If you're not careful, gardening can become a pretty pricey hobby, but like most homesteaders out there, we're looking for a few other ways to do things.  We love saving a buck or two with some slightly unconventional methods.  Some of these work really well, and some of them work PLUS save us money.  

The act of gardening is good for you!  Recent studies have shown that gardening can improve your physical health while also reducing your stress levels and blood pressure.  However, many people hold off because they think gardening is an expensive hobby to take up.  It doesn't have to be that way.  Here are some tips on how to make your gardening experience an inexpensive one:

Plan It Out

As with any project, the expenses will start piling up if you don’t take the time to plan. Estimate how much of your yard you will dedicate to your garden.  Once you have done this, it is essential to map out exactly what type of vegetables you want to grow and what tools you will need to do this.  Doing this will save you money because you can look for the best deals for these items.  Also, it is a good idea to do some research on the plot-to-be, so invest in a good gardening handbook that will help guide you through this process.

Start Small

When first taking on a new hobby, there is sometimes a problem with trying to overdo it and then failing.  As such, your first time out should probably limit yourself to just a few vegetables.  You can also invest in a container garden that will help you grow delicious vegetables in the smallest, most economical space possible.

Get Good Soil

Another element that you need to consider is the quality of your soil.  Make sure that it’s not contaminated with pesticides or pollutants.  Think about adding vital nutrients to the soil by using high-quality compost, such as mushroom compost.  Afterward, learn to do your own composting and if you need to add fertilizer, make sure it is organic.  Too many chemicals and pesticides in the fertilizer could wind up ruining the soil in the long run.  It’s a good idea to designate a composting area for just this purpose.  You might also want to invest in a quality gardening bag that will help you gather up yard waste for later use in your compost area.

Don’t Overinvest

When you start off, don't overinvest in things like seeds, mulch, and tools.  Many of these can be picked up relatively cheaply and then you can improve on these or upgrade them later on.  Also, remember that there are always friends and family who may be willing to loan you tools unless you have a habit of not returning them.

A little-known fact is that if you are on a strict budget, there is a way to get seeds for free.  Those who qualify for government assistance under SNAP can use their benefits to buy vegetable seeds, which they can then turn into a source of food for the entire family.  Just a few tomato plants, from government seeds, can benefit your family.

Lightning round of tips:

  1. Check out your county's free slash mulch programs!
  2. Collect your grass clippings as mulch.
  3. Think about things you could use as weed barrier (unprinted cardboard, old newspapers, old dog food bags, etc.)
  4. Save your plant containers for seedlings next year.
  5. Buy garden tools at garage sales! 

This year, you can get yourself and your family on the path to a healthier lifestyle with a few vegetable seeds, some plants, and a garden.  Growing your food isn’t just healthy—it also provides your family with a sense of accomplishment that will help them take an active part in their health and welfare. You may be surprised at how much better your own produce tastes in comparison with what you typically purchase at your local grocery store.