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purple1701

your best (and worst!) cheap, thrify, and diy garden tips?

purple1701
9 years ago

Hello there friendly fellow gardenwebbers!

I am starting my first vegetable garden, inspired by memories of tending one with my mother as a child, as well as a desire for a more healthy diet. I am constrained to a minimal budget, and I would really love to hear everyone's best tips for how they saved money using unexpected, non-traditional garden items, oddball tips, or did things themselves! (ie - more than just things like "start from seed instead of buying plants". That's pretty much common sense, I think?)

Or even, what you thought was a great idea that turned out to be not so much a great idea at all!

I'm hoping to hear lots of great stories :-)

Comments (72)

  • Raw_Nature
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Do you grow a green manure to get your straw, or just buy it?

    Appreciate it,
    Joe

  • nc_crn
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I mostly get it for free/cheap after Halloween from people who use bales for decorations, I crop year-round and don't have acreage. Even if I did have acreage I'd rather source it elsewhere than devote the amount of land it would take to source 3" of straw for my garden. What isn't incorporated into the surface is composted after a year and reapplied.

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  • eetchickn
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The way I found free straw was to post an ad on Craigslist. I picked up 14 or so bales that one farmer here couldn't use/sell because it had started to rot. Bad for him but good for me because I can mulch with it and at the end of the season I compost it anyway. I'll be going back for more just to compost.

    Also find a source for free manure. My wife found a horse rescue close to us who will give me all of the green and aged manure I care to take (and he loads it too).

    Starbucks used coffee grounds. Go in and ask for them and they will bag it all up and give it to you. Great for soil tilth and has some nitrogen. Worms LOVE them.

    Make your own compost. I compost the green horse manure and leftover straw, used coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, shredded paper from my office, shredded cardboard, grass clippings, etc.

    Start a worm bin. Red worm castings (and worm castings in general) are phenomenal for your plants. I started one this year for less than $30.

  • bluebirdie
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow! So many good ideas already mentioned... what's left?

    Use cardboard box along walkway/path instead of roundup in the Spring (or any weed season).

    Use recycled foam containers for seedlings transplanted from wet paper towel method (our waste company does not accept foam for recycling). Cut up foam at final transplanting to avoid disturbing roots.

    Soak recycled drip heads in diluted vinegar and detergent water, clean and blow to ensure flow, reuse next season.

    Leave the best of the last corp and allow to dry. Save seeds for next year. Oh wait... duplicated. Scratch!

    Grow vine vertically, and bush in front to save space and water.

    Last but most importantly: plant what you will eat, sow what will grow, and eat what you harvest!

  • Edymnion
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Shop in the grocery store.

    No seriously, you would be surprised how much stuff in there can be used for growing your own.

    You want celery? Buy a bag of it at the grocery store that isn't pre-cut (the kind you have to break off the base yourself). Instead of snapping them off, cut them off and leave the base intact. When you're done with it, leave the short little tufts in the middle alone and plant the base. It will happily root and grow into a new celery plant.

    Virtually all dried beans you can buy in the store will sprout if you soak them first. Buying a bag of lentils in the store is dirt cheap, and you can grow all of them you don't eat.

    Ginger and horseradish root, eat the bottoms of them and then toss the tops in the dirt, and watch them regrow.

    Find your favorite pepper, eat it, plant the seeds you scoop out of it. If it isn't a hybrid, the seed will grow true. If it is hybrid, you'll still get something pretty darned close to what you ate (most of the time).

    Tomatoes will root so easily, I've heard stories of people buying those cherry tomatoes still on the vine in the store, picking the tomatoes off, sticking the vine in the dirt, and it rooted and grew into a full new plant and kept on bearing fruit.

    Find a kind of potato you like (even from those fingerling bags) and plant it. It'll grow in almost anything, and will give you tons of potatoes.

    You would be surprised how much kitchen "waste" you can actually grow back out into perfectly good food plants.

  • star_stuff
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I agree Edymnion about the grocery store ~ very good tips!

    The tip that I can't recommend enough is 'save you leaves!' If you don't have any trees (or enough trees), then you could round up what you can from the neighborhood curbs when they pile them/bag them in the fall.

    Mulch, Mulch, Mulch! And compost too!

    Caroline

  • bart1
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Do comparison shopping when buying seeds. You'll be amazed at how expensive some big and well known places are compared to much smaller outfits.

