In a word: scraps.
- I made these trellis / tent things from wood and nails that were saved when we took a wall down in our basement. The cukes, peas and mellons are totally diggin’ them. Bought the netting for $4.99.
- Wrapped the laundry pole with a small piece of chicken wire left over from one of my mom’s projects. Was very scratchy to put up but the beans planted around the base of the pole don’t seem to care. FREE!
- Compost bin built out of shipping pallets. FREE!
- Garden beds mostly built from pieces of wood left over from building the fence. The exception is the long bed. We didn’t have enough wood for three more beds so we just bought the long pieces. Can’t remember the exact cost but it was around $30.
- Window box made from basement wall wood, fence wood and wood that was just laying around the garage.
- The bricks came from three sources: our neighbour’s chimney demolition, an ad on kijiji and some that were in the debris pile that used to be our back yard. Between the garden beds we used pieces of cement. Our back lane was replaced a couple of years ago and every evening we would take the wheel barrow to the pile of clean fill at the end of the lane and pick out the pieces we wanted. Kept at it until we had enough.
- Garage sale find! Reminds me of a lounge chair we had when I was a kid. Still comfy after all these years and only cost $5.
As for plants, begging for donations is absolutely the cheapest way to go. This is especially easy with perennials. You can also buy perennials more cheaply towards the end of summer. Growing from seed is very inexpensive, you just need to be organized early in the spring.
Using rain barrels will help keep your water bill low but they can be very expensive to buy. The cheapest one currently on the Home Depot website is $79. I got one of mine for $30 through a city program and the other for $25 from a water conservation group. A quick search on kijiji comes up with rain barrels as cheap as $10. You can also make your own.
I did buy a liquid fertilizer this year but once my compost bin is rocking I’ll make compost tea for free.
I’ve also got some plants in pots. Mine have mostly been mooched from people who were moving and didn’t want to deal with a bunch of heavy terra cotta planters. But you can basically use anything, just make sure they have drainage!