How To Start A Garden For Free Or On The Cheap

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Growing your own food is one of the most satisfying things you can do as a homesteader. The sheer satisfaction of putting something in the ground and watching it grow gives you a sense of accomplishment like no other!


7 Focus areas to start a garden for free or on the cheap are below!

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • To start composting takes time and patience but can be very rewarding in the end. Several composting methods, from composting organic material to vermicompost to bokashi, speed up the composting process.
  • Seeds can be another expense, but you can save seeds from existing plants and use plant cuttings and transplants. You can also harvest seeds from tomatoes, peppers, peas, and beans.
  • Water, especially during summer, is a scarcity. Old buckets, containers, etc., can be used to harvest rainwater.
  • You can find inexpensive gardening tools and implements at thrift stores or second-hand websites. You can also view the free section on Craigslist. People give away tools if they’re moving away or no longer use them.
  • There’s insufficient space for a regular garden? Don’t stress; you can start an indoor garden or on your balcony with little to no cost, using old bottles, plastic or steel containers, buckets, etc.

How To Start A Garden For Free Or On The Cheap

Gardening can be a hobby or a necessity. No matter how you look at it, the cost of gardening can add up. Even something as basic as seeds and soil can get out of hand when you are trying to grow crops and vegetables. However, there is no need to spend exorbitant amounts on starting a garden. Here are some tips on starting your next garden for free or on the cheap.

To start your garden at little to no cost, let us begin with the soil and work our way up to the plants. We may begin with getting our compost ready. Every good garden needs healthy organic soil teeming with live organisms, worms, and the like. And compost from garden centers can be vastly expensive.

1. How To Compost For Free Or On A Budget

Composting is a fun project to undertake with rich rewards at the end. It is also economically viable and can be done either indoors or outdoors. Yes, it does take some time from raw materials to the final compost, but everything good in life requires time and loads of patience!


Here are a few tips to help build your own compost heap:

  • You can reuse old wooden pallets to build a square structure and throw in grass cuttings, organic materials, and fruit and vegetable scraps. You can find unused wooden pallets at logistics companies or use reclaimed barrels or drums for composting.
  • Coffee shops, Starbucks, for example, give away their used coffee grounds, making ideal organic material for compost heaps. I’m sure local restaurants or grocers etc., will be only too willing to pass their green scraps at no cost. In that way, you build your compost pile faster than collecting from a single household.
  • You can also build your own vermicompost using plastic drums or a 50L reclaimed barrel.
  • Using bokashi also speeds up the composting process.
  • You can also find woodchips and mulch from your local municipalities. They’ll be happy to share that with you for free! Mulch goes a great way to retain moisture and reduce weeds in your gardens.
  • Local farmers also giveaway animal manure, which also helps nourish the soil further. You can also get that for free.

Costs Involved in Composting

  • You can find cheap wooden pallets, reclaimed drums, etc., at logistics companies or ask your local retailer. The only cost involved will probably be transporting the pallets to your home.
  • Vermicompost involves purchasing buckets and worms, which you can find at a low price at local gardening stores or online. Alternatively, if a friend is already into vermicomposting, you can get a handful of worms for free from them.
  • A bokashi starter pack costs around $13.11 if that is the route you want to try.

2. How To Collect Seeds For Free Or On The Cheap

You will not have a garden without seeds. Starting a garden with seeds is more manageable than planting cuttings or transplants.

There are numerous ways to harvest seeds. Here is a guide where you can find seeds for free or on the cheap:

  • You can save seeds from fresh produce, like tomatoes, peppers, peas, and beans. These can be harvested directly from the vegetables, dried, and saved until you are ready to plant them.
  • Before planting the seeds, ensure that the products are from organic vegetables and that no cross-pollination occurs. You can have disastrous results if that is the case.
  • You can organize a seed swap with other gardening enthusiasts.
  • Harvest seeds from the parent plants. After the plant has completed its life cycle, the seeds will be ready for harvesting and planting.
  • If there is a district garden in your neighborhood, you can check with them for seeds, plant cuttings, or transplants. You also grow your network of gardeners in this way, and they will assist with any gardening advice you may need.
  • Some greengrocers and farm stall gardeners will also happily share produce, like sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, etc., that has sprouted with a budding gardener.

3. Where To Find Tools And Gardening Implements Free Or On The Cheap

Sometimes you get so excited or thrilled about starting your garden that you can very quickly lose track of the expenses, especially when at a gardening store.

There’s no need to stress. Allow me to lend a hand in finding the best gardening tools at little to no cost:

  • Craigslist is always the first place to start if you are looking for garden tools and implements. There’s a “free” section where people post unused items they’re giving away. You can also post in the wanted section to increase your chances of finding gardening tools.

Sometimes, you may have to buy these gardening tools at a meager cost than what you pay at a gardening center.


  • Another site to find free garden tools is freecycle.

  • Thrift stores, flea markets, church sales, or goodwill are fantastic places to find garden tools at a low price.
  • Borrow or swap garden tools with friends and neighbors will also see you saving some cash.
  • You can construct a raised bed out of scrap metal or wood pallets. Other articles you may use for raised beds are; unused bath or washtubs, wheelbarrows, tires, barrels, and old dresser drawers are a few suggestions. You can procure any item that holds soil and has good drainage.
  • Pallets, broken branches, and bamboo sticks can be used to build trellises or teepees for things like beans or tomato plants.
  • You may also consider going the no-till route, where you allow nature to take its course. No tilling will save you loads of cash and is better for the soil.
  • Watch for Gardening and Outdoor deals which are always changing, keep an eye on them before and after gardening season as the deals are usually best then.

