Beg Borrow Barter not Buy Gardening

Beg, Borrow and Barter Gardening

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I would rather be a frugal gardener. This causes me to have less impact on the environment. I use local materials to amend my soil. I never ever add chemicals or liquid fertilizer. By mulching and composting everything that comes from my yard and acquiring copious amounts of materials from my surroundings I have beautiful rich soil. I have few weeds and healthy plants.  

I hear so many people buying this buying that. Garden clubs talk what fertilizer, top soil etc. they need. They spend a fortune on bags of products and exotic plants that take up huge amounts of fossil fuels to supply the consumer with. 

I always check the free section on Craigslist, Kijiji, and Castanet.  It’s amazing what people give away.  

Palates make great compost bins and areas to keep straw for mulching up off the ground.  They are free wherever you ask.     

Unless you are creating something new or amending a new garden area and building structures you shouldn’t have to purchase too much.


The first technique is begging.

Try talking to everyone, observe what is going on around you. Is someone digging out a perennial bed to put in a garage? Maybe someone is cleaning out their shed.

Mention to everyone who will listen what you might be looking for in the way of tools, soil or manure, stones, leaves.

I came home to 2 big buckets of steaming fresh chicken manure one day.

This proves that if you get out of your comfort zone and put the word out you are looking for things, you attract shit into your life.

My kids used to be embarrassed by me.  What I call being observant they call being nosey.

I have received, wood chips, leaves, tools, 2x6's, cardboard, pots.  The list goes on and on.

At our local fair there were piles of shavings with manure from the chicken, rabbit and goat displays.  They were happy to have me cart it away.  I asked the chipper truck that comes around to chip the stuff back into a pile on my driveway.  They were more than happy to do this.  People love to rake up their leaves and bag them (Have no idea why they do this but oh well, their loss my gain) and many drop off the bags at my home. 

Friends know I will take large plant pots from them.  

I found many windows sitting outside people’s houses that are renovating.  I use them for cold frames.  

You wouldn’t believe how many people have those black compost bins and never use them and just give them away.  

Not only do the stray dogs and cats show up at my house but many unusual items that people think (maybe Jane might like these).  Sometimes not so welcome but you take the good with the bad when you are in the begging business.  

Mill sites, when asked and sometimes for the price of a case of beer will let you take amazing amounts of wood that you can use for raised beds, cold frames, beehives, shelves.

Superstore has a recycling bin that people return pots and trays.  They are free for the taking.  Most nurseries will give you old trays.  


The 2nd technique is borrowing.

Now I am not always the best lender.  I refuse to lend my pruning tools.  I’ll lend myself with the pruning tools but not them.

I’ll lend my help, my advice and tools that I am not emotionally attached to.

In doing this and being generous you can borrow from others.  Be a considerate lender and borrower. Don’t take advantage of people.


The 3rd technique is Bartering.

Actually, I think my husband gets the short end of the stick on this one.  He seems to get the hard work most of the time whether it’s fixing someone’s car or shoeing their horses.  I have gotten in return a greenhouse, rain barrels, water storage units, manure and much more.  

But we all have something to barter with.  Maybe it’s baking for someone in exchange for fresh veggies from their garden.  Could you wash windows or physically do something for someone in exchange for maybe bricks, or perennials or whatever.  The possibilities are endless.

What are your strong points, maybe its doing income tax or fixing small appliance or flower arranging?

I for example do leather work and repair leather pieces for a woman.  In return I picked all the fruit from her trees that she didn’t want.

Walk your neighborhood; it gives you an excuse to get exercise and make friends, talk to people. 

Save seeds in exchange for different seeds that other people have saved.  

Divide your perennials and trade for different plants in other gardens.  

You might find someone to grow peppers for you because you might not have a sunny enough spot to grow them in exchange for your potatoes that you have an abundance of.  

I have read and hear this strange idea from books and garden clubs not to plant for example; raspberry canes from someone’s garden.  We are told to buy them from a nursery.  I have never had a problem with planting things from other gardens.

Now, I know there are times when I have to have that specific tree or plant and I will buy it.  I don’t feel so bad that I do this once in a while. I’ve gone out of my way to keep my impact as a consumer to a minimum.