Low-Cost Veggie Gardening

by Tammy Taylor

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Y’all know I love my veggie garden.  There’s just something about grabbing that wicker basket on my way out the door and strolling out to the gated garden, spending lots of time in there just harvesting fresh veggies while enjoying the sunshine and singing birds, the butterflies and the beauty of the garden itself.

I was enjoying time in the garden recently while transplanting some tender heirloom seedlings that I started in my indoor greenhouse several weeks ago.  But in our part of NE Texas the spring breezes can get pretty stiff and I often have problems with the wind bending & killing my tender seedlings.  So I set out to find a way to protect them until they grew strong enough to fend for themselves.  It got me to thinking about how many things I accomplish in the garden by thinking outside the box & using what I have right here on the ranch.

Keep the cost of vegetable gardening low by thinking outside the box. Come see the various items we use to fill needs in the garden. #TexasHomesteader

For instance, I found a clever way to protect those seedlings.  I pulled some small twigs with many dividing branches and pushed the stem into the ground on the north side of each of my tender seedlings.  When the south wind blows the twig will keep it from bending the stem of the seedling.  So far it’s worked great. And it’s FREE.

Twigs to prop tender seedlings. Keep the cost of vegetable gardening low by thinking outside the box. Come see the various items we use to fill needs in the garden. #TexasHomesteader

Mulching The Garden

I also needed a way to cover the bare soil between the seedlings.  As any gardener knows, bare soil WILL be filled by Mother Nature but in all probability it will be filled by something you DON’T want in your garden…  weeds.

Then I remembered that just two days earlier RancherMan used the tractor to mow between the fence & the road.  The rye grass there was tall and there was lots of it!  I figured that rye grass is a cool-weather grass so even though there were probably rye seeds in the grass it shouldn’t interfere with summertime veggie growing.  And I often plant rye grass in the garden in the fall anyway to grow a living mulch during the winter, tilling it all under in the early spring.

So I took my rake and a large bucket out to that section of the property and raked up bucketfuls of this beautiful hay and brought it into my garden, laying it out between the plants.  It worked like a charm keeping the soil cooler as the temps heated up, preserving moisture in the garden as well as covering the soil to prevent weeds and grasses from popping up.  Hey less weeding in the garden is a definite WINNER for me!

Compost Can Be FREE Fertilizer!

Of course I rely heavily compost. I have a *Compost Tumbler (and I LOVE it!) but you can make compost in wire cages, pallet sections or just on the ground! And your compost materials can actually be free. On top of the traditional food scraps, I use Repurposed Cardboard for my ‘browns’ requirement. And heck since we have cattle, I’m often adding Manure too!

Are you nervous about composting? Don’t worry, Compost Doesn’t Stink! Properly balanced compost simply smells like rich healthy earth. If you’re wondering where to start, I wrote a helpful Guide On Composting.

Weed Control Using Repurposed Paper

And I wrote recently about how I wet down some feed sacks, cut out a hole for my plant and lay the wet paper on the surrounding ground.  I then cover with hay or grass clippings to hide the paper & give it a more finished look.  This means I won’t have to mow or weed-eat in this tight space that would otherwise be near impossible to maintain.

Plus the paper cover helps keep the soil temperature steady while also preserving the moisture around my cucuzzi plant helping it to grow fast & strong.  I’ve never grown cucuzzi before & I can’t wait to see what it will do!

Repurposed Items To Tie Plants

But that’s not the only way I use feed sacks.  I have blackberry vines growing in the garden next to the exterior fence &  I’m using the heavy cotton string from that bag of cattle cubes to tie the vines along the fence, making them grow where I want them to.  This helps keep the vines off the ground (where they would root and spread like wildfire making this plant a nuisance) and it also keeps the vines growing in a more convenient height & spread-out pattern to simplify the harvest of those sweet berries.  As the vines grow they cover the string making it almost invisible so this area of my garden stays beautiful as well.

I’ve also used strips cut from plastic bags to tie my plants. The beauty of this is that the plastic gives a bit as the plant grows. I’ve tied tomatoes to a trellis and my grapevine to the fence using strips of plastic bag. Heck as much as I hate plastic & try to shun it coming into our home, I’ll be dang sure to use it fully before throwing it away!

Plastic ties for plants. Keep the cost of vegetable gardening low by thinking outside the box. Come see the various items we use to fill needs in the garden. #TexasHomesteader

Plant Markers, No Charge

And here’s a cute idea:  I planted various herbs as part of my edible landscape at my front porch.  To identify these plants I took rocks that are found on our property and a black paint pen and marked the name of each herb on the rock – Basil, Sage, Oregano, Thyme, etc.  It gives a  rustic country look to my landscape.

Plant marker using painted rock. Keep the cost of vegetable gardening low by thinking outside the box. Come see the various items we use to fill needs in the garden. #TexasHomesteader

I even got a huge amount of bark mulch for FREE using a tip from my county extension agent.  Who knew??!!

