DIY Home + Garden Gardening on a Shoestring

Published on April 6th, 2016 | by Julie Finn

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Handmade Review: Gardening on a Shoestring

Gardening on a Shoestring

Gardening can actually be kind of expensive, considering that you’re supposed to be saving money on grocery stores and florists by growing your own organic produce and flowers. Seriously, I don’t have much of a green thumb, and even though I try to make up for that with a lot of Type A stick-to-it-iveness, I wouldn’t even want to venture on how much money I spent on seeds and plant starts and garden fencing and organic fertilizer last year, to basically end up with two pumpkins, four cherry tomatoes, and one sulky basil plant.

Any book, then, that will tell me how to save money on my gardening is fine by me. Gardening on a Shoestring (which I received for free from a marketer), by Alex Mitchell, contains tutorials for using upcycled, reclaimed, recycled, or otherwise scavenged items for gardening. Some of these projects, such as using empty giant cans of tomatoes as plant pots, or propagating rosemary and lavender, I’d already figured out on my own, but much was very, very new to me.

Take, for instance, the method of using part of a plastic soda bottle or a leaky garden hose to easily keep container plants watered–mind you, you have to install that garden hose method as you’re first potting your plant, but if you do, then you’ll have an easy way to perfectly water even a massive container plant right at the roots, where it needs it. I also, since I have boisterous kids who don’t respect my property, super appreciate the page-long list of “game-friendly plants” in the book. These are plants that you can keep around a yard full of kids and they won’t get destroyed by a wayward soccer ball or that game that my kids apparently play entitled The Stepping Stones are Lava.

It is now officially on my to-do list to plant thyme around all the stepping stones.

One project in particular, however, actually had me bookmarking the book and then immediately going outside to get it started: the living willow playhouse. Friends, a living willow playhouse is the coolest thing EVER! While I disagree that a living willow playhouse is necessarily a “shoestring” project–I’m experimenting with using willow rods from my neighbor’s weeping willow, but if I wanted to use living willow rods from a species that was absolutely perfect for this project, I’d have to buy it online, and those babies are EXPENSIVE!–it is a natural project, a gorgeous one, and one that will fit seamlessly into any garden, unlike that horror known as the Little Tykes plastic playhouse.

A better version, of course, would be for me to find some friends with just the right willows and get living willow rods from them. “Why don’t I have enough friends?”, then, is probably a better question than “Why are living willow rods so expensive online?”

I received a free copy of Gardening on a Shoestring from a marketer, because the world is apparently telling me to sneak into my neighbor’s yard and steal branches from his weeping willow. I can’t help it–the optimum willow rod planting season is ending soon and he’s not back from snowbirding in Florida yet!

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



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