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Everyday Cheapskate: Top 5 Brilliant Hacks to Kickstart Your Vegetable Garden

Mary Hunt on

As you might imagine, I grew up with more than a few adults greeting me with, "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?" followed by a big smile or, more often, laughter. It was embarrassing, but probably not for the reason you assume. I didn't know how to answer that question! I didn't know what "contrary" meant, I didn't have a garden, and I worried I was supposed to.

I did know to respect adults and speak politely when spoken to. But no one ever told me the right answer to the question I heard over and over again.

Today, I have good news and the best response: My seeds have germinated, sprouts are growing to seedlings, outdoor hardening has begun, and I anticipate full planting within weeks. Things are looking good for a successful harvest starting mid-summer.

Growing a garden that pumps out tasty vegetables doesn't have to cost a fortune. There are many simple ways to have a lush, bountiful garden without emptying your wallet. Whether it's recycling stuff, mixing up your own soil boosters or scoring cheap seeds and starter plants, I've got you covered with a few of my best gardening hacks, tips and tricks to save cash while honing your gardening skills.


If you're new to gardening, rather than pouring money into a bunch of gardening tools you're not sure you'll ever use again, let friends and neighbors know what you're up to. Chances are good they'll have items you can borrow. And don't be surprised if you receive a few gifts of tools others want to get rid of. It's worth a shot and will keep your costs down to the bare minimum as you set out to see if gardening is an activity you enjoy and find success in. With some experience under your belt, you'll be better positioned to decide the tools you need to own. And when that time comes? Shop garage sales, thrift stores and Facebook Marketplace.



It's tempting! Those pony packs and endless trays of seedling "starts" in the garden center are all planted, sprouted, thriving, adorable and ready to hit the ground. You could have your garden planted before dinner. And you'll pay dearly if you choose to go that route. They're not cheap! What's better? DIY.


It's easy to grow your own starter seedlings. Walk away from the pony packs and head to the rack of seed packets. Look at all the choices. You'll have to wait a bit to get your garden thriving, but I can tell you that nurturing plants from germination to maturity is such a rewarding experience. It allows you to witness the entire growth process firsthand.


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