Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thrifty Gardening Tools You Didn't Know You Had

Just read this article on Vocalpoint here and got some great ideas. Love the idea of the recipe box to hold the leftover seed packets!
Plants cost enough. Why pay hundreds of dollars more for gardening equipment when you have some garden tools just waiting to be discovered around your house? You might even be about to put potential garden tools into your trash or recycling bin. Before you hit the garden stores or place an order from any catalogs, try these creative tool tips from some ingenious gardeners we know.
A recipe file. It’s easy to lose track of seed packets, especially if you save them from season to season or buy from several different companies. But if you have an old recipe-card box or one of those floppy-disk holders with the clear plastic top lying around, you can recycle it into the perfect seed-packet storage system. File your packets either alphabetically or by sowing date, from earliest to latest—whichever works best for you.
A screwdriver. You can spend a bundle on a seed-sowing device called a dibble that basically opens a hole in the ground so you can drop in a seed. Or you can use your trusty screwdriver to perform the same function for free.
An old umbrella. You can turn that tattered umbrella you haven’t managed to throw out into a cloche or mini-greenhouse. First, cut the fabric away. Then open the umbrella completely and stick the handle in the soil of your garden bed. (The umbrella frame will form a big "bowl" shape over the ground.) Plant your transplant(s) in the soil inside the spokes, and wrap a sheet of clear plastic (or even successive spirals of plastic wrap) around the outside where the fabric used to be. Secure it at ground level with a bungee cord. This will also give direct-seeded baby greens a jump start in spring.
A shop light and a rolling cart. You probably have one of those ugly metal fluorescent light fixtures hanging around in the garage or basement. Give it a second life as a grow light. Ready-made grow-light setups cost hundreds of dollars, but yours can work as well for free. If you have a rolling cart, attach the shop light so it hangs under the top shelf and lights the shelf below. It’s a smart idea to attach the shop light with chains so you can raise it up as the seedlings grow. Use full-spectrum daylight bulbs or one warm and one cool bulb, roll your cart in front of a bright window, put houseplants on that top shelf, and you’re good to go!
An egg carton. Plastic or Styrofoam egg cartons make great seed-starting setups. Punch a hole in the bottom of each egg cup for drainage. Cut off the top of the carton, and use it as a water-catching tray under the bottom.
Twist ties. Don’t we all have a bazillion of these in our kitchen junk drawer? Turn them into plant ties to secure leggy stems of tomatoes, pole beans, peas, and other climbing veggies to their poles, trellises, or stakes. Yes, they’ll rot away, but they should do the trick for a single season, and with vegetables, that’s all you need. Just make sure you don’t twist them too tight—you want to support the stem gently, not strangle it.
Got any great gardening tips? Share them here. Steph has already started her garden and I'll be starting mine soon!
This post is linked up at Life As Mom's Frugal Friday here. Check it out for more neat money-saving tips!

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