Cover image for The frugal gardener : how to have more garden for less money
Title:
The frugal gardener : how to have more garden for less money
Author:
Erler, Catriona Tudor, 1950-
Publication Information:
Emmaus, Pa. : Rodale Press ; [New York] : Distributed in the book trade by St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
vii, 280 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780875968018
Format :
Book

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SB453 .E689 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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SB453 .E689 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Gardening
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Summary

Summary

With warmth, wit, and detail, garden guru Catriona Tudor Erler teaches you which tools you need for essential garden jobs, how to help hoses find the "fountain of youth", whether to repair, replace or rent equipment, and hundreds more thrifty lessons. "What Will You Save?" and "25 Smart Shopping Tips" sidebars put frugal facts right at readers' green thumbs. Whether you are planting a perennial border or pumpkin patch, this resource will help you spend little and grow a lot!


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Imagine nearly 300 pages of advice on how to get more produce and flowers while spending less! There are tips on buying healthy plants (or trade plants and seeds with fellow gardeners); on choosing the right tools, organic fertilizers, herbs, water-thrifty flowers, fast-spreading shrubs and ground cover, and bulbs; and on how to get free mulch and compost. Erler tells readers what plants sow themselves and how to repair broken utensil handles. There's a chapter on low-maintenance gardening, designing a garden, and cost-conscious projects such as a pergola, trellises, arbors, planters, window boxes, and a potting bench--all for the do-it-yourselfers. Color illustrations complement the informative text. --George Cohen


Publisher's Weekly Review

With the healthy skepticism of a practiced penny pincher, Erler (The Garden Problem Solver) examines just about every conceivable aspect of gardening and shows readers how to achieve beautiful, bountiful results on a budget. Erler offers a host of suggestions and technique, from finding top-quality tools at bargain-basement prices (garage sales are a good source) to using found objects for garden art (try driftwood as sculpture), propagating plants from cuttings, creating a water-wise landscape and making homemade pesticides. The Virginia gardener's emphasis is on creativity and practicality, but Erler's down-to-earth ideas don't sacrifice styleÄin fact, she makes such a persuasive case for using "your ingenuity instead of your wallet" that even green thumbs with deep pockets may adopt her methods. Packaged in a reader-friendly format, the information is grouped logically, with separate chapters on such topics as tools, plants, soil amendment and design. The pages are peppered with recurring sidebars: "The Frugal Gardener's Workshop," for example, offers how-to instructions for creating a Victorian gazing globe from an inverted fishbowl and a can of metallic spray paint. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Gardening can be an addictive, expensive hobby, so a book like this one is always welcome. It will be appreciated by those gardening on a budget as well as those who simply enjoy the thrill of bargain hunting or the challenge of creative recycling. Erler, a gardening columnist and author of The Garden Problem Solver, organizes her ideas in logical sections on plants, tools, maintenance, and design, making it easy to browse for inspiration. The tips are a blend of quick fixes offering instant gratification and longer projects to plan and dream about during the winter (including a clever homemade pergola made of painted PVC pipe). For beginners, basics on wise tool and plant selection are useful. Erler includes more illustrations than Maureen Gilmer does in The Budget Gardener: Twice the Garden for Half the Price (LJ 2/1/96), making this a good purchase for all public libraries.