Cheap Gardening Hacks

By Luciana Wong

Gardening doesn’t have to be expensive to be exciting and rewarding. In fact, with the right knowledge, gardening is a relatively cheap and sustainable hobby which you should try out if you haven’t already. Keep reading for cheap gardening hacks and tips!

Planting and Watering

When planting crops and flowers, try to group them closer together rather than leaving large spaces between them. Practicing permaculture helps to reduce weed populations while also conserving water. Companion planting also diversifies ecosystems as different plants intermingle and collaboratively bring in beneficial insects like bees and butterflies while repelling unwanted pests.

Plant propagation, or creating new plants, can be done cost-effectively by pulling apart roots of a plant with multiple stalks and replanting them, to get several smaller plants. Otherwise, seeds can also be stored and saved for their next suitable seasons, by drying and then packing them into airtight zip locks or containers. It’s also very easy to grow plants by soaking the offshoots of food scraps (e.g. garlic, potatoes, onions, and spring onions, etc) in water until they grow roots, which can then be transplanted into soil.

If you’re lucky and have a large garden, you can also try hügelkultur (hoo-gul-culture), which includes building a hill mound with logs, branches, leaves, grass clippings, cardboard, manure, compost or any other biomass, and topping it with a layer of soil for planting produce. It’s great because the wood and cardboard matter will gradually decay, while providing a long-term source of nutrition, aeration, and water to the plants.

Something to note when watering your plants, is that it’s best to do it in the morning. That’s because mornings tend to be cooler and less breezy, meaning less water is lost to evaporation. On the other hand, watering at night can sometimes over moisten a plant due to the lack of sunlight, making them more vulnerable to fungal and bacterial diseases.

A common concern for many gardening beginners is the possibility of forgetting to water your plants. An easy solution to this concern is to build your own slow-release watering system. All you have to do is find a clean and empty milk jug, bottle or soda can, poke a few holes into its base and fill it half with water, before sinking it into your soil. This cheap and automatic watering mechanism improves drainage and soil aeration when used appropriately.

Upcycling everyday items

Besides composting kitchen food and waste scraps, old furniture and typical household items can also be upcycled for your gardening goals. Unused chairs, bikes and even cupboards can be reinvented to store your plants while also acting as decoration. Empty wine and plastic bottles can be cut and remodelled to work like pots or vases, as well. Unused cardboard boxes and plastic packaging from online shopping deliveries can be reused as compost or as mulch for choking out weeds too.

Managing pests

Pest control doesn’t have to be expensive or toxic for your produce either. Simple deterrents include sprinkling cinnamon, slightly crushed eggshells, or coffee grounds onto soil. These can work as fertilizers and barriers against diseases or soft-bodied garden pests like ants, snails, and slugs. Beer is another safe and easy way of preventing slugs from destroying your plants; a small amount leaves a yeasty smell that lures the pests but drowns them in ethanol, removing the need to test and purchase expensive commercial products. A diluted dishwashing liquid and oil mixture spray is also a cheap home remedy for smothering pests like aphids and whiteflies.

Be sure to check out The Producer’s Podcast: EncourageMINT on Spotify or Spreaker for more gardening tips, ideas and produce-related stories!

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