Start your garden with scraps for free, with these frugal tips.
Did you know you can start a legitimate garden with literal kitchen scraps. Yep, that's right don't throw away those sprouted potatoes, or the seeds from your halloween pumpkins! In this post I'll delve into frugal ways to start a garden from scratch with things you may already have.
Starting your frugal garden
Gardening can be a great way to save money on food, but starting a garden can be spendy. You may feel that you need to buy seed, soil, and build flashy garden beds. Well i'm here to tell you that you don't need much to grow your own food.
When my husband and I first started our backyard garden it looked a lot different than it does now. We simply borrowed a friends rottotill, plowed up a rough part of what we think was originally a garden but had been overgrown with grass and weeds for years, and dug in. That year we planted potatoes, tomatoes, squash carrots, beans and peas. All of which were from kitchen scraps or seedlings that had been gifted to us. Our friends were giving away strawberry and raspberry plants that we were able to transplant. I was surprised to find that my super frugal kitchen scrap garden actually grew, and it grew well.
Don't throw away those sprouted potatoes, and other store bought veggies you can use to start your garden. (note: I highly recommend only trying this with organic vegetables as conventional produce is sometimes sprayed with chemicals that prevents sprouting).
Did you know that each one of those little sprouts that protrudes out of that old potato you meant to throw out weeks ago can actually grow into its own little life giving potato plant!? Thats right you can simply save the potatoes you have laying around and use as seed potatoes. I prefer to plant the whole sprouting potato but I know lots of backyard farmers who cut sprouted potatoes into many different pieces and plant individually. For more on planting potatoes visit my article all you need to know about growing potatoes.
Much like a potato each clove of garlic can produce a new garlic plant. If you have one bulb of garlic with eight cloves you can potentially grow eight new garlic bulbs! You can do this with regular softneck garlic right from the grocery store. One year when I realized I was running out of time to get my garlic in the ground before a hard freeze I actually planted garlic that I bought specifically for culinary use and had a great crop of garlic the following spring. For more on growing garlic see my article The Complete Guide to Growing Garlic.
Hard Winter Squashes
Squash like pumpkins, butternut and delicatta are easy to save seeds from year after year. I have had luck using the same varieties over and over. Simply hull out the squash that you want to save seeds for, clean the seeds well and dry very well. Drying these seeds is key, if they are not fully dry they will either sprout or mold creating a non viable seed situation when you are ready to plant. You can start squash seeds in a greenhouse or inside to get a head start depending on your growing region. You can also direct sow these seed right into your garden bed after the last frost of the season.
Cucumbers and tomatoes
Cucumbers and tomatoes are a bit trickier, yet definitely still doable. I have actually found that I get a lot of volunteer tomato plants just because they are so good at self seeding. Similarly to hard winter squash varieties, simply hull out the fruit and clean and completely dry the seeds you will need to store these seeds in a very dry place. I recommend glass jars or dIY seed envelopes. Starting these plants inside according to your growing zone and growing timeline is highly advisable. For more info on saving tomato seeds this is a great article.
Now that you know how to start your garden with no initial investment, get going! For more info on when to start your individual plants please refer to info pertaining to your specific growing region. for more info on specific crops see my gardening articles here.