How to be a Frugal Gardener

How to be a Frugal Gardener
by Elaine


Gardeners practiced the concept of the three

R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, long before it became

trendy. People who grow things have a special

relationship with the land and they naturally

take steps to take care of it. Take composting

for example, they have always known that recycled

plant material was beneficial to the soil. Nothing

from my grandmother’s garden or kitchen was ever

wasted. Using manure in the garden was an accepted

fact. These are just some of the recycling practices

which have been around for a long time.

Reducing has also been widely practiced among

the garden folk. Mulching to conserve water and

reduce watering has been standard practice among

many. Water caught in a rain barrel was and is

a good way to get water for the garden taking

the strain off the household water supply. Using

that compost so carefully acquired reduces the

chemicals that have to be added to the soil.

But, I don’t think that any other group shows

as much imagination when it come to reusing. All

of our modern conveniences have created a wealth

of discarded materials that have challenged the

gardener. What self-respecting gardener has not

found some use for clear plastic pop bottles?

From plant covers to scoops to bird feeders, these

containers have been a gardener’s friend. Panty

hose quickly became a staple to tomato growers

for holding up their tender stalks.

All kinds of containers have been used for starting

seeds most notably: foam cups or egg cartons,

either foam or fibre. The rigid plastic packs

that baked goods come in make great mini greenhouses

for starting plants. Even plastic bags are useful

to cover a pot of cuttings or a tray of seeds.

Popsicle sticks are useful in any household

but to a gardener they become plant markers or

even small stakes for seedlings that have become

leggy. Pill bottles or film canisters make excellent

storage containers for seeds.

It is a great temptation for a true gardener

to put a plant or two in any discarded container.

Tea pots, wash tubs, cooking pots, old boots,

buckets, any empty container that can hold some

soil is likely to become a planter or a liner

for a planter. And a plastic bucket, especially

if it has a lid, is a real find.

Ask any gardener what makes the best tomato stakes.

Broken hockey sticks are the number one choice.

But any long stick will do so don’t leave any

scrap pieces of wood where any gardeners can get

their hands on it.

A patch of fruit is not complete without a few

foil plates strung up to scare away the birds.

And what better use for old clothes than to clothe

the distinguished friend of the garden: the scarecrow.

Old sheets, blankets, towels or any good sized

piece of fabric should never be thrown out – they

all come out to adorn the gardenscape on nights

when frost threatens. On those nights the garden

takes on an eerie appearance all decked out in

colourful garb.

See what happens when an inventive group of people

takes advantage of the discards of our modern

living. I am proud to associate myself with this

illustrious group of caring and imaginative people.

You all deserve a big thank you and a hearty ‘bravo’.


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