How To Start A Garden Without Breaking Your Back—Or Your Budget

June 11, 2020 | Scott Mazza

How To Start A Garden Without Breaking Your Back—Or Your Budget

As soon as it gets warm out, you might find yourself eyeing that patch of soil or overgrown raised bed that you abandoned long ago. The good news is, the best time to start a garden is…right now! Whether it’s April, July, or September, there’s still time to get elbow-deep in a bunch of dirt and get growing.

In-Ground Gardening vs. Container Gardening (…Don’t Forget Raised Beds!)

As always in life, we have to work with what we’ve been given. While the dream of a big, flat vegetable garden and a house surrounded by beautiful flowers is ideal, not everyone lives in a space that can accommodate that. The good news is, if you have a yard or green space surrounding your home already, you can build a garden that’ll last for years—but it’s a big one-time investment to dig it up and fill it with good soil. For a smaller impact, consider raised beds. These provide ample space without having to bring a tractor into the equation, and are still deep enough to grow vegetables.

If you don’t have enough space for raised beds, or want to be able to move your plants around as you please, consider container gardening. It doesn’t just have to be a few flowerpots scattered here and there—you can grow a whole vegetable garden out of containers! Salad greens, herbs, and tomatoes will all grow beautifully in container gardens. Many companies even offer container gardening kits that include the container itself, plants or seeds, soil, and the necessary tools. These kits are especially perfect for apartment dwellers with balconies who want to start a garden.

Flower Gardening vs. Vegetable Gardening

The benefits of a vegetable garden are obvious—all the cucumbers and kale you can eat and then some! However, it does take a somewhat large investment of both time and money to start one. An exception to this is an herb garden, which doesn’t need as much upkeep.

When it comes to vegetable gardening, it helps to shop around for plants. While some garden stores will fill their shelves with limp-yet-expensive veggie plants for overenthusiastic customers—or be sold out of what you want altogether—many online retailers offer plants for dirt cheap (pun intended). And of couse, they will deliver them right to your door—no need to get soil all over your trunk!

Flower gardening can be just as rewarding as vegetable gardening, and with a fraction of the labor. Plus, they save you the disappointment when local squirrels run off with your strawberry plant’s bounty. When it comes to flowers, you can simply plant and enjoy—and enjoy again and again, if you’re working with perennials. Different types of plants flower at different times, meaning you can enjoy tulips in the spring, sunflowers in the summer, and chrysanthemums and pansies in the fall.

Seed Gardening vs. Plant Gardening

When you were a kid, did you imagine that one of your most rewarding adult moments would be hovering over a tray of soil and spotting the first little seedling pushing through the dirt? Neither did we, but here we are. Growing plants from seed is time-consuming but gratifying. While many retailers will often offer just one or two varieties of a potted plant, there are hundreds of types of seed available out there for you to grow. You’re only limited by the type of garden you have and the climate you’re in.

However, if your seedlings never quite grew more than a few inches or if you missed the window of opportunity to start growing seeds in the spring and early summer, buying plants is still a great option. Though, as we mentioned earlier, always shop around online for deals. The money that online businesses save when they don’t have storefronts is often directly transferred to you.

How Do I Keep My Garden Growing Throughout the Summer?

Just because you’ve put plants in the ground doesn’t mean your job is done. Different plants need different amounts of water and care. Some will grow wild without so much as an afterthought (we’re looking at you, mint). Others will fade away if you even stop paying attention to them for 24 hours—what drama queens. Each plant has its own special needs, but luckily, there are plenty of resources online to help you determine what your plan for upkeep will be. Fortunately, for most, you’ll just need a few simple tools. A spade, a hand rake, some shears, gloves, and of course, extra soil are all you need to start—so get out there and get gardening!

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