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27 Things I Make Instead of Buy to Save Money

Are you looking for ways to save money? You're not alone! It can be tough to keep up with when you have surprise expenses.  By changing some of our daily habits, my family started to make some of our household items instead of buy them to help use reduce waste, save money, and frankly because it can be more convenient. I added the items on this list bit by bit over the years. Please do not think you have to make everything all at once! Sometimes I don’t have to make more of something because I made a bit too much the first time and we are still going through it (looking at you Must Can All the Jam! bender a few years ago.) Other times, it’s a one and done kind of thing like sewing on a button, and sometimes I buy the item instead of making it (like yogurt) because I’m too busy with other life things to keep up with the supply and demand.   Save this list of money saving ideas to your Pinterest Boards for later! Share it with your friends!  In othe

How I Grow a Lot of Vegetables without a Yard

With supply chain issues and higher prices, my husband and I wanted to grow more than one lonely tomato plant and a couple of leeks this year.  

The first step was doing research through backyard gardeners who grow most, if not all, of their own food. Why? Because they have a very good idea of how many plants of x, y,z vegetable you should plant per person that probably works a lot better than our current plan of “yeah, sure toss a couple of those plants in the cart. We’ll figure out if it grows enough to make more than one salad later.”  


how to make a patio vegtable garden
Self watering patio vegetable garden BEFORE

This season we are focusing on tomatoes since they were sometimes hard to find last year, are easy to grow, and I can water bath can them. Most site recommend growing 5 plants per person for most high yield vegetable plants like beans and tomatoes to feed one person for a year. That really isn’t our goal and given our limited space we decided to plant an average of five tomato plants since we want to grow some of the more expensive vegetables from affordable seeds.  

Now that we had an estimate of how many plants we want to add, it was time to create a space plan for the garden expansion. Our home’s allowable space is our 6 foot by 10 foot back yard patio. We live in a freestanding condo. We can’t have anything in the middle of our lawns because the Homeowners Association mows our grass which is one of the reasons we like living here.  
After some measuring and some math, our best option for growing a lot of food in a small container garden is to add a border of square/rectangle raised planters around the perimeter of the patio and plant them using this exact square seed spacer template. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links for your convenience.)

We also bought this exact round square foot gardening template to maximize the amount of peas, broccoli, bok choy, kohlrabi, and eggplant we can plant in our original round self watering planters that were shuffled into new places on the patio according to our garden space plan. 


how to make a small space vegtable garden
Self watering patio vegetable and herb garden AFTER

I made more self watering herb planters from these galvanized steel buckets  to fill the thrift shop plant stand I bough last summer. All of the pots and plants in our container gardening are self watering because I sometimes forget plants need water to grow in between rainstorms.

Gardening Tip: Monitoring a simple rain gauge like this one in your garden helps you know if you need to water your garden after a rain storm. Any amount of rain less than two inches means your plant could use a top up.

I can get things to grow on the second shelf of the plant stand if I push the top shelf pots back a little and move the middle and bottom plants forward a little. Basically making it into a small space tiered plant stand that uses less patio real estate than a tiered plant stand like this one. To conserve water, we placed the planters so the drainage holes on the upper shelves drain into the pots on the lower shelves for lazy budget herb garden watering. 


how to make a self watering herb garden

I'm letting some of these plants bolt so they will reseed and grow as volunteers next year. You can read the How to make a self watering herb garden tutorial on my DIY blog Condo Blues!


Originally I planned on building new self watering planters but after crunching the numbers on the price of supplies using different plans and supplies, it was cheaper to buy these exact self watering planters  that allow me to set them up in any configuration I need. 


DIY patio vegtable garden

(SINGING) Kohlrabi, broccoli, and peas to the left of me. Tomatoes to my right. Stuck in the middle with you…

Later into our container garden building project, we had to replace a leaking rain barrel. We chose this exact rain barrel planter  because it looks nice enough that we won’t get any complaints (it’s a big planter with a drainage spigot – honest!) and gives us another planter for container gardening. 


edible landscaping ideas
We hope the oregano will eventually the back of the garden bed too.

I transplanted pot bound perennial herbs last year from the container garden to the front yard instead of buying annual flowers. The golden oregano is growing into the delicious ground cover/living mulch I hoped it would. The marjoram and sweet fennel are also thriving where no plant has successfully lived before after trimming an overgrown tree. Finally have a pie pumpkin experiment growing in a corner next to the new rain barrel. 

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how to grow vegtables in an apartment condo rental
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Looking for more square foot and small space gardening tools and ideas? Check out the following options – and more! – below!

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Meagan Trento said…
Your plants are looking wonderful. When I lived in my condo I use to grow a whole vegetable garden right from pots. Great ideas