Landscape designer, horticulturist and author Maureen Gilmer’s book, The Small Budget Gardener: All the Dirt on Saving Money in Your Garden hit the bookstores a few years ago, but her frugal gardening advice will never go out of style.
In fact, you can snatch up a copy of her book at a bargain, too. I found new and used copies of this great little guide on Amazon for under $1 (plus shipping).
The Small Budget Gardener will appeal to any gardener who wants to save money on gardening. And that describes just about every gardener I’ve ever met. Who isn’t looking for ways to find inexpensive or free alternatives for soil amendments, tools, seeds, plants and garden structures?
The author writes from her own money-saving experiences and recommends all gardeners pretend they live 30 miles from town, as she once did. That means every trip to the store to buy gardening gear is carefully considered before hopping in the car.
If you have a small sunny space, you can grow just about anything you want.
I’ve learned this is true after many years of experimenting with small-space gardening. My growing experiments have taught me that plants will grow just about anywhere, if gardeners give them what they need.
Need proof? Last spring I planted a complete flower and vegetable garden in hanging basket. I recycled a hanging basket from a previous season and filled it with two kinds of flowers, a yellow cherry tomato plant and a big bunch of fernleaf dill.
The basket was beautifully delicious!
If you think you don’t have the space for a vegetable garden, think again. Look for a sunny spot on your patio, deck, balcony, backyard, front yard or wherever you have a small garden space. If you don’t have a spot on the ground, look up. The sun might hit a spot on the fence or a strong wall for a hanging container like mine.
It’s a good question because research shows that up to 60 percent of household water is used outside.
And up to 40-50 percent of that water is wasted because of inefficient irrigation systems and methods.
I live in a part of the country that experiences cyclical droughts, so I’ve had plenty of time to rethink my outside water use.
I work hard to make sure every drop of water is put to good use, so my advice to gardeners struggling with that question is to go ahead and plant. But first come up with a plan for using less water in the garden.
One of the best ways I’ve found to save water is by planting in containers instead of an in-ground garden. I’ve found that container planting works in just about any small space garden, it’s more convenient, it saves gardening time, the containers are portable and they’re easier to maintain.
I worked over the winter months to fill this new edition with more of everything to help Colorado gardeners grow great gardens starting now.
The Denver Post newspaper calls the new edition of my gardening book an “an essential manual” for gardeners.
What’s new in edition two?
The new edition features a colorful cover image of one of my flowerbeds from last summer.
That image, taken by John Pendleton, shows off some of the annuals and perennials that grow in one of the hottest, driest parts of my backyard.
In addition to a new look, there’s more of everything else, too! Since the first edition was published in 2007, a lot has changed in the wonderful world of gardening.
So I updated all of the information, included new technologies, expanded plant lists, added new resources and included about nine more inspiring gardens to visit.
The eggplant and pepper seeds have germinated and the tiny plants are shedding their seed coat to show off their seed leaves. As these cotyledons grow, they’ll form their first “true leaves.”
The tomato seeds I carefully saved at the end of last season will be starting soon, too. Because tomato seeds take less time to sprout and grow than the eggplant and peppers, I like to wait a little longer.
The weather in spring is so unpredictable, it’s best to wait until the night-time temperatures have settled into a reliable 55 degrees before planting. Warm-season vegetables do best when they get off to a good start early in the season.
If you haven’t started your seeds yet, now’s the time. Plan ahead to give your eggplants and pepper seeds some bottom heat with a heating mat. These seeds will sprout quickly if they’re warm enough.
It was six years ago when I hit “publish” for the first time on WesternGardeners.com. It was a big moment then because there weren’t many gardening blogs around and certainly not many focused on gardening in such a challenging climate.
A lot has happened with my garden writing since then. Is it too much of a painful pun to say things have really grown around here?
Last year was one of the busiest for me, and it showed in the limited number of posts I wrote here.
But I had some good reasons:
Wrote another gardening book. Storey Publishing says Blue-Ribbon Vegetable Gardening will be ready for gardeners at the beginning of next year. I worked many long hours to write a book on how to grow perfect produce, and it was perfect fun to travel to the Alaska State Fair to watch the giant cabbage weighoff and get pictures for the book
Are you looking for a sweet treat to give your favorite gardener on Valentine’s Day?
It’s easy to put together a lovely gift made of vegetable and herb seeds that either have a sweet-sounding name, have a sweet taste—or both.
Valentine mesclun is an assortment of colorful lettuce that can be planted before the last frost. This mix will make an attractive and delicious salad with seven red lettuces, like Red Oak Leaf, Red Salad Bowl, Rouge d’Hiver and Ruben’s Red. (Botanical Interests)
Oregon Sugar Pod peas are another sweet addition to the cool-season garden. Plant these organic seeds as soon as the soil can be worked and you’ll be enjoying these tender snow peas in about 60 days. (BBB Seeds)
A sweet melon called Hearts of Gold is fragrant and delicious. These cantaloupes prefer warm weather so they can be planted a few weeks after the last spring frost. This is an early-season cultivar that matures in about 75 days. (Lake Valley)
What’s new in gardening this year? Here are some interesting ideas I saw at the ProGreen Expo last week. ProGreen is the premier Rocky Mountain regional green industry conference held annually in Denver.
Expanded shale is the new way to amend clay soil. When incorporated into soil, the expanded shale improves soil drainage, but it can also hold water during drought. The light-weight shale doesn’t break down like organic soil amendments so it should last for many years in the landscape or even in containers. Gardeners should be able to buy either in bulk or 40 pound bags from local nurseries or soil suppliers.
The dreaded Emerald Ash Borer has found its way into Colorado, and any gardener who has an ash tree should be concerned. The Expo had quite a few booths dedicated to either new tools for detecting EAB, treatments for trees, or general information about this destructive insect. One of the main concerns from gardeners is how to treat trees without harming beneficial insects and the environment. Some products, like TreeAzin from Canada, claim to be safer than other treatments. Gardeners should wait until EAB is found within 15 miles of their ash trees before taking action.
My new Craftsy class has launched! Vegetable Gardening: Innovative Small Space Solutions is designed to help gardeners at all skill levels find creative ways to make the most of their growing space.
I’ve partnered with Craftsy, the online educational provider, to create a seven-part class on how to grow vegetables and herbs in small spaces.
This class is everything I’ve learned through trial and error on growing small-space vegetable gardens. After you finish the class, you’ll be able to grow your own fresh vegetables and herbs just about anywhere.
Learn how to assess the sunlight to find the best planting spot, discover the joys of growing in containers, find ways to grow up and use your vertical space, select the best vegetables and herbs for sunny and shady spots, apply methods to keep your vegetable garden happy and healthy, and find ways to grow fresh herbs indoors.
Gardeners from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. submitted entries for the 6th Annual Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit Contest.
A pair of overly friendly carrots grown in Lonsdale, Minn., captured the top prize and lasting fame in the annual Weird Veggie Contest. Shannon Price’s entry called “Happy Hugging Carrots” is the winner of this year’s contest.
Our contest judge, Geri Koncilja, spent the weekend mulling over the contestants from the U.S. before deciding on the top three places. Geri has provided her expertise as judge for the Weird Veggie and Funny Fruit Contest since it began in 2009. Here’s what she has to say about the top three finishers: