Dirt Cheap: The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet

With the price of groceries going no place but up and shortages looming, lots of thrifty folks are starting a garden to save money on their bills this year. But what about the money to start a garden? It can be a very expensive undertaking, especially if you’ve never gardened before in your particular location.

I’ve been researching ways to start my own garden as inexpensively as possible and thought, “HEY!!! I know some other folks who would absolutely love frugal gardening ideas!” So…here they are.

Step One: What Kind of Garden Are You Going to Grow?

Of course, the very first thing to decide is what type of garden will work best for your situation. This will depend a lot on your soil, your climate, your skillset, and what you have easy and inexpensive access to. Following are some articles and books that will help you make your decision.

Pallet Gardens: Simple, Easy, Free

Straw Bale Gardens Complete

Create an Instant Garden with Sheet Mulching

How to Have a Garden When You “Can’t” Have a Garden

Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!

DIY Super Easy Raised Garden Bed for Under $30

A Free Solution For Raised Bed Gardens

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed for $12

For those who aren’t build-y: Big Bag Fabric Raised Beds (I have used these with great success for veggies with shallow roots and as a bonus, you can use them on concrete if you’re gardening on a patio.)

Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space

15 Fruits and Veggies You Can Grow in a Bucket Garden

PVC Drip Irrigation System for Your Garden

How to Save BIG on Lumber Supplies for Your Square Foot Garden

Step Two: Plan Your Garden

Now that you have figured out how you’ll grow your food, you need to figure out what to grow. A lot of that depends on your goals. Are you just hoping for salad this summer? Or are you planning to grow an entire year’s worth of food for your family? These links will help you make some decisions!

Get a FREE Garden Planning Calculator

Growing Vegetables Is Back in Style: Here’s How to Start Planning Your Garden

FREE Garden Planning Printables

How Much to Plant for a Year’s Worth of Food

An Inspiring 5000 Square Foot Garden Plan

Last Frost Date Seed Planting Worksheet

Step Three: Start Your Seedlings

While it’s easy and less hassle to buy your seedlings already started, it costs a whole lot more. One plant can be the equivalent of an entire package of seeds!  Starting your own seedlings is not that difficult and you don’t need an indoor growing operation that marijuana drug lords would envy.

Seed Starting 101

Frugal Seed Starting Station

Get Seeds Here

10 Seed Starting Hacks

20 Frugal Repurposed Seed Starting Containers

How to Make Newspaper Seed Starting Pots

Another Way to Make Seed Starting Pots from Newspaper

Chicken Manure Tea for Seedlings

Why Your Seeds Aren’t Germinating

Step Four: Amend, Create, or Prepare Your Soil

No matter how sturdy your seedlings or how efficient your beds, your garden is only as good as your soil. These tips will help you, whether you’re amending what exists, creating soil, or preparing your soil to receive seedlings.

Know Where You’re Starting Out: Test Your Soil

How to Make Your Own Garden Soil and Compost

Create an Instant Garden with Sheet Mulching

10 Tips to Improve Your Soil

Build a Compost Bin from Pallets

Composting for Beginners: $12 DIY Compost Bin, Getting Started, & 50+ Things You Can Compost

Is Your Soil Getting Enough Calories?

Bonus: Pest and Weed Control

You don’t have to break the bank to keep weeds and pests at bay.  Many of the things you need are things you’d normally throw in the trash. Other DIYs are chemical-free and thrifty to make.

Natural Pest Control in the Garden

5 Ways to Naturally Control Weeds

Natural Flea Beetle Control

The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Pest and Disease Control

Repel Insects Naturally with This All-Purpose Garden Spray

Bonus Bonus: Miscellaneous Frugal Gardening Awesomeness

These resources didn’t fit into any of the above categories but I found something useful for my frugal gardening efforts in every single one. So, I figured you guys would like them too!

10 Things That Can Be Recycled for the Garden

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible

The Top 10 Plants for Companion Gardening

Vegetable Gardening Basics

DIY Garden Hose Repair

Build a Simple Cucumber Trellis

21 Gardening Hacks

Frugal and Free Landscaping and Garden Ideas

9 Gardening Supplies You Can Get for Free

How to Start a Garden on a Budget

70+ Frugal Garden DIYs

Bonus Bonus BONUS: A Peek at My Personal Gardening Library

These are the books I have on my own bookshelf in the gardening/homesteading area. I’ve included links so you can find them on Amazon. All links are to the newest editions, so the books may not look the same as the ones you see on my shelf.

Gardening Books

Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!

The Backyard Homestead

Straw Bale Gardens Complete

The Woodland Homestead

Urban Farming

Western Garden Book

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

Building a Shed

Organic Gardening (There are only a few used copies of this one on Amazon)

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible

Craft Wisdom and Know-How

The Taylor Guides

Not shown because I let someone borrow them or read the e-version:

All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space

Garden Like a Ninja

What are you waiting for?

