One of the biggest drawbacks to gardening is the general cost associated with starting up. On a recent price comparison trip that I undertook, I priced out seven plants and found that it would cost me over $30 to get them. I figured that there must be some way to cut the cost of gardening, if not initially, then in the long run. The answer I came up with was a seed garden. With a seed garden you only have to pay the high initial cost the first time you purchase your plants, and simply can save seeds for planting next year. Here's how you do it.
- Choose. When initially choosing your flowers, vegetables, or fruit seeds you need to be careful that you choose those that provide seeds when grown to maturity. I say this because not all plant seeds that you purchase will grow to make plants which provide seeds (i.e., seedless watermelons).
- Plant. Plant your seeds properly. Many people think that all that you need to do is poke a little hole in the ground and plop the seed in—they couldn't be more wrong. Make sure you use the proper soil type, properly space the seeds, and plant them only as deep as necessary to ensure proper growth.
- Ripen. Before harvesting your plants, allow them to ripen completely.
- Harvest. Harvesting seeds is a little different from harvesting your plants. Simply put, for pod plants (like peas) allow the pod to dry on the vine. When the pods are completely dry, remove the seeds from the pods and set them aside for storage. For vegetables and fruit, harvest the plant as you normally would, then gently mash the vegetable or fruit, place the mashed mess into a colander, and rinse away the pulp. The seeds should be easy to find; remove them and set aside.
- Store. Before storing your seeds, you need to determine whether they are viable or not. Place the seeds in a bowl of water and allow them to soak for 48 hours. Whichever ones you find floating at the top of the bowl are not usable (being dry or not fertilized). Dry the seeds at the bottom and store the dry seeds in a regular paper envelope, with the name of the plant and date written on the side. Keep the envelope in a dry, cool place and wait till next planting season.
- Plant. When the next planting season comes along, simply pull your stored seeds out and plant as in step two. The cycle continues!
While this method will not completely eliminate your gardening costs, it will dramatically reduce the amount of money you spend. Instead of having to pay year after year for the same plants, you will be able to have a largely self-sustaining system that doesn't require you to go out and spend your hard-earned money.
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