Affordable Gardening

Affordable Garden Update: Making Budget Garden Containers

Have the desire to grow a garden, but don’t have the space or a large budget? Follow along with Captain Create this Summer to learn money saving gardening tips. At the end of the harvest, we will learn to cook healthy meals with what grew!

Limited Space and Limited Budget

Many shy away from the idea of a home garden because of limited space and a limited budget, I get it. Making a home garden can be expensive, especially when buying brand new planters. I went to my local hardware store and saw a few planters for sale – they started at $150.

Personally I couldn’t believe that price, especially when there are so many budget friendly options for container gardens! All it takes is a little imagination.

Like many Utahns, I do not have the space for a large garden. I knew that whatever containers I got for my home garden would have to be space and cost efficient.

Plastic Bin Garden Container

Budget Container Ideas

I wanted to make containers out of common household items that would be easy to find, which is why I used plastic storage containers, mini trash cans and five gallon buckets. Each of these items were affordable or already around the house!

Here is a list of several affordable items and materials for your garden containers, some of these you might already have on hand!

  • Plastic storage bins
  • Hard plastic kiddy pool
  • Plastic sand box
  • Small plastic trash cans
  • Five gallon buckets
  • Fabric grow bags
  • Cinder blocks

If you choose to use cinder blocks, you can directly plant in the cinder blocks, or create a large garden bed and use the cinder blocks as retaining walls.

Money saving tip: Use common household objects and affordable materials to reduce garden container costs.

Garden Container Prep

There are a two basic things that garden container’s need before putting your plants in them.

  1. Nutrient rich soil
  2. Proper drainage

To create a nutrient rich soil, I mixed equal parts of top soil and composted steer manure. I added small strips of cardboard to the bottom of my containers because cardboard decomposes over time, providing nutrient rich compost when finished. Cardboard has a significant money saving effect because it reduces the volume of dirt you have to fill your containers with!

Money Saving Tip: Place pieces of carboard in the bottom of containers to reduce soil costs.

Make sure to remove any plastic from cardboard

Drainage is so important for healthy plants! Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes first time gardeners make, and drainage holes are a great way to reduce the likelihood of overwatering. I created drainage holes by using a power drill. I found this to be the easiest and safest method, but please let a trusted adult do this part if you’re a kiddo!

For smaller containers I made 2-3 drainage holes, but for larger bins I made drainage holes every 6 inches. If this sounds intimidating don’t worry, creating drainage holes isn’t an exact science, what’s important is that there’s enough holes to let excess water escape.

Example of drainage holes in plastic containers

Good drainage works hand in hand with good soil. Typically compost not only improves the nutrient profile of the soil, but also its drainage!

Container Placement

The last thing to consider is where you will put your containers. The answer to this all depends on your plants!

Some plants need “full sun”, which means you want to place your container in a very sunny spot that stays sunny throughout the day. Other plants may need “partial sun”, which means they can be left in the shade for some parts of the day. An ideal spot for your partial sun plants would be in an area that gets some direct sun during the day, and is in shade for other parts of the day.

Budget containers in full sun

If the look of your DIY containers are not your taste, give them a paint job! It can be a fun activity for you and the family.

Next Week

There’s still so much to do! Next week’s post will go in depth on how to plant your seedlings outside after the last frost. Come back next Friday for that content!

-Captain Create

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