Home   |   About Us   |   GROW: The Book   |   Blog   |   Join Us   |   Shop   |   Forum Rules

Easy, cheap temporary garden... kind of prepping... maybe — The Grow Network Community
It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop Choose seeds wisely.


Easy, cheap temporary garden... kind of prepping... maybe

judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 1,630 admin
edited March 10 in Growing Food

I've been staying in the NC sandhills, helping an older relative. It is really hard to garden here - tons of shade from the tall pines and very acidic soil. Foraging is nothing like I'm used to in the Appalachians... no clean water to fish... but I could trap plenty of squirrels, rabbits, etc in an emergency. Now, I don't see the Corona virus as an emergency. I figure the virus will run its course and not be as serious as the doomsayers say. But, I have far less faith in the populace to act rationally. When folks start fighting over toilet paper and bottled water, I figure panic behavior could very well disrupt normal supplies. Honestly, why water? Getting sick doesn't affect your tap. Anyway, I have good sources for inexpensive, good quality meat in bulk. Good veggies are "rarer than hens' teeth" even at the most expensive grocery stores around here. So, I've been working compost into a little bed that may be able to grow some greens... I can't grow much of anything here that needs to ripen fruit -def no tomatoes. But, I tried some beans last summer in a container and they did great in a little sunny spot with DIY potting soil mixed with cheap store bought. So, I found 2 and 1/4 gallon buckets at Dollar Tree for $1 each.... and a bunch of packets of heirloom peas and beans for .25 each (probably old, but that cost makes up for the germ rate). I'll buy 4 or so $2 bags of cheap, lousy potting soil from Dollar General tomorrow and amend it with compost (from my kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, leaves, grasses, etc). It isn't ideal. But a less than $20 investment should give me daily servings peas and beans by May (when if things get bad, they will)… I can move them around to find sun and rain.... and another $16 or so bought all sorts of lettuce, mustard, kale, radish, turnip, parsley, chives, etc seeds for the greens patch. …. guess I need to stock up on toilet paper now. Nah, I'll make 40 gallons or so of crazy cheap wine from a handful of grocery store ingredients... time to fill the carboys!


  • JannajoJannajo Ms. Pointe-Claire, QuebecPosts: 176 ✭✭✭

    Your relative is one lucky lady/man....energy to burn it seems u have, all on a budget...I am inspired! However, I have vacation planned, little ideas for now of gardening, joined a farm (who delivrers veggies nearby). I have lots of rice, beans, peas etc(no end of foodstuff). Seems okay for me ...who lives alone, in 8th floor apt. (1 bedroom) In Canada, guns r scarce u know, so, no, I have not real protection (in case of trouble).

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 1,630 admin

    Don't forget canned fish, if you enjoy it. Many is the time canned sardines, salmon and tuna have come to my rescue! A little salt cured pork and onions does wonders for riche and beans, too. But honestly a bucket of soil is lazy gardening... and making wine is fun!

  • 2017pams@gmail.com[email protected] Posts: 12 ✭✭✭

    Collards which taste like cabbage loose leaf should grow well there. Chicken manure would add more worms to give more nutrition. I use plain brown cardboard to keep weeds away. I grew a shade garden for 30 years. Greens don't need bees so do pretty well. Raspberries did great too. Kale, Aztec Spinach and beans and peas are all great choices. I have grown a garden every year since 8 no matter what. Grew at my mother's house the 6 years that we taught in Eskimo villages and grew microgreens. Those would add a lot of nutrients and speed to your results.

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 1,630 admin

    Did you just tell a Southerner that collards taste like cabbage?!!!!!!!! Heresy!!!! LOL! Seriously though, gosh I love collards! I grow Morris Heading Collards. I WISH we could keep chickens here... not allowed i he neighborhood.... but I couldn't grow feed for them anyway, and I don't like buying much. Well, it is an experiment in adaptation - got some Malabar, New Zealand and Strawberry Spinach for when the weather heats up... real spinach for spring... we'll see how it goes. I m hopeful.

