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Frugal (patient) Gardening

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Last updated June 2021

I’m not a big gardener, partially because I really hate getting dirt on my fingers, and partially because my parents, who live close by, have an enormous garden which I get to mooch off of each summer.

A healthy basil plant, growing in mulch.

However, I do plant a few things here and there, and I’ve decided that really frugal gardening requires a lot of patience.

If I had loads of money, I would probably go buy nice bushes and flowers to plant in my yard, and I’d buy vegetable and herb plants.

However, I don’t have loads of money, so I have to take the slow route.

For instance, about six weeks ago Aldi had some plants for sale. I bought a hydrangea plant for $2.99, which is a great deal for a bush that will be around for years.

However, for $2.99 all you get is a stick with roots and a little bit of dirt. I planted it in a pot, watered it, and for a long time, all I had was a pot with a stick in it.

Finally, though, there are signs of life!

A baby hydrangea plant from Aldi, in a terracotta pot.

I don’t know how much this plant will grow this year, but at the rate we’re going, I think it’s going to be a long time before I have an impressive bush. For $2.99, though, I can be patient.

Update! My former stick hydrangea now looks like this:

A large hydrangea bush with blue flowers.

As another example, last year, I bought a $.10 package of basil seeds from Walgreens.

(What’s that you say? Real gardeners don’t buy their seeds at a drugstore??)

I planted half of them last year and ended up with something like 10 enormous basil plants (I even gave some away on Freecycle!).

I wasn’t sure the seeds would still be good this year, but I figured I should at least give them a shot.

So I planted them, watered them, and now, weeks later, I have a little pot of healthy basil seedlings.

A terracotta pot full of basil seedlings.

While it wouldn’t break the bank for me to buy a basil plant each year, by exercising some patience, I get more basil than I can possibly use for $.05.

This kind of reminds me of our backyard.

It would have been far more instantly gratifying to plunk down a thousand dollars for sod.

But by combining seed, water, and some sweat, we have a yard that looks almost as good as sod for a fraction of the price.

A view of a green lawn, from a low perspective.

Really, when you think about it, a lot of frugal living depends upon your ability to deal with delayed gratification.

People who are patient enough to wait for seeds to sprout will probably also be

  • patient enough to save up before they buy something
  • patient enough to wait to buy a new electronics item until the price falls
  • patient enough to wait for something to go on sale or clearance
  • patient enough to wait for laundry to dry in the sun
  • patient enough to wait until they can find a desired item in a thrift store or on Craig’s List (or even better, on Freecycle!)

What other frugal living habits depend upon delayed gratification?

More Frugal Gardening

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