Friday, December 9, 2011

Garden Budget

Considering we have some serious house repair bills coming up I've decided to put the garden on a budget this coming year.  Well, truth be told, I was considering a cut back in gardening this year anyway.  After two seasons working in the yard many of my major goals have been met.  I have a compost bin, a veggie garden, some flower beds and lots of trees planted.  My big plans in the upcoming season are to finish what I have already started.  The veggie garden will be planted of course but the big task will be completing the large flower bed at the house entrance.  Overall I intend to try and keep it simple next spring so I don't get overrun with too many tasks.  Hopefully the side benefit of this plan will be a decrease in spending.  I can already tell though that I'm going to need to hang on to my purse strings tightly.
I need to finish what I started - like digging over
 this veggie bed that did not get used this season
I just received my Veseys Seed Catalogue in the mail this past week and immediately began circling all the 'must have' items.  I got about half way through the catalogue when I realized I needed to stop and rethink.  My priorities are saving money and not creating any extra work in the garden.  Buying up a lot of seeds won't accomplish either of those goals.  So I looked over the seeds I wanted to purchase and thought about the seeds collecting dust in my refrigerator.  Right away I knew, no flower seeds will be ordered this year.  There, I've said it, now there's no going back.

The reality is that I have seeds falling out on the floor every time I open up my fridge door to grab some food.  Why in the world do I want to order more of them?!  It's true that I used the last of the chamomile this year, and there are no more zinnias or bachelor buttons but it's also true that I have leftover sunflower seeds, borage and nasturtiums.  Not to mention the seeds I bought last season and never even planted!
Chamomile and bachelor buttons looked great in the garden
this season but I'll try something different next year
Worse still I have packages of gifted seeds that have been languishing for years.  I think I've discovered a major issue here.  I hoard seeds.  I buy them, receive them as gifts and collect seed from my own plants and I don't plant nearly enough of them in the ground.  It's time to change that habit.   Now I have run out of some vegetable seed and I will have extra space in the veggie garden this year so I'm not cutting out a seed order completely.  But  I'm vowing right now to put a maximum limit of $20 on this years seed order.  And further, that order cannot contain any flower seed. That's a good start I think on my budget and besides, less money on flower seeds means there's more money for new trees right?


  1. Seeds sometime don't get planted do they? hahaha, me too. I hope you can stay within your budget for home and garden. I tried to not buy any plants for a month....didn't work out well. Think I am getting more discriminating on what I buy though.

  2. I understand the need to budget. Boy, the amount you have chosen would be a tough one for me. Course I don't buy too many seeds, I go for immediate gratification in the plants.

  3. I have different issues (i.e. I buy things like azaleas and gardenias that languish in pots for like 6 months before I actually plant them) but it is essentially the same 'sickness'. I am not reasonable. I also root lots of roses because its very easy and now I have way more roses than I have actual room for. Somehow it does not stop me from buying more roses either. And stealing other peoples roses either apparently. I also buy bulbs when everyone knows that bulbs, minus daffodils and snowflakes, don't thrive here.

    I wish you luck on this. I have never tried to budget myself. If I had a garden the size of yours I would be destitute.

  4. Trees, yes! Money well spent. I have a guilty box of seeds, should be scattered at least. In March when it is cooler.

    We have at least progressed to - You May NOT Buy Any New Plants, Until You Have Planted that guilty row. The annual plant sale at Kirstenbosch used to catch us with a horrifying row of last year's that STILL weren't planted.

  5. Marguerite girl I can really sympathize with the seed hoarding (and the seed catalogs .. Vesey along with a few others came a few weeks ago and I swear they prey on us because we are in garden withdrawal !!) I also have seeds from past years that I have not planted .. even a wee green house that fits on the deck that I did not use last year ;-(
    I too have to grab the riens and say enough .. but will I be able to stick to it ?
    Yes .. this is the other subject .. moving on to a DSRL to capture those low light shots at night .. budget ? eeekkkk !!
    Joy : )

  6. If it is a seed in my garden, then it must have planted itself. I too go for instant plants, but my garden budgeted itself too with no room to plant, therefore no reason to purchase. You have a really long way to go for that one with all that space. I do understand having excess seed, the vegetable seeds from last year sit and wait their turn in the soil.

  7. Marguerite,
    I also received my seed catalogues last week and more this week. I've decided also to stick to a budget and in the New Year I'm planning on putting some money away every month just for gardening. I think I'll design a pretty box just for this purpose to set the mood.
    Maybe you will receive some gift certificates from Santa and your saving budget will then be boosted some.

