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Everyday Cheapskate: Cheapskate Gardening Tips and Tricks

Mary Hunt on

Is there anything more gratifying than a beautiful garden when you just happen to be the gardener? But one trip to the garden center to pick up soil amendment, weed cloth and weedkiller can pretty much zap all of that joy with its hefty price tag. That's why I love today's tips and tricks -- including, back by popular demand, homemade weedkiller.


While you may have no use for spent coffee grounds, your garden will love them. Used coffee grounds are like megavitamins for the soil. They're rich in phosphorus and magnesium -- important nutrients that help plants grow. It's easy to just sprinkle coffee grounds (wet or dry) around the plants and work them into the soil. They're even the right color.

If you're not much of a coffee drinker, don't despair. Many coffee shops package up their used coffee grounds in the bags that the beans originally came in and offer them to local gardeners for free. Check with your barista to see if used coffee grounds are available at your favorite coffeehouse.


Every day, you throw away eggshells, and why not? They're not good for anything, right? Wrong! Eggshells are delicious calcium for your garden. Be sure to crush them well, and then work them into the soil right along with those coffee grounds. Calcium will help keep your garden soil and plants healthy.



Newspaper makes the best weed cloth (only after you've read this column). It's free, and it allows water to drain through it, and it is also biodegradable -- very good for the soil. Newspaper will definitely last through the season, preventing unwanted vegetation from growing up through it.

First, prepare your garden. Next, lay a thick layer of newspaper over the entire area, eight to 10 sheets thick. Now cover with a thick layer of mulch. At each place that you wish to plant a seedling, cut an X through the mulch and paper and into the soil.



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