By Laurie Brown
The garden is a great way to save money on vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers. It’s even better when you can save money on the garden, too. Autumn is a great time to do that.
The biggest money savings are non-plant items: power tools. Now is when lawn mowers, weed whackers and tillers go on sale. They want these items gone so they can bring in the snow blowers and Christmas trees. Not only are the items marked down, but sometimes you can find a floor model even cheaper. Things like trellises and irrigation systems also get marked down, but ornaments like gazing globes and garden gnomes sometimes get held at full price with hopes of selling them as Christmas gifts.
Nurseries will usually have sales on trees, shrubs and perennials now. Any stock they have left over means having to deal with it all winter. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, it’s fine to plant – for some plants, it’s the best time for that. They can make sturdy root growth before the ground freezes, and (if it ever rains again) you don’t have to worry about keeping it watered – another saving if you have city water!
Sometimes things planted late in fall may heave out of the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. To prevent this, place a couple of good sized rocks over the root ball (not on the plant itself). This will also help keep deer from pulling them out of the ground.
If they haven’t been sent back to the growers, seeds may be on sale. Most garden seeds are good for several years if stored properly – dry and cool. Exceptions are onions, lettuce and delphiniums. This is also a good time to round up your leftover seeds from spring and get them stored. You may find seeds to save in your own garden now, too!
Autumn, of course, means lots of leaves on the ground. If you need mulch – and almost all gardeners do – drive around town and offer to collect leaves from folks. This will save you from buying straw for winter mulch. Winter mulch protects the investment you’ve made in plants, making sure they get through winter happily.
When putting the garden to bed, make sure your tools are all picked up, cleaned, oiled and put away for winter. Lost or rusty tools mean new ones have to be bought, and I’d rather spend my money on new plants. Take care of lawn mowers and other power tools, too, pouring the gas out so it doesn’t collect water in winter.
In late summer and fall a lot of gardeners are dividing plants, and frequently have extras to give away. Check with your gardening friends, or post an ISO (In Search Of) post on the Sandpoint Facebook Yardsale group. You can ask for something specific, like peonies or iris, or just ask for any available extras if you’re just starting out.