Intro: Successful Garden on a Shoestring Budget
There are many ways to a successful garden without breaking the bank on items that can be made out of junk that most people have lying around or can be found easily. I will show you a few things I have done with my garden this year that increase its success without added expense (and with the added benefit of re-purposing items that would have otherwise been thrown out).
Step 1: Raised Beds, the Easy Way
I had tons of firewood that was a bit past its prime and no longer suitable for burning in my fire place. I took this wood and outlined my garden bed. I then filled the outline with compost (this area had been double dug last year following the procedure described in John Jeavon's book). The wood border serves as a great way to attract beneficial insects and fungi to my garden plants. I eventually added edible pearl oyster mushroom plugs to some of the logs so that I'd have some mushrooms to go with my veggies.
Step 2: Bring in the Junk
Next I used whatever junk I could find to act as additional raised planters, fencing, shade providers and critter deterrents. The number one critter I need to deter are my dogs but they keep most everything else away from my garden. The junk depicted in this image is more than enough to keep my dogs at bay.
Step 3: Let There Be Veggies!
This is a view from the opposite end (south side) of my garden. Notice the containers lining the wall on the north side. Putting them here ensures that they don't block the precious sun for my other veggies while also acting as a further deterrent for my acrobatic wall climbing canine friends. About this time, some birds figured out that the garden was a safe haven from my dogs that had an added benefit of providing food. I started stringing old fencing from the wheelbarrow and broken table over the more delicate veggies. I also had a 'mower incident' around the same time which resulted in a destroyed belt. I discovered in a humorous way how much this belt looked like a snake while it was sitting on my desk waiting for me to track down a replacement on the internet. Needless to say it became another effective line of defence in my garden.
Step 4: Reaching for the Sky!
As veggies grow in a garden setting, they often have a need for something to support them. This is where all kinds of junk really shines. In addition to the legs of the table that was already in my garden, I used sticks, old bamboo, and just about any long straight object I could find that could be easily driven into the ground. One of the best finds here was the metal insides of your typical campaign slogan poster/landscaping advertisement. These things typically litter my neighborhood for far to long, so I was glad to find a way to re-purpose them. Instant trellis.
Step 5: And Now for Something Different
Although not technically part of my veggie garden, I dusted off some of my old Boy Scout skills to lash together a structure for my hops to climb on. Basically, lay three posts of the same size next to each other with the center post pointing in the opposite direction of the two outside posts. Tie a clove hitch to one of the outside posts and then wrap the string around all of the posts about 6 or 7 times. Wrap another few times in the opposite direction in between each post. Finally, tie another clove hitch to the other outside post. Stand the posts up and spread them in a tripod formation and hang some more string from it.
Step 6: What Makes It All Worthwhile
Final shot of what my garden looks like today. Other than a few problems with cutworms (hence my small number of corn plants), my garden has been much more productive and problem free compared to last year.