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How to Grow Golden Berry (Physalis Peruviana)


Small orange fruit similar in size and shape to a cherry tomato. The fruit is covered in papery husk. Flavor is a pleasant, unique tomato/pineapple like blend.


Small shrub simfilar to the common tomato, can be grown as an annual or perennial. Plants are usually small, only 1-3ft in height.


Plants enjoy full sun, fairly warm (but not hot) temperatures, and protection from frost. In areas where frost or freezes occur, plants are easily grown as annuals.

Growing Environment

Provide lots of water throughout the growing year, except towards fruit ripening time. Grow in most soil types and will do very well in poor soils and in pots. Plants are susceptible to many of the same diseases and pests as the tomato.


By seeds.

Germination Info

Golden berry seeds are usually fairly easy to germinate, though germination time can be a bit longer than other vegetable seeds.

1) Prepare for planting. Cape Gooseberry seeds should be sprouted in small containers, preferably 4″ or smaller. In-ground germination is not recommended because conditions are not as easily controlled. Use a standard potting mix that is well drained. Make sure potting mix is damp prior to planting the seeds. With very small seeds such as Cape Gooseberry, watering overly dry soil can cause the seeds to dislodge from their position and sink deep into cracks in the soil. Seeds that sink deeply into soil will not be able to reach the soil surface once germinated.

2) Plant seeds. Plant seeds 1/4″ deep in the soil. Cover with soil and water carefully. Over watering can cause fungal growth which leads to seed rot. Excess water can also bury seeds deep in the soil where they will not be able break the surface. Water when the soil surface just begins to dry. Multiple seeds can be planted in a single starter container, but should be thinned once seedlings appear so only a single plant remains.

3) Germination. Soil should be kept consistently warm, from 70-85F. Cool soils, below about 60-65F, even just at night, will significantly delay or inhibit germination. Hot soils above 95F will also inhibit germination.

4) Care of seedlings. Once a few true leaves have developed, seedlings should be slowly moved outside (if sprouted indoors) to ambient light. Care should be taken not to expose seedlings to direct, scorching sun so plants may need to be hardened off via slow sun exposure. Hardening off can be done using a shaded or filtered light location, as well as protection from strong winds, rain or low humidity. Hardening off time varies, but can take 5-10 days.

5) Planting out. Plant in the ground once danger of frost has past and daytime temperatures consistently reach 65F.

Germination time: 2-6 weeks under ideal conditions.


Uses are similar to common tomato. Can be eaten raw, used in salads, desserts, as a flavoring, and in jams and jellies. Fruits are excellent when dipped in chocolate, and can be dried and eaten.

Native Range

Native to Brazil, but has spread to highland areas of Chile and Peru. Cape gooseberries have naturalized in tropical regions around the world



Students who plan to take courses on agriculture, fisheries, forestry or veterinary medicine can now apply for a scholarship program of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Under DA’s Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), high school students or graduates can now submit their application forms through the Regional Scholarship Coordinators, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) or Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

In reference to RA 10848 or the ACEF Extension Law, this ACEF Grants-In-Aid for Higher Education Program (ACEF-GIAHEP) directs the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to implement a comprehensive and attractive scholarship program for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary medicine education.

According to Julie Delima, Western Visayas ACEF coordinator, the application is open until February 23.

“We will send the application forms and list of requirements to the different SUCs in the region. We hope to produce more number of ACEF scholars this coming academic year,” said Delima.

Based on the guidelines released by the Office of Undersecretary for Special Concerns Atty. Ranibai Dilangalen, a maximum of 10 scholars is allocated per campus.

Under ACEF-GIAHEP, a qualified scholar shall receive a subsidy for Tuition and Other School Fees (TOSF) of P15,000 per year and a stipend amounting P2,500 every month. During summer classes, a grantee shall also receive TOSF subsidy of P3,500 and a stipend of P5,000 for two months.

Delima added that a scholar shall also be given P15,000 grant for the conduct of Thesis and P3,000 as On-the-Job Training allowance.

TOSF and stipends shall be released on a semestral or trimestral basis for fund transfer to the CHED.

Graduating high school students, high school graduates, with earned units in college or passers of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) can qualify for this grants-in-aid program.

