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banish the balcony blues big plans for small gardens by Sarah Goldstein | 1 2 3 4 5 6
continued from page 5

the other stuff (cont.)

If you've got garden beds, you know where the dirt goes. If not, you'll need some containers to hold your dirt before you can even think about planting. The quickest way to get some is to head to the nearest garden store and hand over a big wad of cash. All your pots will match, they're likely to be really pretty, and you'll probably be broke. Or you could check out some of these places for free (or cheap) pots:

  • On the street. In my neighbourhood, people regularly dump things they've finished with out on the street -- including pots, sometimes with plants still in them. If people do this around your way too, take a wander and you might find just the thing you need.
  • Freecycle. As well as being a great source of plants, there are often pots and other gardening gear listed on freecycle too.
  • Thrift stores. I've found some great decorative pots in thrift stores for a couple of dollars. They're not available all the time, but if you check regularly you're sure to find something.
  • Dollar stores. A dollar store with a gardening section can be one of the best cheap sources of supplies. Not only will they likely have a bunch of dirt-cheap pots, they're also great for stakes, trellis and any other supplies you might need.

And remember, any container with a drainage hole works as a plant pot, so get creative! An old colander lined with moss could make a great hanging basket; any big plastic tub works fine as a pot once you've drilled a hole or two in it; and if you can find a big old rusty wheelbarrow, it's big enough that you don't have to add drainage holes.

Sooner or later, there'll be other bits you find you need: fertiliser, snail pellets, bug spray, stakes, etc. etc. If you can't beg or borrow these from your family and friends, there are cheaper ways to get them. The two places I usually check are the supermarket and the dollar store. Supermarkets often have fertiliser, snail pellets, bug spray and some accessories for a whole lot less than the garden store. Dollar stores are better for tools and hardware-type items, like cheap trellis, pots, gardening gloves, trowels, hose fittings, stakes and ties. While you're there, keep an eye out for some cheesy garden ornaments -- I've found some fantastic kitsch garden gnomes in the dollar store which make a real talking point in the garden.

o o o

So you've picked a spot, found some plants, got pots, dirt and a few extras sorted out. You're ready to start gardening!

Don't worry if you don't feel like you know what you're doing yet -- it doesn't matter. You could read a lot of books if you wanted, but you'll learn a lot more by getting your hands dirty. Sure, you'll lose a few plants along the way, but that's part of the fun. And when you discover some more budget-priced gardening ideas, share them with me!


Sarah Goldstein is The Bargain Queen.

check out these related articles: 
let's take it outside make an outdoor living space | green scene grow an indoor herb garden 

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