Tag Archives: cheapskate garden

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.

GRASS CLIPPINGS-

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).

LEAVES –

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-

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.

COMPOSTED KITCHEN SCRAPS-

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

 

 

@martyroddy

 

Planning and Planting a Drought Tolerant Vegetable Garden

In Virginia we have had summer heat and dryness earlier . May and June presented many hot dry days and for some people the result is a stunted garden that was hit with heat before the roots and established at a safe depth to thrive in the heat of summer.

After we/you do some “regular” watering to keep everything growing………

WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR THIS SEASON?

The next question is , HOW CAN WE PREVENT THIS PROBLEM IN THE FUTURE?

Immediate Solution / Actions:

Water more frequently in smaller amounts. Water directly without sprinkler or over head water spraying gear. This will limit evaporation and get the most water to the roots. The plants will get stronger as the roots spread and reach more deeply into the soil. They will also get more of the necessary nutrients from the soil (and those added), as the roots grow and reach the plant becomes stronger. The stronger plnt will have deeper roots and greater ability to survive tough weather

HOW to MULCH  EACH PLANT ? :

If you have mulched already- how thick is it? What material did you use? What if the soils is naked now?…..What do you have to mulch with right now?
BIG MULCH QUESTION(s)- Can water flow through to the soil/roots? Does it remain damp?

You will need a BIO-degradable material and I have found cut grass to be the best option, since it is readily available, porous and lightly colored ( so it won’t get too HOT !!)

Rake up  some freshly cut grass ( or use the grass catcher when cutting)  and spread it  around the base of each plant or along the rows. Strive for a 2-4 inch layer of grass . May build up to 4 inches over 2 or 3 lawn mowing efforts.  give each newly mulched plant a bit of water to fix the grass in place and to start the process.

Mulch will serve a few purposes- 1) keep the ground cool   2) break down for soil amendment and BIGGIE 3) will help soil hold the water and keep it with the plant and roots.

Other mulch materials- chopped leaves (if whole- runner through mower), pine needles, shredded paper mixed with leaves or grass [don’t shred

LEAVES OF GRASS

] , wood chips, saw dust, or compost.

https://twitter.com/martyroddy

Be a Real Cheapskate – Grow Your own Fertilizer Part 2

In an earlier post Comfrey was the garden partner for grown fertilizer. In this post, Stinging Nettles ( Urtica dioica ) will be discussed. Stinging nettles are also a valuable food source as a dark leafy green it is a nutritional powerhouse in the kitchen as well as the garden.

     How to Use as Fertilizer:
1. Carefully harvest the leaves and stems (avoid roots and seeds)with snippers and gloves or in large patches use a scythe( pick up with fork or gloves. They are called STINGING Nettles for a good reason.
2. Fill a bucket or barrel with the harvested leaves and greenery, top completely with water and COVER for 2 weeks
3. After 2 weeks you will have a potent mixture loaded with – iron, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, copper and chlorophyll.
4. Removed most of the remaining solids and add to compost pile or spread around plants as a potent mulch.

Nettles are often considered a weed and may grow with abundance , over-reaching your need as fertilizer and food. they my be harvested and placed in compost piles and bins. They add a potent energizer to the compost
                                 Using the new PLANT FOOD ***
This mix will be highly concentrated and should be used in a 1/8 -1/10 mixture. In a gallon of water add approximately 2 cups of nettle tea.
Spread on the garden every every 2 weeks during or before a planned watering or rainfall

NETTLES ARE A VALUABLE FOOD SOURCE.

They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and rival the ever popular kale, spinach and collards in nutritional content. Nettles must be cooked or steamed before eating to eliminate the needles. They can be used in smoothies and there are many popular Green Smoothie recipes.
Nettles also make a delicious and potent Tea. Dry the leaves in a warm dry room or spread on cookie sheets in oven at lowest setting for several hours. Chop/grind the dried leaves and store until brewed.

https://twitter.com/martyroddy

Be a Real Cheapskate- GROW your Fertilizer Part 1

Russian Comfrey ( Symphytum uplandicum) and wild comfrey ( symphtum officinale) are partners to consider adding to your garden because when established ,after  year 1 , it provides plenty of “free” fertilizer for your plants and an energizer for your growing compost piles(bins).

