They want $500 or you could do it for $50 yourself!

How to Do an Indoor Garden on the Cheap

by Krystal Brown


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Indoor gardening is fun, helps to supplement your diet with fruits and veggies, and allows you to grow year-round regardless of the weather. However, it can be expensive. The Standard 2-Tier SunLite® Garden system is $519.00 on Amazon and at Gardeners.com. A 2 x 2.5 LED GroLite® kit is $807.03 at BlackDogLED.com. These prices do not even include the soil or the seeds. We are always told that growing our own food is a good way to save money. But with prices like these, are we limited to only growing during the warm weather months? What about those of us who rent? Are we limited to paying astronomical prices? No! My method of indoor gardening on the cheap can get you up and growing for under $50. And that includes the soil and the seeds!

The most important part of indoor gardening is the light source. I set up my indoor garden in a closet and use clamp lights to clip onto a wall shelf. Clamp lights can be purchased at any hardware store, Walmart, or online. The Bayco 8.5 clamp light is $6.47 at Walmart. Four of these lights will cost $25.88. I put Philips 100-Watt Equivalent Daylight Deluxe (6500K) T2 Twister CFL Light Bulbs in the lamps. This cost me $14.99 on Amazon. It looks like the sun is shining out of that closet! A bonus of CFL lights is that they lower your electricity costs.

Second, you need pots and a place to put those pots. I got four tables for free on Craigslist. I just searched the "free" section every day until I got what I wanted. If you are not as cheap as I am, you could just buy some tables on Craigslist or at a local thrift store. I purchased about seven pots of various sizes from a local dollar store. Family Dollar and Dollar General also carry low-cost plastic pots. I also made several pots from soda and juice bottles. Just use a large knife to cut the bottle off at the "neck" (where the bottle starts to get narrower in preparation for the cap). Poke several "drainage holes" in the bottom of the plastic bottles. Set the bottle-pots on a plate or on a drainage pan. I purchased some drainage pans at a local dollar store. Proper drainage is essential for the healthy roots of your plants.


After that, you need soil. People give away free fill dirt on Craigslist all of the time in my area. You just have to haul it away. You can also purchase gardening soil from a home improvement store or any discount store. When the summer gardening season ends, you can get the dirt on sale. Next, you need some seeds. Growing from seed is cheaper than purchasing seedlings. The cheapest places for seeds are eBay and Dollar General. Dollar General can be a hit or a miss. Sometimes, they have seeds and sometimes they don't. But, seeds are always on eBay and you can get such exotic delicacies as Ukrainian radishes. I just did an eBay search and found 300 Daikon Radish seeds for $1.75 (and the shipping was free). Just do some research on what you would like to grow and the requirements of growing them successfully before you buy seeds. I grow several varieties of carrots and Ukrainian radishes.

Last, we need to put it all together. Find a place to set up your tables. I put my four free tables in a closet. Fill your pots with soil and plant your seeds. Water them and mark down when you planted them on a calendar. Set up your clamp lamps so that the lights are as close to the pots as possible. CFL lights don't generate as much heat as incandescent bulbs so your plants will not burn. Put your CFL bulbs in the lamps. Plug in your lamps and you have created your indoor garden! I recommend keeping your lamps on for 12 hours and off for 12 hours. Water and tend to your plants as recommended by the instructions on the package.

The Shoestring Gardener provides creatively frugal gardening how-tos, remedies & tips.

The benefits of gardening are many. Once you take harsh weather out of the equation by bringing your garden indoors, you can grow your own veggies year-round. The costs for setting up my indoor garden were under $50. The table and soil can be gained for free on Craigslist. The seeds can be about $1.75 on eBay (of course this depends on the types and amounts of seeds you purchase). Four clamp lights are $25.88. The seven purchased pots were $7. The soda and juice bottle pots were free as they were going in the trash anyway. The four light bulbs were $14.99. This is a grand total of $49.62. Compared to the Standard 2-Tier Sunlite® garden at $519.99, my indoor gardening method is a cheapskate's dream. I can tell you from personal experience that the satisfaction of growing my own produce is something that money cannot buy.


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