Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A $25 Veggie Garden

Joe Lamp'l (aka Joe Gardener) has a series of posts over on his blog on creating a vegetable garden for his family on a budget of $25. He wants the garden he creates to be realistically reproducible by someone who is new to gardening, so he is not using all the specialized equipment and supplies that he has amassed over the years. This includes not using the compost he has created over the last year, since a new gardener would not have had time to create this free and wonderful soil amendment.

So far, his main expense is for seed-starting and transplant soil. One money-saving idea is to use cardboard pizza boxes as "flats" for starting seeds and grocery-store cake boxes, the kind with black plastic trays and clear domed lids, for mini-greenhouses to start seeds under. This will keep new gardeners from spending too much on little seed-starting "greenhouses" available at stores.

Another major money-saving idea is to request tools, transplants, and seeds through Freecycle. I've seen people do this in my local Freecycle group, and I think they have had some luck in getting at least part of what they need.

It seems to me that the biggest problem in staying within the budget is going to be in the area of soil amendments. Manure can be had for free, and it can also be used to speed up compost-making if anyone happens to have a nice pile of autumn leaves sitting around, but clay soils -- like those around here and I think also where he lives -- are going to need a lot more organic matter. Some counties offer free compost, but I am not sure what it is made from, or whether it is safe to use on food gardens. Then there are other amendments, like lime, that will be needed. It will be interesting to see how his experiment goes. I hope that it is successful!

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