Money Saving tips

I love gardening but it has been a somewhat expensive hobby so far. We’ve always had smaller gardens and grown some fresh veggies to supplement our food supply. We’ve now moved onto our “Agricultural Status” land. We’re required to make a profit to keep our tax status. The problem is, we spent all the money on building a house. How do you save money in your gardening? Any tips as we start out farming on a bigger scale?



  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,482 admin

    We had a similar experience when we purchased our farm. Not much $ left over. So we agisted a farmers cattle for 12 months. The infrastructure was in place, eg fences, water and stockyards. He paid us so much per head per week. Paid us every month. He checked on them from time to time, so did we. It wasn't a fortune but it was something and they kept the grass down. So it lessened the fire hazard in summer. After that we slowly scratched away until we bought our own cows.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    Just a thought, but I know some folks will set up roadside stands where people can buy bags of chicken poop and bags of compost on the honor system. And, of course, eggs. Lower labor involved, and a bit of profit perhaps, too.

    If you need mulch, there is that site I live in a rural area and haven't had any luck with it, despite being signed up for the last few years, but I have friends in other locations who have gotten free mulch from it. For us, what has worked better is getting to know a local landscaper. It seems they're always looking for free places to dump shredded limbs and etc. Just be sure to let that stuff break down for a year or so before using it, as it does take up nitrogen to break down and that's something you would want to be careful of in a garden.

    And I know there is an organic farmer down the road from us who uses black plastic "mulch" in his fields and says it saves him a lot in labor each year since it keeps him from having to hand weed.

    Since you have land, maybe you could keep a flock of goats and rent them out as eco-friendly weed removal, like these folks do:

    You might consider a food forest, since the labor on that is so much less than on an annual garden, which might save costs. And, at least here in Colorado, our Extension allows us to purchase "conservation grade" trees -- including fruit trees -- at a bulk discount. Not sure if that's available where you are, but maybe something to look into?

    Then, of course, there's the idea of bartering. What do you have plenty of that others might want, and what do you need that they could provide in exchange?

    And then there's the idea of joining a service like Harvest Hosts and allowing RVers to stay on your land for a fee. Don't know whether that would work with the Ag status, but just another something to check out.

    Good luck!

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have been working with our state forest service to reduce wildfire fuels. They do a tree chipping service at times. Maybe you can investigate state and US Forest Service agencies in your area. Maybe you could at least pick up wood chips if they would be of use to you.

    Note to people in US western states: the feds and locals are highly motivated to help us clear out trees. In some cases they are providing the labor and expertise to cut down the trees.

  • Gardennan
    Gardennan Posts: 47 ✭✭✭

    When we moved to our land we were on a very tight budget and a wanted a large garden and didn't want to till so I went to the closest store which for me is a dollar type store and asked if I could take cardboard from there trash area. They were very happy to give it to me and always me have more when I need it. I mow the grass low sprinkle on some lime and any manure we have mostly rabbit and chicken then put the cardboard and cover with leaves and pine straw raked out of the woods. Let it sit until spring and it's a great garden. It's a lot of work but it only cost time and labor.

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭

    August 23 @rainbow I wish I lived closer I'd love to take your Why, & How to make healthy Soil" class.

    Hi again @Gardennan Actually, what you posted that same week of how you "make soil" is already good. - Just reverse the order a little bit: Lay down WET cardboard 1st, as kind of a new Skin. Then layer the other 'ingredients' on top in lasagna-layers... I usually make the 2nd. layer FREE fine quality/Organic wood-chips ((reserving larger/coarse pieces for when potting... plants which can't either handle heavy clay soil, or when I start Fruiting bushes as mainly still tiny sticks)).

    And in case you wonder How much the order... of How you layer What, matters ? - Just observe how a wild FOREST does it: it can't consult the Internet, & it doesn't have to. It creates new soil ALL the time, & has since time immemorial, And have you ever watched a felt TREE (from either a Lightening strike, or disease, or some other factor). Depending on its circumference, or its composition, No matter... NO matter in what order 'matter' ends on the ground, given enuf time, it is broken down, rots, decomposes, & becomes part of yet another layer... of Forest-soil. - And notice too, so long as man (in his highly questionable intellect) does NOT interfere in the natural wisdom, the FOREST just keeps going....

    About the only concern you have: is the Cardboard... when you get it "free" from the Salvation army store, or Goodwill, or the Dollar store, or where-ever, much if not all of it has the confounded/life-destroying...Glyphosate in it, & that will/can harm any foods you grow in said 'skin'. -

    Do you find any points of this info helpful ?

  • anectarine1
    anectarine1 Posts: 27 ✭✭✭

    Thanks everyone. Good tips on how to prepare a cheap garden. I also like the tips of renting goats or keeping cattle. You’ve got some wheels turning! I’ll let you know what we settle on.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @anectarine1 check out straw bale veggie gardening a cheap way to get started without soil and then use the straw at the end of season to start building your soil.