I used those wood chips to line walkways throughout my garden and in subsequent years I’ll till ’em in to help improve my soil every year. And once again… FREE!

Now what about your garden?  How do you repurpose things around your home to keep down the cost of gardening?

~TxH~

My Favorite Garden Hacks

My favorite gardening hacks all in one place. #TexasHomesteader

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44 thoughts on “Low-Cost Veggie Gardening

  1. Karen

    My favorite is that you painted the rock with the herb. That is a fantastic idea I am going to borrow. Thanks for sharing at Let’s Get REal Friday. Oh and cucs are easy to grow.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      LOL – I love the way those painted rocks look in the garden, Karen. And I used rocks I found right here on our ranch so they’re a part of this property in the greatest sense of the word. ~TMH~

      Reply
  2. Next to Natural

    These are some super creative solutions for typical gardening problems. Thanks for sharing at Simply Natural Saturdays!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m a big fan of “Use Whatcha Got” thinking – this has certainly worked well for our garden. ~TMH~

      Reply
  3. Karen Del Tatto

    Thank you for sharing such an informative post! We had a garden years ago, but the critters ie. ground hogs and rabbits became relentless and we haven’t had one since. 🙁 There truly is nothing like growing your own vegetables and it is so therapeutic to work in the garden. 🙂 Blessings.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I was worried about critters when we started planning my veggie garden after moving here. RancherMan put a pretty fence around the garden area but although it looked beautiful it certainly wouldn’t keep the rabbits out. So he lined the bottom 18″ of my garden fence with chicken wire, rolling the bottom 6″ or so outward so they couldn’t dig under. We’ve got lots of rabbits out here yet they’ve not been able to get to my garden. So far the squirrels have left it alone too for some reason. Dumb luck maybe?? But I agree with you, it’s so therapeutic to work in the garden. ~TMH~

      Reply
  4. Angela @ Setting My Intention

    Thanks for the grass tip. We don’t have hay like material but we do have free wood mulch available to us from the city! I repurposed our sandbox into a garden bed this year and used old seed packets which so far have germinated!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      RancherMan likes to mulch the grass & leave it when he mows but I beg him to give me one bag full at least – grass clippings are invaluable in my garden since they’re already chopped so small. Careful not to put freshly-cut grass next to your plants, they’ll burn. I always set the clippings aside for a few days until they cool, then use them as top dressing over the grass mulch already laid down in previous sessions. Works beautifully for me! ~TMH~

      Reply
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  6. lisa M

    You always have the best ideas! I just love your garden markers! So cute. Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday! We’d love to have you back again this week! ~Lisa

    Reply
  7. Elaine

    Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday Link Party!! Hope to see you tomorrow!! Pinned!!

    Reply
  8. Teresa stuth

    I really enjoy your blog and articles. I especially like this article about mulching. We just started mulching our garden this year, it’s fully planted, but my plants aren’t growing as fast and big as I thought they would. But, from my understanding it takes a few years for all the mulch to break down and begin to be beneficial to your garden. I am composting as well and can’t wait to see the benefits of using it in my garden. I am looking forward to not watering as often, as you know this Texas heat takes the moisture right out without a ground cover. So as for me, I’ll wait it out and see how it progresses, there’s surely multiple benefits of mulching. Thank you for your inspiration and encouraging articles.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Teresa, you will improve your garden soil bit by bit, the difference will be amazing. And the mulching will help your plants withstand the heat and dry summers here. Keep up the good work. ~TMR~

      Reply
  9. All that's Jas

    I reused the piece of an old wire fence to make trellises for cucumbers and peas. Good luck with cucuzzi (that’s a new one for me), hope you’ll share some yummy recipes later! Thank you for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things!

    Reply
  10. JES

    Wow, some great ideas and tips here! I love the rock as a marker and the tip about drying the grass before using it on the garden (I always put it on wet, oops!). Thank you for sharing this week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! I always learn something here 🙂

    Reply
  11. Jendi

    Great ideas! Low cost and re-usable always catch my attention. 🙂 I definitely like to cover the ground so I don’t have to weed.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m like you Jendi – Low cost & reusable gets my attention every time. LOL ~TMR~

      Reply
  12. Heidi @ Pint Size Farm

    Those are some really great ideas! Thanks for submitting it to the HomeAcre hop! Feel free to stop by Thurs AM and submit another.

