After a long, arduous winter spring is finally here. Along with the great weather, spring also includes tons of yard clean up and preparing for a great summer garden. Last year was our third attempt at having a garden. We really wanted to learn how to grow our own food, so we could save money and have fresh produce. The first two years we attempted gardening we pretty much failed. After research and tenacity we were finally able to start seeds have a successful garden!
Since we were really trying to cut back on expenses we wanted to be able to start seeds the most cost effective way possible. We did research and decided to try to start seeds in soda bottles and plastic cupcake holders. At first I was definitely sceptical, but it turned out really good.
Here is how we were able to get the materials at such a low cost, enabling us to start seeds to have a bountiful garden for a low price.
We knew that starting seeds is fairly risky, but we decided to try it. We figured if it completely failed we could still purchase plants from a local farmer or store.
We were able to get the materials for a super low price, but we had to plan the logistics in advance. In fact we started preparing the year before.
We were able to find potting soil for a low price during the end of the season and paid $2 for all the dirt we used to start seeds.
My husband and I were shopping at a local grocery store, and wandered our way into the clearance section. Since it was September, all the seed packets were 75%-90% discounted! We purchased 12 seed packets for under $2.50. We ended up not even using all the seeds, so we still have some for this year.
Just as a warning, seeds need to be stored in a cool, dry, temperature controlled room. We happen to have a storage room that stays dark (we are barely in there) with a consistent temperature all year round. There is no guarantee that expired seeds will sprout. However, we did have success with the seeds we purchased.
Once you have a successful garden, you can easily harvest the seeds to plant next year. I love basil and find fresh basil is costly in grocery stores. I decided to grow my own basil, and was able to harvest hundreds of seeds!
I have also purchased seeds online in the past. If you order seeds on websites like EBay, make sure the seller is credible, and understand that you are taking a risk.
When we purchased the seeds in September, we decided to try to use recycled materials to start seeds. We started saving soda bottles, and other plastic containers like plastic cupcake holders (for when we bought bakery cupcakes on clearance). We saved these containers for over 6 months until we had enough to start over fifty plants. Since we were already consuming the product and didn’t go out of our way to obtain the materials, they really didn’t cost us anything!
Fifty Plants Cost Less Than a Frozen Pizza!
Including the cost of the seeds, dirt, and containers (which were all recycled) we paid only around $5 to start seeds for over 50 plants! Although, some of the plants did not turn out, for the most part we had a really successful garden.
I was really happy to be able to start seeds for over 50 plants for under $5 it was such a great deal. We were able to have enough produce to last us around four months. We still did have to buy some produce we were not able to grow, our grocery bill was greatly reduced!
Making The Soda Bottle Greenhouses
While doing research online I discovered there are many ways to make soda bottle green houses. I decided to just try the simplest way I could think of, and it ended up working out.
Here are step by step instructions on how we made these soda bottle greenhouses:
- Step One: Find an empty soda bottle. It must be clear.
- Step Two: Rinse out bottle and cut off lable.
- Step Three: Cut bottle in half. I usually poke a hole first, then cut around bottle. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Step Four: Cut three slits in the bottle on the top of bottom half. Make sure they are about an even distance apart, and about two inches long. Also drill, or cut three drain holes on the bottom of the bottle. This is important because excess liquid needs to drain.
- Step Five: Put dirt in bottle, plant seeds, and water.
- Step Six: Place top cover over bottom cover. The slits will bend allowing the cover to fit.
You have now made your own mini greenhouse! Place in the window so your seeds can grow. Make sure your check them daily to make sure they are getting enough water. Once they start to grow, you can take the top of the bottle off, and let them reach a size suitable for planting outdoors.
Gardening Can Save You Money, but Take Precautions
We had such an amazing harvest! A few plants died, but most of the ones we started from seeds survived! Having a garden can save you money, but take these precautions when you start planning your garden.
Start Seeds for Produce you Love and Consume Regularly
My husband and made a huge mistake with our garden last year, we planted six Zucchini plants. I am not criticizing those who love Zucchini, but we grew way too much. We ended up discovering that we don’t super love it, and gave most of it away. I don’t mind sharing extra produce, but the Zucchini grew so rapidly it literally choked out other plants. We decided to not plant any Zucchini this year!
Throughout the year we made a list of the produce we purchase the most. That helped us decide what to plant in our garden. Also pick produce that grows well in your climate. Even if you love pineapples, chances are they won’t grow well in your climate. Stick with fruits and vegetables that flourish in your area.
Consider if the Produce is Cheaper to Purchase Than grow
This is not 100% necessary because nothing tastes better than produce straight from the garden, but take the cost into consideration. We were considering growing potatoes, but decided not to, because they are so cheap and fresh in our area (Idaho). The cost of watering doesn’t make sense to it, since a majority of the year we can get 10lb bags of potatoes for around $1.
Don’t Overcrowd Your Garden
We made this mistake last year as well. We were so excited to grow our own food, we put plants too close together. This caused our plants to not reach their full potential. We barely had any cucumbers because the Zucchini took over. We know better this year.
Plant Compatible Plants
Some plants should not be next to each other, and will hinder growth. Do research before planting to make sure the plants will work well together. We decided to grow peas next to onions and it didn’t work out well.
Consider the Cost of Water
The purpose of having a garden is to have fresh food, and save money. If you use too much water you will spend more and waste precious resources. Be mindful about when and how much you water. Also, make sure your sprinklers and faucets do not leak. Leaky faucets, sprinklers, and hoses waste water. Try to create a garden system that uses as little water as possible, but still allows for healthy plants.
Anyone Can Garden, Just be Patient!
I thought that I was a terrible gardener, after the first two gardens we attempted failed. I now realize that I just needed to be patient and do research. Finally after the third try we were able to have a successful garden. Last night we started more seeds for this years garden! I am excited to see how it turns out!
If you have any questions about anything please feel free to ask! You can contact me Here or reach me anytime on Facebook or Twitter.
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