    Ask neighbors for cuttings and starts and divisions of perennial herbs/veggies. See if there is a local master gardener office in your area to join or at least go to their plant sales super good deals.

  • Gardennan
    Gardennan Posts: 47 ✭✭✭

    @rainbow thank you for your comment I didn't realize I was putting things in the wrong order. What you said makes a lot of sense.I had no idea cardboard contained glyphosate any ideas what to use as a kill mulch instead?

  • JOBallinger
    JOBallinger Posts: 15 ✭✭✭

    So how do you know there is glyphosate in the cardboard? Just curious.

  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    Saving our own seeds to use for the next growing season has been a big help in cutting down on costs. This may take some time to master as some veggies are easier than others, but definitely a skill worth learning if you don't already know how. Since you are starting off (not sure if you have seeds already), look into local seed banks or libraries (sometimes run out of your local library!) - they will give you seeds to plant for free in return for growing them out and saving seeds from your harvest to add back into the bank :) If this is not an option, I know seedsnow has organic seeds in small amounts for sale for a good price (if you just need a few of this and a few of that).

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Go back to this thread and after the thorough explanation by bmaverick you will see towards the bottom "Corn stalks, wheat stalks, and even soy are now used as cardboard materials."

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    Check with your state conservation department and see if they offer low cost native trees and shrubs. Here's a link to what's available in Missouri: They will take out of state orders and charge extra for shipping (I don't know how much). Pricing is amazing; you can get 10 pecan trees for $9.

    Maybe your state has something similar. I've ordered stuff before; the plants are small but healthy.

  • J.L. Emerson
    J.L. Emerson Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    My two cents worth:

    1. When you start out gardening buy the very best tools, equipment & supplies that you are able to afford. Quality makes a big difference in the service life. It's cheaper to pay a little more up front than it is to continually replace lower quality items on a regular basis.

    2. Plan ahead. Make lists for your goals. Then make To Do lists. Then actually start doing what is on your lists. Dedicate a notebook to keep records. Sketch out a few different layouts for your garden spaces. Be sure to make note of sun & wind exposure.

    3. Walk your land. Don't just gaze fondly at it from a distance. Get to know its quirks. Don't be caught by surprise.

    4. WATER... Without water you can't raise crops or animals. Make sure you have a reliable water source.

    5. Just do it. Lead, follow or get out of the way... Do something... Looking, talking & planning is no substitute for doing. You need to start sometime. Dive in & get your hands dirty & your feet wet. Indecision can paralyze you. So... Just do it.

    RICHARD Posts: 22 ✭✭✭

    I'm big on mulch for the garden. Talk to tree services to see about getting wood chips delivered to your property. If you're going to have chickens, you may want to contact local restaurants about saving food scraps (or pigs, for that matter). Offering the owner of the company a portion of your fresh produce, eggs, or meat may encourage them to provide you with their "waste" for free. Also, you can point out the savings as they reduce their need for landfills.

  • Melissa Swartz
    Melissa Swartz Posts: 270 ✭✭✭

    If you need tools, see if there are any auctions in your area. A lot of times tools can be acquired at very low prices at an auction. It's worth checking out the ads, and you can call the auctioneer to get details about what is for sale if you are looking for something specific .

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Melissa Swartz is right about the auctions. Also, estate sales probably would be grateful to get rid of tools as well.

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2019

    True, four years ago, 1 of the Old-timers in our wcfs-organization sold his home & big orchard, to move with his wife into a tiny place. He was 89. - At their estates sale, I got some really good bargains incldg. a small freezer for only $15 that works great to this day, & will house our meats for probably many years. - The next year 1 of our 76 yr. old neighbors died, & when they came to dump over 90% of the house, - & I noticed they were cleaning out the big shed, I asked for it all, & got these TOOLS, & other items for FREE: 4 new tarps, 3 shovels, 2 rakes, Garden hose, 20 gallons white paint (that I promptly painted our Shed with), & about 8 other garden tools that I need to get the rust off, etc, etc.. - Additionally, anything I can find of use incldg. clothes in a thrift store aka 'Value Village' also magically finds its way into our house. 95% of our furniture came from another friend, inldg. 100% Forest-green leather look like new couches that we appreciate so much. The car had 100,000 miles on it when I bought it. Then last year, a friend who owned a Nursery moved, & left me 100's of black pots sizes 1 to 7 gallons. - I even buy our food (what I can't grow) at 50+% off. And more than not I skip meals altogether - - in our household it's practically only in a blue moon that we buy anything new.

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Oh my, even cardboard has glyphosate in it?


    Have you considered offering positions to people who want to learn to grow crops as an apprentice on your land in exchange for their labor while they learn? I'm not sure how that works but it could provide you with help with your crops and the joy of helping others learn as it increases your production. If it were to become successful enough you could start your own CSA.

    Also, cloning your plants such as cloning mid season for a second crop in late summer. It's easy, just another chore lol.