    I just posted in another thread about potatoes that Territorial sells 2 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes for $15 bucks but DeBruyn sells 5 lbs for $4 and 50 lbs for $19!

    Be careful of shipping costs though......you might save a couple dollars buying a certain type of seed from one place, but the 5 or 7 dollar shipping cost will erase any savings you may have had.

  • Edymnion
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The difference between those two are probably that the Territorial are certified seed potatoes and the DeBruyn are not.

    Practically speaking there is no significant difference. What it means is that the more expensive ones have gone through extra steps and been grown more careful to make sure they are as close to 100% disease free as they possibly can be. The cheaper ones are just the leftovers after they sold the main crop to the supermarkets.

    While that sounds like you should spend the extra money for the certified ones, in all practical ways the uncertified ones are almost as likely to be disease free (as they couldn't sell diseased crops to the food market, as all the major potato diseases show up pretty clearly on the spuds themselves).

    For me, the only reason to ever order seed potato from anywhere is if you are getting a really oddball variety that you can't find in the grocery stores. Ever since Walmart started carrying those bags of red, white, and blue fingerling potatoes though, I haven't had to order any seed stock though. Those purple ones are my favorites. So good...

  • naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    DeBruyn potatoes are certified and grow great. Their retail store is a few towns over from me. Several farm stores and retail nurseries in the area purchase bulk quantities from them and sell small amounts that customers bag themselves for low per pound cost. I know they also ship to stores in cities far away that also resell at low prices.

    Finding a place that sells bulk seeds and tubers that are repackaged by customers or staff can give big savings.This is especially true for potatoes, beans, peas, and corn where the small seed rack quantities are inadequate for those with larger gardens. Many times these are at farm/feed stores and hardware stores in towns near rural areas. Their bulk onion sets and bundles of onion plants are also great buys. Find a place like that near you for big savings if you are planting a large garden.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Great prices on bulk seed and tubers

  • bart1
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Naturegirl beat me to it, but here's what DeBruyn says on their site:

    All the De Bruyn Seed Potatoes are certified seed potatoes. Most varieties come in "B" size, several come in a mixture of "A" & "B" size.

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    wow guys, there is some awesome stuff here! keep it coming :-) I guess I should let you know that my garden is pretty tiny, it's only 4' x 24' so some of this stuff won't apply to me like walking aisle widths etc. But I am really digging (pun intended hehe) all of it, keep it coming! I'll come back with some updates when work isn't so crazy busy...

  • lucillle
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Make a list of the items you need for your garden. Amazon.com has a 'warehouse' for returns or stock with damaged wrapping, much of it is almost new and never out of the package and marked down 20-30%. Tools, fencing, etc. can be good buys there. I got great deals on hardware cloth and free shipping.
    And I've bought a ton of stuff like rakes and hoses and so on at garage sales.

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ok so back to this: a few notes: I am pretty much out of funds for this project and will most likely, as in 99.99% of the time, not be able to buy additional supplies. Hence the title including the words “CHEAP,” “DIY” and “THRIFTY”. I’m going to list what I’ve already done, and what I have seen already in your posts that I think is do-able for me. Some of it just won’t be and I’ll be looking for alternative, creative substitutions.

    To begin, here’s what I’ve already done: the area I’m planting in is 4x24 feet and runs from the back of the house to the garage along our driveway/parking area. The length of it runs east and west, and there is a fence on the north face. Last fall we pulled out all the landscaping (lots of ornamental plants, some gravel, etc) and used a rototiller borrowed from a neighbor to till in piles and piles of leaves. I think it would have amounted to about a foot high across the whole length or so, before tilling in. We went down as far as we could with the rototiller, which was about 12” I think. Over the winter, my father in law dumped the ashes from their fire there.

    This spring, we tilled in 2 bales of peat moss. I did the “mason jar soil test” with my kids, the thought that was great fun. From the looks of it, the balance of sand, silt, clay and organic particulate matter is dead on where it should be. Oh, and my father in law had the soil tested about 6 or 7 years ago and did have a garden there. Maybe even longer ago than that. The kids and I also did a DIY ph test with vinegar and baking soda (separately), and it would appear that our soil is very slightly on the acidic side.

    I planted potatoes and onions last weekend. I did dust the potatoes with sulfur first (have a bunch on hand from the DIY cosmetic stuff I do) so hopefully the ridiculous amounts of rain we’re getting here combined with the cold nights won’t hurt them too badly.

