Category Archives: Weeds

CHEAPSKATE Hints-Cheap nd Free Supplies And Skills for Garden

The original inspiration for this blog was the garden I was building in a $-rented-$ space in a city garden. I was building my soil, creating beds and starting some compost for future use. All of these items were done for free, but some work was needed to be successful. [and of course I was using tools purchased at retail price- but some of them could have been acquired at thrift stores/ yard sales.]

This post will put forth a list of free items for use in the garden.   Your garden  and my garden are places for peace ,fun, sweat and food. All of that can be attained with a big checkbook but there is something rewarding about reusing, and repurposing items for beneficial use in the garden .

The first is a free ( inexpensive) technique not an item but it still keeps things cheap. It is called lasagna or sheet gardening. Lasagna gardening starts your garden with NEW SOIL MADE BY layering yard and food waste. No need to break nor till the soil(buy/rent root tiller???)  just take a little time ,plan ahead and build new soft soil.  Make your new soil where you want your garden to be.  This is free if all of the material built into the layers is also free(see below). If this is done in the fall the soil will be ready to,plant in the spring and if started in spring some good topsoil or compost can be added to the lop layer as seeds or seedlings are planted.  Lasagna Garden HOW TO:  latest of cardboard or newsprint(15-20 sheets) on the bottom ,on top of the old grass.  The alternate layers of grass clippings, leaves, compost, manure. Shredded wood chips can also be built into the layers.


If you have a yard , you have a gardeners gold mine with all of the grass clippings you will generate spring to fall. These can be used in the lasagna garden, added to compost pile/container and used in the growing garden as a weed barrier that eventually breaks down and keeps the soil developing. If you don’t have a yard of green you can collect bags of cut grass around the community . Do this by driving around or do a search online for bagged grass ( see FREECYCLE for,your community).


These can also added directly to the  garden as weed barrier but in many areas th leaves fall as the garden is finishing for the season. They can be added as fall-winter cover , shredded and added to compost pile or bagged and set aside to,creat leaf mold for next springs garden.

If you do not have trees and leaves you may be able to find them from friends, or others in the community and in many communities leaves are collected and piled in a central location for local citizens to use.

WOOD CHIPS/shredded wood mulch-

The wood can be used as weed barrier or as layers in the lasagna garden. they can also be added to the compost pile sparingly. Much like leaves and grass clippings when added to garden as weed barrier they will eventually break down in to the soil.

Most folks will need to get wood chips and shredded wood mulch as few have the wood/trees AND equipment to chop them. Many communities that collect leaves and make them available also collect downed trees and branches AND  Christmas trees and shred in a central location available to the community.


Coffee grounds make a great addition to the compost pile, garden soil and directly for acid loving plants in the garden and yard. When building a lasagna/sheet garden-coffee grounds area a addition . Worked into the soil grounds loosen the soil and break down leaving it nourished.

They may also be spread under acid loving plants like azaleas and even broadcast out on the lawn.

If you drink coffee you will generate some supply but real volume can be found at most local coffee shops and many locations of large chain coffee shops. Some places bag them for you and others ask you to bring buckets.


If we eat any fruit or vegetables we will generate peels and scraps that can be composted for use in the garden. The scraps eggshells plus fruit and veggie only, no other animal based scraps ( meat , fat or bones).

They can be collected in an airtight table top container or the freezer until taken outside to the composting area or tool. The compost is usable after 3-9 months , depending on the method used.


Summary list of Cheapskate supplies:

1.Lasagna gardening

2. Grass clippings

3. Leaves

4. Shredded wood/chips

5. Coffee grounds

6. Composted kitchen scraps






Fighting the Good Fight – Weeds and Vinegar- not a salad but clearing the way

In the last 3 weeks I got busy and the weather was perfect for a great crop of wild things to grow in the pathways in the garden.  

ImageMost of the weds are just that weeds but there are a few wild edibles- plantain and lambs quarters. I sprayed the bulk with vinegar/salt/soap mixture and will take .

I mixed a cup of salt with a few tbs of dish soap in a gallon o apple cider vinegar and sprayed it liberally around the wild growth. 

I also sprayed a water, seaweed fertilizer and dish soap mixture on the veggies and herbs in the garden.     Image

I will take some more photos in a few days to see what the vinegar did. I t has worked wonders this year without the impact of the rough weed killing chemicals out there.

Now it is almost time to prepare for winter and the 2014 garden season.       Image

Real Cheapskate- Forage for Wild Greens- FREE !!!

I collected a nice bag of wild plantain (plantago major) yesterday. I have used it in the past as base for green smoothie, shredded greens in soup and of course in a salad with fruit and nuts to balance the sour bite.  Image

I have not harvested or eaten the seeds yet- though they are edible cooked or raw- the challenge will be harvesting the tiny seeds from the tough stalk.


Plantain is very high in beta carotene(Vitamin A precursor) plus vitamins B1, C and K.
It has a lot of calcium as well as : allantion, apigenin, aucubin, baicalein, linoleic acid, oleanolic acid, sorbitol, and tannins. Allantoin promotes wound healing; Acubin is a powerful anti-toxin.
These substances together give plantain exceptional antioxidant, antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and expectorant properties.

