7 Frugal Gardening Tips to Help You Prepare

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Connie G. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

I enjoy gardening and being frugal. I also have been prepping for many years, knowing that ice storms and cold weather happens here every winter, and often after paying bills the budget is stretched tight. Prepping doesn’t have to be in case of civil unrest or a pandemic, prepping can be for everyday life.

Here are some gardening tips I have learned over the years that save money, allowing me to grow more for less which opens up cash to spend on prepper supplies and less at the grocery store.

Use Willow Water

This gardening hint is straight from my grandma, who lived a long life planting just about anything. Here it is 55 years later, and I still remember her teaching me useful gardening information. Using willow water really helps to root cuttings faster and to water plants with to stimulate more root production. Willow water is easy to make, just take some soft, pliable branch tips of any type of willow and soak for a week or two in regular water.

Curly willow, pussy willow, weeping willow, Arctic willow among other varieties all work well, and to make it really easy, I put the branch tips right into my watering bucket. As it is used I just refill the bucket with more water. Scientists have discovered the willow water contains Salicylic acid, which is in rooting hormone for plants. Grandma didn’t know why, just knew that by watering her cuttings and transplants with willow water they would grow strong roots that reached out for water and helped plants grow sturdy.

Chamomile Tea

Tepid chamomile tea sprayed onto the soil and on tiny seedlings can help prevent damping off. Damping off is so discouraging. Waiting patiently for days, your seeds finally germinate and emerge from the soil. A day or two later, you see your seedlings just tip over, with the stems looking like they were pinched. Heart breaking. That’s damping off, a fungal disease that includes root rots and molds. The tepid chamomile tea sprayed onto the soil and plants can help treat fungus naturally found in soil and air.

DIY Seed Starting Containers

Looking for cheap seed starting containers? Plastic flats are nice, but usually too big for window sills and way too big for starting 10 or 12 tomato seeds of each variety. I actually plant about 700 tomato seeds each year of all kinds of heirloom varieties, then give most away. This way i can enjoy planting lots of seeds!


Use plastic non compostable deli containers with clear covers.

I use plastic non compostable deli containers with clear covers that friends and relatives save for me. They are the right size for starting seeds, and by marking them with variety name and date sown, you have the info right at your fingertips. The clear covers act like a mini greenhouse, just be sure when the seeds germinate you open the covers up for air to get in and to allow the seeds some room to grow. When it is time to transplant, I just pull up a chair and carefully lift each seedling into its next home, usually a 4 inch plastic pot filled with potting soil. The deli containers can be used for 4 – 5 years, being sure to relabel the following year to keep things straight.


Have you ever tried sowing tiny seeds like carrots and getting them all over or way too close? If you take a sheet of paper towel or Kleenex and cut into strips, you can make easy to use seed tapes. Mix up some flour and water to make a thick paste. Make dots of paste on the strips and then place a seed onto each dot. The strip can be put into a small furrow then covered up with soil. After a short time the strip will decompose and the seed is already well on its way growing.


If you like the look of containers filled with lovely blooms, but wish they were more than just decorative, consider growing parsley around the edges as a pretty green accent plant. The parsley can be added to your cooking and dried for use in the winter. Not only is this a great way to frugally fill decorative containers, imagine how much iron, Vitamin A and C you will be adding to your diet. Parsley can be washed, dried then placed in a freezer bag in the freezer. It can also be dried and used that way as well.

Fruit Bushes instead of ornamental shrubs

Use fruit bushes as window dressing instead of traditional ornamental shrubs.

Use fruit bushes as window dressing instead of traditional ornamental shrubs.

If you are looking to add shrubs to your landscape, consider thorny edibles like raspberries and blackberries. You can harvest the fruit for jams and jellies, or just eating fresh. Not only that, the thorns can be quite painful, planted in sunny spots near windows it can help deter people from trying to break in.


Compost to raise fertility in your soil. Keep in mind animal bones, fatty substances and pet urine and manure should not be included in your compost pile. Coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit and veggie peelings, leaves (not black walnut), grass clippings (without pesticides and herbicides) can all be incorporated into rich material to help bring nutrients to your garden where they are needed.

Remember every year is different. Some years you may have bumper crops of tomatoes and peppers, while the following year is filled with more green beans than you can manage. Plant a little extra just in case.


