Get that Garden Started

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Posted by Aimee | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 28-02-2011

Starting a garden may seem like an impossible or even insurmountable task. Often not knowing where to begin or seeing the task as too daunting often keeps potential gardeners from ever starting. Don’t let it be that way, a garden does not have to be big or elaborate. One of the most wonderful things about gardens is that you can make them as fancy and over the top or as simple and cheap as you want. It is even possible to get a garden set up and going all in one day! (which we will detail more carefully in our next post.)

If you have no money but need food or crave flowers then you can grow plants literally just by scratching up the grass in a spot and planting right there. Of course this is not an ideal environment for plants, but as long as they have sun, earth, air, and water, they will grow, production will suffer to an extent. This garden will take more effort to help it thrive but it can be done without spending any money at all beyond the cost of seed to plant. This is very important for people to know, if you are careful, you can find seed very, very cheap and sometimes for free. (Check with places at the end of the growing center or Craig’s list.) ┬áMany victory gardens were little more than grass pulled up from the back yard to plant seeds. If you are looking for optimum results without using any money here are a few pointers.

Start with a budget, even if that budget is zero. Write it on paper and write what you want to add to your garden with that budget. Be realistic, and see how to make your desires match your budget. Suggested lines are fertilizer, soil amendments, garden structures (like bricks to build a garden bed), seed, decor, etc. Where you can, find or reuse things you have available like maybe there happens to be a stack of bricks extra from someone on Craig’s list who just needs them hauled off? Being resourceful and a little planning really comes in handy here.

I know I have preached about this before but start a compost pile, even if it is just a spot on the ground where you toss your extra veggie scraps and collected material, that is all it has to be and it will break down with time into compost for your garden. You can also find free material for your compost pile all over, talk to landscapers in the area, they often would love to get rid of some of their extra lawn clippings. Or talk to lawn mowers, neighbors, even the grocery store may be willing to give you produce that needs thrown out. Another place to check is stables, if you are willing to muck the stables for them and haul off the manure, all that fine material is yours for free! Just make sure that the things you put into your compost pile are not treated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers because you do not want these sorts of things going into your food.

If you are starting with nothing at all except a patch of recently bared earth and seed, you may want to spend the bulk of your seed budget on big producers. Especially easy care big producers, a few examples are tomatoes, squash (especially zucchini), sweet potatoes (though not technically from seed), lettuce and all other greens, cucumbers, and radish. Choose proven producers and wait to test exotics until you have a bit more of a seed budget.

Unfortunately some of my favorites such as Irish potatoes and corn are heavy feeders and demand more care, while not out ruled, they take a lot of space and will not yield as well without ample fertilizer and tons of attention.

If you are very short on funds I highly recommend starting with seed and not transplants, use the extra money the transplants would cost towards fertilizer for your garden. Soil building will likely be the most expensive part for you and any extra funds should be reserved for this. People have grown food on nothing more than piles of dust and sprinkles of water but we can do better than that, even when starting with nothing, observing organic practices builds the soil and so naturally over time with proper care the soil will become increasingly more fertile. If you don’t have money it just means it is going to take a lot more time and effort.

Now is the perfect time to start your Texas garden, spring is almost here and temperatures are not hitting freezing any more (though there could always be a late freeze so keep watch!) Starting a garden is a fantastic way to cut your grocery bill by growing what you will eat and doing it cheaply. Just do not fall pray to the oodles of gadgets and exotic plants available.

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