“Those who will enrol or currently enrolled in agriculture, fisheries, forestry or veterinary medicine courses in HEI authorized schools can avail of this ACEF scholarship program. Also, the combined annual gross income of scholar’s parents or guardians shall not exceed P300,000,” Delima explained.

Delima furthered that ACEF scholars who will graduate with distinctions will be given cash incentives of P15,000 for Summa Cum Laude, P10,000 for Magna Cum Laude and P5,000 for Cum Laude graduates.

As part of the guidelines, ACEF scholars will also be given employment opportunities in DA or in its attached bureaus and line agencies.

“The average age of Filipino farmers is 57 years old. Through this scholarship program, we aim to encourage the youths to go into agriculture studies in order to develop the sector,” Delima continued.

Those who are interested to apply are advised to secure the standard application form and the list of requirements at the DA Regional Field Office 6 in Iloilo City or call (033) 337-9092/ 09195772346, or email [email protected] # (Sheila Mae H. Toreno/DA 6 Information)

Aani Agri-Kapihan with Agri-Bazaar 2018


The AANI or Agri Aqua Network International invites everybody to join them on their 2018 Aani Agri Kapihan Agri Bazaar. The event will be held at the Planas Garden, Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon city on January 19-21, 2018.

The following are the activities:

January 19


Time: 9:00-12noon


Time:  1:00PM-3:00PM

Topic #3: RICEHULL (IPA) “An alternative fuel for cooking” By : MR. ALGENE RAMOS

January 20, 2018


Time: 8:00 – 10:00am


Topic # 3


Tooic # 4:

3:00PM -5:00PM


January 21, 2018



3:00PM -5:00PM


For more information call 02-4750134 / 09177950916

Homemade Fungicides


There’s a lot of things that we can do at home to work as a fungicide o our plants. We begin to see fungal problems when brown spots appears on the leaves of our plants. That is the beginning of the disease. That will turn color yellow soon and it has spores that will spread all over the plant.

So how can we deal with this fungus?

Manual removal of leaves

We can manually remove all these infected leaves as many as possible. It will stop the spores from spreading everywhere.


Another solution is to mulch the soil. Pick up the fallen leaves and go ahead mulch the soil underneath that because some of the spores are there too. This is to prevent the spores from returning to the plant.


A bit of aspirin may be very useful against fungus. Aspirin is a source of acetylsalicylic acid which builds up resistance in the plants. You may use them every two to three weeks for the plants.

Baking Soda

Another solution is to use some of your kitchen ingredients, the baking soda. Baking soda is a good fungicide. To use baking soda as fungicide, take 1 tablespoon of the baking soda, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, or a bit of mild soap and thoroughly mix these ingredients in 1 gallon of water. This will control black spot, white powdery mildew and other fungal problems.


Garlic is another solution against fungal diseases. This is a well-known one from the past. What you do is you use the different cloves, we’ll take them apart, and you’ll smash them up really well, and then you’ll use the whole bulb. Put them in the water and let it soak for a while. Give it a good soaking. Then when you’re ready to use it, you’ll go ahead and put it through a strainer and then into the sprayer. It does a very good job of controlling diseases.

Hydrogen Peroxide

This is another thing that you can find in your house. It is usually used to clean our wounds but it plays a lot of roles in the organic garden. And so it is a very good disease fighter. When you spray it to your plant, it begins to control any of the diseases before they get started. Use 8 oz to 1 gallon of water. One of the things about using hydrogen peroxide is you need to be very careful with it. This could burn the plants. You need to be conservative when you use something like the hydrogen peroxide.


Did you know that milk is a great fungicide also? You can control your diseases easily by spraying the milk on the affected leaves. Use 1 cup of milk in 9 cups of water then use it to spray on your plants. This will prevent powdery mildew on your grapes, squash, and melon. You can also use this spray to clean your tools to remove some diseases on your tools and it was found to be more effective than some other chemical controls.

When you follow the directions for all of these solutions, you will get the beneficial effects.

Feeding your Plants for FREE!


Taking steps to develop a good starting soil should be every gardener’s priority and when it comes to feeding your plants, nothing beats organic homemade compost.

