How To Create A Vegetable Garden On A Tight Budget

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

Vegetable gardens are a wonderful use of outdoor space. Instead of mowing the same grass each week, you can transform a portion of your yard into a cornucopia of produce. The cost of starting a new garden from scratch, however, can at times be so expensive you might wonder if it is even worth it. The good news is if you think outside the box and plan months ahead, you can create a great vegetable garden on a tight budget.

To create a vegetable garden on a limited budget, try to find cheap or free plants by using self-propagating species, attending a plant swap, and growing plants from seed. Find cheap or free materials to build a raised flower bed, and be on the lookout for free mulch. Compost in advance so you have nutrients to add to your soil and plan your garden location strategically.

Designing, creating, and maintaining a vegetable garden is lots of fun, especially once your efforts start paying off with lots of fresh veggies. A new vegetable garden can be very expensive, especially if you have particular requirements. If, however, you are on a tight budget and flexible, then you are reading the right article. Below we have listed some of the best ways to create an amazing vegetable garden from scratch while spending as little money as possible.

11 Ways To Keep Costs Low When Creating A Vegetable Garden

1. Use Self-Sprouting Plants You Have In Your Kitchen

You might not know it, but there is a good chance you have several items in your produce drawer or kitchen pantry that you can plant in a new vegetable garden. Several species easily sprout new life from existing plants. Potatoes that have grown eyes can be cut into several pieces that give birth to new potato plants, and in turn new potatoes.

Another popular example is green onions (scallions). Save the bottom white part with the roots, and place them in water. In a matter of hours, they will start to grow. Many vegetables can grow in a garden simply by saving what you would normally consider kitchen scraps.

2. Check The Sale Rack At Garden Shops

Shopping at sale racks and during off-season is a great way to save on plants. Check places like Walmart and Lowes, as they almost always have a clearance rack for plants. As long as the plants are still alive, then they should be fine to purchase. This is a great way to save some money on plants for your new vegetable garden.

3. Plant From Seed

If you can plan, planting from seed will save you a ton of money. Seeds yield a lot of plants, and a packet of seeds can cost as little as one dollar. If you want to save as much as possible, you can even dry and save seeds yourself.

Keep your eye out for seeds at farmers' markets, as these vendors tend to sell what grows great in your region, and may have heirloom varieties at very low prices.

4. Choose The Perfect Spot To Make Your Job Easy (And Cheap)

When you are creating a garden for the first time, do not rush the planning phase. Make sure you plan the dimensions and location carefully. You want an area that gets plenty of sun. You also want a spot that is easy and inexpensive to water. Don’t make the gardening mistake of planting too far from a watering hose, as this may force you to buy another hose, or install a sprinkler system of sorts.

5. Ask A Fellow Gardener For Cuttings Or Saplings

If you have friends or neighbors who have gardens, then ask them if they have any cuttings they can offer. Often it is as easy as pulling up a little bit of mint, oregano, or sweet potato from the ground. Lots of plants grow like weeds. It costs your neighbor nothing, and it is a great way to get some healthy rooted plants into your brand new garden, all for free.

6. Use Free Materials To Build A Vegetable Bed

There are many ways to get cheap or free building materials. When you are building a vegetable bed, you don’t need to be picky, you aren’t building a structure to live in. You can use anything from pallet boards or even styrofoam coolers that restaurants and fish markets often throw away.

Get creative with how you find these materials, and know that as time goes on, you can always upgrade to better materials. Remember, it isn’t how your garden looks that matters, but the vegetables that you can produce that counts.

7. Use Compost To Boost Nutrients In Your Soil For Free

There are many benefits to having a compost pile. If you have started one, make sure you save your compost over the winter so you can use it and its nutrients in the spring for your vegetable garden. Compost is a great source of nutrients that you can fold into the existing dirt to help your garden thrive. Best of all, it is free, as long as you make a habit of composting in advance.

8. Find A Local Plant Swap

If you were able to plant from seed, then you might want to plant a bit extra. Plant swaps are common in the springtime. They are similar to a cookie swap, where everyone brings one or two (or more) types of an item, and exchanges them for a new type.

A plant swap is a great way to diversify your garden and help a fellow gardener do the same. Best of all, it’s free for everyone.

9. Plant Vegetables With Higher Yields

When you create a vegetable garden, try to be conservative in your first harvest. Plant vegetables that have high yields and are easy to grow. There are even vegetables that thrive in difficult environments. Several species of tomatoes grow easily and yield a ton of fruit. Zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers are also high-yielding and fantastic plants to try out in your first garden. One plant can produce a lot, which helps keep your overall costs low.

10. Find Cheap Or Free Planters

If you want to grow vegetables in your yard for as cheaply as possible, you can even forego the process of digging up sod, and simply plant in pots and planters. In addition to finding cheap materials to make planters yourself, you can often find very cheap pots and planters.

Thrift stores and online marketplaces are great places to find cheap or free pots and planters. If you can get your pots for free, and have seeds or clippings, then all you need to pay for is a bit of soil (which you might be able to find for free also).

11. Be On The Lookout For Free Mulch

Mulch is a great asset to have in your garden. It keeps your plants moist, preventing the sun from sucking up all the water. It also helps keep weeds and certain pests away. It can be costly, but you can sometimes find it for free. Many tree trimming and landscaping businesses have free mulch after taking down trees. You might need to pick it up, but free mulch is a great way to elevate a vegetable garden when your budget is tight.

Final Notes On Creating A Vegetable Garden On A Budget

Creating a vegetable garden in your yard for the first time is a big project, but the price tag does not have to be large at all. If you are trying to create a new vegetable garden on a tight budget, look for cheap and free materials to build garden beds. You may even be able to find free mulch. Utilize your compost in the soil, and try to plan by planting vegetables from seed. Look for plant swaps in your area, and check out the clearance rack for discounted plants at your local home improvement store.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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