Extension and Ag Research News


Dakota Gardener: How to save money in a high-production home garden

By implementing cost-saving strategies, you can create a high-production home garden without breaking the bank.

By April Johnson, Pollinator technician

NDSU Extension

In today's world where every penny counts and sustainable living is increasingly becoming a priority, home gardening offers a dual benefit; the joy of growing fresh produce and the opportunity to save money in the process. In this article, we'll explore strategies to help you save money in your high-production home garden.

Save on seeds and plants

One mature botanical fruit may produce hundreds of viable seeds–much more than you get in an average commercial seed packet. Open-pollinated varieties like tomatoes are ideal for seed saving because they generate offspring true to their parent plants. Let green beans dry on the vine and harvest once the pods are papery and thin. Sunflower seeds are ready as soon as the petals dry and fall off the plant, and dill seeds mature and turn brown when ready for harvest. For the most robust plants come spring, save seeds from the largest fruits on the healthiest plants.

Maximize your plant budget by splitting perennials. Propagate the runners of everbearing strawberries. Purchase seedling packs with multiple starts that can be gently separated. Cultivate healthy relationships with neighbor gardeners who love to share cuttings, tubers and propagations.

Frugal raised beds

Repurpose materials like old deck wood to construct raised beds at minimal cost. I have successfully sourced all my garden beds for free with deck or fence boards collected primarily during city cleanup weeks. A word of caution: pressure-treated wood may release traces of chemicals which can be toxic in high doses, so consider using a heavy plastic liner between the treated wood and the garden soil if toxicity is a concern.

You can fill the bottom one-half to two-thirds of the bed with brush cuttings to reduce the amount of soil needed. This method will break down over time and the soil volume will need to be replenished. Top beds with a layer of in-ground or raised bed soil and cover with wood mulch sourced from local arborists or municipal recycling programs to enhance moisture retention. Utilize vertical gardening techniques and succession planting in the raised bed to make the most of limited space and increase your yield per square foot.

Water and fertilizer conservation

Conserve water and reduce utility costs by mulching in-ground garden and landscape beds and installing rain barrels to collect rainwater. Your Soil Conservation District may offer workshops to learn how to build rain barrels from recycled materials. Add extra nutrients to your soil with homemade compost from kitchen scraps, neighborhood leaves and yard waste, and spent coffee grounds supplied by your favorite coffee shop.

By implementing these cost-saving strategies, you can create a high-production home garden without breaking the bank. From seed-saving techniques to soil management, there are countless ways to make your gardening endeavors more economical and sustainable. Embrace these practices and enjoy the fruits of your labor while contributing to a more resilient and self-sufficient future for yourself and your community.

NDSU Agriculture Communication – June 21, 2024

Source: April Johnson. 701-231-7735, april.johnson.1@ndsu.edu

Editor: Kelli Anderson , 701-231-7006, kelli.c.anderson@ndsu.edu


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