Spring kicks off this week and we are excited to get our outdoor garden space in order! The beds are thawing out and all of the snow is melted. As soon as these temps heat up, we will be in business! We wanted to take a moment and shine a spotlight on all of the free and recycled or repurposed materials used to create our extensive kitchen garden!
When you’re establishing a garden for your family, there are lots of great free materials out there! With our growing homestead, our budget is light so we have to be very thrifty while expanding. Every penny counts, and who really has extra money to throw into a garden these days?
Here are all of the free and repurposed materials that we were able to acquire and incorporate into our outdoor garden space:
- Raised Beds – We were able to come across some old barn wood that was gifted to us by a neighbor. We created almost 250 linear feet of 3 feet wide raised beds. The lumber was 1″ x 12″, so it was a little flimsy for the longer beds but all in all the lumber worked great and the cost was right….free!
- Curved Raised Beds – After the barn wood was gone, we had a family friend that replaced their deck, and gifted us their old Trex Decking! We installed a curved bed around our walkway and will be adding another bed around the exterior of the dome that will be planted with pollinator attracting flowers!
- Wood Chip Mulch – All in all we had 6 dump truck loads of wood chips delivered. After the raised beds were in, we filled in-between with the wood mulch. The mulch ranged from 1′ deep to almost 2′ deep which has done a wonderful job of smothering the weeds and grass that we installed the garden over! All of your arborists in town would love to deliver their wood chips to your yard for free instead of paying any kind of dump fee. Call around and you’ll find them for free…delivered too.
- Raised Bed Soil – We are lucky when it comes to our bed filling. We are able to compost our microgreen soil and then use that material to fill our rasised beds. The material is awesome potting soil that needs just a little compost added to make a great mix for our outdoor garden space!
- Then there are the materials, pots and equipment. Shovels, rakes, hoes, and other gardening tools are easy to find at garage sales or by scouring craiglist. We were gifted some large planter pots from our family. There are always pots being given away. Be patient and ready to pounce when free items come available.
Thats pretty much the basics for a small garden. And all for free. All repurposed and recycled materials. The food that is grown is top notch too. Now lets see what we spent money on.
- Geodesic Dome Greenhouse – We spent way too much money on our dome. Its a great space for our personal gardening but it was expensive. We saved lots of money over purchasing a kit greenhouse, but it was still an expensive build for our family. We now use it for our personal produce more than a commercial space, which works for us, but we could really use more commercial greenhouse space. If we started our farm before building this, we would have gone with hoop houses to increase the space, but we have an amazing small space for our family!
- Fence Posts and Deer Screening – 10 Wood Posts, 10 Metal T Posts and 6′ Deer Screening was purchased in order to fence in our garden space. Under $100 and the deer no longer have access. We were able to find the screening on the facebook marketplace for a deep discount too! Now we have roughly 1/10th of an acre fenced in.
- Finished Compost – We have a compost area, but just not enough space to provide enough quality compost that we add to our raised beds prior to planting. This gives our garden all the organic materials that it will need to produce all summer long!
With a few changes, mainly the greenhouse structure, we could have a huge garden space for under a couple thousand dollars including a greenhouse space. If you want just a simple outdoor garden space, it can be almost free! Its fun to re-use materials and grow your own food. Don’t let your budget control your food growing aspirations. Even a container garden on your patio can grow some amazing produce!
Check Facebook and Craiglist along with your local classifieds ads for fun materials that could be repurposed into a garden. Check with friends and neighbors for anything they want to get rid of. Call your arborists in town and schedule your first delivery of wood chips. Get a shovel and a wheel barrel and start on the sweat equity.