Organic Gardening on a Budget

When I think of the word ‘organic,’ I usually think of the produce I find at Whole Foods–the beautiful, wildly overpriced produce that mesmerizes me because the store pays someone very well to create those gorgeous displays. But I digress…

Lest you think I drown myself in pricey food each week, I don’t shop for my produce at Whole Paycheck Foods. In fact, I don’t really spend much money at all on produce (at least during the summer and fall). How does a self-professed lover of veggies avoid spending oodles of cash on her produce tab?

I garden!

On my back porch at any given time, you’ll find a plethora of potted plants ranging from herbs and tomatoes to strawberries and peppers. I live in an urban area, so I don’t really have a yard to garden in (besides, I’m pretty sure the neighborhood cats and coons would have a field day back there even if I did!), but I’ve carefully honed the craft of a potted garden as a way to reap my veggie-filled summer bounties.

Here are some tips I share with those who ask how they can do the same when it comes to growing their own organic gardens on the cheap:

Think Outside the Bed

Even if you do have a yard in which to garden, it’s not a requirement that you spend money to install and maintain raised beds. In fact, most gardens can be edged with the very plants that fill them, eliminating the need to have the raised beds in the first place. Last year, I was desperate for more space so I mixed my basil plants in with the flowers my downstairs neighbor had planted in front of the building. The basil flourished and made a beautiful backdrop for the pansies that were already there!

Embrace the Power of Multiplying

I make sure to plant things that come with high yields, such as tomatoes, squash, peppers and greens. Not only are these plants easy to maintain, but they continue to produce food months after their first harvest if taken care of properly.

Organic Means No Chemicals

This is a no-brainer, but I’m always surprised by how many people don’t understand the basics of keeping their gardens pest-free without using chemicals. I once read about a soapy water, pepper and garlic mixture and when I tried it, it worked like a charm. Now I keep a few spray bottles on the porch, and I mist my plants each time I water them. Herbs are a natural repellent, so I also benefit from their pest-deterring powers.

Make it a Group Effort

Gardening can be quite social if you’re willing to get to know your neighbors. I’ve borrowed tools, swapped seeds and shared the fruits of our collected labor. Not only am I passing along good, neighborly karma points, but I’m scoring lots of free things such as compost, mulch and homemade plant food that I would otherwise need to buy. All in all, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

How do you trim your gardening expenses?

This post was written by Jen, a staff writer from The Happy Homeowner

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