Good compost contains the ideal range of nutrients which are released slowly into the ground as the plants need them. But there are times when feeding our plants can give them a real boost:

  • When they are fruiting
  • When they are being affected by poor weather or pests,
  • When they are in containers

How you feed them and what you feed them with is important, especially if you garden organically.  Many of us will prefer not to use commercial non-organic fertilizers and opt for organic ones instead. But there is a way of making your own organic fertilizers for virtually no cost.

Plant Nutrition Basics

Plants require three main elements for good health:

  • Nitrogen, labeled with an N, is for green leafy growth;
  • Phosphorus (P) is for healthy root and shoot growth;
  • Potassium, labeled with a K, is for flowering, fruiting, and general hardiness

Commercial fertilizers, both organic and non-organic, provide these elements in precise amounts. Just look carefully at the label to find the NPK ratio. A balanced fertilizer will have an equal ratio such as 20-20-20. A specialist product such as feed for tomatoes or strawberries will have a higher potassium content.

There are several different organic fertilizers which you can make yourself. Comfrey is the wonder plant of the home-made fertilizer world. It grows prolifically in places that many other plants wouldn’t and they contains high levels of all the essential nutrients for plant growth and a number of trace elements. There are different varieties of comfrey, but the best one to plant is Bocking 14, which doesn’t self-seed so it won’t invade your garden.


A popular way to use comfrey is to make a liquid fertilizer.

  • Harvest a large bag of leaves (it’s advisable to wear gloves as the hairy leaves can cause a rash)
  • Squash them into a large container, preferably with a lid to keep in the smell, and weigh them down.
  • Leave for a few weeks and pour off the liquid into a clearly labeled container, keeping it out of the reach of children.
  • When required dilute 15 to 1 with rainwater.
  • Using a watering can to water your plants, aim towards the soil, not the leaves or stems, as fertilizers can cause scorching of foliage.


Stinging nettles are high in nitrogen and can also be used in the same way as comfrey to make a liquid feed. You’ll definitely need gloves for this plant.

  • After harvesting them, make sure you scrunch them up before weighing them down in a container.
  • Dilute the liquid as before with rainwater so it looks like a weak tea solution.


Grass clippings can be easily added to a compost pile but in large quantities often make a slimy mess. They are high in nitrogen and potassium and could be used as a mulch on your vegetable plot. As with adding them to the compost pile, they are best used in thin layers. Use dry clippings in layers which barely cover the surface of the soil applied after a light weeding.


Wood ash contains useful amounts of potassium and other trace elements depending on the wood burnt. Younger wood is better. It can be added in small quantities to the compost heap where it can be blended with other materials. Wood ash is alkaline, so avoid using it around plants which prefer acidic soil, such as potatoes as alkaline conditions can encourage potato scab.

When you’ve made your own fertilizer, it’s tempting to use all of that homegrown goodness and it liberally to your plot. This should be avoided, as it will often do more harm than good. Too much nitrogen in particular can cause lots of soft, leafy growth which is prone to aphid attack.

Timing is also important – it is best add small, regular quantities when your plants needed such as when they are flowering or fruiting, rather than single large applications.

Making your own fertilizers is not only good value for money, and in most cases free, but it is also sustainable, using plants from your plot to feed your own veggies.

(From GrowVeg Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/GrowVeg/videos)




banana peels (chopped and planted at the bottom)


carrot peels

citrus rinds


coffee grounds (consider checking local coffee shop for their extras and I heard Starbucks has a policy to give used coffee grounds to anyone who asks!)

corn meal (soak 1 cup per 5 gallons of water, strained)

egg shells

energy drinks (perfect use when they come in game day snacks!)

