10 Dirt Cheap Ways To Have a Gorgeous Balcony Garden

by Fern on August 26, 2008

in Frugal Container Gardening,Popular

Gardening can be expensive if you don’t keep an eye on the bottom line. Even gardening in a small space can get out of hand. Here are some tips to keep the spending to a minimum without sacrificing style.


  1. Save seeds from plants you already have, from plants growing in the wild, or ask your friends for seeds from their plants. Your friends will be more willing to give you some of their seed if you offer up some of yours.
  2. Take cuttings. Again, consider your own plants, plants you find growing elsewhere, and offer to trade cuttings with your friends.
  3. Divide and conquer. If any of your plants are a bit over grown, you could divide them and offer to trade your gardening buddy for one of her divisions.
  4. Take a good hard look at your food. Did you just pick up a container of heirloom tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market? A couple of those tomatoes have enough seeds to make quite a few plants. Also, some plants can be started from leftovers. For example, a new pineapple plant can be started from the top portion you sliced off before eating it.
  5. As far as containers go, look around for things you are not using that can hold soil. Don’t pass by a possibility just because it doesn’t have a drainage hole. You can drill a hole into more materials than you’d think.

Pretty Darn Inexpensive:

  1. Seeds. Most seeds I’ve purchased cost me less than $2 per packet and come with enough seeds to make 50-100 plants. We’re talking a few cents per plant here!
  2. Cheap plastic and terra cotta pots can be improved with a little paint. I think the best effect is achieved when you spray paint a pot a bright color like fuchsia or lime green. Or use painter’s tape to make stripes. Just stay away from the faux finishes unless you’re a pro. A lot of amateur faux finish jobs look too faux, if you catch my drift.
  3. Shop yard sales in nice neighborhoods for their garden cast offs. This would be a great place to find pots, plants, tools, etc.
  4. Buy plants at the right time of year for the best deals. The best time to check for sales on annuals is just after Memorial Day. Buy perennials late in the season. You can get some pretty good deals on plants in September and October.
  5. Make your own fertilizer by composting your kitchen scraps. Both Juggling Frogs and You Grow Girl have discussed vermicomposting (composting with worms) recently, which can be done in the space underneath your kitchen sink, without any smell or hard work.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

jen August 26, 2008 at 10:18 am

Very interesting post! You have included some great information in it. I am looking forward to checking out the worm composting. Just need to make some space beneath the sink. LOL.


Nancy Bond August 26, 2008 at 10:41 am

Excellent tips! I’m always eager for any tips for the balcony. :)


Cindy August 26, 2008 at 11:52 am

Great ideas! We can all save a buck these days :)


Fern August 26, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Jen — I’d be interested to hear about your experience with vermicomposting. I’m both intrigued and disgusted by it. ;-)

Nancy — Thanks! Glad to be of service.

Cindy — No kidding! Starting with me.


selena May 30, 2009 at 7:15 pm

just added this page to my favs….
also just planted a bunch of seeds….in containers ….cayenne peppers, tomatoes, and some thyme, basil and parsley…..fingers crossed*


twintoria June 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I grew some pretty healthy parsley in a 5-gallon bucket, but it was soooooo heavy! The thing about parsley is that it has a taproot, so you need something at least 18 inches deep for it to be happy. I’ve looked for years for a milk can to act as a decorative and functional parsley-pot, but they are popular with collectors, so a bit pricey.


Fern June 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm

twintoria–I’ve grown parsley, very large parsley plants, in pots no deeper than 10-12 inches. I think a 5 gallon bucket might be overkill, but you can get rolling pot feet to make moving it around easier.

twintoria June 19, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Oh, yeah, this spring has been cold and windy, so my sister started her corn indoors. We had a fun evening folding origami pots out of old newspapers! When you transplant, just trim the bottom corners off and stick the whole thing in the dirt: the paper decomposes, and the roots grow right through.


Ashley Rae January 24, 2012 at 7:17 am

Do you have a post about propagating a pineapple plant with just the top? I would be very interested.


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