ÄBonnie Poquette, Shorewood P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One Get the Garden You Want--The Frugal Way You can have bountiful gardens and a beautiful landscape--and save thousands of dollars in the process--when you start thinking like a frugal gardener. But there is a lot more to being a frugal gardener than just saving money. Being frugal means having fun, too. I love the challenge of thinking of ingenious substitutes for expensive plants, tools, and accessories. And I know you will, too! What makes being a frugal gardener so much fun? It's because there are so many ways to go about saving money that it makes every day a new and exciting adventure. As frugal gardeners, we're constantly on the alert for money-saving opportunities to make our gardens grow. A good place to start saving is on plants. Buy and plant healthy, well-rooted specimens. Keep an eye out for bargains, too, when plants go on sale at your local garden center. And don't forget visits to friends' gardens. You'll have earned your frugal gardener badge when you always have clippers and a plastic bag on hand in case you have the opportunity to take a plant cutting on the spot! How to $ave Right from the Start You'll save the most if you're frugal right from the start of your gardening project. (It's harder once you've already jumped in with blazing checkbook, then realized that you've made an expensive mistake.) And that means using sense instead of cents--whether you're planning your garden, choosing the best plants, or adding furniture and decorative features. Buy it in your head (or on your calculator) before you buy it on credit. You may be stunned at the price of that short list of perennials! But luckily, there are always lots of frugal choices for those high-ticket items, and I'll show you plenty of them. Once you're finally at the nursery, follow the frugal gardener's first rule of plant buying: It costs no more to buy a healthy plant than it does to buy a sick one--and in the long term, it costs a lot less! The trick is knowing the "vital signs" of plant health. Buying Healthy Plants Pays Off in the Long Run When you're shopping for plants, the simplest way to save is to start off with healthy specimens. Restoring sick plants to good health can cost money for sprays or fertilizers or waste your time returning the failed plant for a replacement. Worst of all, an afflicted plant can spread trouble to the rest of your garden. Examining the foliage and roots of the plants at your local garden center will tell you in a hurry whether or not a plant is healthy. Here's what to look for. Aboveground Clues to Plant Health Look for leaves with vivid, even coloring. Healthy foliage looks vigorous and fresh, whether it is green, gray, or variegated. Look at both sides of leaves before you buy. Discolorations usually indicate that a disease or insect has been at work. Shun plants whose leaves or leaf stems are marred with light or dark spots or blotches or have shiny, clear spots or webbing. Pass up wilted plants. Drought-stressed plants wilt and lose roots and leaves. Even if you shower them with water and kindness at home, their growth may be slowed or stunted. Seriously wilted plants may never recover. Don't take chances on wilted plants. Underground Clues to Plant Health Vital signs below ground are harder for you to evaluate than leaves and stems, especially if the plant is growing firmly in place in a clay or plastic pot. But if you can slip a plant from its pot, it's worth taking a peek. Pale tan or white roots that are pliable and firm textured are signs of good underground health. The roots should fill one-half to three-quarters of the soil in the pot, without circling the pot walls. Reject mushy, rotten, or black roots. And pass up plants that have too few or too many roots. Sparse roots, filling less than half the pot, may indicate a newly potted cutting or a plant that has lost roots to rot or drought stress. Roots that encircle the pot may be too tangled to unwind at planting time, stunting the growth of a plant or even killing it. Mushy roots indicate rot; black roots, in almost all cases, are dead roots. (A few plants, such as American persimmon, have black roots naturally; they will feel pliant and solid to the touch, not brittle or mushy like roots that have died and blackened.) Look for clues to a strong root system. If you can't slip the pot off a plant, turn the pot on its side and look for a few roots escaping through the pot's drain hole. If the tips of those roots are still healthy and growing, your plant will establish quickly in the garden. If a mass of roots is clogging the drain holes, the plant is potbound and may never fulfill its potential in the garden. After the plants are in your garden, you can save by keeping your plants healthy and eliminating the need to replace them. You'll find even more great money-saving tips on buying and growing plants in Chapter 2, "Save Money on Plants." Fill Your Garden with Giveaways A plant that multiplies beyond your needs­--or your garden's boundaries--is an ideal candidate to divide and share with friends and neighbors, and sharing is one of the most joyful ways of frugal gardening. Get to know other gardeners, and you'll find your beds soon fill up with passed-along plants. As your collection grows, take cuttings, make divisions, or save seeds for plant exchanges (or just to give to your friends). Plant exchanges are