Frugal Spring Gardening Tips for Beginners

Photo: Pixabay

There’s no better time to pick up gardening than spring. As the earth thaws and the sun comes out from winter hiding, it’s the perfect opportunity to try out your green thumb. The best news is when you are starting out, you can start small with easy, frugal projects that you can build upon as your interests (and plants!) grow. 

Before You Begin 

To grow a successful outdoor garden, you have to know your region. Most flowers, vegetables, and herbs have optimal planting times depending on where you live. Different plants need different amounts of sun exposure to thrive. The type of soil in your area can also have an impact on your garden. Buy a pH testing kit at your local nursery to find out the level of acidity and alkalinity of your soil. From there, you can buy plants that thrive in your particular type or treat your soil to make it more hospitable to the plants you want to grow. 

If you don’t know what you want to grow, start looking at gardening magazines and Pinterest to find inspiring ideas. You may not be ready to grace the cover of Better Homes and Gardens anytime soon, but looking at these images will help you get ideas on what you like and what you do not. From there, you can pick projects that you can succeed at to keep you motivated in your new gardening hobby. Furthermore, the greater your chances of success, the less money you waste on seeds and materials. 

Best Plants for Beginners

If you want to fill your yard with flowers, try your green thumb with: 

  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnias
  • Marigolds
  • Pansies
  • Impatients
  • Begonias
  • Snapdragons
  • Daffodils
  • Cosmos
  • Geraniums
  • Morning glories
  • Blanket flowers
  • Daylilies

If you want to grow something you can eat, start with:

  • Lettuce and salad greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini 
  • Squash

Of course, the success of your garden does not lie solely in the plant’s makeup. You have to be dedicated to your garden and plan for it to thrive. You can’t just throw something in the ground and expect lush flowers and succulent vegetables. It all starts with a seed.

How to Start Seeds in an Egg Carton

Don’t waste your money on garden trays or biodegradable peat pots. You can get an early start to your spring vegetable garden in the winter by starting your seeds in a recycled paper egg carton. This easy DIY method is just as effective as more expensive options. Be sure you label what each seed is so you can effectively organize your garden when it is time to transfer them outside. 

  1. Remove the egg carton lid, and poke a small hole in the bottom of each cup for drainage. Place the lid underneath the carton to act as a drainage tray.
  2. Fill each cup about halfway with a standard commercial potting mixture. Plant two to three seeds in each cup.
  3. Using a spray bottle, lightly mist the seeds until the potting mixture is slightly moist.
  4. Place the seeds in a warm area — it should be around 70-80 degrees F.
  5. As the seedlings germinate, pare down to one plant per cup. Allow the strongest seedlings to grow and remove the smallest.
  6. Move the seedlings to a south- or southwest-facing window.
  7. Spray the seedlings once a week with a general-purpose liquid fertilizer until you are ready to transplant them to your garden.  

Late winter and early spring are the perfect times to get started with a new garden. Start simple and small, and set yourself up for success by knowing which plants work for your region as well as your individual home. Planting things you know will be successful will keep you encouraged and motivated. If you are ready to begin, plant seedlings in recycled egg cartons to germinate while you wait for spring to arrive.