The first time my husband and I had a container garden, we were living in Colorado with a substantially smaller backyard than we’d both grown up with. Since we weren’t familiar with our land lords or the Colorado soil yet, we chose to grow a container vegetable garden that year.
Folks, I nearly had a panic attack when the cashier at the local nursery rang up all our plants, containers, and soil. It was well over $500 for less than 10 square feet of gardening space. Thankfully, the containers were at least something we could reuse year after year but eeesh!
I had the forethought in our second year to start my own seedlings instead of purchasing them. The cheapest way I’ve found to do this is to by a variety bulk package of seeds… this way you also get to try some new things too. I found my Survival Seed Kit with 50 varieties online for $17.99! A lot of seeds need to be started indoors in February and March though. So plan accordingly 🙂
The following year we re-used the same containers, but added some extra gardening space with the help of pallets. Eliott’s work at the time, had a lot of excess pallets they would just throw away, so we got 3 free pallets out of it. Besides, your rows are already ready made for you with pallets! We simply purchased some gardening burlap and affixed it to the bottom of the pallets with a staple gun to hold in our soil.
As another option for free containers, make friends with your local cattlemen. They have a constant supply of empty tubs to dispose of from the salt and minerals they feed their cows. This is how my mom gets her containers!
For my herbs, the prior tenants had left behind some cinder-blocks. Since we had a brick patio, I simply turned them on their side so I could use the holes as planters! They worked great for my basil, cilantro, parsley, dill and fennel, just not my oregano. I used the same seed mentioned in Terracotta Herbs for this herb garden as well!
The soil we purchased, since the yard was too small to make our own compost, was Miracle Grow Vegetable and Herb Garden Soil. Though it wasn’t organic, it was rich soil and garden friendly. But to save even more money it is best to make your own compost, as I mentioned before in Turning Garbage into Gold.
Thus our cost was significantly reduced from over $500 to around $60.
It is definitely important to do your homework prior to purchasing anything for your homestead, big or small!