Gardening is one of the most addictive hobbies in America. As a gardener, I know firsthand just how addictive this pastime can be, although I once considered myself blessed if I could keep a houseplant living for more than a week. After a friend hired me to help maintain his plant nursery, I soon discovered a love for gardening, which quickly became my new addiction.
A Growing Garden Hobby
At first I wasn't sure where to begin, but it didn't take long before my gardening addiction grew. I was surrounded each day by the scent of fresh soil and an ever-growing display of plants waiting to be placed within the hoards of pots stacked near my feet. I was given a crash course in the care and propagation of numerous plants. The more I learned about gardening, the more I wanted to learn. I read as many gardening books as I could. I planned out my designs, and I experimented. A child at play with gritty dirt beneath my nails and beads of sweat above my brows; not even the hot, humid days of summer or painstaking hours of weeding, watering, and harvesting could keep me away from the garden. As my gardening addiction grew, I collected numerous plant catalogs, usually ordering from each. I scoured garden centers and other nurseries for new plants. Before I knew it, one small flower bed had transformed itself into nearly twenty, all with different themes. It was getting to be expensive. I either had to give up my growing garden hobby or cut costs. That's when I decided to use my creativity to save money.
A Love for Gardening - for Less
Instead of buying expensive ornamental pieces for my garden, I started collecting interesting items and transforming them into unique objects. I dressed up an old mailbox as a haven for birds. I created a birdbath from old bricks and a round, plastic tray. Instead of buying new seeds or plants each year, I decided to start my own. While seeds can be purchased for next to nothing, to really cut costs, I began collecting my own seeds from the garden. I also divided many of the plants that I already had. Family, friends, and neighbors are always good sources for trading plants and cuttings. This not only saves money, but it provides an opportunity to share ideas with other passionate gardeners having the same addictive hobbies. Since my beds were growing as quickly as my addiction, I learned how to make the most of my space by creating raised beds. Not only did this help with space, but the looser soil was better for the plants. I also began adding organic matter to the soil and I used horse manure, crushed eggshells, and coffee grounds as fertilizer. Creative paths throughout the beds made maintenance chores easier. I saved on mulch by using pine needles and leaves collected from the nearby woods. I also enjoyed gardening with containers. A good way to save money here is by reusing containers already on hand and items such as worn-out boots, wheel barrows, and wash tubs. I have even used jars, an old bath tub, and hollowed-out stumps as containers. In addition, I found that incorporating certain plants into my garden such as marigolds, garlic, and nasturtiums also helps deter many pests. Gardening may be addictive, but it shouldn't have to be expensive. It should just be fun. You learn as you go and you find what works for you. Success isn't measured by how grand the garden is or how exotic the plants are; if the garden brings yourself and others joy, then your task has been accomplished.
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Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.