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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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??!!
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?
My Favorite Garden Hacks
- Easy Garden Planning Spreadsheet
- Getting A Jump: Planting An Indoor Greenhouse
- Repurposed Cardboard Seed-Starting Pots
- 3-Sister’s Garden – The Original Companion Planting
- Planting A Large Galvanized Trough
- Tricking Birds AWAY From Your Strawberry Plants
- Easy Compost For A Healthy Garden
- Propping Tender Seedlings
- Cheap (or FREE) Wood Mulch For The Garden
- Using Vining Plants For Living Mulch
- Homestead Hack: Remember Where You Planted Seeds
- How Vegetable Gardening Can Change Your Life!
- Keeping Potted Plants Watered
- Planting A Blueberry Bush In Galvanized Tub
- Stevia – Growing Your Own Sweetener!
- How I Use EcoBricks In The Garden
- Compost Old Confidential Documents
- Repurposing A Coffee Can For Deep-Soak Watering
- How Leaves Benefit Your Garden
- My Simple, Zero-Waste Herb Drying Setup
- How To Grow Fresh Salad Greens In All Seasons
- The Lazy Gardener’s Plant List – Plant Once, Eat For Years!
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