Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cheapskate Gardening

I thought I would share a few money-saving ideas for the garden.

I've had these iron baskets for a while, but I didn't want to go out and buy coconut liners or moss.  I lined them with burlap and just inside the burlap I put a plastic grocery bag with a few holes punched in it.  Then I added the soil and the plant.  I could have skipped the grocery sack, but it helps the soil keep moisture and the holes allow for drainage.   I did this about a month ago and they seem to be doing well.
I used Swedish Ivy for the first time because it was on sale.  So far, I really love it because it is low maintenance.  It does well when the soil is dried out, but hasn't been too finicky about wet soil or the extreme heat we've had in the month since I planted them.

I really love the look of sweet potato plants in baskets and pots (it's the bright green foliage).  There couldn't be an easier, more dramatic plant to put in a container.

I'm too cheap to buy as many plants as I want, however, so I found Mr. Brown Thumb's blog post about how to propagate ornamental sweet potato plants.  It is so easy!

You just take a cutting, cut off most of the leaves and stick it in water (Check out Mr. Brown Thumb's directions for more specific instructions).  I kid you not, within 1 day the thing will start growing roots.  Within 1 week, the jar will be full of roots and you can plant it.  I have made several plants from the two on my porch.  By the way, don't eat them.

I really love hydrangeas and want more, but I'm too cheap to spend $25 on a new plant.  I suspected this would be more difficult than sweet potato propagation, and fully expected they would all die.  Nevertheless, I gave it a shot and then left for a 2 week vacation.  When I returned, they were all alive and growing.  Nice.

I found instructions on the Backyard Gardening blog.  I used 2 liter soda bottles with the tops chopped off to make little greenhouses and keep them moist.

I have had problems with weeds growing in between the stones in the back patio.  With kids and dogs running through all the time, I don't like spraying poison.  I had read once that vinegar kills weeds (plants as well, so be careful).  I tried pouring vinegar on them, but it didn't work.  So, I remembered the cleaning solution I made from 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup dawn liquid soap (I saw this on pinterest as a shower cleaner, and it works for that too).  This essentially makes a vinegar gel that stays on the plant and takes more time to evaporate.  I sprayed it on the weeds and it took about a day to kill them, but it worked.

Lastly, a gardener at a garden center told me to use epsom salt on some sale plants I was buying that looked wilted.  If you put a little epsom salt in the water after you plant them, or mix some in the dirt, it will help revive them.  I have since discovered that giving a little ES to houseplants and garden plants makes them healthier.  Rose plants especially seem to love it.  Outdoors I sprinkle the dirt below each plant with a tablespoon or two about once a month.  Indoors, I put a little ES in the watering can.
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