Epsom salt (diluted 1 Tbsp per gallon of water)


green tea

molasses (diluted 1-3 tbsp per gallon of water)

onion peels

peanut shells

potato peels

pulp from juicing fruits & veggies



tea bags

  • To Make Food Mulch:  Add 1 Tbsp of finely ground item and work into the soil around the plant.  Repeat weekly.
  • To Make Food Tea:  Add food to a large container and fill with water.  Allow to steep for several days, to several weeks.  Dilute 1 cup tea to 1 gallon of water.
  • To Make Powdered Food Fertilizer:  Allow food item to thoroughly dry.  Process in a blender until it is a fine powder and sprinkle around the base of each plant.



alfalfa meal

brow leaves




crimson clover

comfrey (line either the bottom of planting holes, or chop leaves and add as mulch)


dollar weed

grass clippings

green manure (mostly wheat, oats, rye, vetch, clover, peas, buckwheat and broad beans)


kelp meal




oat straw

saw dust (from untreated wood)


water weeds

wood ash (from untreated wood)

yellow dock

  • To Make Plant Tea:  Fill a container with plants and top with water.  Cover and allow to site for 24 hours to three weeks.  Dilute 1 part plant tea to 10 parts water.
  • To Make Green Manure (i.e. plants that fertilize plants):  Start plants in the fall and allow to grow.  Before blooms appear, till back into the ground.


aquarium water

blood meal (dried animal blood)

bone meal  (ground bones)

fish guts, bones and head

manure from non-meat eating animals

shrimp shells

worm castings

How to Improve Your Soil


Healthy soil is the secret behind good harvests. It absorbs water, feeds our plants, and provides an anchor for roots, helping crops to grow strongly and be productive. Understand your soil type and you can work to improve it, ensuring more robust plants and even better harvests.

Soil Types

Most soils tend towards one of four categories – sandy, silt, clay, or loam which has a balance of sand, silt and clay. Each soil type has its own characteristics.

  • Sandy Soil

Sandy soils, also described as light soils, are made up of very large particles which give a gritty texture. Sandy soils drain quickly so they tend to be drier than other types, and they don’t hold on to nutrients very well, which can present a challenge for hungry crops. However, they are easy to work with and warm up quickly in spring. Root crops such as carrots, together with onions and asparagus, are just a few of the many vegetables that grow well in sandy soil.

  • Silt Soil

Silt soils have smaller particles than sandy soils, giving them a slightly slippery, floury feel. This type of soil holds onto moisture and nutrients for longer.

  • Clay soil

Clay or heavy soils consist of very fine particles. Clay soils hold its shape when rolled into a ball, and it’s smooth to the touch. It is slow to both absorb moisture and drain, which means soils like this can bake hard in summer then become waterlogged in winter, making them difficult to dig and wet and cold in spring. However, well-cultivated clay soils are very fertile and are preferred by brassicas such as cabbage as well as beans, peas, and salad leaves.

  • Loam Soil

Loam is the ideal soil type that gardeners dream of. It’s fertile, drains well but not too fast, is easy to work, and has a good amount of organic matter that supports just about any fruit or vegetable.

Improving Your Soil

All soil types can be improved by adding organic matter. Organic matter can take many forms – for example leafmold from decomposed leaves, or good old-fashioned garden-made compost. Farmyard manure can also be used, assuming it can be guaranteed to be free of all traces of herbicides which may have been sprayed on the pasture that the cattle or horses grazed. Organic matter of any type should be well-rotted so it can easily be incorporated into the soil. To avoid future problems, check for roots of pernicious perennial weeds.

Organic matter works to improve both soil structure and nutrient content.  In light, sandy soils, it works as glue, binding particles together to improve its ability to retain moisture and nutrients. For heavy clay soils, it opens them up so they can drain more easily. No matter what your soil type, it will truly benefit from regular applications of organic matter to feed and sustain the plants grown in it.

Using Organic Matter

You can add organic matter at any time of the year, but the end of the growing season is an especially good time. Barrow it onto vacant ground, then spread it out to a depth of at least 2 inches. It is usually not necessary to dig it in – just leave it on the surface and the worms in the soil will do its great job of incorporating most of that organic matter into the soil. Should any remain on the surface, you can always fork it in a few weeks before it’s time to sow or plant.

Organic matter may also be laid around established fruit trees, shrubs and canes, and around perennial vegetables such asparagus where it will have the twin benefits of feeding the plants and suppressing weeds.

Testing Soil pH

Soil pH determines whether a soil is acid, alkaline, or somewhere in between. Knowing your soil’s pH will help you to decide what to grow in it. For example, particularly acidic soil is great for acid-lovers like blueberry while soil with a higher or alkaline pH is preferred by brassicas such as cabbage and cauliflower. Test your soil using a pH test kit. The accompanying color chart will help determine whether your soil is acidic, neutral or alkaline. For best results, take soil samples from several parts of your plot so you can decide which areas need amending.

