Here are some hints to save you money and help establish a great garden.
Garage sales and markets regularly offer gardening items for sale second hand.
Heritage tools can be found at these and serve the purpose as well as any made today.
Host a “garden shower”, to celebrate your new endeavour, invite guests to contribute to your tool pool with a gift list like couples do for weddings. You can also add cuttings and plants to your list. You provide the venue, and food for your guests.
When buying new, always go for good quality. To illustrate my point, I once believed I bought a bargain pruning saw at Kmart. A very bad investment, as it was pretty blunt and not sturdy enough to saw through wrist sized tree branches. I then purchased one that would better meet my needs and found an ideal one at a garden centre. It is lightweight, folds for convenient storage and portability and is still serving me well some 16 years later.
Learn how to propagate plants from cuttings. Pelargoniums, roses, lavender, salvias, as well as figs, olives, pomegranates and more, can all be propagated via cuttings.
Division too, will yield bulbs and rhizomes of all manner of plants. My lamb’s ears came from a single pot a friend gave me as a house warming present. My irises have come from my parents’ and friends offsets. Succulent offsets, known as pups, strike readily as well and getting pups from friends, or buying them at specialist markets and shows is another way to quickly establish a collection. The Ballarat Cacti and Succulent Society will have a stall at the forthcoming Begonia Festival.
Similarly, The Friends of the Botanic Gardens Nursery is open on Tuesday afternoons and sells plants at prices way under that of commercial nurseries. The nursery will also be open over the Begonia Festival.
Knock on the doors of neighbours who have great gardens. I have never yet been knocked back if I have asked could I have a cutting. Most people just love it when someone admires their garden and are only too happy to offer cuttings and seeds to assist someone in their area get the same enjoyment from a cutting or seedling that’ s come from their garden.
Saving and raising seeds can save you a small fortune annually, as well as provide a great deal of satisfaction to you as a gardener.
Another excellent source of seeds and seedlings at way under commercial prices, or free is at the Ballarat Community Garden produce swap mornings and events. Details can be found on their website.
Everything from garden furniture, to edgings and pots can be created out of cheap or free materials.
I used to love my Melbourne neighbourhood’s hard rubbish collection. It yielded me a barbecue, outdoor furniture,an exercise bike, fabulous baskets, as well as offering a rich source of pots, timber for edgings and even the odd plant or two. It really is true that one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
Sadly, Ballarat City Council does not have an annual hard rubbish collection for residents, as it truly is the ultimate community recycling endeavour. Local residents need to agitate for this much needed annual hard rubbish collection, as well as a free green waste service. They are the only things I miss from my days of living in Melbourne!
Junk yards are also fantastic for old tyres, baths, corrugated iron, bricks and most of your landscaping needs at very cheap prices.
Watch out for demolition sites. Often they are happy for you to lift fantastic plants that would otherwise go to landfill.
Doors for my former shed and carport came from a house that was being demolished, for $15 and my dad scored fabulous Oregon timber with which to provide the frame from a school demolition site. The Oregon was free and in perfect condition, save having to extract existing nails, and saved me thousands of dollars into the bargain. My carport and shed were completed with new corrugated iron, flushing and spouting. The total cost of the carport and shed materials amounted to $700.
My workbench and storage came free in the form of a cabinet my former workplace was discarding. The handyman even delivered it and put it in place for me.
Currently, the old glass doors from my sunroom are waiting to transform my garage and workshop into a greenhouse, once I organise the current asbestos exterior to be removed.
Old free industrial pellets and recycled corrugated iron were the construction materials of choice, for my three bay composting system, whilst my aerobin I use for kitchen scraps and front garden prunings and weeds was donated by friends who were moving and did not have room for it in their new garden.
Composting your prunings, lawn clippings, weeds and household vegetable scraps as well as shredded paper and cardboard is one way of cheaply enriching your soil, as well as preventing unnecessary landfill.
Cut down milk containers with holes punched in the bottom for drainage, along with poly styrene boxes available either free, or for a couple of dollars at friut shops make excellent planters. So too do old boots and large olive oil tins.
As for ornamental bric a brac for your garden, old pieces of iron and found objects are fantastic. Just think creatively and your garden will have some features that are unique and create great talking points.
I have battered cuttings and bulbs with at least one nursery near Ballarat in exchange for roses.
I have also supplied cafes with olives, figs, herbs and salad greens in exchange for meals on a semi regular basis.
Regular produce swaps are a feature of the Ballarat Community Garden.
Clearly, it is not necessary to be a millionaire to enjoy a beautiful and functional garden.