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Budget Local and Green Food Production and Gardening

Budget Local and Green Food Production and Gardening

Backyard tomatos (photo from Creative Commons user Plutor)

Brie Cadman |

As a gardener, I’ve always wondered if non-gardeners have a true appreciation for how expensive gardening can be. Most take the green foliage and colorful blooms for granted, but those of us who shop for them know that plants can range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars and that even small projects are likely to set you back a few Franklins. Just last week, I was lamenting the cost of plants to a landscape architect and she said, “Yes, gardening is for the wealthy.”

Well, I’m certainly not wealthy and I don’t think that should preclude me from gardening. Yet every time I open a gardening magazine or look on a gardening Web site, with their perfectly blooming perennial beds or bountiful vegetables, I’m well aware of how much time, money and sweat was poured into them. The perfect gardener is one without a job, with an endless budget, who lives in a nice Mediterranean climate and hasn’t seen a pest all year. But that’s probably not you or me.

Perhaps you are without a job (not by choice), without the endless budget, but are looking for ways to spruce up the yard—perhaps even redo the yard—without spending much. Can it be done?

I believe it can, with a little flexibility, creativity and, of course, sweat.

Divide, Split and Move

Dividing plants is a great way to turn a large plant into numerous small ones. Plus, it’s actually a beneficial practice. Many plants, including perennials, grasses and bulbs, need to be split or divided for their health. Perennials and grasses can get too big and rangy; bulbs, corms, and rhizomes will slow their production of flowers when they become overcrowded. Take stock of your yard, especially if some of the plants have been there for a long time, and you’re likely to find a sage that could use a trim or irises that can be divided. The best time to divide is when the plants are non-flowering or dormant. If you have enough extras, you can turn a brown patch of yard into a new flowerbed in no time.

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