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Saving Some Green for Your Green Thumb

Gardening is a wonderful hobby. It comes with the satisfaction of growing a living thing right out of the dirt. If that’s not impressive, what is? However, with pots, tools, seeds and fertilizer, the cost of connecting with nature can be steeper than you might like. Here are some tips to extend the reach of your green thumb.

Check out seed deals early in the year. Nurseries typically put seeds on sale in the first quarter of the year. Make sure you don’t wait until the end of March. Everyone else wants the same cool stuff you do, especially if it’s on sale. Supplies of specialty items can run out fast.

Invest in quality equipment. It might be tempting to go for the cheaper tools. A shovel is a shovel, right? The reality is that metal quality can vary, and a cheap plastic handle will often break or wear out faster than a nice wooden one. In the long run, you’ll save money because you won’t have to replace anything.

Focus on now. In order to offset the higher costs of better quality tools, buy only the equipment that you immediately need. As beautiful as the red-lacquered shears look, if you don’t have any bushes to trim, delay the purchase until you do. Additionally, stick to tried-and-true equipment. You don’t need any infomercial gimmicks in order to dazzle the neighborhood with a beautiful front yard.

There’s one piece of equipment you can go cheap on. A watering can is a watering can. It can be nice to have more than one so you’re not filling it up over and over. Instead of buying several, you can poke holes in the lids of used milk jugs. Just make sure to wash them out beforehand so they don’t end up smelling sour.

Kitchen wastes are garden supplies. Before you toss your coffee grounds, consider adding them to your potting soil. The grounds will help your plants absorb nitrogen. Calcium from crushed eggshells will help fortify cell walls so that your plants grow tall and sturdy.

Buy perennial flowers instead of annuals. While annuals grow from the seed, bloom and then die within the course of one season, perennials will come back year after year. Before you go out and buy seeds, look up which of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones you live in. Winters in some places are harsh enough to kill even the most rugged perennials.

Ditch the terra cotta. Terra cotta pots are porous. They are great for plants, as they can help prevent over-watering. However, any water that is in the pot during winter will expand and cause flaking or cracking. On top of that, terra cotta is heavy. Resin pots are a great alternative. Advances in material development mean that you can still enjoy the rustic look you get with terra cotta.

Invite your green friends inside. When the weather gets cold, save your favorite potted plants by bringing them inside. Set them near a south-facing window, and they’ll spend the winter brightening up your living space and refreshing the oxygen in your air.

Just remember, the larger your garden, the more responsibility you have. Unless you’re growing cacti or succulents, most plants need to be watered every day.