    What I can’t do that everyone seems to think is a necessity: MULCH! I can’t afford it. Not only that, but I hate the smell and how it looks anyway. I know that might be ridiculous, but I’m really looking for some other solutions.

    Shoot, have to run. More update tomorrow.

    Thanks all!!

  • lucillle
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    You seem to be busy. Mulch helps busy people in many ways.
    Sometimes I buy mulch but I also save bags of leaves to use as a mulch. When I was younger and the kids were at home we would go on mulch runs. If someone had multiple bags of leaves put out as trash, we would ask (we were never refused) and bring the leaves home as a mulch. I met a nice person who would actually call and let me know when he was putting out leaves, he had a larger property and often there were 10-15 bags at a time.

  • another_buffalo
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I bet if you talked to a few neighbors, they would be happy to supply you with grass trimmings from their yards. It should be great mulch.

    OK, here is an important factor - use that fence to go verticle with such things a beans, peas, cucs, and even melons. It will give you a lot more space. I'm planting a vining zuccini this year, Trombonni Zuccata or something along that line. It grows as a climbing vine and produces huge, tasty but different looking squash. Here is a link to utube video of it.

    Here is a link that might be useful: climbing zuccini

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ok coming back to this again!

    Some things I can do /am doing: I’ve been saving vegetable and fruit scraps for months. I usually use the veggie scraps to make my own broth, which I will continue to do, but I’m now thinking that the leftover “sludge” I strain out could be placed around the plants or buried around them and then watered down. Fruit stuff I’m thinking of doing “blender composting”, has anyone had good results with this? I also have access to as much coffee grounds as I want from my office, and I am saving egg shells. Haven't seen this mentioned here yet, but planning on doing lots of DIY pest repellant. The bad bugs, not the good ones, that is. I plan to plant daisies, lavendar and marigolds to hopefully attract good bugs and birds. We're in a pretty urban area so there won't be any issues with deer, but possibly problems with rats, mice, raccoons, rabbits and squirrels. Hopefully the hawks will take care of that, as we have several in our neighborhood.

    A couple other things I can’t do: use the fence at all! Wish I could but the neighbor is going to rip it down and put up a new one this summer. Hopefully it doesn’t kill my plants! Also can’t compost, the in laws we live with won’t allow it. And no amount of logic will deter them. I almost gave up on the whole idea when that came up, but I decided it’s not the end of the world.

    Some ideas I really like that I’ll most likely try to do: saving seeds, cloning plants, rain barrels - not sure what to use yet, but hoping for some crafty diy solutions, juicing/freezing - we don’t have canning stuff and can’t buy it but we do have a great food processor and a chest freezer, and no one has mentioned this, but I’m thinking that any time I boil vegetables (to eat) I’ll dump the cooled water around some plants. Not sure if pasta water would be beneficial at all, can anyone weigh in on that? I do want to do a cover crop toward the end of the growing season, we’ll see how much that costs… I really like the ideas about getting things from the grocery store. Going to try some of that!

    Ideas I don’t like: cardboard in the garden. Call me silly, but I want my garden to aesthetically look nice as well, and that just doesn’t seem like it would look pretty. At all. I’m thinking that the grass clippings as mulch might be helpful (and won't look too bad) during our hot season (yes, Chicago has some very hot summer weeks!), but I think I’ll need more explanation on how that works. I’ll do some searching, but I like it as it would be free whereas mulch most definitely is NOT free.

    Also, I’ll of course go do a search right after I post this, but I’m curious what the “volunteer” and “self-seeded” things are?

  • feijoas
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    You mention you don't like the look of mulch. There's an old saying: 'nature abhores a vacuum'. Nature will do its best to cover the 'vacuum' (bare soil) with 'mulch' (weeds) and you'd need to hoe constantly...
    Mulch can be any material that covers the soil, free or otherwise.
    I don't use inorganic mulches like rubber and stone as I want the benefits of them breaking down.
    Do you have a local farm store? Round here we can get the hay/straw floor sweepings for free. Bear in mind it's always loaded with seeds, but lifting it to pull any roots from the soil does the trick.
    I use lots of cooking water on my plants/compost. The main thing to avoid cooking in salted water if you plan to use it on the garden.
    Or tip hot, salty water on weeds in cracks etc away from the garden.