    Also, for tomatoes always grow early girl no matter what other species you grow. I have grown many differenct species of tomatoes over the years but in my entire life I have never seen such prolific production of tomatoes as that of the early girl. I grew them for the first time this year because I saw a comment at Baker Creek Seed that merely said they have grown them every year since they started so I wanted to find out why. While the rest of the maters were pussy foot'n around the early girls were pumping out the produce like I have never before seen in any tomato variety in my garden.

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Here is a link to a video from Baker Creek, done mid Aug but good info for next year for help extending your season.

    And as always anyone else interested I hope this helps. It's news to me even in hot OKLA and I will be giving it a try next year.

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭


    And anyone else interested:

    Moringa, also known as the tree of life. Fast growing and more and more people are learning about this and growing this tree. Watch this and see if the species Baker Creek sells would work for you in your zone. There is a lot of money to be made from the miraculous tree from the dried leaves etc. It is called the tree of life because it has an amazing amount of health benefits.

  • Louise
    Louise Posts: 3 ✭✭✭

    It's not just cardboard that has Glyphosate plus other contaminates, so does some straw. You may not be aware that some states have noticed just how toxic straw can be and they have restricted its removal from those producing farms. Other states have no restrictions despite the high amount of the toxins being found in both the straw and animal waste. And as per the quoted post below, Glyphosate may also be present..

    Most farm animals (and humans) do extremely well with a diet high in Comfrey. Comfrey, Lamb's Quarters and Purslane are three of the most nutritious plants on the planet and they're all very easy to grow. Comfrey, preferable Blocking 14, is uniquely high in protein and you only need a piece of root to get started. These are all available from Strictly Medicinal, which also has the nutritious Gotu Kola and Moringa, albeit the US doesn't have the best climate for them.

    "I just wanted to post this as a warning to always ask your farmer about whether they treat their crops with Glyphosate (RoundUp). I unfortunately learned this the hard way this year. I used straw to make a lasagna garden bed last year in the Spring. That first season the garden did amazingly well. This year, when I seeded, almost nothing grew. The seedlings I planted grew, but were stunted. Luckily for me, I have a very good neighbour who specializes in plant pathology. He suspected RoundUp-contaminated mulch. After doing all the other usual soil tests on my garden, he took a sample of the straw and sent in for testing. He just got back to me today with a confirmation that the straw was indeed contaminated with Glyphosate."

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭


    I do not know how or if this might help you but the info is sure worth seeing. It came in my in box so I wanted to share it with all just in case:

    Please use the short link below this box. In my effort to list the shortest link the one in the box showed up. It should be good for the website, but the bottom link at https takes you directly to the seed for fundraising link. I hope this information is helpful to many.

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @silvertipgrizz re "Moringa, also known as the tree of life. Fast growing and more and more people are learning about this and growing this tree. Watch this and see if the species Baker Creek sells would work for you in your zone. There is a lot of money to be made from the miraculous tree from the dried leaves etc. " -

    Provided that it will actually grow into a TREE in the OP's zone, this is a really good suggestion. Even if Not a tree, maybe a Dwarf variety would work... And really, these can be cut to the ground, & when heavily mulched most likely will Regrow each year, as it does in some zones 7 even, so considering that every part of the Tree of Life can be used, any part of it is a good deal. - Also that is the 1 of best videos of "Moringa Oleifera" ever made.

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    @silvertipgrizz "Have you considered offering positions to people who want to learn to grow crops as an apprentice on your land in exchange for their labor while they learn? I'm not sure how that works but it could provide you with help with your crops and the joy of helping others learn as it increases your production. If it were to become successful enough you could start your own CSA."

    Made me think of WWOOF. Now, I have no idea if it would be worth the time and energy for you @anectarine1; I have no experience either as a host or a wwoofer. Still, it might be something to look into.

  • pamelamackenzie
    pamelamackenzie Posts: 143 ✭✭✭

    Our local farm family makes a living off about 1.5 acres of land. Not only do they sale at farmer's markets and a once a week farm stand, but they sales CSA shares as well. They offer perks to their CSA members such as visiting the farm, dinners, etc. Later, once you get up and running, CSA might be something you can look into. They also a few times a year offer farm classes at a fee to home school students, I think they last about a week. The farm classes might be something you can do now, the students can learn how you are starting to farm. I think one of their good profit items is micro-greens, which they grow inside a grow room.

    Also check your local library to see if they have a seed library from which you can get free seeds. Or ask on NextDoor or Garden Club facebook sites for seeds (people often get carried away and buy more than they need). Or ask for plant starts and cuttings. Multiply onions might be a good thing to ask for. As @J.L. Emerson said, just get started.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    @silvertipgrizz thanks for the tip about Early Girl! We're fans here in SW CO, too, due to our short growing season!

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    One thing that I did was to buy a grow light to start my own plants. I may buy another one too. Starting plants is so much cheaper than buying from someone else. Making your own compost will help build your soil inexpensively. However, if you have poor soil, you may need to buy fertilizer (Organic), especially in the beginning. I plan to because I did not get the harvest that I expected.