Do any of you have a crush on your home vegetable garden too? I look forward to visiting my backyard garden every morning and seeing what’s new. Picking and eating a tomato fresh from your own garden…grocery store tomatoes can’t compete. Since I am frugal, today I’m sharing my best vegetable garden hacks with you to save money gardening. There are some surprising cheap garden hacks using something you probably throw in the recycling bin!
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Cheap Garden Hacks
More of us than ever are growing vegetables as a way to save money and provide our families with fresh, healthy produce.
One way to keep down the cost of planting a vegetable garden is to use things we already have instead of buying a bunch of expensive garden equipment.
One of my favorite cheap gardening tools is a plain old gallon milk jug.
This versatile item is free, plentiful, and has all sorts of amazing uses in the vegetable garden. I’m going to share three cheap vegetable garden ideas of how your family can use this item in the garden – they are genius!!
I’ll also share two other vegetable garden hacks that will make ALL the difference in your garden this year!
Let’s get started!
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Vegetable Garden Hacks
1. Mixing and Dispensing Plant Fertilizer
Most liquid fertilizers are made up of a gallon.
Recycling a used gallon milk jug gives you a cheap container both to measure with and store liquid fertilizer.
Best of all, with a little modification, the jug can be turned into a slow-release liquid fertilizer dispenser for your garden vegetables.
All you need is a large nail and an empty milk jug:
1. Pierce the underside of the milk jug with one or two holes near a corner.
2. Arrange the jug by the vegetable plant to be fertilized, orienting the pierced holes, so they are near the trunk of the plant.
3. Pour the liquid fertilizer into the milk jug. Cap.
4. Depending on the size and the quantity of the nail holes, the fertilizer will drip slowly onto the roots over a period of 2-4 hours.
2. Seed Packet Storage
Friends I had in art school would use those cheap plastic milk jugs to carry their paintbrushes and sponges around. Milk jugs also work for toting seed packets, especially opened packets that need to be kept upright to prevent spilling.
To make a cheap vegetable garden tote, all you need is a clean plastic milk jug and a sharp pair of scissors.
1. Rinse out the milk jug.
2. Cut away the top half of the milk jug, leaving the end with the handle.
3. Use the jug to store up to 50 packets of seeds. The jug can also be carried along in the vegetable garden to keep the seeds organized and contained.
3. Mini Greenhouses
Did you know that milk jugs can also be used as mini-greenhouses?
These cheap jugs can be used to get a jump on a summer vegetable garden by protecting small seedlings against a late frost. To make a mini-greenhouse, all that’s needed is a clean gallon milk jug (with cap) and sharp scissors.
1. Cut the bottom half-inch off the milk jug.
2. Place the entire jug over the seedling. As long as the temps remain below 50 degrees, leave the cap on the container. On warm, sunny days, the cap should be removed to prevent the seedling from getting too warm.
Related reading: How to Sell Your Produce: Make Money from Your Garden This Summer
4. Eggshells in the Garden
Leftover eggshells can be used for a bunch of things in your garden – they are one of my favorite vegetable garden hacks.
Eggshells are rich in calcium and plants need calcium to grow and thrive. Vegetable plants especially need calcium. Instead of watering your plants with milk, put a spoonful of finely crushed eggshells into the hole where you’re going to place a plant.
You can also make a calcium tea that you use to water your plants. Pour boiling water over the cleaned and crumbled eggshells. Steep this tea until the water is cool, and then strain and water your plants.
Eggshells also make great mulch. Sprinkle a layer of clean crushed shells over your soil to deter weeds. I have used eggshells in my vegetable garden as a layer under my strawberry plants. It keeps the strawberry fruit off the soil so the egg shell layer keeps the berries from rotting.
How to prep eggshells for the garden
To prep your eggshells, simply rinse them with water and let them dry in a bowl or on a tray. And no they don’t smell when you do this (make sure you rinse them).
When they’re dry, get your kids to help you with the next step of this cheap garden hack. Give them a rolling pin and a tray and let them bash out their little kid frustrations on the eggshells. You can use a regular wooden rolling pin. Those little rolling pins that come in Play-Doh sets work too.
5. An Easy Vegetable Garden Hack if You Overwater Plants
Do you have a heavy hand when it comes to watering plants?
I used to!
I have overwatered cacti before because they just seemed too darn dry.
Aaaand then they sank down and collapsed into the soil. Whoops.
I have come a long way since my cactus-killing days, but this is still one of my favorite vegetable garden hacks.
If you aren’t sure about how much you should be watering plants, this cheap garden hack is for you!
Cut up a bunch of dish sponges and put them in the bottom of your containers before you plant or transplant. The sponges will help keep a good moisture balance in your containers. They prevent root rot by holding excess water (instead of the roots bathing in extra water!)
The sponges can also keep water in the container longer instead of having it run right out. So this cheap vegetable garden idea is helpful for both under-watering and overwatering plants. And so cheap and easy!!
Cheap Vegetable Garden Ideas
Our tomatoes are growing by the hour it seems in this intense heat! I can’t wait until we can pick them from the vine and eat them in the sunshine! While we are waiting for that, share your cheap garden hacks in the comments – I love hearing new ideas! How is your home vegetable garden doing?
Make sure you head on over to check out 5 Inexpensive DIY Food Gift Ideas From Your Herb Garden – they are really fun (and surprising) ideas!