Starting you own garden is a wonderful feeling that appeals to the hunter-gatherer side in all of us. It’s a great feeling to nurture and cultivate your own food, and it connects the cause and effect between man, nature, and being self-sustaining. Plus, it’s pretty awesome to not have to drive anywhere for groceries. It’s almost like there’s some farm wisdom there that is still relevant today. Getting started will take a little bit of effort but it doesn’t need to be expensive, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Below are 4 garden hacks to get your raised-bed garden up and running using as little cash as possible…
1) Lumber or blocks.
Your raised bed doesn’t have to be fancy. Essentially, all you need is a way to contain soil on 4 sides. One creative individual even used an old tire. For my tastes, I like to keep it a little more aesthetically pleasing but that doesn’t need to cost a lot. Look around and see what resources are available to you. Do you have old lumber you can use? A fallen tree you can cut up? Some cinder blocks? Big rocks? If you don’t, then the next cheapest option is the purple-tag lumber section at your local Home Depot. It’s also sometimes referred to as the cull lumber section. These boards are marked 70% off so they’re about as cheap as it gets. They’re usually warped with some cracks but perfect for imperfect carpentry like garden beds. If you’re not a great woodworker, let me take a little pressure off of you – this doesn’t have to be perfect. If you can put nails or screws into a board, you can probably build a raised bed. You can have the wood cut for free at Home Depot, so you don’t even need a saw.
To stop weeds from growing through the bottom, all you need is some cardboard and or newspaper. It should keep out weeds for at least the first year or two.
Make your own. If you’ve got a pile of leaves and some manure from cows or chickens (Home Depot will sell you a bag of steer manure if you don’t), you can make your own compost. Just mix it all together in a big pile 3ft x 3ft x 3ft or larger. Get it damp and wait a few weeks for it to start to decompose. Then simply mix the pile again every other week until it starts to turn black.
You can also find large quantities at most nurseries if you have a little larger budget. I found a guy on Craigslist who sells his own. If you need it fast and really won’t to stay on the frugal side of things, don’t worry, every forest or patch of trees (find a friend with some land) has it’s own compost ready for you. Just rake off the top few layers of leaves, pine needles, etc. and you’ll find 100% organic, ready to use, black compost. Just take a few light shovel-fulls spread out so it doesn’t show.
Libraries now have seed storage. Basically, they will let you have seeds for free(!) to start your garden. All you have to do is bring them new seeds once your vegetables go to seed at the end of the growing season. Pretty cool huh?
Really want to super charge your garden this year? Here are some gardening ideas that worked for me.