For example, soil can be improved for growing brassicas by adding garden lime which works to raise soil pH so it’s more alkaline, while organic matter will generally move pH towards a level that’s ideal for most fruits and vegetables.

Getting a little familiar with the soil that sustains our crops means we can keep it in tip-top condition.

Crop Rotation in Vegetable Garden


The vegetable we grow can be grouped into several plant families which have similar characteristics and often suffer from the same pests of diseases. Crop rotation is where we grow vegetables from each major plant family in different areas each year.

Reasons for crop rotation

  • Pests and Diseases. Several problematic pests and diseases can build up in the soil if the plants they affect are grown in the same area each year. For example, nematodes such as eelworm can devastate potato crops grown in the same place every year. It can also affect other vegetables in the same crop family such as tomatoes. Onion rot is a serious fungal disease that can persist when crops from the allium group are continuously grown. Cabbage root maggots affect all brassica crops. Fusarium root crop can wreck pea and bean harvests.  These are just a few of the many soil-borne pests and diseases and crop rotation is almost universally recommended to prevent them all.
  • Avoiding Soil Nutrient Depletion. Different vegetables take different balances of nutrients from the soil and their roots access different levels of the soil structure. Cabbage family plants like a lot of nitrogen, tomatoes need plenty of calcium, beets and beans require manganese, and so on. Salad crops are shallow-rooted, but other vegetables have roots that extend deep into the soil to bring up nutrients from those layers. Because of this, growing the same vegetable in the same place every year can lead to nutrient deficiency and poor growth.
  • Suppressing Weeds. Some plants, like potatoes, act as a good clearing crop, that is, their dense foliage helps to suppress weed growth, and when they’re dug up, birds can eat pests in the soil such as slugs and wireworm. Squash or leafy greens can also be used to suppress weed growth before growing a crop like onions or carrots which are highly susceptible to competition from weeds.

Crop rotation is an essential part of growing vegetables well. However, just knowing that we should rotate crops doesn’t make it easy to organize. After a few seasons, crop rotation can become very complex, even in relatively small gardens.

To rotate crops, you need to remember all the crops grown in the past and you need to be able to correctly identify which plant family they belong to. Some references suggests that having one bed for cabbage family plants, one for beans, one for potatoes, etc, and then rotating them each year. Some gardeners want to grow equal areas of each crop type so this isn’t always practical and there are often additional constraints such as whether your climbing beans will cast shade over other plants.

There are also recommendation which is very simple like placing root vegetable, fruiting vegetables, and leafy vegetables in different areas. But this system doesn’t work well.  It is not a good idea to grow tomatoes (a fruiting plant) after potatoes (a root crop) because both are in the same crop family and suffer from similar pests.

Recording your crops and knowing the plants family is very important in effective crop rotation. There are smart phone applications that can be downloaded for crop rotation, download and use it.

How To Make Your Own Garden Inoculant


A garden inoculant is really just anything we use to bring beneficial microbes into our organic gardens.

These microbes are often deficient for various reasons, but if we can get more of them back in there, they:

  • Make nutrients available to plants and even feed them nutrients and water directly.
  • Protect plants from disease both in the soil and above ground
  • Improve the structure of the soil so it has the right amount of air spaces, water spaces, nutrient availability, pH, etc.

Plus there’s a whole list of other services they provide for plants and soil. Pretty cool…

Garden Inoculants

High quality compost is one of the best ways to introduce these beneficial microbes, if you’re lucky enough to have some around.

Effective Microorganisms (EM) and SCD Probiotics. This is a mix of especially beneficial microbes that do all kinds of good when sprayed on the soil and plant leaves.

Mycorrhizal Fungi. These are perhaps the most important soil microbes in the world, forming relationships with over 90% of plants.

Aerated Compost Tea. A liquid produced by bubbling air through a very small amount of quality compost along with microbe foods.

These garden inoculants have had a huge impact on my garden.

Making Your Own Microbial Inoculant

But perhaps you’d prefer to make your own inoculant, maybe to save money or to be more sustainable or because you just think it would be cool, man.

