Low-Cost Veggie Gardening

by Texas Homesteader ~
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Y’all know I love my veggie garden. There’s just something about grabbing that wicker gardening basket on my way out the door and strolling out to my 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.

But, you know, if you’re not careful you can spend lots of money in the garden too. The slick advertising moguls often convince us to buy things that might improve various growing conditions in our garden – garden stakes, ties, plant markers, ways to preserve moisture for your plants, etc.

And while improving growing conditions in the garden is a good thing, do you really need to BUY something for it? Can you actually make those improvements without spending money for something new?

It got me to thinking about how many things I accomplish in the garden by thinking outside the box & using what I have for FREE right here on the homestead.

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

(Note: Some links in this post are for further information from earlier posts I’ve written. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click them and buy something (almost anything, not just the item noted) I could receive a tiny commission. But the price you pay will NOT change. It’s an easy way to support this blog without anything coming out of your pocket. So click often! Thank you!)

Protecting Seedlings From The Wind

I was enjoying time in the garden recently while transplanting some tender heirloom seedlings that I’d started in my indoor greenhouse several weeks ago.

But in our part of NE Texas the spring breezes can get pretty stiff. 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.

And I found a clever way to protect those seedlings too. I pulled some small twigs with many dividing branches and pushed the stem into the ground on the north side of each of my young seedlings.

When the south wind blows, the twig will keep the wind 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 had been tall and there was lots of it! And it had been cut long enough that it was no longer so fresh that it could burn my tender seedlings.

Plus, 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 anyway.

And rye grass can be a cover crop planted in the garden in the fall anyway. It serves as a living mulch during the winter months, then it’s all turned under in the early spring.

So I took my rake and a large 30-gallon bucket out to that section of the property and raked up bucketsful of this beautiful hay. Then I brought it into my garden, laying it out between the plants.

There are lots of ways to save money in your veggie garden. I use cut and dried grass to mulch my garden. #TexasHomesteader

It worked like a charm keeping the soil cooler as the temps heated up. And by covering the soil it also preserved moisture in the garden as well.

Plus, covering the soil also prevents weeds and grasses from popping up. Hey less weeding in the garden is a definite winner for me. And this solution to all those problems in my garden was FREEEEE!

Compost Can Be FREE Fertilizer!


Of course I rely heavily compost. I have a *Compost Tumbler. (and I LOVE it!) But you don’t need an actual tumbler to make compost. If you care for it properly you can make compost in wire cages, pallet sections or just on the ground!

And your compost materials can actually be free too. 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 around my seedling. I then cover the paper with hay or grass clippings to give it a more finished look.

There are lots of ways to save money in your veggie garden. I use paper feed sacks around my vegetable plants. #TexasHomesteader

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 plants helping them to grow fast & strong.

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. And 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.

There are lots of ways to save money in your veggie garden. I use the cotton string from a feed sack to tie my blackberry vines to the fence. #TexasHomesteader

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 since the plastic isn’t rigid, it 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. 

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

It gives a  rustic country look to my landscape.

Free Wood Mulch

I even got a huge amount of bark mulch for FREE using a tip from my county extension agent. I could gather as much as I wanted and bring it home. Truck loads full if we wanted. Who knew??!!

Low-Cost veggie gardening. Free Mulch. Come see ways you can keep the cost of a vegetable garden LOW! #TexasHomesteader

I used those wood chips to add a more decorative flair to my edible landscaping next to the house. And to keep weeds down and make a nicer walking surface, I used much more to line walkways throughout my garden.

Using these wood chips means that in subsequent years they’ll break down 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?


This post categorized in  

My Favorite Garden Hacks

My favorite gardening hacks all in one place. #TexasHomesteader

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28 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.

    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 Homestead so they’re a part of this property in the greatest sense of the word. ~TxH~

  2. Next to Natural

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

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

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

  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. 🙂


    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. ~TxH~

  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!

    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! ~TxH~

  5. 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.

    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. ~TxH~

  6. 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!

  7. 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 🙂

  8. 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.

  9. Diana

    your gardening tips are so wonderful I’m almost tempted to put a garden in!!


  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. Texas Homesteader Post author

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

    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. ~TxH~

  19. 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.

    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? ~TxH~

  20. 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.

    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! ~TxH~


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