Money-saving gardening ideas

Thrifty ideas for the garden.

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As I was visiting some of my favorite garden sites over the weekend, I kept finding excellent ideas for being thrifty in the garden and so I decided to share them with you.

From Ellen Spector Platt of Garden Bytes From the Big Apple (whose latest book is an updated edition of "Lavender – How to Grow & Use the Fragrant Herb") come some helpful tips in Herbs for Hard Times.

She lives in New York City and grows pots of herbs on the roof of her building. Instead of keeping these just for herself, she allows anyone in the building to "pinch an inch" of any herb and use it.

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It's always less expensive to grow herbs for use in cooking than it is to buy those tiny, expensive packets of them at the grocery store. (Those herbs that are easily grown from seed are even less costly.) But what if you don't have a growing area that gets much sun?

No problem, Ellen, says. She suggests that "if you have only part sun or part shade try chervil, lemon balm, cardamom (use the seeds), chives, and horseradish, plus catmint (Nepeta cataria) for your tabby."

I'd add parsley to that list. I've often used it as the edging for a partially sunny flower border.

If you're new to herbs, Doug Green offers all the instruction you need in Five Easy Herbs.

In the Backyard Gardening Blog, Chris points out that we have choices when we plant something in our yards and it makes good sense to choose the alternative that you can eat

For instance,  a walnut tree for shade instead of an oak, an apple or pear instead of an ornamental fruit tree, for instance. (Blueberries make good shrubs and have delightful fall color.)

But Chris highly recommends growing asparagus, which is unusual among veggies because it's a perennial crop.

"From the standpoint of saving money, perennials are a bargain," she writes. "You buy them once (or start them from seed once) instead of once per year. Additionally, because perennials establish root systems that go deeper and further than annuals, they need less water and less fertilizer. So the savings come all around."

Well-respected garden author Tracy DiSabato-Aust ("The Well-Tended Perennial Garden" was her first big hit) suggests that those feeling the recession try growing ornamental vegetables

One plant then does double duty -- it looks great in the flower bed and is also edible. Tracy gives specific recommendations of which colorful veggies pair well with various perennial flowers. Lots of great information!

Free gardening magazines? That's perfect for new gardeners and to help the rest of us last until spring. On You Grow Girl, Gayla explains that 18 issues of Organic Gardening magazine from 2005-2008 can be read free online.

What about saving water and aiding the environment while also conserving cash? Now that's a triple threat of an idea from Shirley Bovshow's EdenMakers's Blog, where she talks about water drums and rain gardens. (Even if you don't live in southern California, where you can take advantage of this idea now since it's a good idea to plan ahead for the growing season.)

And what about saving money on flowers and landscaping? Jim Charlier at Art of Gardening, tells about a nifty idea he picked up on a garden tour in Buffalo, N.Y, flower "poles." With his clear photo, anyone could copy this trick.

What are your best tricks for saving some moola in the garden?

(NOTE: We invite you to visit the main page of the Monitor’s gardening site , where you can find many articles, essays, and blog posts on various garden topics.)

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