  8. Gardening in a new space, you get enchanted by one of this and one of that and so many choices. But your best bet is to plant up all the seeds you already have and get some massed effects going (plant all those nasturtium seeds you hoarded, you can't have too many.) Think of filling spaces, rather than making collections of plants.

    I like your disciplined approach for the new year! (but surely a few more young trees. . . ?)

  9. I have learnt that gardening can be as bad as quilting for buying, I try to do more in the way of cuttings to obtain more plants, as I'm not very good with seeds I have never really bought much the ones I scattered this year were mostly freebies from magazines, recently I purchased some plonk for christmas and there were flower seeds around the neck of the bottle :o)
    I aim to scatter more seed next year the only ones I've bought are native flowers I want to introduce into my garden, what I have only started to do recently is divide and acumalate I am amazed at how quickly the divisions return to the original plant size giving me more plants to divide!
    this year for the first time I kept a record of everything I spent on the garden, it is a lot,
    good luck with your budget, Frances

  10. I have a tiny garden and I too hoard seeds. Every year I think I'll expand a bit and plant them and every years they gather in the junk drawer in the kitchen. Maybe next summer :)

  11. Janet - I've tried resisting from buying plants in the past and haven't done so well. I'm hoping that if I'm more organized this time I'll be better able to stay away from temptation.

    Tufa - I figure staying under $20 for seeds is easy, it's keeping the money low on plant buying that will be hard. That will be the next step to figure out in my budget.

    Jess - you have no idea how true that is, this garden is making me destitute! I want to fill it all but simply don't have the funds. Must work in moderation.

    Diana - I think buying plants and not putting them in a ground is another common theme. One of the reasons to budget next year is the fact that I overbought last season and it took me all summer to put plants in the ground. I need to slow down and work on one thing at a time.

  12. Joy - I wondered if I would stick to a budget too but I figure it I out myself now on my blog it will be harder to cheat later on!

    Donna - I'll take plants in any form. I love larger plants but you can find so many interesting plants in seed form. I have no resistance at all.

    Witch - very good idea to put money away for the garden ahead of time. I was surprised to see how much I spent this year after the fact. I'm hoping by setting some limits straight up that I won't get too out of control.

  13. Laurrie - I haven't figured out the budget regarding plants and trees yet but there will be something set aside. I can't go a year without more trees in the ground! We have so much space to cover yet.

    Frances - what a great way to get free seeds and a warm drink all in one! If they put more flower seeds around liquor bottles I would probably drink more.

    Johanna - what a funny habit we all have. I thought perhaps I inherited this bad habit from my mother but it seems many of us have drawers full of seeds lingering in our homes.

  14. I go online in the dead of winter and order plants that I then kind of forget about until they either arrive or my credit card bill shows up. I really just need to win the lottery. I completely sympathize!! I bought poppy seeds to winter sow and then forgot to sow them. Poo! Good luck sticking to the budget. Pray for strength!

  15. lol Marguerite I don't think I should have metioned where my most recent free seeds came from as that wouldn't help your budget, I find it amusing that's all you picked up on in my comment not the taking cuttings or dividing to create more plants for free! I just want to add I only bought the plonk for a christmas drink I rarely buy any, Frances

  16. A seed hoarder! hum, I have to fess up I was becoming one. However, I left my seeds in an open basket in the green house and some little ity bity got into them and well now they are a mixed variety of ???. I have an idea for your not touched bed. I give away perennials each year in the Spring when I need to divide plants, would you like some? This takes care of the other $$ issue. I'm cutting way back also.

  17. I love to look through the seed catalogues at this time of year. I tick all the ones I would like then I look at my list for the ones I need and can afford. Needless to say the list is altered.

  18. I have a lot of seeds kicking around too - I'll have to remember to bring them out with me next summer. Isn't it wonderful though to have something so colourful and vibrant to think about over the dull grey months ahead?!
    This year I'm all about using what I have rather than coveting what I don't have. I think you've made a wise decision Marguerite!

  19. Hi Marguerite, I admire your determination to stick to a budget. I am terrible when it comes to that. It is hard when glossy catalogues roll in the door with lots of pretty pictures. I have yet to decide on plans for next year. Setting a budget seems to me like a great place to start.

