If you’re looking for ways to cut down on your grocery bill, consider starting your own backyard garden. Depending on the food you grow, you could save yourself hundreds of dollars.
Growing your own food also has several health benefits. You’ll eat more fresh produce, come in less contact with pesticides, and get exercise by tending to your garden.
Of course, you’ll also need to maintain your garden. Depending on how large your garden is, gardening can be expensive. If you decide to start a garden, here are some tips that can help save you money.
Make your own compost
Compost is a great way to enrich your soil and provide your garden with additional nutrients. Why buy compost at the store when you can easily make your own? All sorts of organic material can be used to make compost, such as kitchen waste and grass clippings. Remember that there are several materials, such as meat and bones, that shouldn’t go into your compost.
Starting a compost pile in your backyard is easy. If you don’t need to produce a large amount of compost, you can also use an enclosed bin.
If you’re concerned about the smell, adding dry grass over your compost can help cover up odors. Raccoons will naturally be attracted to compost, so you’ll also want to find a solution that prevents them from digging around in your compost.
Use cost-efficient lights
If you’re gardening inside your house or in your greenhouse, you’re going to have to supplement natural sunlight with grow lights. Grow lights are artificial lights that produce the wavelengths appropriate for photosynthesis, but some grow lights aren’t energy-efficient and can cause increases to your electric bill.
More and more consumers are turning to LED Grow Light Kits. These bulbs tend to put off less heat than other grow lights and are energy efficient. They also have a longer lifespan than other grow lights. Whether you are just beginning to supplement the lighting in your house or replacing your current lights in your greenhouse, it is worthwhile to consider LED lights.
Mulch your garden
Adding mulch to your garden will save you money in the long run. Mulch helps control weeds from popping up and prevents soil nutrients from being washed away. Certain types of mulch, such as cedar bark, also naturally repel pests.
Mulch also absorbs water and slows evaporation. Since mulch retains moisture, you won’t have to water your plants as much, which will help cut down your water bill. This can be particularly useful during hot periods of the summer when soil tends to dry out more quickly.
If you’re planning on mulching, you’ll need to use the right type for your plants. Trees and shrubs can have a 2- to 3-inch layer around their bases, but vegetable seedlings will have trouble growing through a thick layer. If you’re mulching a vegetable garden, you’ll only want to put a thin layer down in mid- to late spring.
Naturally repel pests
At some point, you’ll likely encounter unwanted insects eating your plants. While your first instinct might be to buy a pesticide that will kill the insects, you can also use cheaper, natural alternatives.
Many pests are repelled by the smell of citrus. You can take a citrus peel, tear it into small pieces, and place it around the affected plant. There are also plants will repel bugs. Garlic, basil, and other herbs produce a strong odor that mosquitos and other insects won’t like.
Research before buying
A common mistake is buying seedlings impulsively. Before you begin making purchases, you need to research what type of vegetables and fruit will grow best where you live. If it won’t grow in your garden, don’t buy it. Researching will lower your chances of spending money on seeds or plants that won’t grow.
There are online resources that will tell you which plants are native to your area and what conditions they need to grow. You could also take a walk around your neighborhood to see what others are growing or talk to a professional at a gardening store.
You should also take into consideration how large a plant will grow. If a plant outgrows the space you originally intended for it to grow in, it could crowd out and kill other plants.
The above tips are a few of the ways you can make gardening more cost-efficient. If you already own a garden, what are some of the ways that you save money?