  1. Huples

    October 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    There is a major problem with this article. It is far too short Connie.
    Awesome tips.
    I thank you

    • Connie G

      October 14, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Thank you Huples, you made my day 🙂

      • Written Imagery

        October 22, 2016 at 2:05 pm

        agree, outstanding

  2. Cleopatra

    October 14, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    I always love learning new gardening tips! Thank you very much for you and your grandmas knowledge. My garden is sure to thank you too.

    • Cherokee Pride

      October 15, 2016 at 12:46 am

      Connie can see right through your phony, pandering facade. You’re a buffoon.

    • Connie

      October 15, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      Thank you Cleopatra, I appreciate your kindness. Connie

      • Cleopatra

        October 15, 2016 at 10:09 pm

        You are more than welcome, Thank you once again. I am so excited to use the new tips 🙂

        • Canuck

          October 25, 2016 at 5:38 pm


  3. R. Ann

    October 15, 2016 at 8:32 am

    So it happened to me. There was a blap as I hit submit and instead of tallying golden stars, it seems to have given you a 0/5.

    Lovely article and tips.

    • Connie

      October 15, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      I appreciate the nice comment R. Ann. Thank you. Connie

    • Huples

      October 17, 2016 at 10:31 am

      I’ve done that previously as well. You two should get together and write a book. Seriously

      • R. Ann

        October 17, 2016 at 2:59 pm

        You’re a darling. Maybe someday. She could certainly help me with a little more of the C’s than I manage on my own.

  4. Richard LT

    October 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I want to apologize I never review an article here and accidentally gave you 0 is there anyway I can undo that? It’s a 5 star not 0. This was a great article I truly enjoyed reading it.

    • Pat Henry

      October 15, 2016 at 10:12 am

      I can fix that Richard and R.Ann.

    • Connie

      October 15, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      Richard, thank you! I’m glad you liked it. Connie

  5. Les

    October 23, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    I got absolutely nothing useful out of that article.

    • R. Ann

      October 23, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      I almost wish you’d left a longer explanation.
      You see no value in the tips shared?
      You see no value in gardening? Or seed starting?
      You already knew them (and expect that everyone else, of all levels) knows them as well?
      You prefer other antifungal teas like calendula for its additional uses or you find it ineffective on its own and prefer a blend of lemon balm, tumeric and black walnut, or combining the chamomile with marjoram and parsley?
      Skip teas entirely and go with cinnamon or a H2O2 spray?

      Just curious. While I knew the tips and use some of them – or have evolved past others due to scale or my situations – I still found it to be well-written and of value to others.
      Especially beginners and those still buying everything every year.

      Knowing what didn’t suit you at least allows for conversation and potentially information geared towards others in your position.
      Rebecca Ann

      • Les

        October 23, 2016 at 6:46 pm

        First, allow me to apologize if my directness and/or lack of explanation appears insulting. I do “garden” and have done so for a long time. Its likely on a larger scale considering that the objective I have in mind is growing enough food to see a family though the year until planting and harvest can once again occur. It is a matter of scale. I don’t use “anti fungal teas” or similar adjuncts that are more suited for small plots or pots on the deck. From my perspective, the info was of no use.

        • R. Ann

          October 23, 2016 at 10:22 pm

          The teas you might consider in a medicinal garden if the goal is sustainability.
          I’ve used them on disease-prone orchard and bramble fruits in both backpack and tow-behind sprayers – in excess of an acre if you also want to count barley plots.
          They have advantages in crossing over into topical and internal human and animal uses as well for various maladies.

          If you do any serious propagation, the willow water or slurry is another to consider for long-term self-sufficiency and cost cutting for chemicals, with the additional pain soothing benefits and use as a topical for animals, and augmentation of feed for small wildlife.

          You need about 8′-12′ total of young branches in 5-8 gallons to treat 6’x12′ of cuttings flats and hoods; or about 20-30 4-8″x4-10″ air layering balls for easier tree and shrub varieties, and double for some of the more middling or the slow-growing types.

          More difficult varieties tend to do better with the slurry or a higher concentration used to soak the rooting medium.

          (If you don’t do much cloned propagation and aren’t going to expand any perennials or don’t plan to propagate when they hit mature production for constant turnover, a single tub will likely last long enough to outweigh the propagation benefits of willow.)

          They’re both used fairly extensively even on double- and triple-digit permaculture acreage, and by some of the organic for-sale-to-public private nurseries instead of manufactured hormone powders and antifungals.

          Rebecca Ann

          • R. Ann

            October 23, 2016 at 10:25 pm

            I said “small wildlife” instead of “small livestock and wildlife habitat” – fingers don’t keep up with brain anymore.

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