A recent survey by Scotts Miracle-Gro reports that 55% of American adults are gardening during the pandemic to keep busy, relieve stress, and get closer to their source of food. But the pandemic could also affect the way we garden, according to the National Gardening Association’s 2020 National Garden Survey. The economic uncertainty is forcing, among other things, a trend towards more DIY garden projects.
I can personally attest multiple trips to garden supply stores to find the best deals on anything under the sun to grow, well, anything under the sun. While I won’t divulge all of my secrets, I will share some hacks to make gardening cheaper and easier.
Growing popularity: According to statista.com, around 21 million American households turned to container gardens in 2019. The self-contained format often makes it easy to control things like soil type, pH, and more, which can save you money on other supplies such as fertilizer, but pre-made raised beds can cost $ 100 or more depending on the size and material.
* A hanging shoe organizer makes for a cheap yet stylish herb garden. Make sure to poke some holes in the bottom of each bag if the water doesn’t naturally drain and hang it outside or over something you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.
Estimated cost: $ 10
* Likewise, house gutters can serve as chic hanging gardens. Just cap each end, drill some holes in the floor, and attach it to your privacy screen. If you want to get really creative or use your installation indoors, stack them to create a self-watering system. Use only water-loving plants in the lower rung, such as water lilies and small ferns. Since gutters are typically only 6 inches deep, you’ll also need to stick to plants with shallow roots like pansies and succulents.
Estimated cost: $ 5 to $ 20
* This next trick is literally a container garden. However, if you bury plastic pots all the way to the bottom of your garden, you can easily swap or bring things in as the weather changes. Just leave potted plants in, make sure both pots have drainage, and cover with mulch.
Estimated cost: $ 1 per glass
Did you know? The Chattanooga Public Library provides resources for gardeners with a library card. You can check out packages of vegetable, fruit and flower seeds and tools.
* No need to buy seeds when you have toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Fold over one side (score first if needed), then fill it in with dirt, extra nutrients, and your seeds. Water regularly and once the seedlings are ready to plant, unfold the soil and plant the whole thing.
Estimated cost: $ 0
* To create the best possible conditions and protect young plants, peel the label off a full-size clear plastic bottle, cut off the soil, and place over it to create a mini greenhouse. You will likely need to bury the base a bit to keep it in place.
Estimated Cost: $ 0- $ 3
* Hydrogen peroxide doesn’t just belong in your bathroom. You can also use it in the garden. But before we get to that, use it to help the seeds germinate. Tom Stebbins, Chattanooga’s UT Extension Agent, says he can’t support claims that hydrogen peroxide can help seeds sprout faster and develop stronger roots, but soaking your seeds in it will remove all of the bacteria, he says. He recommends using a 1:10 mixture and then rinsing the seeds. To test the other benefits, water your seedlings with 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per cup of water. Keep all leftovers in a cool, dark place. Hydrogen peroxide is sensitive to light (and heat), which is why it is sold in brown bottles.
Estimated cost: $ 5
KEEPING PESTS AT THE BAY
* Andy Boyd, director of horticulture at Crabtree Farms, agrees with the many gardeners who say hydrogen peroxide can also be used to remove root rot and mist on leaves to kill fungi. Where they don’t match is the recommended ratio. Since the antiseptic can kill good organisms too, start small. The seed germination ratio can work, although some sources call for up to 1 tablespoon per cup of water. Spray the leaves in the evening to prevent them from becoming more sensitive to the sun during the height of the day.
Estimated cost: $ 5
* To prevent pests such as ants and small living things, many springs swear to sprinkle cinnamon around plants or beds. Mixing with the soil will also help prevent plants from falling prey to fungi in the soil, although neither Boyd nor Stebbins can confirm this. Stebbins recommends using an aluminum foil ring at the base to keep cut worms out, one of the most common threats to young plants.
Estimated cost: $ 1
* Gardeners can weed for hours every week. To have more time to enjoy your blooms, you can buy landscaping fabrics – or you can put cardboard or newspaper under your mulch to prevent those pesky other sprouts altogether.
Cost: $ 0