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Frugal Gardening Tips to Save Time and Money

Get more for less with a little planning.

“It cost us more to grow our tomatoes than if I would’ve bought a few bushels to can from the Farmer’s Market.” David, our plumber said as he was replacing our well pump.1)

David was discouraged that they had put so much time and money into growing tomatoes, only to end up with a disappointing yield. We didn’t get into all the details of what they did or didn’t do for their tomato crop that might’ve made a difference, but we totally understand the feeling.

Beginning gardeners often get discouraged when they realize that gardening is not as simple as planting seeds and ending up with an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Gardening definitely takes work—and money—in the form of fertilizers (or compost that you build up over time), soil amendments, row covers, hoses, mulch, tools, etc.

But there are ways to set up your garden to take less time and less money. AND, the good news, is that with some simple organic strategies:

Gardening costs diminish each year while yields increase.

Editor’s Note: When we shared this article on the Gardens All Facebook page, several folks commented that they’re already doing this. I.e., this $0 gardening is already working for them! Yahoo! So we’ve posted some of these comments at the end of the last page, for you to enjoy…. and to see that this is totally realistic for all of us. But first, let’s learn more from some seasoned pros!

We enjoyed reading this article from blogger, master gardener and landscape artist, Claire Jones. Claire has done it all and shares the best tips from her 30 years of gardening experience.

So let’s get into it!

Starting Seeds — Waste or Savings?

By Clair Jones on


Yes, starting seeds will save you some money if you do it right. But think of your startup costs – grow lights, heating mats, growing medium, containers, seeds, fertilizer, space, and unexpected happenings like forgetting to water for a few days.

Some plants are a waste to buy. Direct seeD these.

There are some plants that are a waste to buy because they’re easy and inexpensive to grow from seeds.

Direct Sow Vegetable Seeds

  • Cucumber
  • Corn
  • Beans
  • Melons
  • Squash
  • Lettuce
  • Herbs

Direct seed these when the soil warms up.

Direct Sow Flowers

  • Zinnias
  • Poppies
  • Cosmos
  • Sunflowers
  • Marigolds
  • Tithonia

These flowers grow easily from seed and it would be throwing money away to buy plants of these as plants cost a lot more than the seeds! Direct seeded plants will also typically outperform transplants as they are already rooted in.

Usually, the larger the seed the easier to germinate.

For veggies, grow what your family likes and will eat. And try to grow things that are pricey at the market, such as asparagus, fancy mixed greens, artichokes, tomatoes, and peppers. Also, you have the opportunity to grow things that you can’t buy at the market. If space is a premium, don’t grow things such as pumpkins, corn, and winter squash which eat up the ground and produce too little produce for the room invested.

Save money by growing your favorite expensive fruits and vegetables.


Berry Investment

Berries are expensive, but easy to grow and super healthy. So if you can grow berries, that’s a real plus!

We’re growing blueberries, goji berries, figs and Fuyu persimmons… all expensive to buy but easy to grow and oh so delicious and nutritious!

Some of our other berries didn’t make it, but we’ll keep adding inventory to our berry crops each year.

We eat these fresh and raw, use them for smoothies and freeze any surplus to ration out over the winter for fresh off-season enjoyment. And of course you can also preserve them by making jams and wine, but our preference is fresh or fresh frozen for the maximum nutrition and natural flavor.

Next:  a 4:24 minute video introducing how your garden can cost less each year while producing more, through organic frugal gardening methods.

Frugal Gardening

Natural farming methods provide free resources that increase soil fertility and garden productivity. These methods lead away from needing to travel to purchase expensive fertilizers, saving both time and money.

This video from One Yard Revolution with Patrick Dolan, shares useful information on growing a lot of food on a little land using sustainable organic methods, which keep costs and labor at a minimum.

And… btw, you’ll see from the comments shared below the video, that some folks in the Gardens All Facebook community are already doing this too!

Editor’s Note: When we shared this article on the Gardens All Facebook page, several folks commented that they’re already gardening for a zero sum cost!

Thomas Zebley – I let last few tomatoes fall and peppers , and this year counted ten tomatoes not sure yet about how many peppers coming up and will move them when they get bigger.

Another member said – I spent exactly $0 this year and already have so much food! Saving seeds and making compost all year got me from $150 total last year to $0. Every year has become less and less money spent, and more and more food to eat!

More articles you may enjoy, include natural composting and putting your yard to work for you and, backyard urban farming.

Happy growing!

We are an online gardening publication sharing all things garden related! Including urban farming, family gardening, homesteading, gardening for profits, and more. We’re all about growth!

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