5 ways to save money as a home gardener

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From pots to pH-balanced soils, plant lovers know how just expensive it can be to raise a plant family. However, you don’t always have to break the bank when you’re welcoming a new plant into your home.

Here’s five ways to minimise costs on your home garden essentials so that you can continue splurging on your favorite succulents and hanging plants.

1. Repurpose old containers as pots & planters

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While pots that cost less than $5 are readily available at many nurseries like at Ikea and Noah Garden Center, you’ll find that costs will begin to accumulate as you bring more plants into your home.

This is especially true if you buy larger plants that require wider pots, as prices start to increase by 86 per cent.

To save money on your plant housing, you can consider repurposing old household and kitchen containers as small pots and planters for your new additions.

Old yogurt containers or pasta jars can be used as small pots for your new plants or seedlings, which could save you an average of $5.59 to $8.04 per plant.

As long as you drill a hole in the bottom of your container for drainage, then repurposed containers are fine housing for seedlings and other plants in their early stages of growth.

DIY pots made of newspaper also provide support and housing for the newest additions to your garden. Newspaper pots are a cheap alternative to clay and ceramic pots, and are particularly useful when starting seedlings.

By saving money on these smaller planters, you can save up for larger purchases if and when your seedlings are ready to be repotted.

2. Trade in your pesticides for natural, cheaper alternatives

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Every gardener comes to know the frustrations of fungus gnats and other types of pests, as well as the price to pay to protect your plants. A 0.50 – 1.0 L bottle of regular pesticide cost an average price of $14.34, while neem-based products are even costlier at $16.31.

To save money in the long run, you can look to cheaper products that many gardeners swear by, including vinegar and citrus peels.

White vinegar is a good base to mix into a DIY pesticide, since it repels ants, mosquitoes, fruit flies, and other types of pests. The acetic acid in vinegar makes it effective as a contact spray, meaning you should use it directly on bugs as you find them.

If your garden infestation is not serious, then a vinegar mix could help deter insects, while saving you up to 344 per cent on pesticide costs.

In addition to vinegar, citrus peels also work to ward off insects. The active ingredients limonene and linalool found in lemon and orange peels are natural insecticides that help keep bugs in your garden at bay.

By boiling your leftover citrus peels in water and creating a spray or sprinkling citrus zest in your garden, you can take store-bought pesticides out of your cart and save up to $14.34 and $16.31 on regular and neem-based pesticides, respectively.

3. Turn your kitchen scraps into free fertiliser

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As your plants require repotting and nutrient boosts, you may find the hidden costs of soils and fertilizers growing at an unsustainable rate. Thankfully, there are many cost-effective ways to boost your garden’s health — and they all make use of the food scraps in your home.

Based on a sample of 25 fertiliser products, you can buy a 500ml bottle or 1KG bag for an average cost of $15.56. To save money on this regular purchase, consider making a compost at home to improve your soil and feed your plants.

A standard compost is made up of fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee and tea grounds, eggshells, dried leaves, grass, and shredded newspaper, amongst other things.

Similarly, you can create a spray fertiliser by making use of water that is used to boil vegetables and eggs. Eggs are a particularly good source of calcium and potassium, which plants need to grow.

So, instead of throwing out your food scraps, make use of them in a way that helps your plants and your savings grow.

ALSO READ: How to grow your very own edible home garden in Singapore

4. Put your home garden to work

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Now that you’ve learned cost-effective ways to manage your garden, it’s time to put your green thumb into action. Growing your own food is a great way to offset the costs of your indoor garden, and there are many herbs and veggies that are easy to grow.

Regrowing a spring onion is as easy as they come and allows you to save a few dollars each grocery trip. Simply cut off its root ends, place it in a bowl of water, and harvest your full-sized spring onion after five to seven days.

The estimated monthly grocery cost for a spring onion is about $3, which means you can save just as much per month by growing your own.

To take it a step further, you can put your garden to work by propagating your current plants and selling them to other plant enthusiasts.

For instance, the popular pothos plant is an easily-propagated plant with a retail value of $6.90. By creating a small nursery at home, you can sell your buds at a discounted price which some gardeners may prefer as they would want to grow their plants from an early stage.

5. Protect your plants with home insurance

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By implementing these DIY home garden hacks, you can save money on pots, fertilisers, top soil, and pesticides. However, it’s important to protect your home garden from unforeseen accidents in addition to common issues like fungus gnats and overwatering.

A good way to protect your indoor or balcony garden is by finding a home insurance that includes plants in the coverage.

This article was first published in ValueChampion.