Medical research show its usefulness for asthma,bladder problems,blood sugar control bronchitis, emphysema, fever, hypertension, rheumatism.
Plantain is a powerful detoxifier.  Plantain can be used as a poultice on the skin to draw out venom from snake bites and bee or hornet stings. Use a poultice of mashed leaves, in an emergency chew with saliva, and place on infected area.
It has antibacterial properties and a poultice will also draw out thorns or splinters.
It has some use as a tobacco control aid. It causes an aversion to tobacco and has been used in blend to help smokers quit.

The only cost is time- and maybe a pair of scissors…..

Summers are for floods….

Some summers are dry even to the level of drought- this year we have been getting a lot of rain and the garden has been muddy and the plants have been stagnant. Not much lost yet but not much growing since the roots have been wet/submerged.

Last week  the community garden- along a stream- was flooded after several days of 1-2″ rainfall that culminated in a 2-3″ downpour Thursday afternoon until Friday morning. Luckily the damage in my garden spot was limited to flooding and the loss of some mulch/grass.     Image

I spent a few hours Saturday replanting some beans that had faltered and were ‘bugged”

I also have several pieces of wood to dig and build an additional hugelkultur hill for fall planting and next seasons planting.

The weather has been sunny and dry this week , I am hoping the tomatoes and cukes that have been growing will start flowering and producing fruit. The roots now have the chance to dry out and breathe and support plant/fruit growth. I hope the weeds take a break but i am sure this dry and sunny spell will also bring them out in full force and glory- hopefully some of them are edible. Image

Stinging Nettles and Milk Thistle – Weeds or Wonders

>Planting and growing “weeds” is a lot of fun and beneficial. In the past I have grown dandelions and they are great in salads, soups and smoothies. Tasty and full of vitamins/minerals.           Image

This year I am growing Stinging nettles and Milk Thistle.  I love a plant that can fight back when harvested- like going hunting. I also enjoy the challenge of creating and attractive garden, that is a joy to visit and walk by.  The color and spread of the nettles and the variegated coloring of the thistle leaves and the beautiful purple flowers. AND the thorns.

Besides the taste and fun in the garden- these cool plants have the following benefits.

Stinging Nettle – leaves/roots – Vitamin:A,B,D,C,K; Iron,calcium and silica{ Urtica dioica }

Helpful/useful for:

-Urinary tract Infections                        – Kidney stones

-Joint ailments and arthritis                  -allergies

– general inflammation                          -internal bleeding

-all kinds of ..itis issues                          -many other indications……

How to Consume:  Cooked greens, tea , smoothies, leaves and stems as a topical skin treatment


Milk Thistle –leaves, blooms,stems and seeds, high anti-oxidants,bioflavonoids     {silybum marianum}

Helpful / Useful for:

-Liver and gallbladder concerns            -appetite and heartburn

-allergy concerns                                     -hangover

– diabetes issues                                      – alcohol abuse symptoms

How to consume- Leaves and flowers cooked or in salads or smoothies, seeds as a coffees sub.



The new plants are coming in slowly but look great and I will add some more pictures as they mature and I have more starting for late season harvest.

I became enamored of these greens a few years ago when I got “hooked” on green smoothies. I was able to purchase dandelion greens at the store but had to cut and harvest these in the wild or from the “weedy” section of gardens at other homes. Many of them looked at me funny when I planted seeds for these tasty greens as well as dandelions.

More to come.

Recycle pallets for “Free” and “Instant” Raised beds

I have taken over a public garden space that was abandoned early last season. It was terribly overgrown and heavily weeded. On closer inspection- many of those weeds are wild edibles and I tried to salvage, relocate them and many others were cut back and chopped to put in compost pile.

To gain some control over the weeds and get started quickly I collected some safe pallets that were destined for the dump and brought them to the garden.  Image

FIRST STEP – make a layer of newspaper , 8-10 sheets thick and top with composted leaves and then the pallet.

SECOND STEP- Dump buckets of coffee grounds from local coffee and mix with leaves to create a base within the pallet.   Image

THIRD STEP- Fill with a combination of Compost and topsoil and START PLANTING

This first year I wanted to maintain a reasonable garden and not overdo it based on my ability to keep up with the garden .   Image

Current planting in the pallets used- Brussels sprouts, onions, chives, cucumbers, okra, chard, oregano, thyme,

FUTURE- 1 to 3 pallets committed to strawberries and a few stacked pallets for some “texture” in the garden ( as an artist or designer might say.).

Updates to follow as the plants and veggies grow and fill the pallets.  I hope to also add some garlic in the summer and fall for spring/summer harvest 2014.

New place and a new garden- starting from Scratch +1

I recently moved and left the garden I was playing with and was without a garden for a while. I was able to rent a garden plot in the City of Charlottesville in the spaces at Azalea Park.

Image I said “from scratch+1” because this plot has obviously been tended before BUT it needs a couple hours o TLC before we start planting and harvesting. I plan to do some clean up this weekend and plan to bag / compost all of the vegetation in the picture.

I need to investigate the plot to see if there are any plants still in place or coming up for spring as I plan the set up of the plot and the items to grow this year.

This is in the open so there will be  A LOT of sun so fruiting plants will do well (planning to fight the bugs…)

The 3rd step to take will be the analysis of the soil to determine what i will need to add / blend/ or mix into the soil..

Beans / peas will be planted asap as they serve dual purpose- good food for me and a crop that will replenish soil nutrients.Image

There are a few items and tools left over so I will need to take an inventory and clean up some broken junk as well ( pots, buckets and tools).   Time for a fun new adventure- I am running late for the season but I will catch up and have some fun with it. Continue reading