Fresh Budget Gardening Ideas for 2012

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I am a HUGE fan of new ideas for creating fabulous gardens on a shoestring. Since publishing The Small Budget Gardener, my excitement over recycled and reused items has exploded into hundreds of new ideas from around the world. They’re at my Small Budget Gardening board on Pinterest, a cool new site where all my fans can share these discoveries. Before you start gardening this spring, be sure to look these over for hundreds of ways to save money and get far more garden for each penny you spend.
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Cheap & Easy Straw-bale Planters

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While speaking at the Disney Epcot Flower & Garden Festival on my book, The Small Budget Gardener, I discovered these straw-bale gardens in the park. My book tells you how to create the planters made from a bale of straw costing just $3 to $6. These are really great examples of this super cheap idea. They’ve planted it with greens, another with herbs and the third mixed showing its versatility. When the bale finally breaks down, you can take it apart and use for mulch. No waste, no unnecessary expenses.

Reuse Altoid Boxes for Seeds

Altoid boxes are the perfect seed containers.

Altoid mints are a small budget gardener’s two-for-one purchase. The boxes are ideal for storing seeds. This tin lasts a long time and it doesn’t crush easily. It seals with an audible click so I know they are securely stored. A blank address sticker or piece of tape makes a perfect label on the flat top with name and date of collection. Summer is the best time to gather seeds from your garden or those that fall onto common ground around town. Right now my orchid trees and palo verdes are so heavy with seed pods I’ve filled the Altoid tins with them. Come holiday time the seed makes great gifts in-you guessed it-decorated Altoid boxes!

Don’t Chuck That Old Chair!

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Every old chair is a planter waiting to happen!  Plant the seat with an abundance of flowers for a charming addition to that focal point.  Just use a piece of metal hardware cloth, nail it to the underside of the seat, line with moss and fill with potting soil.  Then plant to your heart’s content with annual flowers, miniature succulents, herbs or even grass.  This is a great idea for renters on a tight budget because your planted chair moves with you.  As the seasons change, move your chair with the sunshine because it’s light weight and stands alone.  Combine with a group of salvaged pots made of tin cans, paint cans or galvanized buckets for a charming “green” composition.

Aluminum Can Gift Pots

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While in Xochemilco, the ancient Aztec center of flower culture outside Mexico City, I came upon this brilliant no-cost idea. Aluminum cans, be they from beer or sodas are brightly colored, lightweight and won’t rust. They make the cutest little pots thin enough to cut easily with scissors or use a hack saw. Smooth the cut edge with a nail file or sand paper to avoid cuts. These examples below are rather beat up, but you can reuse your favorite drink containers to grow all the tiny plants you want. Small succulents and herbs are ideal. They make really fun gifts or decor items in small urban gardens. If you cut the can in half, turn the top half upside down so that the opening assures drainage. If you use the bottom half, poke some holes with a nail or ice pick to ensure it drains before adding soil. This is a nifty way to reuse aluminum rather than recycling.

Recycle Holiday Bottles in Your Garden

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With the holiday season upon us it’s time to keep an eye out for beautiful bottles to recycle into the garden. The beautiful cobalt blue of Skyy Vodka is one of the best for creating a color statement. The bottles in this picture were buried nose down in a perfectly spaced line that reflects the gentle sweep of the pavement edge. The best way to find lots of great colored bottles is to cruise your neighborhood on recycle days during the holiday season when people put out the byproducts of their parties.