Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gardening On A Budget DIY

This spring we made a commitment to work with supplies we had before buying anything new for our house and yard.  I also wanted to keep the budget for plants and flowers in check (I tend to get carried away at the local nursery), which meant I was going to have to get pretty creative.

I still went to the nursery and got a few flats of annuals, but I found some great free and inexpensive ways to fill in the empty spaces in the yard.  In no particular order, here are some of my favorites.

1. Transplant wild plants/flowers (with permission, of course).  This was easy for me because my mom's house is on a wooded lot and she told me to take anything I wanted.

I had no idea wild snapdragons existed until my sister in law and I found huge clumps of them growing in a flower bed in my mom's front yard.  I dug up a half dozen plants and they transplanted beautifully.

Years ago I had tried to transplant wild black raspberries without success, but this time I made sure to take plants that were growing in the shade so I could transplant them in a shady spot in our yard.  They've done very well.  There are no berries in the photo because it is done producing for the year.

I was going to try rooting a cutting from one of my mom's wild grape vines, but this small vine was easy to dig up.  It wilted and looked dead for a few weeks, but I kept it watered and now it's growing nicely.  I don't expect grapes for a few years.

2. Buy plants at the end of the season.  I stopped at the nursery mid-July to pick up a few more annuals.  I saw that they had all plants marked down for the end of the season, so I snatched up some tomatoes, peppers and herbs.  They may have gotten a later start, but they're producing like crazy.

3. Grow from seed, later in the season.  I haven't had a vegetable garden in years because I don't have a good sunny spot for one in the backyard, but after I bought the tomato and pepper plants, I needed one.   I decided to create one in the side yard, between the house and the driveway.  

Bush bean sprouting

I had some extra space around the other plants so I picked up some morning glories and some vegetable seeds that had been marked down for the end of the season.  I paid between ten and twenty five cents per packet.   You may think that July and August are a little late for planting seeds in the garden, but lots of gardeners plant a second or third planting of things like beans and peas when their first crop has stopped producing.  For such a small investment, it's worth a try if you've got the room.  Also, because we've had a fairly cool summer, I've been able to continue to grow lettuce.

4. Take advantage of plants that reproduce.  There are lots of plants that do this, but in our yard, Rose Of Sharon is the most successful.

White Rose Of Sharon

Pink Rose Of Sharon

Rose Of Sharon seed pods

Rose Of Sharon develops seed pods which break open.  The seeds sprout nearly everywhere they land and can be easily transplanted.  If you don't have Rose Of Sharon in your yard, but know someone who does, I'm fairly certain they would be willing to give you some seedlings or seed pods.  If not, email me and I would be happy to send you some.    

5. Root cuttings of plants you already have or ask friends/family if you can take cuttings from their plants. 

Hydrangea is a good candidate for root cutting propagation.

A little research will help you determine which plants can be propagated from cuttings (and whether you need root powder), but sometimes, you stumble on them accidentally.  When one of my bamboo plants needed a little support, I grabbed a piece of a Weeping Willow branch Mr. W had pruned from our tree.  I used a hammer and pounded it about 6 inches into the dirt and tied the bamboo plant to it.  A few weeks later, the willow branch started to sprout new leaves and, I suspect, roots.  I'm going to leave it in the flower bed until spring and then transplant it.

Self propagating willow branch

Coming up next on our DIY spree, Mr. W demonstrates a breakfast favorite.


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