Clearly, your budget doesn’t have to be an issue! There are so many things you can do on a dime that there’s absolutely no reason for you to delay starting a garden for self-reliance.

Do you have any frugal garden tips you’d like to share? Your comments could be included in a future round-up! Post them in the section below!

Dirt Cheap: The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

8 thoughts on “Dirt Cheap: The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet”

  1. Heirloom seed costs can add up if you want to try a whole bunch of new things…BUT…you can save the seeds your plants produce and never have to buy seeds again! Also, check your local library; they may offer a seed ‘swap’ where you might get seeds for free. Ask your neighbors who garden; they often have seeds enough to share especially if they save their own. One advantage to that is chances are the plant will be well suited to your areas weather soil and pests. Container gardening is great if you don’t have a lot of room. Used food buckets from local bakeries and restaurants can be had for free or minimal cost. And if you match the bucket/container size to the growing needs of the plant, you can grow just about anything!

  2. Hi Daisy, I’m an avid follower of yours, but I didn’t see anything on sprouting. I’ve been doing sprouting indoors – without soil — for the last 7-8 yrs. (also as a teenager cuz we were going thru hard times). Advantages: controlled environment; no soil; no disease or insects; cheap; nutritious; and unseen by nosey neighbors; steady production, etc. I’ve tried many different varieties of legumes: incl., [beans] pinto, black, red, white, navy, lima, pink, soya, mung, chick pea (or black eye peas), green peas, garbanzo beans, etc. But my favorite are legumes. They are small; grow fast (harvest in 4-6 days); nutritious; and very versatile — salads; side dish; soup; baked bread, etc. Anyway, I think it’s worth a mention in your long list of other days to garden. Blessings, John

  3. Scored a copy of Lasagna Gardening at the thrift store for $1.50 last week! Lots of good ideas in there!

  4. I’ve been enjoying watching videos from David the Good on his YouTube format. This year I am making Biochar to provide longterm benefits to the health & productivity of the soil in my raised beds, hugelculture beds & recycled livestock mineral tubs & old water tanks that are my container gardens.

    I learned about Biochar from David’s videos about it. I substituted plain hardwood charcoal for the burnt wood, as my husband can’t be around smoke. I took an old trashcan, put the charcoal in,added fish emulsion, powdered kelp, alfalfa cubes & some left over composted manure, covered the dry items with water & left it to work for 6 weeks. The charcoal turned into a slurry that I bury in my ‘gardens’ before planting. So far the potatoes, onions & parsley all seem to have vigorous growth. David had commented on the improved taste of vegetables grown with biochar as an amendment.

    I do no till gardening, using a lasagna gardening approach to all the beds/ containers. I also mulch heavily for weed suppression as well as moisture control. I have several rain barrels that I use for watering the garden.

    It’s been a long time to put all this together. And sometimes everything grew, others very little made it to harvest…. multiple hurricanes, severe windstorms, local wildlife or just poor quality seedlings. After several years of trial & errors, I personally can grow a killer cherry tomato, sweet potatoes & redskin potatoes. In a good summer I can add various lettuces or spinach varieties, cucumbers, Seminole pumpkin squash, green beans & banana peppers. In the fall I can grow turnips, carrots and snow peas. Anything that grows is one less thing that comes from the grocery store.

  5. Another information packed article!! Daisy you rock this world!!!

    I noted a news article about a “ketchup shortage” driven by the demand for single serving ketchup packs for all the carry out food and how shared condiment bottles in restaurants are “discouraged”.

    Has anyone made their own ketchup? We have. Roma (pear shaped Italian tomatoes) to make the juice, and then a flavoring and reduction process (slowly simmer off the water, and keep stirring) is the key. Lots of sources of information out there. We were seeing about 5 quarts of juice produce 1 quart of ketchup. Your mileage will vary.

  6. Ok. Here’s a big one that nearly everyone who grows organic (and is experienced) does but rarely talks about with newbies because of the ewwww factor….we save our urine ( yes, our pee) and use it as Major source of the nitrogen part of fertilizer. It also helps accelerate your compost breakdown tremendously. Do some research so you don’t over do it and get too much nitrogen. Caution too on people taking certain meds.
    Easy to look up. Easy to do.

  7. Nice to see Carla Emery in your stack! Great resource and fun to read too.

    I regrew some green onions – bought them at the store, ate the tops, got the bottoms growing again, planted them. Have a couple tomato plants. We’ll see if they survive. Finally got one mint plant – the other died. But I do sprout!

    Word of warning – if you live near mesquite trees, protect your plants from the leaves. Falling leaves killed about half the plants I had because of the stuff that leached out of the leaves into the soil

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