Pinching In the Garden

Are you an avid gardener? I love to garden and plant a vegetable garden every year. Mine is not as big now as when we had a lot of family at home. I used to do a lot of canning and believe me, having a garden was a money saver when you are trying to feed a big family. Especially children that thought their job wasn’t finished until every last morsel was gone from the table. Now I just plant enough for the two of us to eat and freeze for later meals.

Here are some tips to make your garden successful. I’m not claiming to be a gardening expert but I do know how to save money, these tips are both penny pinching and time saving. Some of the tips will have more than one listed idea. You will have to choose which ones work for you.

One thing to remember; gardening should be fun. Getting out in the fresh air is definitely good for you as well.

Vegetable Garden

To lay out your garden, use ordinary white string and some stakes. If you can get up high, maybe the second story, you will be able to tell if the garden plot is big enough for what you want to plant. Then proceed to till your soil.

If you do not have enough room to create an actual bed for you plants, try using old tires. Plant inside the tires and it will help protect the plants from harsh winds and absorb heat from the sun and warm the surrounding soil.

Garden in a bucket if you don’t have the room to till the soil, or if you live in an apartment or condo. Works great on a balcony. You will want to acquire some 5 gallon buckets, check you local restaurants or paint contractors. They will usually give them to you for free.

To check your soil for alkalinity, place a handful of earth in a container and pour in ½ c. white vinegar. If the soil fizzes or bubble it is definitely alkaline.

To see if the soil has a high acidity, mix the earth with ½ c. water and ½ c. baking soda. If it fizzes it indicates acid in the soil

To find the exact PH in your soil, either have it tested or pick up a simple DIY kit from your local gardening center.


Build a seed incubator giving plants grown from seeds a healthy start. Line a box with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Poke several holes in the bottom and then fill a little more than halfway up with potting soil and plant your seeds. The foil will absorb heat and keep the seeds warm. It will also reflect light to help your seeds grow.

Don’t go to the garden store and buy the little biodegradable pots to start you seedlings. Save the paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls and cut them to size. Toilet paper rolls in half and paper towel rolls in fourths. Place them in a tray, touching so they do not fall over. Fill with soil and sow your seeds. By the time you are ready to plant the cardboard should be soft enough to just bury in the ground. Be sure to completely cover the cardboard.

For making seed starters, milk cartons are perfect. Simply cut off the top half of carton, punch holes in the bottom, fill with potting mix and sow the seeds according to instructions on the packet.

Grandma is all about saving money and natural or organic things, so when I found this site I just had to share. Check it out you can learn all about organic pest control, pest management and how to do it right, it’s Organic Garden


If there is a bare spot that could use some plants, go in the kitchen and get the ice cream scoop. It will make perfect holes for your seeds or seedlings.

Increase your carrot harvest by mixing your seeds with coffee grounds before you sow. Makes it easier to sow, adds nutrients and repels root maggots and other pests.

Garden Rows

Spacing seeds can be easy if you use an empty soda bottle. Check your seed packet to see what spacing is recommended. Cut off a bottle of that dimension and press it down into the soil. Pace a seed in the middle of the circle, move and press your bottle down again aligning the edge of the circle. Perfectly spaced rows.

To plant straight rows, here are 2 different ideas using ordinary white string:

  1. For planting heavy seeds such as beans, place a stick in the ground at each end of the row and run a piece of string between as a guide for planting.
  2. To plant dozens of lightweight seeds in a snap, cut string the length of the row and wet thoroughly. Then sprinkle the seed directly onto the string. The moisture will make the seeds stick to the string long enough to place the string in the furrow. Cover with soil and you are done.

Create a seed strip to make straight rows in your garden. Sprinkle some seeds on a piece of wax paper. Use you fingers to arrange and align them. Take a strip of transparent tape and place it over the seeds. Bury the tape in the garden and you will have perfect rows.

Cover seeds when sowing; use a paint brush to gently cover them with soil. Prevents you from sowing too deep and over packing the soil.

