I know Uncle Sam takes a lot of our hard earned paychecks, but he gives us some of us gardeners a chunk of it back at the perfect time of year. If you’re one of the lucky ones that is getting a refund, I’d like to give you some advice on how to put that windfall to good use to improve your gardens this year and for years to come.
Don’t spend it all on these goodies, save a few bucks for your order of tomato, pepper, eggplant, and herb plants from me (you have sent in your pre-order to me right???) Check out my tomato and pepper selections in the posts before this one. I’ve got some great varieties again this year that you won’t find anywhere else in town. I’ll also have Silver Reflective Mulch film and 5 gallon grow bags for sale as well.
Now, look at your budget, whip out those credit cards, and get set to improve your gardening experience thanks to the IRS!
- Build more raised beds! Growing in raised beds has so many benefits over growing in the ground, that it’s a whole other blog post to explain why. I started my garden with 3 raised beds and now have 14 with plans to add a couple of more each year. Building one or two raised beds each year is a great way to ensure you can rotate crops from year to year and will increase your yield and variety of plants you can grow. The lumber to build a raised bed will cost around $50. It will cost an additional $50 to fill it with good compost, perlite, and vermiculite which leads directly to my next item…compost!
- Compost! If you have a small garden, you should be able to make enough compost each year to top off your beds. Building a compost cage is pretty simple and the materials can be free or cost around $20-$50 depending on how fancy you want it to be. Add kitchen scraps, lawn trimmings, and leaves to the pile, turn it regularly and you’ll have black gold for your gardens for a little bit of effort. If you’re not a good composter (I’m the worst!), or you need a lot of compost or need it in a hurry, buy it by the yard from either Suburban Lawn and Garden or Missouri Organic. Both sell good quality compost, but in my opinion Suburban’s is a better product, but more expensive. Missouri Organic has an excellent price, but their quality isn’t quite as good. Both sell compost by the yard that they’ll load in the back of your truck or trailer or they will deliver for a fee. I am buying 10 yards this year and it’s cheaper to have it delivered than it is to make 10 trips to get it myself. No matter what you do, amend your gardens with good compost!
- Trim those trees! Shade is a vegetable garden’s worst enemy. I don’t recommend climbing a tree and sawing off limbs…too dangerous. A good pole saw will reach a lot of limbs and costs from $50-$150, but a rope saw will get those branches way up there and cost about $40-$50. I used both this weekend and really opened up the canopy of my hackberry tree. If these don’t work, hiring a professional tree trimming service will set you back several hundred dollars, but they’ll do a great job and all of the work.
- Buy some new toys! I’ve bought a lot of garden tools over the years…many were junk, but several are well worth the money and I couldn’t imagine gardening without them. My gooseneck hoe is my absolute favorite tool because it has so many uses. Weeding, planting, picking up garden staples, and many other things are a breeze and at $28 it’s a bargain! I’ve gone through a lot of trowels, but this one will probably last a lifetime. I used to own a Mantis Tiller, but I had so many problems with it not starting that I sought out a better solution. The Troy Bilt Electric tiller is an amazing tool for about $160! It looks like a toy, but I’ve used it for three seasons now and have never had it fail to till my gardens to a fine consistency in a short amount of time. You need to have electric access within a couple hundred feet of your garden and a heavy extension cord, but other than that, this is the way to till a garden.
- Irrigate! Investing in a drip irrigation system will set you back about $100, but it can be used for many years with a little maintenance. Dripworks has the best products I’ve tried, excellent service and super prices. Buy the heart of the garden kit and an add-on kit and you’re all set to water your garden the best way possible. I started drip irrigation a few years ago and have added on a bit each year as my gardens grew. I hook the system up to my rain barrels and my plants love the warm, chlorine free water. They thank me for the effort by having fewer disease problems and higher yields of produce.
- Add some whimsy! There are so many great artists out there that make beautiful outdoor pieces to add some flair to your garden area. Buy a gnome or ten, maybe a gazing ball, or a small fountain, or perhaps a nice bench to make your garden an inviting place for all to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Well, I hope this post gave you some ideas for increasing your enjoyment and benefits from your backyard gardens by spending a few bucks. Any money spent on gardening is money well spent!