  • nancyjane_gardener
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Be sure that neighbor doesn't mess with your garden! He actually could be liable for any losses if he messes it up!
    Would the in-laws be opposed to just leaves and grass clippings? They are fine on their own (then you could sneak out and bury your kitchen scraps and fruit/vege sludge!)They wouldn't know the difference!
    I use cardboard in the garden during the winter to discourage weeds! I'm right up against acres of horse fields and have to cover them somehow! I remove what's left when planting time comes around.
    Happy gardening! Nancy

  • julia42
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here's another thrifty tip:

    When you save your own seed, save extra. Then, you can trade it for different varieties in the Round Robin Forum here on Gardenweb. I love the seed swaps there, especially the Incredible Edibles Swap. This year I received 67 different varieties of tomato seeds to try out when I participated in the tomato swap!

    Not only are seed swaps thrifty, they're super super fun!

    -Julia

  • nancyjane_gardener
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Julia and all, on that note, here in Sonoma Co we have a seed bank that is open to the public the last weekend of every month. They have a large garden that you can help with or not, and any seeds are free. They also have some sort of class each month. It might be on saving seed, growing wheat, watering techniques....it's different all of the time! Some people grow extra plants just to donate seed. I have sunflower, carrot and cilantro to donate this year.
    You might look into this or even start one! Nancy

  • Creek-side
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think that mulch is anything but a necessity. I never use mulch. Your garden is small enough that a few minutes a day with a hoe or your fingers should keep the weeds down.

  • blueswimmer68
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here is one thing that's saved me money. Get some really big pots cheap ( I got slightly cracked fiberglass type pots at Home Depot for two bucks each by asking nicely- they were going to toss them. I have perennial herbs in the pots, like various types of mint, chives, and oregano. I bring them into my basement each winter, along with the geraniums I use on my front porch. They all go dormant ( basement stays around 55 degrees) and come back strong when I put them outside in the spring. Yearly herbs and flowers with no expense but lugging the pots.

    Let people know you are starting a garden. I got my mints and some bearded irises from a coworker after chatting with her about trying to start my garden. Now I pass along both when I need to divide them. I hate to commit plant murder but sometimes you need to divide things and just don't have anymore room. I love being able to share with another gardener.

    Use cheap bamboo and garden cloth to make a pup tent over your bed to extend the season in fall and spring. I use clothes- pins to clip the remay cloth to the bamboo frame I wire together using twist ties. This lets me grow arugula, kale, and mustard all winter here in Virginia. It's all bolting now that it's warm. People in my garden club all rip theirs out and compost it, but it's still edible. We eat kale tops just before they flower like broccoli florets. Arugula flowers make a great herb or addition to salads. Bolted arugula leaves are slightly more bitter but make great pesto or add them or bolted kale to a creamy potato or pasta casserole for extra vitamins and an herbal kick.

    Your kids will love it if you grow a prolific and tasty cherry tomato like sungold or sweet 100 that they can pick and snack on. Kids also love colored beans like purple royalty or yellow wax. My nephews who are super picky eaters love what they call "fun beans"- chilled crisp yellow wax beans served with yogurt dip I make with dill and chives fom the garden.

    Oh- and I don't mulch my beds. I just plant pretty intensively and weed a little each day. In the fall, I rake all my leaves into a pile and run the lawn mower over it, then spread the chopped leaves around as my winter mulch.

  • leannk92
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My best advice I learned the hard way is to know the difference between patience and procrastination. Impatience is as bad as procrastination.

    One thrifty tip I learned is to use water bottles for replanting. They are free, most everyone will gladly give more than you need, they don't take up much room in a tray, they can be any size you need, and you can see through the bottle to know how dry your soil is getting. Just don't forget to poke holes in the bottom!

  • barbe_wa
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Since almost no one needs as many seeds as most packets contain, you might find someone to share costs with. My neighbor and I each buy different seeds then split the packets. Plant and seed swaps are great, too. Here in Washington, we have several each year and there are always plenty of leftover plants and seeds for newcomers who don't have anything to trade. Gardeners love to share! I agree that Freecycle is a great place to get gardening items. One year I got a huge load of old chicken manure for free just for cleaning out a coop that hadn't been used for many years (so the smell wasn't too bad, and it composted down quickly with added leaves, straw and grass). I give away lots of seedlings every spring to beginning gardeners, and I've received tools, hoses, etc., even 3 huge plastic water cisterns to catch rainwater.

