby plants. Box off your beans or equivalent with your sticks and wrap your ribbon and string around your sticks in a web-like way. Your plants should naturally attach and wrap themselves around the string or ribbon but if they are branching beyond your web fortress, you can gently negotiate them around a particular strand. This technique also works with any bits of wire you may have kicking around. I’ve mentioned it before but old bike rims are great for peas to wrap around if you dig them into the ground next to the plant. Snapped clotheslines could be used here, too. I’m sure you’ll think of some other gems for this one.

Pantyhose

This is 100% the best tip I have been given about repurposing in the garden as it is the best thing for your plants and solves the age old problem of what to do with your pantyhose once you have put a massive run in it or it has lost its stretch. Actually, my mum gave me this tip. Cheers, Denise. The best way to tie your growing and developing plants to assist them in getting stronger is by tying them with cut up old pantyhose. Unlike string ties, pantyhose stretches and pulls as your plant develops but remains pretty soft against the plant, giving it plenty of opportunity to grow strong before you cut the ties. Cut up your pantyhose into strips and tie loosely around the plant to your stake. You want the knot itself to be tight but you want to give the plant plenty of breathing room from the pantyhose, especially if you know they are going to grow to have a wide girth. Once your plant no longer needs the stake, just cut the ties. No harm, no foul.

Holed Objects

Before you fork out hundreds of dollars for planter boxes and pots, please have a look at the contents of your garage with an open mind. Many objects are surprisingly good to plant in. Anything that is made of plastic, rubber or wood can be a great planter as they are easy to drill holes in the bottom of for drainage and work well outdoors. I’ve seen people plant in old car tyres, old gumboots, broken plastic buckets, wooden beer crates, pallets, lampshades, old jewellery boxes, old drawers, all sorts! Always check which plants might cope with more unusual homes but having cool, repurposed planters is a great way to add character to your garden as well as save some huge money. You don’t need those flashy half wine barrel planters for your garden to have swag. If you do any cool planting of this sort then please take a pic and chuck it up on our Facebook page or email them to me! This sort of stuff is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Happy saving mates! Hope these tips were enlightening or inspiring for you as you go about your garden endeavours.

Cheers, E Cus x

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