DIY Mini Greenhouses And Gardening On A Budget

Simone - Picnics and Paddocks is talking about growing Lettuce, Peas, Pumpkin, Silverbeet, Tatsoi, Tomato from Northland

Just starting off...

One of my goals as a gardener is to inspire other people to grow their own fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables. I know there are lots of reasons families don’t have their own veggie patch anymore – lack of time, lack of space, cost and simply not knowing how to get started. As a working mum with a three year old and not a huge budget I understand all these things. I’m hoping that by sharing my own experiences that I can start breaking down those barriers and encourage more people to give gardening a go. 

I have dreams of a beautiful greenhouse in my backyard, but right now our budget doesn’t stretch that far. Instead I’ve created Mini Greenhouses out of 60 L plastic containers. You can pick these up from places like The Warehouse, Mitre 10 or Bunnings. This allows me to pop my seeds and young seedlings outside in the sunshine during the day. You’ll notice in the photo that the lids are left slightly ajar. This is to allow the air to still circulate through. At the end of the day the containers can be easily lifted back inside for the night. 

A few other tips that have helped me with gardening on a budget include… 

  • Grow from seed. Initially it can seem quite expensive to purchase all your seeds. Start by purchasing just a few and select vegetables that you know your family will eat. I always think about what I’ll use the produce for once I’ve harvested it e.g. lettuce and cucumber for fresh summer salads, large beefsteak tomatoes for homemade burgers, cherry tomatoes to pop into lunchboxes, sweetcorn for summer camping trips. The second season you’ll be thankful you already have seed packets to get started with, but I guarantee you’ll add a few more to your collection too! 
  • Create a ‘No-Dig’ garden. This allows me to use materials I already have around our home and those that we don’t have I just buy as we can afford to do so. It’s a lot easier and cheaper than having to buy a large quantity of one item at one time. I’ll do a more detailed posted about our ‘no-dig’ garden soon, but in a nutshell we put down wet cardboard and a thick layer of newspaper first. Then layered compost, a good quality top soil, straw and animal manure (sheep pellets) on top. One week I’d buy the compost, another week the top soil or straw. Soon enough the garden beds were topped up and it didn’t put as much of a dent in our back pocket by doing it that way. 
  • Use recycled materials to create your raised vegetable gardens. I’m lucky that my husband is a builder so the majority of our gardens have been built out of leftover bits and pieces. We also used leftover bricks from building our first home to create a path down the middle of the two raised garden beds. You’ll be surprised with what you can use when you get creative! 
  • Swap seeds and seedlings. Not only is this lots of fun, but it will also save you money. Buy different seeds from your family or friends, then swap once they’ve grown into healthy seedlings. Alternatively there are lots of seed swapping groups on Facebook. 
  • Purchase seedlings from your local growers market. If you don’t want to grow everything from seed, purchase a few plants from your local growers market. You’ll find they’re a lot cheaper and are often healthier plants. I also love knowing that I’m supporting small local businesses. 
  • Create your own compost, seaweed liquid and seedling pots etc. This is a next step for me, but I am loving using Yates Thrive Natural Seaweed Product. I would go as far to say that it’s my favourite product and as I learnt the hard way, using a quality product like this will actually save you money in the long run. Your plants will be a lot happier, healthier and produce a larger crop if they’re well fed. I am going to have a go at creating my own little Newspaper Seedling Pots this season though. 

I would love to hear what other people’s budget saving tips are. I’m sure there are lots of creative ones out there. Happy gardening everyone.