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Feijoas mentions that “nature abhors a vacuum” and while I can’t dispute that, I have to mention again that I cannot afford traditional mulch. So other ideas that are free and easily available (while hopefully still being somewhat pretty? Maybe??) are ideal. Maybe this is a long shot, but what about planting a bunch of wildflowers? Sort of as a cover crop, and/or to attract beneficial insects and birds? Something I can foresee being a problem with this would be how much might that detract from what the plants need, ie, would the wildflowers “eat” more than they should and deprive my actual food crops of necessary nutrients?

    I do plan to be in the garden daily, even if only for a few minutes during each weekday and then much more time on weekends, and it is small so I’m hoping that as creekside mentioned, the maintenance won’t be too much of an issue.

    Nancyjane - I like the idea of “sneaking” in my compost under the leaves and grass clippings lol.

    Some people have mentioned grass matting up and actually preventing moisture from getting to the soil, anyone care to weigh in on this further?

    And Julia, thanks for the seed saving/swapping tip. I do hope I can participate in that!

    Gottaweed - could you elaborate more on the water bottle replanting tip? I like that idea! What exactly is it for? Seedlings? Relocating plants? I don’t personally have many water bottles as we use a filter attached to the sink (bottled water is very expensive in my book!) but I’m sure I can collect a few from around the office and such.

    I do frequent freecycle, but for some reason in my area I haven’t seen much gardening stuff. Maybe the time of year has something to do with it.

    These are all so great, thanks all!

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    In the spirit of this post, here is the most recent DIY thingy DH made for me. (I'm so lucky, he's amazingly handy!)

    These are rain gutters that were cut to fit under the a-frames made from pallets, which the kids and I then planted lots of leaf lettuce in. There are small holes drilled every so often along the bottom to allow for drainage, and they are capped at the ends with more holes drilled there as well.

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Also, as mentioned by one of the very first people to respond to this post, I am working on the wet-napkin-in-baggies germination thing. *fingers crossed*

  • sharon1965
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    No heat mats? No problem! I used my car and microwave. Weird? Yes, but they seeds love it.
    For your car: protect the interior with old sheets, and stick your pots/flats in there. The back window is perfect.
    (I did drive around with them a couple of times.)
    Microwave: protect the inside with plastic, paper towels, newspaper, whatever will work for you.
    Crack the door to trigger the interior light and turn on the light below if your microwave is the type that has a stove fan.
    My seeds germinated fast using these methods. :)

  • leannk92
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Purple1701, I cut the tops off the water bottles and drill holes in the bottom. I transplant my seedlings into them. They're the perfect size!

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Sharon - with the microwave, did you actually turn it on? with the plants in there or before to warm it up? I'm a little confused about that one, but intrigued lol. My microwave is a countertop style, and not very big, so not sure if/how this might affect this method.

    Gottaweed - thanks for clarifying! So you keep the seedlings in there until they reach a certain size I would guess. And I would imagine that this might be ideal for smaller plants, but maybe not for some larger ones, or ones that grow really fast or have super active and deep root systems.

  • runswithscissors
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    - Do not use shortcut peat pots or those jiffy 7's or the newer coco coir pellets. The only things these are good for is the compost pile.

    - Grass and straw mulch attracts worms...like crazy. So does cardboard and newpaper, but I agree that it's ugly and gets loose in the wind. A flying sheet of cardboard can easily decapitate a prized tomatoe. For this stuff to be used in my yard it has to be used in conjunction with other mulch piled on top, making the worms very, very happy.

    - My best tip that has helped me the most over the years - Living mulch! There are so many to choose from, but my favorite for the vegetable garden is crimson clover (NOT to be confused with red clover). It's not very cold hardy for my area, so I would imagine Chicago winters will kill it too. It blooms a very bright red making it pretty and useful. It attracts bees big time so that helps with pollination, and yet it doesn't suffer from any pests or disease. It isn't a water hog per se, as it actually shades the ground conserving moisture while crowding out weeds. If planted a week or two behind the veggies, it won't over-take them, as it does grow fairly fast, but not tooooo fast. Once the veggies get taller in mid-late summer they begin to shade the clover, making it less prone to reseeding itself, and, as I stated earlier, it mostly dies out in winter. But the little bit that does survive easily rototills in next spring and adds nitrogen to the soil. I absolutely love this stuff and buy 10 lbs every year to scatter willy nilly where I need to keep weeds at bay. (costs way less than bales of straw) Having said all of this: not all clover is created equal. Red clover (which is actually purple, who names these things?) as well as white dutch, yellow, or basically any other clover besides crimson will become a nightmare in your garden if scattered "willy nilly"! It is so clovery-recognizable that it's easy to pull just the weeds and keep the clover.

    p.s. I don't rototill much, as I prefer the lasagna method more and more, but I still have not found any volunteer reseeding to be invasive.

