Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Budget Gardener, Part 2

Supplies & Tools

[Apparently, my second favorite thing to gardening is finding a bargain.  Put the two together and I could blog all night.]

The most expensive part of any hobby is the start-up costs of supplies and tools.  We either convince ourselves this is a one-time thing and bite the bullet by paying up for high quality tools, or we start out cheap and plan to reinvest at a later date.  I want to offer the Budget Gardener some options on saving on these start-up tools for the garden.  I’m not saying we don’t deserve some new shiny toys for our dirt, but learning to space it out will help the wallet.

First, not everything has to be new and shiny.  Sure, it looks pretty in the store but do you really need to see your reflection in a shovel that will be covered in dirt as soon as you bring it home?  Or does the handle really need to have that pink flower pattern to somehow make all the dirtiness seem more feminine?   I laughed this past Christmas when I saw catalogs containing pink handled hammers and even a pink rifle!  It’s ok to buy generic colors and save some green.

Here’s some ideas on where to look for new and used gardening tools to get you started.
  1. Garage sales!  Sure, they don’t get into full swing until around the same time your garden does, but after all, you don’t need ALL the tools from day one either.  Garage sales are great for the larger tools like shovels, carts, pots, etc.  Look for a moving sale where they don’t want to take it all with them.
  2. Craigslist.  Yes, we’ve all heard the scary stories of people who bought off of Craigslist but I’ve been selling and buying for a few years now and only met the nicest of people.  Use common sense and meet in the daytime, in a public place.  You can score some great finds in your community.
  3. Hand-me-downs, hand-me-arounds, and hand-me-ups!  That’s what we call them in our house depending on what direction they’re going.  Talk to family and see if they don’t need a tool anymore.  Many people are downsizing their homes and don’t need all the tools.  If someone recently retired to a condo or townhouse, most garden tools are no longer needed as the community property is cared for by management.  Maybe you have a smaller tool they now need in exchange for the larger tool.  Don’t limit yourself to family.  Do a swap with friends or just share.  My bulb planter is floating around the neighborhood right now and hopefully helping to beautify someone else’s yard.
  4. That leads to the next idea of just borrowing.  What’s wrong with borrowing a wheelbarrow or garden cart to spread your mulch?  You don’t use one often enough to lay out the money now.  Make that a later-date expense and borrow one now.
  5. Buy off-season.  I know it’s not as fun to buy supplies and tools at the end of the season.  However, that’s exactly why they’re on clearance because no one wants them then.  Make a list of the things you can put off buying, and then find them on clearance later! 
  6. And lastly, my favorite site of all, Freecycle!  This is a yahoo group dedicated to keeping items out of a landfill by finding a home for your unwanted stuff.  You get to be thrifty and green at the same time!  The members request or offer items for free.  Yes, you heard me right, for free!  My very first item I received on Freecycle was a refrigerator and the most recent was a skate ramp for my son.  I’ve also unloaded a ton of unnecessary items from around our house through this site.  The fact that you have to “belong” to the group may seem like a hassle, but it is well worth the time to join your local freecycle group.  I received a whole trunkload of tiger lilies one time from someone who was tired of them in her yard.  The only catch, you had to dig them up yourself.  Well, that was just a chance to break in the new shovel. 

The bargains are out there.  Now you know where to look.  Happy shopping!

No comments:

Post a Comment