Wild comfrey tends to spread so plan ahead and put it in a spot that allows for  that or control the expansion by planting in buried pots, buckets or old storage bins (make sure they have drainage) control / limit  the spread.
Comfrey has the added benefit of being a useful medicinal herb (See link below).

It is  a relatively tall plant that  likes to reach out and spread its “wings”, so set it in places where it can do so and not cast too much shade or crowd out neighbors, especially permanent plantings like trees, berries and bushes.

The average home garden will benefit from 4-6 plants . It is be propagated from cutting or established plants can be divided .  It is an attractive plant with attractive blue-purple flowers and a fuzzy green leaf.

            How to Use Comfrey in your garden:
A. Liquid Fertilizer: 1] fill bucket with leaves(not necessary to pack tight) and top completely with water and cover the bucket with lid or board and set in sun for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks the liquid should be dark brown-black. IT WILL STINK, BUT THT IS OK!!
2] Combine dark liquid with clear water and ratio of 1-2 cup liquid/1 gallon water
3] add spread around plants every other week during regular watering or before a rain.
B. Transplant Kickstart: Put 3-6 leaves in bottom of pot or garden hole when transplanting fruiting plants.
C. Power Mulch : Place a layer of leaves around plants, can be covered with cut grass or leaf mold
D. Compost Activator: add and mix into compost heap/bins. include flowers and stalks
MEDICINAL USES-
http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/comfrey-medicinal-uses-zmaz92jjzshe.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfrey

https://twitter.com/martyroddy

Grow your garden for $15 a year

Now the first couple of years you may have to buy seed or seedlings but from that point forward you can save seeds as the harvest proceeds.

This allows you to continue producing the goodies that you love to eat and grow without having to invest in seeds every season. Seed saving varies for different species and families of plants but storage is universal.

WHAT IS AVAILABLE for CHEAPSKATES?

1) Freecycle to find supplies- wood, bricks, barrels, cinder blocks even grass, leaves, mulch or compost(plus manure)

2) Collect bagged leaves from the neighborhood, or other neighborhoods

3) Employ worms to break down kitchen scraps and some yard waste…can be found from other “worm” farmers or purchased online…

4)Wood chips and other ground/shredded wood make a great garden base, they can also serve as top dressing to maintain moisture and fight unwanted weeds.  These can be obtained free(but you may need to get them) or for a nominal fee.

5) Build composter(s) with free/recycled items. Bin with wooden pallets, bins with cinder blocks, barrel from old trash can…..

6) find manure you can shovel into a truck bed or trashbag/barrel to bring home

https://twitter.com/martyroddy

Growing my Own Fertilizer {very cheap} – Comfrey

I have planted and relocated a few Comfrey plants in my new garden this year. I hope to be able to use them for “fertile-i-tea” late in the season and then really use next year for mulch etc.

They can be used as mulch or a powerful tea( uses-below). Image

Comfrey  – Symphytum officinale- grows to about 2 feet and is deep rooting and the leaves have a broad spectrum fertilizer in the blend of N-P-K and are useful in the following ways.

A) Spread the leaves  as a mulch to control weeds and protect the soil.

B) Fill a bucket (w/lid) with water and 1/2 filled with comfrey leaves- allow the mix to “brew” for 3-5 weeks and can then be used full/half strength as a feed or water amendment

C) Compost “energizer” – add leaves to a slow “processing” compost pile to give it a kickstart

D) Add chopped leaves to soil while planting/transplanting as a safe/gentle food.

Image

This is perfect for cheapskate gardeners as it provides a full spectrum fertilizer, a mulch and also a good looking plant in the garden.

In future posts we can look at herbalist uses of comfrey in repairing broken bones and healing injuries.