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I really like the "living mulch" idea... I have a box of wildflower seed that I was thinking of using for this purpose. I know that it would multiply, but unless it's going to actually detract from the things I'm growing for edible purposes, I don't mind that. I would love to see flowers all mixed in with my veggies... but is this a terrible idea?? This is something I just happen to have on hand, whereas buying more seed is not in my budget. So I'm really hoping I can do it.

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Ok so no wildflowers as living mulch, someone answered that for me elsewhere. Any more great thrifty diy ideas out there?

  • bcskye
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm using a piece of unused guttering left over from when we built our house for my strawberry plants. I got end caps for it and will punch holes in the bottom then mount on one of the cross pieces of wood coming off of the corner post to the next post for my garden fencing. Also, I always sit planted containers of seeds on my clothes dryer when drying the laundry. They germinate so much quicker. I have a heat mat, but don't think I've ever used it.

  • seysonn
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks ladies and gentlemen. I am just amazed with the wealth of tips and information given here.

    Special thanks to the starter with this great idea and also to Raw_Nature.
    I will have to come back, many times to read ..asnd read again.
    I hvae a few tips too. Most of them already revealed..haha.
    - - Why buy twines, when you have some old T-shirts, especially green ones. They are east to strip to tie plants. They are also much better than hard , cutting twines,
    --- Never bough seed starter kit or mix. I buy some pearlite, some peat moss, Then I sift some good old garden soil and compost and mix all together. I I had some dry leaves (maple..etc) I crush them and mixed in as well..
    ..

  • mckenziek
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Don't know about your location, but where I live (Santa Cruz mountains of California) pocket gophers are a plague. So my tip is, use wood-framed raised beds with half-inch hardware cloth attached to the bottom. Use staples, nails or screws to securely attach the hardware cloth with no gaps that a gopher could fit through.

    --McKenzie

  • seysonn
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    About "living Mulch"

    Wild flowers idea does not seem practical to me, because some of them can grow and overwhelm the things that you have planted. But there are a few green mulch ideas that I know:'1) plant clovers.. (2) plant fenugreek. I like fenugreek for two reason: One , it is edible. Two its root can improve the soil by producing nitrogen.( gets it from air). Right now I have planted fenugreek around my tomatoes. You can also plant cilantro. Again, it is an edible vegetable . Both of those are "Cool Crops" and should foine in zone 5. Before they get to tall, just cut them off the ground(leaving the roots in place).
    Clover is similar in soil improving characteristis to fenugreek, but not edible. But its roots and top can make a nice green manure in addition to green mulch.

  • sharon1965
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi Purple! Sorry it took so long No I just cracked the door so the light would stay on and I turned the light underneath the microwave to get even more heat to the seeds. I have a Kenmore Microhood so it has a fan and a light for the stove. http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_02285039000P?sid=IDx01192011x000001&kispla=02285039000P&srccode=cii_17588969&cpncode=30-172493953-2

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    does the glue dissolve once planted? is there any possibility it might hurt the plant or hinder it's growth?

  • silverkelt
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Feed stores will sell seeds at the season for 75%-95% of at times, Ive bought green beans at 5 cents a packet before..

    Stores like christmas tree shop here in the northeast will have seeds at 50% off retail pricing at big box stores like home depot or lowes.

    Pine Tree seeds in Maine is a great cheap source for seeds, they really are pretty reasonable vs others.

    Im a fan of yukun golds , so I just save a couple when its time..

    There isnt much better thing in the universe then a fresh dug potatoe, grilled with some fresh dug garlic cloves and some butter...

    After pricing what wood would cost me at Home depot to make some raised beds (near 300 a year ago) This spring I made my own beds with fallen wood and cut down trees I was going to cut down anyways.. worked out fairly well and it was free.

  • bcskye
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Purple, the glue is water soluble, will dissolve in the ground as will the paper towels. No problem with hurting the plant or hindering the growth. This is the Elmer's glue they let kids use in school and is safe. If using the glue still bothers you, you can make a paste of flour and water to use. So far I have all my radish, beet and carrot seed mats done. Will be doing others tonight, like lettuce, spinach, kale, turnips and swiss chard.

