Even though my garden right now is a small, sad state of affairs choking in weeds, I still somehow feel compelled to give you thrifty advice you never asked for. Everybody deserves a little greenery in their lives and here are some super cheap ways to help you get it.
– I hope this isn’t just a California thing, but throughout the summer people regularly sell plants at their yard sales, at flea markets, and the side of the road. Actually, all the ones I’ve seen on the side of the road have been marked “free” because someone’s bulbs were out of control, or, in the case of my mother, her aloe was going nuts and she had to dig all the babies out before it took over her flowerbed completely. Cheap succulents and cacti are easily found at yard sales and one year when Isobel was an infant I found that ginormous potted succulent you see in the photo above. It was five bucks and the man selling it had to wheel it to my car with a dolly. Five bucks. What a fantastic investment. I think a best kept secret to buying cheap secondhand plants is estate sales. In an everything-must-go environment, you can (and should!) make offers on everything. Hell, they might even give you the potted plants for free just so they don’t have to cart them off.
– Often an overlooked area in gardening is sharing of the bounty. I don’t mean the fruits and vegetables. We’ve all had the experience of throwing our excess homegrown fruits and veggies at cars as they drove past in order to get rid of the crop (what, just me?) but I’m talking about another bounty–the plants themselves. Bulbs divide, spider plants send out runners with babies, succulents can grow a whole plant from a little piece, and many plants have easy-to-harvest seeds. I even inherited some plants from family members when I moved out, some because my parents had too many, and some because my grandparents moved to assisted living. A neighbor shared some lily and iris bulbs with my parents who, in turn, passed a bunch to me. I’ve given succulent cuttings to friends as gifts and have received some in turn. When my meth neighbor’s Mexican sage plant grew over onto our property I dug up a bit and put it in the vintage pot above. My gardening buddy Jake has bestowed me with hundreds of seeds from his marigolds. Check with friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members to see if they will share their bounty with you.
– I bought many of my herbs and succulents from nurseries when they were extremely small (and therefore, extremely cheap), so don’t overlook standard gardening stores for deals. Years ago, when I was first living on my own, I bought a bunch of herb plants from a nursery that was going out of business and saved a ton of money. This year I let Isobel pick out bulbs from the dollar store and we planted them in the front yard. They are starting to come up now and a few are blooming. Isobel could not be more ecstatic.
– I have been known to pilfer tiny bits of succulents or other plants with obvious babies while out and about in shopping centers and such. Ahem.
– While you’re thrifting and estate sale-ing for plants, don’t overlook their pots. You can find some amazing vintage pots if you keep your eyes open. Here are some of mine, some found while thrifting, and some given to me by family members:
I hope that these tips have inspired you to find some thrifty plants to add to your collection.