April 17 column: Save money

Here is a link to my column in today’s edition of The Spokesman-Review: Rich garden on a tight budget.┬áIt is full of great ideas on ways to save money while indulging our passion for gardening. I’d like to thank my Master Gardener colleagues – Jennifer Tiegs, Martha Kenney, Rose Jacobus, Sue Malm and Cathi Lamoreux – for taking the time to share their ideas with you and me. Please see below for more of their ideas.

If you have some good ideas as well, please send them to me at inthegarden@live.com so I can add them to this blog post. Or you can use the comment feature on this post to share them as well. If you email them to me, I would like to attribute your ideas to you so please include at least your first name.

More ideas from Sue Malm:

+ Shred woody trimmings and pine, spruce, and fir cones and pine needles to make mulch. Reduces the need to buy commercial mulch and saves the cost of disposing of these shred-able items. Of course, you have to balance this against the cost of buying a shredder. We bought ours used and saved a lot.

+ Go with drip irrigation to save money on water usage (versus overhead watering). If you can’t afford an expensive system, use soaker hoses; they often last many seasons and when they finally poop out, you can recycle them into covers for wires that are used to support raspberry and blackberry canes (the rubber hose over the wire makes it easy to attach ties—they don’t slip around like they do on bare wire).

+ Use burlap to line wire baskets instead of coir or moss liners. It’s cheap and can usually be used for a couple of seasons before it rots.

+ Save the heavy duty plastic bags that potting soil and compost come in. They can be used for years to bag up one’s own compost when clearing finished compost out of the compost bin to ready it to receive new plant materials in the fall. The bagged homemade compost is then ready to use in the spring and easily transported to the site where you want it.

+ Mix commercial potting soil half and half with homemade compost for potting up plants; saves on the amount of potting soil you need to buy.

And two ideas from Sue’s husband, Jim:

+ Convert your lawn to an eco-lawn and save on herbicides and fertilizer.

+ Plant a deciduous tree to shade the west side of your house (and earn $ from Avista, if they are still funding their program for this). It’ll cool your house in the summer and you save on air conditioning bills but allows sun in during the winter to warm your house and save on heating bills.

More ideas from Rose Jacobus:

+ When I find a ground cover that I really like such as woolly thyme or blue star creeper, I buy one 4″ pot and divide it into 4th and now I have 4 plants from one.

+ In the spring, Costco has bunches of mini pussy willows and corkscrew willows in the flower section. I bring those home , put them in a vase of water, change it frequently and soon I have new willow to pot up.

More ideas from Cathi Lamoreux:

+ 13 years ago, we built 4×8 raised beds for vegetables. About 5 years ago, the trees in that area had grown too big and the raised beds were mostly in shade. I started using them as nursery beds for plant starts, etc. but it wasn’t too functional or eye catching. So, three years ago we decided to do something different in that corner of the garden and the raised beds needed to come out. Dave lifted them up intact as we were going to move them to my daughter’s house and he stacked them up on each other as he was working. I looked at them and had the great idea that they would be great compost bins. So, that is what we did. Three raised beds became a 4x8x3.5 foot compost bin with two compartments as he had constructed the beds with a center support, so we already had a divider down the middle. Dave cut the boards on the fronts of each side and attached handles so that I could lift out the front panels to retrieve the compost.

+ I used an old dresser in my garden house to store tools, etc until it literally fell apart last year and I had to replace it with shelves that were my mother’s and she didn’t use anymore.

+ A friend made garden ornaments that look like ladybugs out of bowling balls for my birthday one year.

+ My daughter painted a mural on old fence boards which is mounted on the fence.

+ I bought a bird house which is made from old wood and assorted things like glass insulators and doorknobs.

+ We use old tools to decorate the sides of a fence which hides garden carts and the air conditioner.

There are a lot of great ideas here, aren’t there? Enjoy this beautiful, sunny day!