What we’re going to do is gather and multiply Lactobacillus bacteria, which are especially beneficial microbes.

I learned this process from Gil Carandang of Herbana Farms in the Philippines.

Personally, I’ve mostly just done it for fun because they also come in EM, which is something I use a lot and know is more useful.

Still, culturing Lactobacillus is great for people who don’t have access to or don’t want to bring in many external inputs.

What You Need

Applying Microbial InoculantsApplying a garden inoculant.

All you need is:

  • A small amount of a whole grain such as rice
  • Milk for the lactose that will dissuade other microbes from living there while being a perfect environment for the lactic acid bacteria. I prefer organic whole milk, but any kind will do. I used to think cow’s milk was better, but it doesn’t matter at all.

Obviously if you’re a vegan you can’t use milk. I’ve never seen it done with anything else, but I imagine there are other liquid mediums that would encourage Lactobacillus. For example, I’ve made water kefir before, which includes several species of lactic acid bacteria, and doesn’t use milk. But today, we’re using milk.

Let’s say you’re going to make a pint of garden inoculant, which is a little less than 500mL. That would be 3 Tbsp of grain and 450mL of milk – less than $1 worth of materials.

First Steps

Rinse the grain in some warm, dechlorinated water.

If your water has chlorine, you can get rid of it by letting it sit out for 24 hours in a sunny spot.

If it has chloramine, you can tie it up by putting pretty much any organic material in there. Vitamin C is often used, but even just a bit of molasses or sugar or lots of things will apparently do it. It happens instantly.

Pour that rinse water into a container, leaving the container 50%-75% empty. This gives us our complex carbohydrates.

Put on a loose lid/paper towel/cheesecloth so that air can still get in, but not fruit flies or whatever else you might have in your place right now.

The grain can be used elsewhere, but isn’t needed anymore for this process.

Keep the container at room temperature out of the sun for 2-7 days – the colder the temperature, the longer it takes.

Second Steps

Once you see a thin film on the surface and a sense a bit of a sour smell, strain the liquid into a bigger container and add 10 times as much milk.

This time, it’s better to keep air out of the process, so put a lid on tight.

After the first couple/few days, it’s a good idea to ‘burp’ it by unscrewing the lid and screwing it back on, in case any gases are building up.

Third Steps

In another 2-7 days you should have some solids floating on top that can go into the soil or compost, and a clear, yellow fluid underneath that contains the beneficial microbes.

Separate this fluid into another container. It will store in the fridge for a year or more.

You can add up to an equal amount of unsulfured molasses or sugar to keep the bacteria fed, which apparently allows it to be stored out of the fridge, but I just keep it in the fridge.

Using This Inoculant

When it’s time to use some, mix it with approximately 1000 parts non-chlorinated water (about 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water) and spray it as a plant inoculant and soil inoculant.

(When I learned about it this, I was taught to mix it with 20 parts water first, but then that gets mixed with about 60 parts water, so that would mean 1200 parts water total – I just round down to 1000, as this is far from an exact science).

I’ve never seen an application rate, so I just spray my plants until the leaves are dripping.

These lactic acid bacteria will play some role in doing most of the things I mentioned above – making nutrients more available to plants, protecting from predators, etc.

You can also use it as a seed inoculant, soaking seeds overnight with the above dilution.

From: Smilinggardener.com

10 Smart Ways to Garden on a Budget


Grow from Seeds, Not Starts

This one is obvious: A six-pack of lettuce seedlings are more expensive than a pack of 500 lettuce seeds. It’s a bit of work to start seeds in flats indoors, which gives you a head start on the growing season, but sowing seeds directly in the garden bed takes no more time than planting seedlings.

Go to a Seed Swap

Shopping for seeds is fun, and if you’re scrupulous about it you can find some real bargains. But going to a seed swap—essentially a party where everyone shows up with seeds they’ve saved from the year before and trades them—is arguably even more fun and will save you money. Which brings about another point—save your seeds in the fall! As long as they’re not patented by Monsanto, saving seed doesn’t cost a thing.

