Free Food From Your Shade Garden


Plant your shade garden in ostrich ferns today and dine on fresh free fiddleheads every spring. This ubiquitous fern, native to most of the Northern Hemisphere was an ancient forager’s dream plant after a long hungry winter. Here’s a healthy dish you won’t find for sale except in upscale gourmet eateries. If you grow your own, it is sure to become a spring culinary rite in your house. Much like fresh asparagus, the five foot Matteuccia struthiopteris springs back from the cold with tightly coiled new sprouts. They unfurl into huge fluffy fronds, making it double as both a food plant and a beautiful problem solver for shade. Discover how to harvest, prepare and cook these delicacies at the Wild Harvest web site See lots of pictures of this fern online at the Missouri Botanical Garden:¬†

Free Dwarf Pea Cage for Small Gardens


Grow edible pod snow peas in small space gardens without a traditional trellis, fence or wall. Make a cheaper version of this store-bought pea tower. Being a devotee of the many uses for chicken wire, particularly when salvaged, I am sure these can be fashioned on the cheap or free. Dwarf versions of edible pod snow or snap peas allow them into city gardens, but what to do if you don’t have a vertical surface to tie them up? If you let them flop the bugs set in or they become a muddy mess. Just roll up a piece of chicken wire to about 8 inches in diameter. Stand it on end, then weave a thin piece of rebar, pipe or bamboo (or anything else that’s free) through the holes and into the ground to keep it upright.¬†Plant your pea seeds at the center of the tube and gently train the seedlings as they grow taller. Easy, cheap and a much better idea for early cool season veggies!

Recycle Child’s Shoe for Almost Free Mother’s Day Gift


Got old children’s shoes? Looking for a great idea Mom or Grandma will treasure? Try turning ‘em into little planted gems for porch, patio or windowsill. Here’s a green version of the bronze baby shoes that’s easy for Dads to make for kids or whole classes in school. Save the charm of those little ones by planting with mini-succulents! Just poke holes in the sole for drainage, fill with potting soil and plant succulents into the top. Because succulents aren’t watered so often the shoes hold up forever. Canvas tennies like these can go through the wash cycle so they’ll hold up just as well as a planter. Shop for the smallest and cheapest succulents you can find at the garden center. Remove soil from the roots so they fit into smaller spaces. Try patent leather party shoes for an upscale look or tiny brown leather boots for eco-natural. It’s a no-brainer gift that costs just pennies. Let these shoes of life and love become recycled as part of her everyday world, at the office, in a nursing home or to greet her each morning in a sunny bathroom window.

Ugly Chandelier Painted Garden Beautiful


A little paint, some beads and flickery bulbs is a small budget gardener’s delight! This fab idea turns an otherwise ugly cast off dining room light fixture into the focal point of the porch. In a garden with little bright color, this hot pink painted beauty shows you how far to push your paint to create world class accents. Above all it casts the most romantic evening light with the flickering flame-like bulbs which give it powerful pizzaz. With about a thousand different light bulbs to choose from, imagine painting any light fixture from sleek modern to baroque for your own unique look and color sense. Cheap, easy to install and totally creative, this is how a small budget gardener can create one of a kind garden design.

Recycle Matchstick Blinds to Save Energy


Here’s a cheap and easy way to turn a hot window into a beautiful energy-saving composition. Small budget gardeners would make one of these out of broken matchstick blinds that may have been formerly used indoors. You may only use it for one season so trade rope or wire for the pricey cables. The sticks add beautiful shadow patterns to cool the surface of a west facing window that may grow very hot during summer afternoons. Cool the glass and you cool the room too. Also love the hanging bundles of lavender drying underneath. This came from the sustainable garden at Epcot with a marvelously Mediterranean feel.


They’re featuring small budget garden ideas at highbrow Keukenhoff, the Royal Dutch Park of Holland. This old glass chandelier was the center of a recycled demonstration garden for a small urban space. It sparkled in the light and held a collection of yellow tulips in small green plastic pots. Note how they’ve set it upon a staff anchored in concrete, so you don’t need an overhead to hang it. Check out the attics and basements, barns and lofts for old treasures like this to make new gardens sparkle for free. And if you find one for pennies at a yard sale, snatch ‘er up because salvage is now European high style!


Words of wisdom from a German garden are a perfect small budget gardener’s idea. It may be a phrase of that nation’s most famous philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, beautifully printed on this simple arbor post. The idea is both elegant and affordable, offering meaning to the garden whether you are a fan of Jesus or the Dali Lama, Bob Dylan or Rachael Carson. Whatever your approach, words in gardens are remembered into adulthood by our children who see them every day. They are also a good way to remind ourselves to slow down enough to stop and smell the flowers.