Gardening for free or on the cheap is not a new idea- in fact, this is how our ancestors grew everything! Even if you feel you do not have a green thumb or anything close to it, I encourage you to try and try again. Some free gardening techniques are nearly no-fail, as long as you follow sun and watering requirements. This is what has worked in my southeastern US yard, but these tricks should get the job done in many areas:
1. Plant “reseeders”
Plants that reseed themselves are great fun to have about! I received starts of reseeding plants and each spring, I spy plenty of black-eyed susans and vinca popping up here and there and I begin moving them wherever I like. Last year, some of the vinca were moved into pots once spent petunias were pulled out. They can also be used to bless others’ gardens!
2. Collect seeds
I confess, I have not ventured into harvesting more than a few zinnia and sunflower seeds- my husband’s farm supply makes just picking up what we need too tempting! For the flower seeds, I have allowed some blooms to simply dry on the stalk in the garden and then scraped the dry seeds into paper bags to store in the outbuilding. There are techniques for drying other seeds that I have not attempted. My grandfather always dried tomato seeds on screens to continue his line of heirloom tomatoes- in other words, tomatoes with no modifications of any sort from the original plant. This article from Little House Living has a list of how to save seeds from several vegetables.
3. Gifted plants
No, my plants are not any smarter than yours, but several of mine were gifted to me! With a spring birthday, over the years, I have been given gardenia and camelia bushes, leyland cypress trees, blueberry bushes (from my children), and the hibiscus and mandevilla plants as shown in the photos. The latter two have lasted nearly three years by simply moving the pots to the crawl space under our house where I forget to water them the entire winter! They are brought out into the shade after the last frost date and later moved into full sun.
Yes, I have been blessed by these gifts and, no, I do not ask repeatedly for gifts! However, when someone asks what you would like as a gift and you know they will give something no matter your answer, consider letting them know that you would like something for the garden. Plants are wonderful to give and receive- they truly are the gift that keeps on giving!
4. Gift cards
I earn gift cards regularly simply by using Swagbucks as my search engine. I know that others (with speedy internet service) use extra Swagbucks features such as watching videos to earn them much faster. Amazon is my gift card of choice for these points and I have seen several plants and bulbs available on Amazon, as well as plenty of gardening supplies. I have also received gift cards as gifts or from store returns and sometimes use these on plants and pots.
5. Rescue plants
I almost did not include this one, as I think there could be a chance of introducing disease. However, I should let you know that I have had success purchasing plants on the discount rack. There are some beautiful Lenten roses (see them here) blooming in my shady front yard as I type this. They were saved from a dying group of forgotten plants at the back of my husband’s farm supply. We know that their only troubles were an employee who could not remember to water them, so I felt safe bringing them to our yard.
Other times, plants are simply beyond the seasonal window and are outgrowing their pots. My blueberry and blackberry bushes were purchased at a large size from a nursery at a discount since it was fall (which is actually a great time to plant them!) Find out the story on discounted plants and use this tip at your own risk!
In case you missed it, be sure to see these tips on gardening for free from Part 1 and please do share your free gardening tips and tricks in the comments!