  • ines871ines871 zn8APosts: 1,401 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi @judsoncarroll4 = Good for you re "canned sardines, salmon and tuna have come to my rescue!" - as I too included in this discussion Do you regularly stock up on Please check it out & respond, along with others. The more the merrier!

  • ines871ines871 zn8APosts: 1,401 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 10

    Hi @judsoncarroll4 again. - Silly me, hadn't read your entire post, until now. Yes, I did the same with like 40+ Dollar-store containers; - but the little baby-trees then grew... & because I have YET to dig, dig, dig, all their foodForest holes... they outgrew their cabins, & needed Bigger pots.

    So did my usual: asked God "Pretty please, with or without sugar on it, I NEED about 24+ BIGGER nursery pots. Thank you 🙂 for getting me some. And ... " (the rest of my chat doesn't apply to this/here topic) - & I kid you not. (Tho I never dared call Craigslist for Free Farm+Garden stuff before), this little voice had me look, & then call this guy, & less than 4 hours later, he delivered FREE about 40-60 nursery pots, as he had owned a Nursery the next town over, but was moving his family to 1 of the west-islands. And he said "Thank you for not making me take them to the county-landfill where I would have had to pay. - And just look at your gardens here, you're gonna be even more! busy LOL" - I was sooo happy, - that of course I did what I always do = Shared with friends what they wanted (anywhere from 2x2" tiny pots, all the way to 6+ gallons)

    Already have mnts. of various sizes of the best Black garden soil, & about 8 (30-gallons) cans of Compost tea, & & & lol - so you too can grow practically Everything in portable pots. - And remember, I grow the best/sweetest food in a mere 2 inches of soil, I'll show you more photos than those I already shared.

    Have fun!

  • GrammyprepperGrammyprepper Mamaw, retired RN, jack of all trades master of none Zone 5BPosts: 172 ✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 check your local grocery /bakery for free food grade buckets that will last longer than dollar store containers. A little bigger/heavier to move, but as i said, will last longer and larger size will accomodate things with larger root systems and maybe even tubers.

    Don't forget, you can also find seeds online for 'weeds' that you would normally forage. Check FB gardening groups/foraging groups from the area you are originally from, you might be surprised.

    Good for you for being proactive, and good luck!

  • EarlKellyEarlKelly Penn state master gardener Northeastern Pennsylvania zone 5bPosts: 235 ✭✭✭

    If your county has a local master gardener program I would check with them for free seeds. We contact seed companies to see what they can donate all the time. After we get a bunch together we have our local demonstration exhibits and put them on a table with a free sign. Great way to help our neighbors and get more recruits for our county master gardener program. Just another idea for you. Keep up the great work.

  • DeviDevi Canada Posts: 18 ✭✭✭

    I tried growing tomatoes in a pot last summer, but they didn't do very well. I got 5-6 tomatoes. I wonder if it's cause I used store bought soil in a plastic bag. @judsoncarroll4 What is in your DIY potting soil? I would like to try growing in containers again this summer (with more knowledge) as we have limited space to grow in the ground. Thanks!

  • GrammyprepperGrammyprepper Mamaw, retired RN, jack of all trades master of none Zone 5BPosts: 172 ✭✭✭

    @devipanday I grow tomatoes in containers. It is recommended to use a potting soil (of course you can make your own, plenty of recipes out there) as opposed to just 'dirt'. You also need to fertilize more often as nutrients get washed out of pots vs inground. Lastly, the size of the container is very important. If growing a 'full size' tomato, you need a larger pot (like a 5 gal bucket) to accommodate the root structure. I bought seeds this year for some dwarf-type tomatoes to try this year. Can't wait to see how they do!

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 1,630 admin

    I tried one tomato last year in a container.... just not enough sun. I got a few pathetic little tomatoes from it, but it just really won't work here..... far too many tall pines.

