by Pearl Sanborn
How to Start and Grow Plants from Seedlings
Gardening on a Dime
Gardening for (Almost) Nothing
This winter, I spent many nights dreaming about what my garden might look like this year. While thumbing through all of the colorful catalogues, I noticed how quickly my little here, little there started adding up to big money! Spending a king's ransom on a few plants is not my idea of gardening fun! As you've probably discovered, one little pot can run between $4 to $45!
Here are a few ideas that will help you have beautiful plants for free this year! Frugal gardening at its best!
Spring Clean Up
I always keep my eyes open during spring clean up time! You know how I love to get great finds in the dumpster. This time of year, some people are especially prone to changing their whole garden scheme. If you keep your eyes open, you'll find tons of discarded plants out by the curb just because someone got tired of having them in their yard and decided that it was time for a change. Hey, change is good - for you.
Either from your own plants or from your friend's, small cuttings are a great start for frugal gardening! Just cut a small piece of the stem of most any plant. Pull off all but the top few leaves and insert it into some moist sand. In no time, you'll have roots and a free plant! Mint, tomatoes, roses, hydrangeas, holly, and butterfly bush are all examples of plants that will grow from cuttings.
Discards From Stores
Become friends with the person in charge of your local flower department in the big super centers. When plants get a little tired looking, they may give them to you free! All you need to do is give the plants some TLC!
Recently in our local grocery super center, they were selling spring bulbs. In a short while, the flowers had faded and the plants were no longer wanted by shoppers. Most folks have no idea that these plants can be planted outside for spring flowers next year. Just ask if you can have the "old" flowerpots after the flowers fade! Keep your eyes open for Easter lilies. When placed outside, they can grow up to 4 ft. with many more blooms than you see in that little pot!
My poinsettia is also still doing great from Christmas! I pinch back the stems as the red flowers (actually leaves) dry out. New beautiful sets of leaves have budded out already! I will plant it outside as soon as the danger of frost is past, then bring it in for a new round of Christmas blooms. I also broke off a few of the longer stems and stuck them down in the soil. They have already grown roots!
I know everyone throws out their poinsettia plants after Christmas. But when I went to Africa some years back, one of the most amazing memories I have were the huge poinsettia trees! So I am going to see how far I can take this little beauty.
Restaurants and Parks
Most businesses replace their plants as the flowers fade. This year, start a relationship with the businesses in your area. Let them know that you are willing to take the unsightly plants off of their hands after they are finished blooming. We don't mind since we know they will bloom again next year in our gardens!
While walking around larger greenhouses, I've noticed all of the large garbage cans throughout the place filled with soil, clippings, and old plants. Ask for their clippings for your compost pile, then use what you can to make new plants by rooting them, and throw the rest into the compost heap.
Remember, as in the case of an African Violet, it may only take one leaf to start a new plant!
Get free plants and seeds by trading them for plants that you already have. You could do this by starting a garden exchange in your area. Newspapers are always looking for news to print. Since a garden exchange is an event, you can even get your advertising free of charge!
Do a quick search and you will see many websites that post listings for free plants and seeds. Many times you can get wonderful, expensive plants for free!
There are many, but some of the larger ones are:
Get free shipping supplies to ship all of your plants! Call 1-800-222-1811. You can get free boxes, mailing labels, tape, etc., from the post office. It's great to have these items delivered right to your door free of charge! Take a moment to see what other items you may need, by going to: http://supplies.usps.gov/
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