Grow what you eat
istock/_valentinrussanovWhile this may seem like common sense, it's easy to get carried away when buying seeds and plants for your garden. Realistically, if you don't eat a certain vegetable or herb now (kohlrabi and purslane, we're looking at you), you probably won't eat it even if you grow it. Save yourself time and money by only buying seeds and plants that you know you and your family will eat. Just getting started? These expert gardening tips for beginners will be super helpful.
Buy seeds early in the year
istock/pawel.gaulAccording to Celeste Longacre, gardening expert and author of Celeste's Garden Delights, you'll find the biggest selection of seeds and the best deals January through March. "Many catalogs offer discounts if you buy the seeds before a certain date, often March 1," Longacre says. "Companies can also run out of specific varieties so you'll want to get your order right in." But you don't need to plant seeds for every vegetable you intend to eat in the coming months. You might be better off buying these 11 fruits and veggies frozen.
Buy gardening equipment in the fall
istock/epanthaMost stores try to clear out their gardening supplies in the fall, right before they stock their shelves with holiday inventory. While it's likely that the majority of your crops will already be picked by the time September and October hit, you'll find gardening equipment—like shovels, spades, rakes, and buckets—at heavily discounted prices that you can use for next year's garden. Check out the secrets your gardening store won't tell you.
Go in on seeds with your friends
istock/PeopleImagesIt may seem counterintuitive, but the more you spend, the more you save, thanks to lower prices for higher volume. "Many companies offer deals if you spend a certain amount of money," says Longacre. "If you get together with friends on your order, you can save." If agreeing on seeds is a challenge in your friend circle, consider other uses for your yield. These plants make great natural cosmetics and are definitely worth checking out.
Plant crops thicker than they actually grow
istock/kazoka30You can plant crops like beets, carrots, onions, lettuce, basil, and arugula closer together than traditionally prescribed, according Longacre. For example, instead of planting seeds 10 inches apart, plant them 5 inches apart. This way you can thin them out and eat the thinnings while the crop continues growing. Looking for more gardening tips? Here are 10 clever tricks to keep your garden growing.
Hit up a local farm's harvest sale
istock/BraunSThe harvest sale is basically the equivalent of a half-yearly or anniversary sale, so you can expect to find amazing deals. Harvest sales usually happen between late September and early November, with the majority being held in October. The earlier in the harvest season you go, the more options you'll have when it comes to crops, but if you wait longer into November, you're more likely to nab lower prices, as farmers are trying to unload crops for winter. These are the best herbs to plant in an indoor garden.
Invest in quality equipment
istock/jodiejohnsonSpending a little more on quality equipment will be worth it in the long run. Not only will you avoid having to re-buy the same gear each year, but you're also be less likely to deal with stuff breaking mid-season. Equipment worth spending a little extra on: weeders, shears, and pitchforks. But no need to buy fancy or expensive pots and planters. Regular, plastic ones will do. Or try decorating clay pots and turning them into statement pieces.
Tend to your garden regularly
istock/AleksandarNakicThere will be days when crawling on your hands and knees through the dirt doesn't sound all too appealing, but doing just that is necessary in order to keep your garden healthy. If you get behind on watering, your plants will die, and you'll have to spend more on new seeds. If you don't treat a bug invasion right away, it'll only get worse and cause more damage, both to your plants and your pockets. "The hardest part of gardening is that things need to be done when they need to be done, not when you feel like doing it," says Longacre. One way to get motivated: Consider all the amazing health benefits of gardening!
Ask about inventory
istock/xavierarnau-A lot of stores offer discounted prices for products that they no longer sell, but still have in back stock. Just make sure you ask why they've pulled the product before buying because you don't want to end up with a mower that doesn't run or seeds that won't grow in your climate. "Go to their websites and look for discontinued or clearance items," advises Longacre. Here's how to get great deals on just about anything.
Plant at the right time
istock/monkeybusinessimagesIf you plant your crops too early, they will die. And if you pick your crops too late, they will also die. Timing is everything when it comes to planting your garden. For example, April is the best month to start planting most of your veggies, but depending on where you live, you may want to start in early March. Here's a complete guide on when to start planting based on your location.