Find perennial favourites
Although they might cost a bit more than annuals, perennials are more economical in the long run. “I’m getting something for my dollar that will be there again next year and the year after,” says Robbins. Here’s how to stretch your dollar when buying perennials:
- Scale down your purchases. A four-inch pot might be smaller than a one- or two-gallon tub, but it’s also a fraction of the price.
- Be patient. Plant one or two small pots, not three or five, and wait for them to spread. They will.
- Resist temptation. Standard perennials cost less and tend to be hardier than their sexy hybrid counterparts.
Compost is a natural and inexpensive way to put nutrients into the soil and reduce the need for water. But it can take up to a year for organic waste to break down. To get the best compost:
- Take advantage of your municipality’s compost program. Most cities sell compost at bargain prices or even give it away.
- Start next year’s compost now. While you’re enjoying the immediate benefits of city compost:
- Use kitchen scraps, including fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, tea bags and crushed eggshells.
- Avoid fat, bone, meat and pet waste.
Add a layer of marvelous mulch
Like compost, most municipalities give away mulch or provide it at a low cost. Mulch helps keep moisture in the soil and prevents weeds from spreading. It also breaks down into compost, adding nutrients back into the earth.
- Spread mulch around your plantings, but don’t choke them.
- Forego thick, decorative wood chips. Not only are they more expensive, they can take years to break down.
Charmian Christie is an avid gardener and home cook. When she's not digging in the dirt, she's charting her culinary adventures on her blog, Christie's Corner.