  • DeviDevi Canada Posts: 18 ✭✭✭

    @Grammyprepper thanks for the tips!! I think the pot size was too small. Good luck with your dwarf tomatoes 😁

  • norabelehcimnorabelehcim Posts: 47 ✭✭✭

    I have seen people grow tomatoes in repurposed pails, pots and even hefty bags, but they cut holes in sides to prevent water-log and permit root aeration. I grew many plants, including tomatoes, in larger containers with good bottom drainage, on a mobile garden cart I constructed to "follow the sun" when living in a place with mostly sand and asphalt a few years. That worked well, but requires wheels and garden-safe room for wheeling.

  • DebiBDebiB Posts: 93 ✭✭✭

    If you’re looking for a cheap source for seeds, if you ask around you may find people who either save seed or have extra they aren’t going to use who would be happy to share. Also, see if there are any local seed swaps. Just a couple ideas...

  • SherryASherryA Posts: 243 ✭✭✭

    Great ideas! Thank you. I didn't even know they sold potting soil at the dollar stores.

  • GrammyprepperGrammyprepper Mamaw, retired RN, jack of all trades master of none Zone 5BPosts: 172 ✭✭✭

    @figsagee be cautious of the potting soils at dollar stores, it is not always good quality.

  • GrammyprepperGrammyprepper Mamaw, retired RN, jack of all trades master of none Zone 5BPosts: 172 ✭✭✭

    Backing up @DebiB comment, check your local library, ours offers a seed exchange. Also, contact your local Extension office, as they might have a seed exchange/library as well. Local is always best, but trusted seed sources will know what grows well in your zone as well.

  • teachercarynteachercaryn Cook at Wahlburgers The Frozen Tundra in the Northern MidwestPosts: 220 ✭✭✭

    I’m inspired by your Dollar Store motivational purchases and also the method. I love peas so to have them by May, hooray! My house is not very warm nor has many sunny areas. However, a friend had a grand window and plenty of sunshine with a warmer house, so perhaps I’ll tey this groovy idea at his house. Thank you.

  • pamelamackenziepamelamackenzie Posts: 145 ✭✭✭

    Lets all get out in the garden and grow whatever we can. Another source of seeds or plant starts/cuttings is your neighbors. You might not have too many neighbors collecting seeds, but some may have gone overboard in buying them. They more likely gift from neighbors is cuttings or plant divisions. Ask now since in springtime people may be doing divisions and having more individuals plants than they need. For example, multiplying onions. If you have old seeds, or oops left a pack in your hot garage, plant anyway. You never know, they might sprout. You can test one or two seeds in a wet paper towel to see if they sprout or just plant and see. I had a pack of old lettuce seeds left in garage for entire year. I planted last month and I have only one lettuce plant growing from it, but that is one lettuce I would not have had otherwise. So you could even ask your neighbors for their old seeds before they toss them during their spring cleaning.

  • toreytorey Posts: 1,640 admin

    Along those same lines as @pamelamackenzie has suggested. Go for a walk in your neighbourhood and see who has bulb or tuber plants that need dividing and transplanting. Offer to assist them with this and you will usually wind up with more than you can put in your garden and can share with other neighbours.

  • DebiBDebiB Posts: 93 ✭✭✭

    I just remembered Joe Lamp’l did a podcast he called “ Top tips for saving money in the garden”. It has a lot of good ideas. Here’s a link to it. https://joegardener.com/podcast/014-top-tips-for-saving-money-in-the-garden/

  • MissPatriciaMissPatricia Posts: 87 ✭✭✭

    I am doing more seed-saving. In some cases, it is not practical unless you don't mind hybrids, which might be all right. If possible, start your seeds early indoors instead of buying small plants. That can save you a lot of money. Easy plants to start early to plant out when it is time: tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, pea shoots, Brussels sprouts, collards, melons, and many more. Carrots should not be transplanted. Fun plants for seed-saving are arugula and broccoli. Those little pods each hold a lot of seeds. Tomato, pepper, cucumber, melon, peas, beans, and more are pretty easy to save. It is worth trying this to save quite a few dollars. Making your own compost is another way to save money: food scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves, leaves, grass clippings. You may still have to buy some things such as potting soil. For years I tried to start seedlings in soil from my garden, but it was very unsatisfactory. Good soil is essential.

Sign In or Register to comment.