Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gardening: A Frugal and Green Hobby

This spring and summer we've been working on refining our gardens a bit.  Over the years, I've planted lots of "pass alongs" from friends and coworkers, some of whom have moved on to other parts of life or the world, who've brought me starts and splits from their perennial gardens.  After several years of doing this, we finally have some flower and herb beds that are starting to look lush and established.

Of course, as with anything around the house, there's room for improvement and we're always wanting to tweak something.  I have a few plants that I want to move, namely some forsythia that's gotten too big for it's spot and splitting some herbs.  We were gifted two hydrangea plants from a family funeral that I'll plant in the shaded garden behind the house.  I seem to need to split the hostas about every two years, so it's time to do that again.  And we need to add some more mulch to the beds along the edge of the driveway.

We're almost there with our hardscaping, which is so nice.  Those "bones" help a lot and it's something we wish we'd paid to have someone do up front, rather than doing it piecemeal as we have.  Oh well, hindsight... We've got a few more stepping stones to add out back and we need to get a new load of gravel for the driveway.  We're hoping to save some cash on that by having it done by the same guy who will bring it in for our gravel road and combining the jobs.  The patio under the front deck will be finished after we finally finish the basement apartment, starting with gravel and then we'll add the stepping stones.

We've saved some cash already this season by hiring a friend to bring in a load of leaf mulch from the landfill.  It's been a great way to revive our flower garden and was so much cheaper than buying the mulch and paying someone to spread it.  (Now that we have a little one, we're finding that it's more of a time vs. money issue than it used to be for us.)  We might get another load spread in the fall for the other beds, maybe of hardwood mulch that will compost over the winter.  Many local areas do municipal composting like this, and it's a great free gardening resource.

Continuing to compost has really helped us out too.  Not only does it cut down on stinky trash, but we estimate that it saves us about $75 a year because we're not having to purchase bagged compost for veggie beds or container plantings.

Once we get the gutters cleaned out, we'll compost that leaf litter and install our rain barrel.  This will help us water the flower beds with captured rain water, rather than using precious ground water from our well.  We may need to wait until after the patio and driveway have their gravel in to do this, but it will be nice to finally use this.  And it was gifted to us by a gardening friend, so it was free!

We're really enjoying using our fresh herbs this year.  We made an herb butter for the turkey we roasted last week and regularly use the lemon balm and mint in tea and baking.  The sage and oregano are wonderful additions to rice, and along with a handful of green peas and chopped pecans make a fabulous pilaf from plain jane white rice.

How are you using your garden lately?  Has it become a frugal hobby for you, saving you cash on your herbs and veggies?  Do you love your fresh cut flowers or watching those gifted plants from friends bloom each year?  I'd love to hear from you!

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