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Frugal Family Gardening Tips

This week’s Frugal Family is a collection of frugal tips for gardening.

Living frugally. Whether you do it because you have to or because you prefer to spend wisely, we can all agree that everyone has tips and tricks for saving money.

This week we're going back to the topic of gardening. Once you have your garden growing, how do you frugally keep it going, avoiding pests and problems? Once you have that smorgasbord out there, the furry locals may visit as well and help themselves.

Thus far this year I’ve learned that metallic pinwheels (that cost maybe $1 each from a local drug store) keep animals from eating my impatiens. How did I find this out? The flowers in one planter were eaten while ones in the other (with the pinwheels) were not touched. I put a few pinwheels in the garden and can honestly say that I have spinach, cucumbers and sunflowers growing happily. 

Another tip I read about and tried was to put baby food jars on sticks and place them in the ground. Supposedly if these jars are at the eye level of garden ‘pests,’ the light reflections keep them away.

Is it a coincidence or does this actually work? For a few bucks it’s worth a shot.

Used coffee grounds are also great for garden soil. When the grounds are added to the soil they add nitrogen as they decompose. You only need to add an inch or so at a time around a plant (never directly at the base of the plant but maybe a ½ inch away). You can get free used grounds from some local coffee houses. Starbucks has a program in which you can walk in and ask for a free bag, so next time you head to your favorite coffee spot request the grounds on the side.

What's more frugal than using what you already have around the house? If you drink milk, don't throw that milk container away just yet -- fill it with water and use that diluted milk and water mixture to water your plants.  Besides providing nutrients to plants, milk can help prevent and cure some fungus problems. Last summer it worked on eliminating mildew on my squash plants.  A spray bottle full of diluted milk every few days in the morning hours helped save two of my three plants. Could I have gone to the garden store to buy something? Sure, but we're talking frugality here.

If slugs are a problem in your garden, use crushed eggshells around tender plants to kill them. (You fertilize your soil at the same time). Copper pot scrubbers are known to work as well since, apparently, slugs are not fans of copper.

Another frugal and eco-friendly way to keep bugs away is to plant mint. Spearmint especially is a great natural bug repellent. Plant some in your garden (in a container since mint is known for its ability to take over an area). Even just putting plain mint mouthwash in a spray bottle to be used as a bug spray supposedly works! I’ll be trying that on my next camping trip. 

If you’re not a fan of mint, plant garlic, rosemary or sage, which can help prevent insects in the garden. 

Check your local plant nursery or home store for an assortment of herbs, vegetables and fruit plants that are ready to be planted. It's far from being too late to start a garden -- you can even start to plan out your Fall/Winter garden now.

Susan Grella June 08, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Great tips - thanks!
Patricia Ziegler-Boccadoro June 09, 2011 at 01:25 AM
Thank you for reading! :)

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