Protect newly planted seeds with a sheet of screen material. When seedlings emerge, you can bend it to make cages.

Secure your garden netting by filling empty milk or bleach jugs with water and place them on the corners.

To protect your seedlings from an unexpected frost, take an old umbrella and cut off the handle. Place over your seedlings.



Banana peels, like the fruit itself, is rich in potassium. This is an important nutrient for you and your garden. Dry the peels, by laying them on a screen in the yard to dry out. In early spring, when you are ready to plant, grind them in a food processor and use in your mulch to give new plants and seedlings a healthy start.

Bone meal is an excellent source of nutrients for all the plants in your garden. You can make your own by drying your leftover chicken bones in the microwave. Depending on the quantity, cook for 1-4 minutes on high. Place in a sturdy paper bag and grind them up with a mallet, hammer or rolling pin. Distribute the powder around your plants. They will love it.

Don’t throw out the coffee grounds or tea leaves. They are full of nutrients and good for your garden. Simply sprinkle them over your plants and the soil.

Do you cook a lot of eggs? Save the shells and crumble into your garden. The calcium is very good for your vegetables.

Fertilize your plants with Epsom salts. Mix it into your soil around the plant, not too close to burn the plant roots. For tomatoes, use 1 Tbs for every foot of height, water in well.


Popsicle sticks make great labels for your plants. Write the name of the plant on them with indelible makers.

An old ladder can be the perfect trellis on which to grow climbing plants such as beans or peas. Just plant it in the ground.

Make a trellis using some twist ties and the plastic 6-pack rings. It makes a great trellis for climbing vines such as peas or beans. Use the twist ties to join together as many of the 6-pack rings as you want or need. Attach the trellis between two stakes also using twist ties. You can add sections to the trellis as the plant grows. At the end of the season, just roll it up and use it again next year.

Keep small melons such as cantaloupe and musk melons off the ground, free of pests and disease. Make protective sleeves for them from old pantyhose. Cut the legs off panty hose, slide each young melon into the foot section and tie to a stake to suspend the melon off he ground. The nylon holders will stretch as the melon develops and keeps them off the damp ground so they won’t rot or be eaten by garden pests.


Slow ripen tomatoes in late fall. If there is an early frost predicted and you still have tomatoes on the vine? Relax. Pick the tomatoes and wrap each one in newspaper. Store them in an airtight container in a dark closet at room temperature. Check every 3-4 days; they will ripen to perfection.

Empty milk jugs make a great watering can. Clean your jug, then drill or poke it with an ice pick about a dozen holes just below the spout of the jug on the side opposite the handle. Fill with water, replace the cap and start sprinkling.

If you need to stake a small plant, use a pencil and tie it with a small strip of cloth or pantyhose.

To protect your knees while you are gardening you could go out and buy the expensive pads. Instead use some scrap carpet remnants.

Another use for computer mouse pads, use them to pad your knees while gardening.

Clean up after gardening, use the foot section of old panty hose and put soap inside and hang from your outdoor faucet. You can clean your hands and not take the mess into your kitchen or bathroom. is a great place to find; Gardening Tips and Information on Landscape Design, Flowers & Plants. You can also learn the easiest way to build your Dream Garden.

GARDEN PESTS, and how to control them the penny pinchers way Avoiding the use of harsh chemicals to get rid of garden pests is a good idea all around, so here are the best tips on some gentler, less expensive methods of getting rid of them.

FLY PROBLEM, try a zip-lock bag and some pennies Many people swear that a zip-lock bag filled half-way with water and attached over entry-ways will repel flies.

COMPOST TIPS, for the penny pincher. Stop throwing away good fertilizer, if it will rot it will compost. Compost is the penny pinchers lawn and garden fertilizer. Paper or plastic, paper please, it will rot.

GARDEN TOOLS, The Penny Pinchers guide to the care and feeding of; Every gardener has some type of gardening tools. In fact, it is nearly impossible to have a garden without the necessary garden tools.