Veggie Gardening for NO $ at All!
Pick a space that thrills you! Backyard, front yard, street strip, a cheerful sunny spot where you can put a bench or a comfortable outdoor chair. Put it near a water source.
Tools – A shovel and trowel will get you started! A pitchfork is handy for turning compost. Check Craigs free, see if a neighbor or friends have extras they are not using.
If you want raised beds, they can be simple frameless mounds, or frame them with reused lumber, logs, a natural stone border, cement blocks, old kiddie swimming pools – get creative!
Prepare your soil! The least work is making a mound on the ground! It starts with twigs, straw (not hay), stuff that allows air flow. Then layer on green wet stuff, dry brown stuff, 2 wet to 1 dry ratio. The smaller the bits the faster the decomposition. This is the same as sheet composting, literally making soil in place, often called lasagna gardening. Same, same. If you have a raised bed system, build your ‘pile’ right in the bed! No digging, no moving compost! Greens might be your neighbor’s grass clippings. Your straw might come from your local feed store; usually they will let you sweep it up for free! During the fall, after pumpkin events, outdoor events or displays, straw bales are often given away for the taking! These already-starting-to-decompose bales are perfect for gardening! If you get really adventurous, check out Hugelkultur!
Scout for free manures. Check Craig’s list, free items. Make sure no pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers have been used, and animals not fed hormones and the animals themselves are healthy. All you need are trash cans or buckets or big strong trash bags to carry stuff in. If you don’t have a car, do small loads on/by bus, or invite a friend who has a car/van/truck on an adventure with you; repay them with some of your harvest!
If you don’t have a yard area, containers are kosher! Any container will do as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom, or along the side if you are setting up a self-watering system. It can be a 5 gallon bucket to a lovely 1/2 wine barrel! Anything that will hold soil will do! Hang it on the fence, the balcony railing, the wall. Grow plants in the window! Get up on the roof (be sure that is safe for the weight)!
Get thee to the Foodbank for free seeds! Seeds there that are donated by local gardeners are adapted to our local climate niche!
Great good stuff from your organic grocery store! Eat some, use the rest in your garden! Get fava and beans seeds by the pound, unradiated potatoes for slips and eyes, mini onions for onion sets. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for seeds.
Scout for trellising materials for your winter peas. Peas have small tendrils, so wire type materials work well for them, or a string system. Old tomato cages will do if that’s all you have available.
Get free mulch for pathways at the Transfer Station, or call your local arborist for free delivery of chipped trees. Ask for the kind of tree you want and size of chips you want. Tell them it is for a veggie garden and you want disease, pesticide and herbicide free materials. They are happy to save the dump fee.
Check Craigs free list for garden goodies and plant giveaways.
Save seeds to keep it going! Save some for flavorings, like cilantro/coriander! And if you have extra, please give some back to the Foodbank seed library. There are many who will be grateful for your sharing.
If you go to your local nursery and can’t help yourself, remember, that $3 tomato plant will make pounds and pounds of tomatoes over a season! A $2.99 6 pack of kale or chard will feed a family all year long! A few strawberry plants will produce tons of delicious berries for your breakfasts or healthy snacking! Dry your herbs for seasonings! Give as gifts!