  20. Marguerite, I have trouble sticking to a budget when it comes to gardening, too, but I admire your determination. I have a tub full of leftover seeds as well that make me feel guilty that I didn't plant them. I should make a resolution to plant what I have already before I buy anything else. Love the chamomile and bachelor buttons combination!

  21. popped by your blog via "The Witch's" blog. Why do you keep your seeds in the fridge?

    Gill in Southern Ontario

  22. Hi Marguerite: Spring brings with it so much excitement and gardening magazines overwhelm us with gorgeous pictures of "what's new this year"..I start drooling at all the glorious pictures and used to start a list of "must haves". But for the past two years I've realized I have a LOT to care for already,more would do me in..I'll be digging up a lot to take out to the island this spring and I'm sure the overcrowding in spots here will be improved. Setting an amount and telling us all about it will help hold you accountable..and I don't know of any tried and true gardeners who would fault you if you "accidentally" go over budget! But I'm sure you will manage with all your seeds..happy gardening..Lannie and Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year

  23. Tammy - it's just too easy to order online isn't it? I've done this a few times where I order something and then wonder what those charges are on my credit card.

    Frances - I thought it pretty amusing that someone would put seeds on a bottle of liquor! Seems an odd combination but there must have been a marketing strategy behind that.

    Cindy - Thanks for the offer but that open bed is actually in the vegetable garden. I'm hoping to add a few more veggies to that bed this year, that's what the seed budget is for. I'm aiming to add peas, turnips and zuchini to the plot and expand our fresh food. The only space I have for flowers right now is the front bed and I need to organize what I have before I start taking on more. Part of my plan
    for the new year.

    Kentish - I usually have much the same method. Circle what I want and then go back and revise when I realize how much money it would all cost! But I'm trying to be even stricter this year as I realized I have
    stockpiled enough flower seed for several years.

  24. Jane - very wise words. it's so easy to covet though isn't it? There's nothing wrong with the seeds I have but those shiny bright packets are calling me. I'm hoping that by proclaiming my intentions here on the web my readers will help keep me in line!

    Jennifer - the last couple years I haven't had a budget at all because there were so many items I wanted done but I definitely need to rein in now. It may actually help me have a little more focus on what I'm doing and what to prioritize. Glossy catalogues are my weakness though.

    Rose - that was a lucky combination. The bachelor buttons were meant for a different bed entirely but I was having trouble getting the cosmos to germinate so I threw that packet in as a last resort. (and that's
    why I have extra seed! oh dear, now there I go making excuses for having extras...) Annual flowers are such a bright spot for me as I wait for my perennials to grow big.

  25. Great question Gill and thanks for visiting. I don't have a good scientific explanation for you but I'll try the best I can to answer this. When storing seeds you are attempting to keep them in a semi-live state. By keeping them dark, dry and at a cooler temperature you preserve this state. The fridge is ideal because it provides dark conditions with consistent temperatures and humidity. If you leave your seeds in a drawer or cupboard they can be affected by the regular fluctuations in weather like warmth in summer and humidity. Warmth and
    moisture are normally what a seed needs to push itself to grow and by constantly being subjected to these conditions without being able to actually grow in soil the viability of the seed is reduced. Hope this
    helps to explain.

    Lannie - that was exactly what I thought might keep me in line. If I tell the world I'll be embarassed into keeping to my budget. How lucky that you're able to populate your new garden with divisions. By the time you finally move you're garden will be thriving!

  26. I too thought it a strange combination, there is a force here (in the uk) promoting gardening and growing which is all too the good, have a good weekend, Frances

  27. i was thinking along the same lines as islandthreads in that with the plants you already have there is likely some room for division, and i suspect you may even begin to encounter small seedlings from those seeds that escaped in the autumn .. and what with all the seeds you have already, your garden will be bursting and overflowing before you know it!.. have fun ..

  28. had another thought .. perhaps someone in your neighbourhood will be putting out free plants .. that happens here a lot .. just put out a cape fushia the other day .. you never know what you might come across .. maybe a plant swap ..

  29. Jane - unfortunately the perennials I have are still pretty small so not yet ready for dividing yet but you're right that soon enough the garden will be overflowing. One of the benefits once a garden gets going is how quickly plants start to reproduce. I'm hoping some of my flowers self seeded. I know the cilantro and dill spilled seeds everywhere (although any seedlings may need to be moved to more desirable locales) but I'm hoping that bachelor buttons and cosmos did so as well. Wouldn't that be a pleasant surprise.