Even in our arid climate with extreme temperatures, questionable soil quality and mighty winds, you can still enjoy gardening, and you don’t have to spend a fortune doing it. The secret is to do what the budget-savvy gardeners do.
Plant from seed
Among the many benefits of starting plants from seed are: it’s cheaper, you have greater selection and quantity of plants. You can grow completely organic and you and your kids can enjoy the entire growing process. If you’re on the SNAP program (the current name for food stamps) you can pay for seeds and plants that produce food with your EBT card. But you must buy them at stores set up to receive SNAP benefits, like Wal-Mart.
Spend where it counts
Start with good soil. Amend your native soil with compost and build raised beds to help with drainage. Plot the best irrigation system you can afford and add mulch to keep the soil moist and roots cool.
Shop thrift shops, yard sales, estate sales and auctions and be on the lookout for items like tools, trellises, irrigation system components, even bricks and pavers. Explore social media groups that sell or trade items and ask if anyone has an item you need before paying full price at the store.
Have a garden buddy
Make friends with others who love to garden and arrange to share or swap surplus plants and seeds, exchange labor, borrow tools and work together to buy in bulk to get discounts.
Feed them and don’t kill them. Sounds obvious, right? The more pollinators you attract the greater your yields will be. Encourage bees and other pollinators by planting a diverse number of plants they like and offer a succession of flowers, and thus pollen and nectar, through the entire growing season. If you need to use pesticides; use insecticidal soap and horticultural oil and spray early in the morning or evening when the bees are less active.
Learn from the masters
We’re so fortunate to have a tremendous resource in our community with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Office, located at 1651 E. Calvada Blvd. They host multiple FREE gardening workshops and lectures and there are fact sheets available at no charge. FREE! My favorite price. And most notably, you can drop by the office Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to ask questions, you can bring in plants or insects for identification (in a baggie please!) or just to get advice. Swing by to pick up a calendar of events and get on their email distribution list, too. Or go to: www.unce.unr.edu for select publications and search fact sheets there. You can also pick the brains of the Master Gardeners at the Master Gardener Farmer’s Market located at Highway 160 and Postal Road, Draft Picks parking lot from 9 a.m. – noon each Saturday.
Frugal Family Fun contributed by Patti Diamond from Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous! www.divasonadime.com Join us on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom.