Frugal Gardening Techniques

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April 6, 2011 by Leah

Here are some ways I’m attempting to practice frugality in the garden.

The frugal seed trays:

Frugal seed tray

Yes, those are toilet paper tubes we’ve been saving since last summer. I cut them in half, and theoretically they can just get popped right in the garden to biodegrade as the seedlings flourish. Note: write on them BEFORE you fill them with dirt, otherwise you end up squinting at the arcane markings on the tubes and wondering when a demented three-year-old got into your yard.

The frugal grass killer:

Frugal grass killer

This happy discovery was brought to you by my forgetfulness. A couple of weeks ago, I left a bag of mulch or potting soil or something in the yard by our front gate, and when it came time for me to go get it, I discovered the grass underneath the bag was completely dead (although there were a few slugs hanging on for dear life). So dead it would have been super-easy to tear out the grass and till the soil underneath it. Okay, okay – putting plastic over grass to kill it is actually a well-known gardening technique. I think the heavy soil in the plastic bag helped speed up the grass-killing process though.

So, yes, those are six bags of organic planting compost. Not really frugal? I kind of agree. I bought the Groupon (hear that with an “I drank the Koolaid” inflection) and then had to spend $50 at Armstrong’s in one fell swoop. I bought more seeds, some orange thyme, and used the rest on planting compost, because I can always find a use for good dirt.

I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I need a new garden bed. I keep thinking of the kinds of things we eat all the time, that are a million times better when grown at home, that keep well, and that I didn’t put in the garden plan. (Carrots.) And failures from the winter garden that have me chomping at the bit to prove I can grow them. (Beets.) Plus, I’m going to want lettuce after next week, when our first crop will be ready. And where am I going to put all the amazing tomatoes I’m planning on growing to subsidize the fact that fresh organic heirloom tomatoes can cost up to $5 per pound?

Thus, I bought all this planting compost at once today and am using it to create my next garden bed. I figure I need to try another one where we kill and rip out the grass and add some edging since I’m having so many issues with grass coming through my lasagna gardens at this juncture.

Finally, we have the frugal poles:

Frugal poles

We have reached a detente with the mandatory landscaping staff. After a chilly encounter between myself, Duke, and their chief troublemaker this weekend, my favorite gardener Jay was back on the scene today. I saw him showing Chief Troublemaker (aka “the youngest guy who has a need to prove himself”) how to help take care of our banana trees and thought perhaps the time was right for a summit. So, I went outside, waved, and yelled, “thank you!”

I was rewarded by smiles and the information that they will be coming to mow on a weekly basis now. I said I’d have things in the yard picked up for them if that is indeed to be the case. Jay grinned and offered me more stakes for my beans. Since I’m growing two kinds of beans and planning on many tomatoes, I accepted this offer with equanimity (actually that’s not true, I was downright enthusiastic), and came home to find the poles had been dropped over my fence while I was out this afternoon. Hooray for improving relationships with the people who hang out near my tender seedlings while wielding power tools!

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