Take Cuttings

You’re probably thinking: saving seed is fine for vegetables, but who really grows blueberries or dogwood trees from seed? That’s true. Lots of things are hard to grow from seed, or don’t grow “true” from seed because they are propagated asexually (meaning they’re genetic clones). The good news is virtually all perennials, most shrubs and vines, and many trees are easily propagated by cuttings. Find a neighbor or a friend with the desired plant, cut a few pencil-size sticks from it, pot them up in moist perlite, and within a few weeks or months you should start to see roots and leaves emerging.

Repurpose and Upcycle

Plants are costly enough, but planters, pavers, arbors, and other hardscape materials are where the budget goes quickly into the four-figure range and up. But one man’s junk pile is another man’s goldmine, right? Planters can be fashioned out of everything from an old bathtub to used wooden pallets. I’ve seen arbors made from a repurposed satellite dish mounted on a pole and trellises built from ancient bedsprings. Instead of expensive flagstone, try broken concrete—some people lovingly refer to it as urbanite and dye the surface for a more attractive finish. But exercise restraint: When you go overboard, upcycling can make you feel like you have a yard full of junk.

Forage for Your Gardening Supplies

Nature also offers free materials to help you get the most mileage from your gardening dollar. Bamboo poles at a garden center, which are used for everything from tomato stakes to building beautiful oriental fences and arbors, are expensive depending on the size. But lots of folks have a yard full of bamboo and would be happy for you to come take some of it off their hands. There are many other examples like this—any time you think, oh I wish I had the money to buy that for the garden, rack your brain for a free, locally harvestable alternative.

Design it Yourself

Professional garden design can run several thousand dollars, even for a small yard. There are reasons for that (i.e. years of training and experience), but with a bit of patient effort you’ll be surprised at what you can come up with. Start at the library, where there are volumes upon volumes of garden design books and references that will tell you exactly what conditions are preferred by every plant in the known universe and how to build patios, fences, raised beds, gazeboes, waterfalls, and anything else you can dream up. Then map out your yard on paper, as accurately as you can, and start penciling in ideas. Give yourself a full year to come up with a design, making careful observations through the seasons and taking the time to visualize your ideas in detail before you start building.

Make Your Own Soil Amendments

Buying bags of compost and all-natural fertilizers can really add up, but if you think about what is actually in those products—mostly animal by-products (like bat guano, feather meal, and bone meal) and various forms of organic matter (shredded bark, coco husks, etc)—it seems a pity to pay for them. If you don’t have your own chickens or other livestock as a manure source, you can certainly find a friend or local farmer who will let you clean out their barn. Mix the manure with wood shavings, grass clippings, leaves—any form of organic matter you can get your hands on will do—and then pile it up and let it stew for a few months into a rich black compost. For extra nutrients, save your eggshells and crush them into the compost (adds calcium and phosphorus) and, if you live near the beach, harvest some seaweed for a boost of micronutrients—just be sure to rinse the seaweed thoroughly in fresh water to get rid of the salt.

Avail Yourself to Free Compost and Mulch

Tree-cutting companies often have big piles of mulch on hand that they give away for free. And many municipalities convert their citizens’ green waste into compost and mulch, which they then give away for free at the landfill or sell for a nominal cost. These freebies aren’t always the greatest quality—they may contain shredded trash or seeds of invasive species, for example—so use at your own risk.

Become a “Free List” Specialist

Craigslist has a “Free Stuff” section that is often a goldmine for everything from live plants to pots to piles of compost, and many other classified services have their own “Free Lists” or barter sections. Beyond total freebies, scouring flea markets and garage sales is a great way to find gently used gardening tools at a fraction of the cost of buying them new.

Grow Organic

Sticking with all-natural methods does have its financial benefits. Chemical pesticides always cost money, for example, but attracting beneficial insects to the garden (good bugs that eat the bad bugs) is surprisingly easy and totally free. Same with herbicides: You can manually remove pesky weeds, smother them to death under black plastic or layers of cardboard and woodchips, or even borrow a couple of goats to munch through particularly heavy vegetation (they love eating things like kudzu, poison ivy and thorny briars). In addition to composting, you can use living plants, called cover crops, to return nutrients to your soil the all-natural, and inexpensive, way.

From: Reader’s Digest

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