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Loving this thread. So many great ideas! Anyone care to share a DIY project they thought would be time/$$ saver that turned out to be a nightmare? (or even just plain silly??)

  • singleton165
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Great thread!
    Purple, if you don't layer the grass too thickly for mulch, it doesn't mat up and repel water. I use a thin layer many times throughout the summer and it works fine for me.

    I plan on making newspaper pots this spring to transplant seedlings before they're ready for the garden. Looks easy enough, and cheap.

  • briergardener_gw
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I mix flour with water and fish fertilizer to use a glue for making seed tapes.

    Use gutters to grow seedlings:
    add soil, plant seeds (you can do it on potting bench), take care of them and when they big enough just slide soil with seedling in your veggie bed.

  • seysonn
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Now that we are approaching 2014 planting time, I like to think about seedlings protection. Here are the things I have read and like. And definitely I will use them myself.


    Cut off the top neck part of 2 liter clear water/soda bottles to protect you seedlings in cool weather in early spring, by inverting over them. You can make a few hole at the bottom (now top, when inverted) to breathe. Gallon or 1/2 gal. milk jugs can be used similarly, by cutting off the bottom.
    They are also used (uncut) as wall-O-water.

    How about using the clear plastic domes on the cake containers ? They can keep the sowed seeds warmer until they germinate.

  • courtneysgarden
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    One good tip I learned (from trial & error, then much research) is to plant and harvest things at the proper time for your growing zone- even in places like california where people might tell you "oh you can grow anything there all year round"... not true! some plants are warm season, some are cool season, some like to overwinter, some are annual, some are perennial, some are biennial, etc. Research each plant, and also don't assume plants that seem similar will have the same needs, for example peas and beans both come in bush and vining varieties and grow in pods, but peas like cool weather while beans like it hot- except for a few certain beans that actually do prefer it cool... Also, potatoes can tolerate cool weather while sweet potatoes don't. Kale & lettuces grow best in cool weather while chard seems to do fine in hot or cool. You get the idea. If you plant things at the wrong time you'll be wasting your time and the seeds- I tried lettuce when it was too late to be planting it and in the heat of summer it went straight to bolt. I've planted zucchini and tomatoes when it was too cold for them and they grew poorly and didn't produce fruit. Harvest times are just as important as planting times- I planted radishes once and they didn't seem to get big enough by harvesting time so I thought I could just let them keep growing for a while longer- but found out that if you leave them in the ground too long they get tough and too spicy and shrivel up instead of getting bigger! Also it may be tempting to let a zucchini get huge, thinking it will just provide more food when you let a fruit get 2 feet long... No! Harvest them young & tender and about the size they sell them in the grocery store (or smaller), any larger and you get a hard shell, lots of seeds, and very little (and quite tasteless) flesh.

    Moral of these stories is to research each fruit or veggie you want to grow & follow the "directions", it will mean the difference between success & failure!

    Also- healthy soil is #1 important thing for plants - no chemical fertilizer! Compost is your best friend. Mulch is your other best friend- use what is available & free- leaves & pine needles are what I use.

    Good luck!!!

  • purple1701
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi all! Gearing up for this year’s (my second woohoo!) attempt at vegetable gardening.
    Last year went pretty well, although I took on a bit too much so am scaling back a bit. I just checked up on this post and saw some new tips, so I wanted to say thank you for your input!

    Brier �" I used gutters to grow leaf lettuce last year, they worked great!
    Seysonn �" given that I am going to be growing some tomatoes from seeds I saved out of last year’s crop, I feel like I’ll be a bit more emotionally attached to them and really appreciate the inverted bottle tip! We have had such crazy weather so far, I’m sure it will come in handy.

    I know I'll be referring back to this post a lot, there are some great tips here :-)

  • oliveoyl3
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    My family built me raised beds from free or cheap used concrete blocks. The growth was amazing our 1st year. I posted some photos last spring on the accessibility forum after I broke my ankle.

    Check out the winter sowing forum for an easy way to start your seeds because indoor lights & watering is a pain. Milk cartons or cake trays are easy & free!

    Here is a link that might be useful: concrete raised beds

  • karoliberty OKC zone 7a
    7 years ago

    just had a great time reading all of these tips on this old thread and wondering if OP purple made the transition to houzz? how was 2014?