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Discussion Starter #1
For you seasoned gardeners out there, I'd love to "pick you're brains" about what you think the cheapest and simplest methods of gardening are?
We do have the space, so thankfully that won't be an issue for us.

I've heard of square foot gardening, which I really like the idea of, but of course there is the expense of the lumber.

I also like the idea of raised bed gardening, but again, for the same reasons above, we would need to put into consideration the price of the lumber.

Although on the raised bed front, I have seen people do a modified version of this by just tilling up a piece of the earth and then going around the outer edge with a shovel and making a ditch all the way around.
Then a person would just pull all of the dirt up with a rake or hoe into a large "bed".
For this method, we do not currently own a roto tiller but we do have access to borrowing one, if need be.

Growing up we always did the traditional row gardening but back then people didn't know much about all of the other methods that are being used today.

We want to start small and simple this year until we get our garden "footing" and begin to learn more about what we want to grow and what will grow best for us here.

So any thoughts, advice or suggestions you'd like to throw my way would be REALLY appreciated!:carrot:
 

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The simplest thing to do is remove your grass in an area, turn over the soil ("fluff" it up) and start planting. There's nothing wrong with row gardening. Look at some web sites for your region, find out what "zone" you are in and what grows well where you live.

Things like lettuce, radishes, herbs, tomatoes and peppers are easy for anyone to grow.

You do not need raised beds or fancy tools, just get the seed or starter plants into the ground. The exception would be if you have really bad soil where you live, or no topsoil on your property, then you'd need to buy soil to build it up. But somehow I think you are probably fine in Tennessee.

I started my garden in a year DH was out of work so there was NO money for bags of fertilizer, timbers, or fancy tools. We had a shovel and a hoe that were left by my in-laws. I have nice black soil, even if it is full of clay, so things grew just fine. It is constant work, I have to go out every day, or every 2 days to weed or just check the plants, and early morning is best when it is not too hot and the chiggers are still sluggish.
 

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Start out small, a big garden is alot of work! To help enrich your soil collect your compost, I dig a hole in the corner throw the compost in, when full, cover with dirt from your next hole. Also lay newspapers between rows cover with grass clippings or old straw/hay. I do not fertilize my grass or add any chemicals, I know I'm using it in my gardens and feeding it to my chickens. Ask around for unused tools or seeds, you might be surprised who has unwanted stuff in their garage!
Best of luck to you!
 

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If you're determined to have raised beds and need lumber, check out Craigslist under free for pallets. You can tear those down and use the lumber. Just be sure it's untreated lumber that you're putting in - You don't want chemicals in your soil.

I agree to start small and work your way up. We do container gardening as we don't have a lot of land. This our third year and we're getting the hang of it and starting most things from seeds.

Your county extension agent should have a lot of information in regards to your growing season. It took us awhile to figure that part out.

Enjoy!
 

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EASIEST??? Well, you buy a couple bags of soil ($3 each in my area) plop them down on the patio, or deck, or yard, cut a slit in the top and add tomato plants, seeds, whatever.
Every couple days, stick your finger in to determine if you need to water or not.
No weeding, little watering, no tools needed (except the knife to open up the bag.
 

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Keep it small to start ............

HAVE A PLAN.........

Read ----read-----and read some more ---preferably about gardening in your area.....or the ideas that interest you.

Lots of things can be found on CL ---and are free.....or put your own ad on CL and you will often get it.
 

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Mary, That is easy!!!

"EASIEST??? Well, you buy a couple bags of soil ($3 each in my area) plop them down on the patio, or deck, or yard, cut a slit in the top and add tomato plants, seeds, whatever.
Every couple days, stick your finger in to determine if you need to water or not.
No weeding, little watering, no tools needed (except the knife to open up the bag. "

My Grandmother had a huge garden and the only tools she had was a shovel, a hoe and a spoon from the silverware drawer. She saved seeds from tomatoes, pumpkins, sugar baby watermelons & peppers and cut up potatoes with eyes to plant. It was a lot of work but it was totally free.

We have a few plots my DH turns over by hand. He used to start seedlings in our basement but by the time we got done paying for grow lights (electric) and seeds, and little pots and on and on it just was too pricey. We started buying seedlings from our local nursery, still pricey but not as much as buying produce every week from the store. We have a huge compost pile that helps enrich our soil and use natural farming practices, that really keeps the garden spending in check. Starting your own compost pile is really easy and does not require any special containers or tools, best of all it totally free!