4. Pest Control For Free Or On The Cheap

Pesticides are not only expensive but also harmful to the environment. There is no need to rush off to get pesticides when you can make your own using items you have around the home, thereby saving you bundles:

  • That can of slightly flat beer makes an excellent vessel to catch those slimy slugs. Simply remove the top half of the can and place the bottom with the beer into the ground. The slugs will fall in, and you can quickly get rid of them!
  • Use a plant collar made out of a sour cream container to get rid of cutworms.
  • Use vegetable oil mixed with dishwashing liquid will get rid of aphids.

These home remedies may not remove all pests, but they are safer than those expensive store-bought pesticides.

5. How To Save On Water For Gardens

Water for gardens accounts for up to 40% of household use during summer. And with many areas seeing very little rain, water is a precious commodity. There are disparate ways you can harvest rainwater to keep your garden green and healthy.

You can harvest water on your property in the following ways:

  • Plants and trees have a natural ability to save water
  • Soil, a well-nourished soil will retain water for more extended periods
  • Ponds, reservoirs, and basins are designed to store water
  • Rainwater tanks, cisterns, and barrels also make excellent water storage facilities.

As a concerned gardener, you can take preventive measures to save and store water to avoid drought. Try using the following methods:


  • Select drought-resistant plants and those that are beneficial to the environment. Avoid alien plants that destroy the surroundings and use up all available water.
  • Mulch your veggie patches and flower gardens to retain water and also keeps the ground moist during winter.
  • Ensure the soil is well-nourished with organic material. A porous soil retains water better than clay soil.
  • If possible, you can build a pond, basin, or reservoir on your property to store water. Instead of investing in expensive pond linings, you can use natural clay from your surroundings to line the ponds.
  • Be inventive; think up ways to capture and store rainwater. You can use old barrels, drums, or gutters and redirect water from roofs into storage containers.
  • Unused bathtubs and other containers placed outdoors when it rains make great containers to capture rainwater for later use.
  • Plastic bottles like the bottles your soda comes in can be repurposed to use as simple irrigation systems.
  • Greywater from bathtubs and washing machines can be redirected into the garden.
  • The pasta or rice water can also be collected for later use, provided there is no salt in the water.

6. How To Save On Pots, Trays, And Planters

To start a garden does not have to be an expensive venture, nor do you require an ample space to begin. You can start a thriving, productive garden on your windowsill or your balcony, and all you require are a few household items that are no longer of use.

  • You don’t need fancy, expensive seedling trays or planters. You can use plastic containers like empty milk bottles or yogurt containers, which make great seedling trays. Remember to pierce holes underneath to allow for drainage.
  • Short on floor space? No problem, use some string or wire to create fancy hanging baskets.
  • Stack containers together for a vertical plant tower.
  • Make the most of empty paper or toilet roll tubes by using them to plant seeds. They can be settled directly into the ground once the seeds sprout. Therefore, they are one of the cheapest and most biodegradable plant pots around.
  • Other biodegradable materials you can use as plant pots are eggshells, citrus peels, newspapers, etc.
  • You can transform cardboard boxes into stunning plant pots with paper mache. Involve the little ones, and you have a fun art project the family can get involved in.

7. Plan Your Garden To Avoid Unnecessary Costs

It is infinitely better to plan your garden before jumping right into it. A well-thought-out garden can save you heaps of cash in terms of watering costs and irrigation, pesticides, etc.

  • You should strive to create a bio-diverse garden and, in that way, can indeed manage and maintain your garden at zero to little cost.
  • Plan your garden around the seasons, and plan on using perennials and annuals.
  • When you have a good knowledge of plants, you recognize which plants can be planted together. In this way, the plants work together, allowing you to save on pesticides, water, etc.
  • Mix and match plants from various sources can be an effective method to develop a wide selection of species in your garden.
  • It’s when we don’t consider nature’s cycles that we risk a garden that works for a short time only. Therefore, it is imperative to plan ahead for how you will keep and maintain your garden for a long time to come.

How Can I Start A Garden For Free?

Starting a garden does not have to be time-consuming or expensive. You can start a garden easily with little or no money. You may begin with the following:

  • Build a raised bed using items you have around, for example, wooden pallets, tires, drums, etc.
  • Shop for plants during the off-season or ask other gardening enthusiasts for plant cuttings.
  • Build your own compost heap
  • You do not have to pay for mulch. Ask at your local municipalities for bark trimmings and wood chips.

2. What Is The Easiest Way To Start A Garden?

You can start a garden by paying attention to the following:

  • Decide what you want to grow.
  • Select the best location for planting. Some plants require full sun, while others grow best in the shade.
  • Build your garden beds and prepare the soil.
  • Decide whether you want to grow from seed or seedling.
  • Plant the seeds and seedlings with care.

3. What Would It Cost To Start A Garden?

No matter how large or small a garden is, costs are involved; when you consider all aspects of gardening, from the soil preparation, purchasing seeds, gardening tools, etc., they could very easily cost more than $1,000.00 yearly.

However, if you plan carefully and use recycled materials, look for second-hand tools you can start a garden for free or on the cheap.

And when you think about it, you will be getting far more than $1,000.00 worth of fresh produce a year.

At the end of the day, growing your own garden is a labor of love. Some may call it playing in the dirt. Whatever you call it, it’s something that practically anyone can do. You don’t need expensive tools or materials to get started, and you don’t have to have a massive plot of land to grow your own food.

In this post, we hope we’ve given you the information and inspiration you need to start tending to your own plot of land and growing your food today.


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