Memorial Day is official planting day here in Upstate NY. You plant anything other than pansies and petunias before that at your own risk!
So in honor of that I want to re post this oldie but goodie about an inexpensive way to fill those deep planters. I reused this technique on 3 or 4 planters this year that I’ve already planted up (and drug in and out of the garage to shield from possible frost). One of the additional benefits of this method is that even those big whiskey barrel planters are light and easy to move!
Oh, and some truth in advertising. I’ve spent a bundle on annuals this year. Over $200, plus since we haven’t mulched anything in 2 years Yankee Bill bought me an entire truckload of mulch from the lumber yard that will be delivered sometime soon. That cost $100. So the price tag for this years flowers is already over $300. Not frugal, but beautiful.
Just so you know, we’ve paid cash and haven’t gone into debt for it. Obviously if we were short on cash, this would be one of those items that would have to be stringently evaluated-is it one of those things that we really want to spend our money on.
Some ways to cut on plant costs:
Plant from seed. The summer season here is so short that many folks even by plants for their veggie garden rather than risk starting them from seed. Does that tell you something?
Try Winter Sowing. Last year I grew a ton of my own Petunia’s, Alyssum, Candytuft etc this way. This year I totally fell down on the job. I did get some Morning Glory and a few Alyssum (which didn’t grow as well as last year) but that’s it.
Buy the plant rejects. I’ve heard several people say that if you buy the scraggly, picked over, lame looking leftover plants at a discount you can easily revive them with a little TLC once you get them home and in the ground. I’m not sure about that but I tried it with one flat of petunias I bought. We’ll see how it grows.
On to “The Best Of”. Save Money Filling Your Planters, original posted on June 8th 2006.
Garden season has officially hit upstate New York! We have to wait around here until after Memorial Day for our “last frost” date. So I planted up my cedar whiskey barrels a week or so ago.
Now, those of you who have filled up planters know they can take a LOT of soil. I use the square foot intensive gardening method in my raised vegetable beds to get as much produce from as little room as possible. To keep it organic, and to give the plants the maximum amount of nutrients, I mix up my own soil mix based on Mel’s Soil Mix from the Square Foot Gardening website. The mix is peat moss, compost and vermiculite.
While each of these items isn’t that expensive on it’s own, when you are making enough to fill a 4X8 bed and 13 or so planters, it can run into some cash. I feel that this is one of those instances where spending some money is worth it-I only have to mix up the soil once and then just amend it with some compost each year to have the perfect growing medium for my plants.
Although spending the money is worth it, it does NOT make sense to just waste it. Most plants only grow in the top 6 inches of soil. So why fill a planter with 12-16 inches of soil? I did some research online, and asked my friends over at Frugal Living @ About.com, and decided that I could fill the bottom of the planters up with just about anything.
I used leftover plastic plant 6 packs, plastic margarine tubs (with the lid on), tin cans, soda bottles, glass jars with lids, 6″ plastic pots from geraniums last year and anything else I could find that would fill up space and still allow water to flow through. I pretty much emptied out my recycle bin-Reduce, Recycle, Reuse!
Viola! The planters were filled with 1/2 the soil. Good for me, good for the environment, and as a bonus the planters stayed light enough for me to move them by myself!
And if you are wondering, I used the planter to plant winter squash, summer squash, melons and pole beans in. The summer squash and pole beans are placed to the side of the deck and there will be strings run from the planters up to the posts on the deck, and the winter squash and melons are on double stacked planters so they have some room to grow down.
Just for fun, here is a “before” picture of the Sq Ft garden a few days before Memorial Day. I’ll take some “after” shots once the rain stops of all my veggies.
Other, related articles you may enjoy:
Start Your Garden When There is Snow on the Ground-Winter Sowing
Winter Sowing Success (2006)
June Garden Tour (2006)
July Garden Tour (2006)
Garden Daze (2006)
Quick Tip-Frugal Garden Labels
The Dead of Winter is the Time to Think of Spring
Sprouting, the Easy Way to Grow Veggies