great fun because everyone who participates goes home with new treasures. I believe seeds are the most frugal source of new plants because they're so plentiful. When collecting seeds from your plants, keep enough for yourself and then share the rest--or trade them for seeds of plants that your friends are growing but that are new to you. Exchanging seeds through the mail is a great way to stay in touch with and feel closer to your far-flung gardening friends. And seeds are ideal gifts for mailing to out-of-town friends because they're so small and lightweight- -you'll share the fun of gardening with each other, and save on postage, too! Look for additional inspiring ideas for giving and receiving in Chapter 2, "Save Money on Plants." Tooling Up for Frugal Gardening Choosing from the hundreds of gardening tools available is enough to confuse even the most experienced among us. Save money and frustration by choosing a few basic, well-made tools that you'll use on a regular basis. As a frugal gardener, I find I can do all my garden chores with just five essential tools: a good hand trowel, garden rake, hoe, shovel, and wheelbarrow. You can add more specialized tools, such as bulb planters and edgers, depending on the nature and design of your garden, as you find a need for them. Thrifty Tips for Tool Shopping Sometimes to be truly frugal, you have to spend a little money! You'll want to buy the best garden tools you can find. Poor-quality tools may be inexpensive, but they are no bargain. Look for the hallmarks of high quality: forged blades or tines of thick, durable steel, firmly attached to handles of hardwood, metal, or heavy-duty plastic. Tools of this quality can be pricy, but in the long run they're the best buy. Still, there are ways for a frugal gardener to cut tool costs. Hunt for second-time-around tools. Good tools can last a lifetime-- sometimes even two or three lifetimes. Look for hand-me-down tools at thrift shops, auctions, and yard sales. A little rust is only skin deep. With soap, sandpaper, and elbow grease, you can clean up used tools so they work like new. Keep them looking good by sticking the business end of the tool into a bucket of sand and linseed oil between uses to scour and rust- proof the blade. Shop the sales. Take advantage of store clearance sales at the end of the season or whenever new models are introduced. When it's time to make room for Christmas decor, garden tools are commonly marked down to giveaway prices. You may also find better-than-retail prices in mail-order catalogs that cater to professionals, like those listed in "Resources for Frugal Gardeners" on page 263. Salvage broken-handle bargains. Create your own specialized tools, at great savings, by shortening the handles and narrowing the blades and tines of standard tools to meet your needs. Used tools and bargains that come with broken handles are the perfect candidates for tool makeovers. For dozens of other ingenious ideas for saving on tools, see Chapter 3, "The Frugal Gardener's Tools." Save from the Ground Up Put a little time and effort into building quality soil in your garden before planting, and you'll find the effort pays big dividends in healthy, vigorous plants. An abundance of organic material is the fastest way to fix any soil--wet or dry. Digging in compost, aged manure, or other amendments not only helps improve drainage in soggy soils, it also helps retain moisture in drier soils, saving you time and money on watering chores. Most plants do best in soil with a slightly alkaline to somewhat acidic pH. If your soil's pH is either extremely acid or alkaline, it's easier--and less expensive--to choose plants that favor those conditions. However, you can also amend your soil to match the pH requirements of special plants you want to grow in your garden. Just keep in mind that you'll be spending more time and effort to change the pH level. Free Soil Amendments Many top-quality organic amendments and mulches are available at the frugal gardener's favorite price--absolutely free! You'll find free manure from riding stables, compost from municipal centers, bags of leaves donated by your neighbors or scrounged at the curb on trash pickup day, and of course, your own homemade compost. These and many more frugal ideas for improving your soil are described in detail in Chapter 4, "Save Money with Soil Amendments." Make It Easy on Yourself with Low-Maintenance Techniques Ingenuity makes caring for your garden more affordable--and less work! Instead of looking at the care and feeding of your garden as costly and time-consuming, you'll delight in discovering how simple the tricks of easy gardening can be. Not only will you save time and effort, you'll save cold hard cash, too, because your plants will be lush and healthy. Stop Being