    Reply
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  14. Kristina & Millie

    Taking a year off, doing just flowers for a butterfly/bee garden. But these hints and tips will be handing for next year! Love reading all the great posts you share 🙂

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Sometimes taking a year off is a good way to reset the gardening excitement. Thanks for your sweet comment! ~TMR~

      Reply
  15. Terri Henkels

    Interesting post and I envy your blackberries – which I had room because there is nothing better than anything blackberry. I have used milk cartons for seedlings they almost serve as a miniature greenhouse. This year I am going to make markers out of used canning lids and pop-sickle sticks. We are also going to use rocks like you did as an activity for the kids in our community garden. They can use markers to color pictures on them as decorations for their parents’ garden. Thanks for sharing on the Four Seasons Blog Hop.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Terri, I got to sample my very first ripe berry tonight as I was in the garden. Nothing quite like it! ~TMR~

      Reply
  16. Fran

    Hi, visiting from the lifeasweknowitbypaula no rules blog hop. I liked the basil rock and will give this a go for my veggie patch although some of the basil is not doing well. A big grasshopper had an all day feed on Tuesday leaving just sticks on one previously nice plant. Fran

    Reply
  17. Tanya @ Seven Springs Homestead

    Thanks for sharing this post on the Green Thumb Thursday Blog Hop. I will be posting this on our Green Thumb Thursday Pinterest page as well as on my personal G+ account. I am always finding useful ways to use what some would consider junk on our farm. I love the challenge of making it look nice without spending a lot of money. I love how you used the rocks to mark your plants! I need to try this.

    Reply
  18. Alison @ Under the Big Oak Tree

    Such a lovely garden! Your tips are great and I love how you reuse your grass clippings! Something we seem to have a never ending supply of around here! I just started a garden tour linky party this week and would love for you to link your post! http://www.underthebigoaktree.com/2014/05/wednesdays-garden-weekly-garden-tour.html

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thanks Alison, grass clippings have lots of mileage in my garden that’s for sure! Thanks for the link invite, think I’ll ‘hop’ on over! ~TMR~

      Reply
  19. Valerie

    This was so helpful. Going to try some of these things. Thanks for sharing them with us at the Green Thumb Thursday Blog Hop. Hugs, Valerie Cottage Making Mommy http://www.lovingmyheartandhome.blogspot.com

    Reply
  20. daisy

    Oh yeah, we’re big on repurposing in the garden here. It pays to rethink the use of everyday items. Just think of all that money you’ll be saving for something to add to the garden!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Exactly Daisy, and it’s better for the environment too. Win/win. ~TMR~

      Reply
  21. Texas Homesteader Post author

    What a great find Matt, and you’re so industrious to put it all to such good use! ~TMR~

    Reply
  22. Matt

    I found someone throwing away a stack of 8 foot split cedar fence railings. I brought home a few and split them lengthwise. I now have tomato stakes and fence posts for the chicken wire I use to keep out critters.

    Reply
  23. Karen

    It definitely seems to have been windier here as well this spring. We have bamboo (both running and clumping) and I’ve taken advantage of what I once thought was a nuisance and use it for staking. I’ve saved the rims from my broken clay pots thinking I’d use them for plant markers for my herbs. I’ll have to try out a paint pen like you mentioned. To help ward off birds and deer, I hang old CD’s in the garden, using repurposed shelf brackets screwed to a hefty wooden stake. Even at night when some pesky critters are more active, I can see the glint as they spin in the breeze.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Well aren’t you clever Karen? I’ve seen the clay pot plant markers before – cute! ~TMR~

      Reply
  24. Texomamorganlady

    I love gardening, or, I did. Fighting the heat, drought and mostly, the fire ants, has done me in. Someone is going to make good money off me at the farmer’s market this year!

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Oh yeah, heat, drought & fire ants are a constant battle – and BERMUDA GRASS! Frustrates me to no end, but it’s in my blood & I’ve just gotta garden. ~TMR~

      Reply
      1. robbie @ GOING GREEN MAMA

        I hear you – BUT you have so mnay opportunities to garden year round if you just do a little research! 🙂

        Reply
  25. Eileen

    I use milk jugs with the bottoms cut off.. I tell folks I am growing dairy! 😀 Anyway, it works great here at Windy Thistle Farm. We’re on top of a ridge in the Missouri Ozarks and the wind is just vicious. This does work and the plants do get along fine after a week or so.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Awesome Eileen, thanks for the tip. Sounds like there are lots of folks that deal with the same wind issue. One question – how do you keep the wind from blowing away the milk jugs? ~TMR~

      Reply
  26. ColleenB.~Texas

    your garden looks wonderful and everything is growing quite well from the looks of your pictures. I like your markers for your herbs :} I have also used broken clay pots as markers. I just don’t have the heart to throw anything away especially if it’s usable. For young seedlings I have used vegetable cans or even the metal coffee cans if you can still find them by removing the top and bottoms of the cans and pushing them in the soil over your seedlings which protects them from the strong Texas winds. Cutting the bottoms off milk cartons also work and leaving the cap off or can also cut part of the top off as well. Milk cartons also make for wonderful little greenhouses as well as soda bottles. Have never had cucuzza squash. You must let us know what it tastes like.

    Reply
    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve seen the cans lining the veggie gardens before Colleen but I always thought they were for cutworms. I’ll have to give that a try as well & experiment with what works best here. Thanks so much (as always) for your thoughtful comment & helpful advice! ~TMR~

      Reply

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