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Low or No Spend Gardening Challenge

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Hello gardeners! If you’ve been on social media any length of time then surely you’ve come across funny memes that poke fun at how expensive gardening is. “I spent $127 to grow $3 worth of tomatoes!” And it’s usually tomatoes being made fun of, and I totally understand why.

The point is though that I don’t think gardening has to be the expensive hobby that others think it has to be. I’m trying to keep things simple this year in particular, and to do that I am going to challenge myself (and you as well if you’re up for it) to a low or no-spend spring or summer garden season. What does that mean exactly? Let me break it down. (See the full video at the end of this post!)

Evaluate your Gardening Supplies

What really kicked off my thoughts on having this Low or No spend Garden Challenge for myself was when I went to inventory my seed supply. I didn’t really grow a fall garden this year, so when I ordered seeds on sale from MIGardener in late fall, I was surprised when I went to store them and saw exactly how many seeds I already had.

As gardeners, I think we convince ourselves that we just need a few more, or didn’t I use all of those lettuce seeds last year? If each seed in those packets is going to be a vegetable or plant (I know statistically that isn’t true, but just go with me for now), then I have enough to feed my street this year.

Seeing my seed supplies then got me thinking about other gardening tools and supplies that I had laying around in various places. I’m not a collector of gardening materials by any means, in fact, I consider myself fairly minimal, but I was surprised by what I had that I simply wasn’t using.

So, the first step in considering this Low or No Cost Garden Challenge is to evaluate what you do have for both planting and other gardening supplies. You can find my free printable Seed Inventory Sheet here, and this can help you get started.

What will you need?

Realistically, there may be items that you’ll need to buy for this gardening season because you weren’t expecting to do a no spend challenge. If that’s the case, then set a budget for yourself.

For me personally, I’m allowing a small budget of $20 for just a few things:

  • Seedlings from my Master Gardener Plant Sale (This is our main fundraiser of the year, and I want to support it, and they always have fun varieties that I don’t have here.)
  • Potential potting soil for my Earth Boxes

I wish I had a spot where I could get native soil from the yard, but I don’t have that option. So, I’m trying to work with what I have within reason.

So consider what you’ll need to successfully garden this year and just work it into your garden budget. i would challenge you to consider whether it’s a need or want if you really want to try to keep your garden as low cost as possible this year.

How to Stay on Track

Wondering how you’ll be able to stay on track during the garden season? The best way I’ve found is to tell your spouse or close friend so they can help keep you accountable.

I always find it helpful to ask myself, “do I really need this or even have a place for this?” when I’m tempted to buy more plants or gardening supplies. Let me tell you, many a plant has come home with me that I had no idea where I was going to put it. I think that’s true for most gardeners.

So get yourself accountability and/or a small notebook or garden planner to help you keep track of your spending and gardening needs. I have a free gardening planner you can easily download for help planning or some more extensive printable versions that can be purchased.

I’d love to know if you’re on board for this challenge, which I’ll be updating about progress over on my Youtube channel, so be sure to check it out! Subscribe on Youtube to stay updated on when I post a new video!

Sandhya Ramakrishnan

Wednesday 28th of February 2024

We have had a backyard garden for almost 15 years now and it's one of our favorite projects every year. We try many new things each year; some work and others don't. Excited to see your journey.

Thelma

Wednesday 28th of February 2024

I have seeds from many years ago - do they expire? Is there such a thing? Ha! I would love to use them up before I buy any more.

Courtney

Thursday 29th of February 2024

Great question! They don't expire per se, but the germination rate goes down with each year. You can test old seeds at home pretty easily. Here's a link to some instructions: https://thekitchengarten.com/how-to-test-old-seeds/