a Slave to Weeds Save a weekend of weeding by learning how to prevent weed problems and how to stop them in their tracks. Smother existing weeds and block new ones with mulch, newspapers, or plastic sheeting. Cheat weeds out of the space they need to grow by filling gaps in your perennial beds with potted annuals you started yourself. You'll discover more easy ways to wipe out weeds in Chapter 5, "Cutting Maintenance Costs." Slow Down and Save on Watering Water your lawn and garden plants the thrifty way, by applying water slowly and deeply and allowing the soil surface to dry out between waterings. Give plants a deep drink. Plants watered deeply grow deep roots because they're not searching for water that just wets the surface of the soil. Shallow surface roots are vulnerable to drought damage because the upper few inches of soil are always at the mercy of the hot sun and drying winds. Deep watering provides a constant supply of moisture to those far-reaching plant roots. Mulch saves moisture. Mulch helps keep that precious water from evaporating, saving you time and keeping your water bill low because you won't have to water nearly so often. A couple of inches of loose, organic mulch, like bark chips, compost, or pine needles, will keep the soil moist much longer than if it were bare. Frugal Ways to Thwart Pests and Diseases Save your money--and your plants!--by inspecting plants closely and often to nip developing problems in the bud. Left to develop and spread in a garden, a few pests and diseases can turn into an epidemic. Bring in the beneficials. Beneficial insects--such as lady beetles, praying mantids, and garden spiders--keep pest populations low. Some beneficials prey directly on pests, while others parasitize the pests with their larvae. Small-flowered plants with flat flower heads, including alyssum, dill, scabiosia, yarrow, and Queen-Anne's-lace, offer beneficial insects easy access to nectar, a high-energy food source to fuel their hunting activities. Plant these small-flowered nectar plants throughout your garden to put out the welcome mat for your beneficial buddies. Try a trap crop. Your planting schemes to thwart pests frugally can also include "trap crops," like cabbage, which are plants that certain pests find irresistible. Put these trap crops at the outer limits of your beds to lure pests away from your prized plants, and when they're infested, pull them up and dispose of them. Get companionable. Companion planting is another way to combat pests. Mingle insect-repelling, pungently scented, or strong-flavored plants among your vulnerable plants. For a frugal approach to companion planting, I like to use pest-repelling plants that do double duty as culinary, medicinal, or potpourri herbs (garlic, rue, and lavender are three of my favorites). You'll find more information on defeating garden pests organically in Chapter 5, "Cutting Maintenance Costs." Start with prevention. When it comes to disease, frugal gardeners take a preventive approach. Start by choosing disease-resistant varieties whenever possible. Fungal and bacterial plant diseases flourish among overcrowded and stressed plants, so head off problems by improving soil drainage, spacing plants so air circulates freely, and applying mulch to prevent drought stress and weed competition. More tips and secrets for penny-wise pest and disease control are in Chapter 5. How to Have a Great-Looking, Low-Cost Lawn Lawns are a lovely addition to the garden, providing play space and a cool, restful oasis between colorful planting beds. But lawns can guzzle your money and energy, consuming large quantities of high-nitrogen fertilizers and requiring frequent trimming, aerating, dethatching, and other high- maintenance treatments. Keep the pleasure of a lawn and cut the costs and labor of caring for it by making a few compromises. The biggest way to save is to cut back on the space you allot to the lawn. Plan your lawn for low maintenance by matching the type of grass you grow to your climate and the level of sunlight, the amount of rainfall, and the type of soil you have. Save Backaches and Heartaches by Planning Ahead Frugal gardeners think ahead. With a master plan in hand, it's easy to budget and develop your garden step by step. A scattershot approach ends up costing you more as you nickel-and-dime yourself into spending major money on your garden. Your initial master plan can be as simple as making up your mind to spend your first season's budget on permanent, sizable trees and shrubs. They make an instant visual statement and form the basic structure of your landscape. Create an Instant Garden--On the Cheap Excerpted from The Frugal Gardener: How to Have More Garden for Less Money by Catriona T. Erler All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.