o people quip that you’re such a
skinflint that you still have your
first pay cheque money? Live
up to your reputation with our
Fill the bottom one-third, of a large
container with dead leaves and
shredded paper. This lessens how much
potting mix you have to buy. You can
also line raised beds with dead leaves
before backfilling with soil. In autumn,
top the bed with more leaves to make up
for those that decompose below.
When buying perennials, look for
large specimens that are ready to
be divided. They may cost more initially,
but you can split off extra plants to use
elsewhere in the garden, or to trade with
gardening buddies for something you
Collect pine cones to use as
ornamental toppers for potted
plants. They’re also great for starting
Build a dry stack wall with tiles; it
looks surprisingly good, and the
concrete fragments are often free to
take from the construction sites (ask
first though). Another idea is to build a
wall with old concrete blocks, mortared
together and sprayed with outdoor paint.
Stagger spring-vegetable sowings
and use varieties with different
maturity dates. This will result in a
longer span of productivity (means
fewer trips to the grocery store) and
better-spaced harvest (so you’re not
wasting food). If you do have produce to
share, share it with your neighbours or
gift it to your friends.
Scour local furniture shops, and
thrift stores for items that can be
used as garden trellises and stakes.
It’s much cheaper than buying new,
and you get to be creative. For a natural
look, make stakes and trellises, with
branches tied with twines. You can also
contact your local
shelves or racks that can be reworked
into a trellis.
Put old tyres to use. Stack them
in the garage shed to hold long-
handled tools or treat them as miniature
raised beds. For instance, you might
plant each tyre with a tomato plant
circled by basil and marigolds. Or let
peas trail down and hide the tyre.
Save your seeds at the end of the
season; it’s cheaper than buying.
Heirloom plants grown from saved
seed will be true to form, while hybrids
sometimes end up as whacky wonders
(but that’s part of the fun!).
Reuse old containers. A grated
Parmesan cheese container
distributes grass seed fairly well. Use
empty prescription bottles to hold small
seeds, vitamin jars for large seeds, and
coffee cans and jugs for storing nuts.
And if you employ jelly jars or old bottles
the next time you take flowers to a
friend, you won’t need to worry about
getting your vases back!
Collect pine needles for mulch
rather than buying packaged
fertilizers. Look for pine trees around
your house, as they drop a third of
their needles each winter rather than
sporadically throughout the year. You
can also reuse neem leaves by using like
mothballs to preserve woolens.
Save the plastic nursery containers
from trees and shrubs (or ask your
local garden centre for some leftovers).
Decorate with paint specially formulated
for plastic and add stencils if desired.
Use a kids’ pool as a holding
pen for potted plants, while on
vacation or during summer. The pool
will collect excess water and make it
available to the potted plants while
When pruning, save the
trimmings. They make a great
summer mulch, as famous garden
writer Ruth Stout discovered half a
century ago when she pioneered her
no-till gardening method. You save the
bother of disposing of the debris, yet
the trimmings conserve soil moisture,
smother weeds, and feed the soil.
Use cardboard toilet tissue
spools as collars, around freshly
planted vegetable seedlings, to protect
against worms early in the season.
Paper-towel spools also work if they’re
cut to size.
Wrap tinfoil around the stems of
woody plants in winter, to guard
against gnawing by field animals. Attach
the foil loosely all the way up to the
first set of branches. Remove the foil in
spring, to allow for renewed growth of
the plant. By protecting your old plants
you will save money on planting afresh.
Prune trees when they’re young
to avoid the cost and toil of major
trimming years from now. A few snips
from a hand pruner now beats a pulsating
chainsaw massacre in 20 years. By caring
for your plants in the beginning, you can
save time and money later.