Good Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks to everyone who took the time to post & add their suggestions. I really appreciate all of the input and advice. :hugz:

Yes, small is key, we had already decided this (I did mention that in my post :)). For this year, prolly just a few tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Maybe some type of lettuce later on in the year.

I love the idea of the bags of topsoil and just planting the seeds in the bags. Soooo easy!!

As for the suggestion of the pallets, I love this idea and I actually had thought about making my compost bin out of some pallets and yes, I do have access to pallets but I never gave any thought to using them for my gardening boxes.

Although I will need to figure out a way to 'stack' them edge to edge somehow, in order to make my beds deep enough.
But now that JerryG got me to thinking of using them for my beds, I'm sure I can figure out a way to brace them together to get them tall enough.

Unfortunately we don't have a Craig's List out here in nowhereville~lol.

Russ I also love that cinder block suggestion as well. I posted the other day about actually using the blocks as planters for herbs. I saw the idea somewhere around the 'net'.
They had placed their soil in either side and planted two different types of herbs in either side.

Although I realize you meant to use them to kind of 'block' in my beds, I still thought that was another nifty idea to use.

Natalie, I'm with you. I'd rather not use any pesticides as well. I've been researching more natural ways of bug control.

I found an interesting video the other day on youtube, this gardener used some shredded soap, some crushed garlic and then some chopped hot peppers, some water and let it sit for a week or two.
Then strained it all and used the liquid to spray his plants. I found it a really interesting way of using more natural products.

I *really* wanted to start my plants from seeds this year, but since we're still in our learning phase, I'm going to be using starter plants.
I figured until I got more experienced with everything, that would be a few steps that I could just skip over for my first year.

Thank-you all again so much for taking the time to post all of these wonderful ideas, it's given me alot to consider.;)
 

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Natalie, I'm with you. I'd rather not use any pesticides as well. I've been researching more natural ways of bug control.

)
Do some searching on companion plantings.

Example: Planting Marigolds will help keep these ugly critters off of your tomato plants. :gaah::gaah::gaah:

 

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Never had hornworms here. Only thing bothering my tomatoes is squirrels. The biggest issue I have is with grubs getting into my squash plants.

As for the rest of the garden, since I don't use any chemical sprays of any kind I get lots of natural predators, like this lady, keeping the little bugs away.

 
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We have an 8 x 13 garden bed we started a few yrs ago. It puts out alot more than you would think. We started w/a hoe, shovel and cured horse manure. My dh now has a tiller he got for free and ea. yr he tills up the patch and sometimes adds a bag or two of topsoil.

We grow beans, peas, tomatoes, squash, zukes, cukes, onions and lettuce.

One yr. we tried potatoes but they took up too much room and I can buy 50 pound at Save a lot for $9.99. If we do end up planting a patch somewhere we use the old or rubbery potatoes from the store bought bag for starters. I would love to try the garbage bag method one day.

We no longer plant flowers in two of our flower beds. Instead we put in pumpkins in the backyard for the kids and whatever we decide on in the front yard. Last yr. it was the cucumbers. This yr. I may give my last flower bed for peppers.
 
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Actually, I think tomato hornworms are beautiful, though they are voracious.

If you use grass clippings, let them fade to brown first (fresh clippings can leach nutrients from the soil).

If you try the bag-o-soil approach, be sure to punch some holes in the bottom for drainage.

Some things are so easy from seed you can't go wrong ... lettuce, cabbage, peas, squash, radishes, beets, chard, turnips ... a bit of weeding and watering and you'll have salads in no time and winter squashes to last you till next summer.
 

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We have 6 4 x 4 raised beds and two 2 x 4 raised beds. We buy one or two 10' 2x4s and have them cut at the lumber yard (usually free) into 2 each 4' length and one 2' length. One 2 x 4 is usually < $3. I have gotten wood free from the dump and the local freecycle. We've been doing this for years, so our replacement lumber cost is minimal. Or, if you really want raised beds with edging, you can use landscape timbers, if they're cheaper than 2 x 4s. I have never been able to keep a cleared raised bed from falling or the weeds out of it!

Re planting, yield, etc. after you get started, you might look at trying French intensive plantings; you can get a lot more plants and yield in the same plots using hexagonal seeding. Look at bountifulgardens.org for organic, untreated seeds, usually the cheapest prices, and info re the planting method I'm talking about. But if this is your first garden, I'd wait until next year! Get some of your learning curve out of the way before you work on being fancy.

My :cents:

Judi
 
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