Gardening on a Budget

Growing your own veggies is a great way to cut costs on your food budget.  But there’s more you can do to reduce the costs even further.  We’ve gathered tips and strategies that can benefit you during your growing season, to make gardening a lot more fun with fewer worries.

HarvestBasket-CTG-2011Plan Ahead

  • Connect with UVM extension and get a soil test done for your garden. There is a small charge, but it’s worth it.  No matter where you’re gardening, you always want to make sure that the soil is not only good quality, but safe for growing food.  If you’ve never done a heavy metals test on your garden plot, request one this year.  Good soil is a key ingredient to producing safe, healthy and great tasting veggies throughout the season!
  • Find out which plants grow best in your region before you begin gardening.  Visit the Almanac to find out when it’s best to begin growing certain fruits & veggies. Put in your zip code or City, State and it will give you info for your specific region.
  • Plan out your garden – what, where, and when – to maximize your growing space.  The Gardener’s Supply Co. Kitchen Garden Planner is a user-friendly tool to help with just this.  Also, grow what you eat!  When planning what to grow, think about what you and your family love to eat and what’s most expensive at the grocery store.


 Seeds & Starts: Tips for getting started:

Building Projects: Using on-site resources

To help you determine if you are using your garden to its full potential conduct a garden site evaluation. Visit page 13 in the Community Garden Start-Up Guide for an evaluation checklist.

  • Collect rainwater using rain barrels to water your garden.  No need to use expensive kits—check out this quick 9-step tutorial for making a rain barrel out of a garbage can.Compst at ANG
  • Make your own compost!
    • Take a look at this source for clear do-it-yourself instructions: Creating a Compost Bin
    • You can even use recycled materials to build your bins.  Contact your local stores to see if they are giving away any wooden pallets!
    • For more composting resources visit our Community Composting page.
  • Use items that can be found within or around your garden!
    • When planting vine crops use a bordering chain link fence or build a trellis using sticks and twine. Check out this neat video on how to get started: 4 Simple Trellises
    • Pallets can be used for so many things including gardening herbs or other small plants. Check out this video on how to start your own Garden Pallet
  • For more out-of-the box ideas check out Pintrest DIY garden projects!

Supplies & Materials: Don’t be afraid to ask

  • Start by putting together your garden budget.  This will be a helpful tool as you seek out materials and other support.  For those of you starting a community or school garden project, use this sample garden cost worksheet to help you form your budget.
  • Freecycle is a good website to visit to see if anyone is giving items away or looking for items you might have in your community.
  • Share tools with your neighbors!  Does everyone on your block need a tool shed full of gardening equipment?  Think of the tools that can be easily shared and share the cost as well.  Also, some towns have community tool sheds with tools that can be checked out at no cost.  If you live in the Burlington area, Fletcher Free Library has tools you can check out with your library card!
  • For those of you working with a community or school garden project, seek donations from community members or local businesses for expensive equipment such as shovels, rakes, trowels, hoes, hand forks, and other garden tools and infrastructure.
  • Also, check out these grant opportunities for your community or school gardens.100_3568
  • What resources are already available in your community?  Asset mapping is a great way to get a sense of the opportunities and resources that are available in your community before seeking them elsewhere.  From skill-sharing to tool-sharing, recognizing the resources in your community can be a gift for everyone! This worksheet will help you get started: Asset Mapping

Other Resources

  • Check out Vermont 2-1-1’s Community Resource Directory, which includes programs and resources available to help make fresh local foods more affordable:

Feel free to post on our Facebook page with any gardening on a budget tips that you may have!

Skip to content