One of the many attractions about gardening is the money that is saved at harvest time. Instead of running to the grocery store with wallet in hand, gardeners get to step outside and pick what they need. Organic and fresh -- and free, right?
Not exactly. In addition to a lot of time, a thriving vegetable garden requires often back-breaking work with specialized tools. If you're just getting started, purchasing the tools can add up to a small fortune -- but it doesn't have to.
Save tons of cash by trying these 10 genius ideas for using household items as gardening tools.
1. Muffin tins
Use a muffin tin to help you (or your kids) plant seeds in the garden with just the correct spacing. Look in your local dollar store for tins of different sizes, if needed. A Thrifty Mom recommends using this method on soft, aerated soil.
2. Milk jugs
Milk jugs are downright magical. Cut off the bottom few inches and fill with soil to create a flat to start your seeds. Use the remaining top of the jug as a portable, one-plant greenhouse when frost is a danger. Other tops can be fashioned into scoops or sprinklers for distributing fertilizer.
3. Vinyl tablecloth
An old vinyl tablecloth can be put to work in a variety of ways. Use these "old soldiers" as frost protectors, dirt catchers and wheelbarrows.
4. Toilet paper
Eliminate weeding and thinning your seedlings without spending a lot of money by preparing your own seed tapes. With a cornstarch-based glue, your dried seeds will be perfectly spaced. When the time comes to plant, just "plant" the strip of toilet paper!
Bonus: Preparing seed tapes is a wonderful wintertime project. Simply store them in a cool, dry location, then wait for spring!
5. Toilet paper rolls
Save the cardboard rolls from toilet paper to create starter pots for deep-rooted vegetables. Simply cut slits in one end, then fold them inward to create a bottom. Boom -- biodegradable starter pots!
Other biodegradable starter pots are easily fashioned from newspaper. Fold a sheet in half and roll it around a toilet paper or paper towel roll. Remove the roll, fold in the bottom then add your soil! Watch the video at The Old Farmer's Almanac to see how it's done.
7. Dairy containers
Use washed dairy containers as mulch scoops or cheap flower pots complete with drainage tray. Especially handy is their ability to protect seedlings from insects; simply cut off the bottom of the container and push it into the dirt around the plant. Better Homes and Gardens says to leave it there until the plant's stem hardens.
Tires are perfect for creating a raised planting bed: Line the inside with a plastic garbage bag, and you're set. The Old Farmer's Almanac advises stacking two or three tires for plants like potatoes, which need more space for roots.
9. Dish pan
An old dish pan can be repurposed into a lightweight, portable potting bench. A few supplies and some soil, and you are ready to plant anywhere!
10. Bubble wrap
When an unexpected frost is on the way, insulate spring seedlings or fall flowers with bubble wrap packaging before the temperature falls too low.
Share these ideas on Facebook, and tell your friends what upcycling methods you use to be a frugal farmer!