It’s officially that time of year! Depending on where you live, it’s time to get your veggie seeds started indoors so you can enjoy the earliest possible harvest. If you’re trying to live on a budget, this is an absolute MUST! If you’ve never gardened before, I know you might be thinking that you’re not cut out for it. Take it from the person who has killed basically every plant she ever looked at…if I can do it, you can too!
This is my FAVORITE time of year. It’s so exciting and so homesteading-esque to be starting our own seeds and raising our own food. One of our biggest priorities in our house is to be able to be more self-sufficient. Growing veggies is one of the very best ways to get started on your homesteading journey and of course, you have to find a way to do it on a budget!
One of the very best tips that I can offer as you get started is to not get sucked into the pretty gardening displays at your local home improvement or grocery store. Yes, there are really cute seed starting kits and lots of things that are marketed to help you start your garden, but these things are definitely not the best deal.
If you think outside the box just a little bit, you can save a TON on supplies that will work just as well.
One of the main things you will need in order to start your own garden is – you guessed it! – SEEDS!
My absolute favorite place to shop for vegetable seeds is Walmart. They often have displays of American Seed brand seeds for just 20 cents a pack. You can absolutely not beat that! We get suckered in and buy way too many seed packets, but really, one or maybe two will probably be way more than you need per item you’re planting.
Extremely easy plants to start with are tomatoes and zucchini because they produce crazy amounts of fruit from just one plant. Tomatoes are a great thing to have way too many of, in my opinion. They’re so versatile and let you replace store bought items with things you can make yourself. Ketchup, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and salsa to name a few.
Next, you’ll need some soil and something to plant your seeds in. Potting soil is definitely not recommended for this purpose, but you can pick up some seed starting mix at your local Walmart or home improvement store.
**Huge money saving tip** Check out your local Lowes for ripped bags of soil! They often put these on clearance for just one dollar! You can’t beat that. In fact, if you find a few bags, pick them up and throw them in the garage or basement – they’ll be just as useful next year!
For the containers, this year we’re using Dixie cups. Yes, these can be expensive, but another great tip is to buy them at Big Lots when they have their 20% off sale. Sign up on www.biglots.com for their e-mails and you’ll get notified of these sales when they roll around. This is the cheapest place I’ve found to buy Dixie cups.
Empty egg packaging also works great for this purpose.
One of the most frustrating things in gardening is planting something and not knowing what you planted in what container. My easiest tip to avoid this headache is to just label your cups with a sticker. I bought a pack of labels from Dollar Tree and used these to mark my cups. You could also write right on the Dixie cup, but it’s a little awkward to try to write on something so tiny. I just thought the stickers were easier.
Now you’re ready to plant! Simply fill your cups almost all of the way up with your soil. I left about ¼ inch of headspace at the top.
Next, make a small hole in the center of your soil with either your fingertip or a pencil eraser. You can also just lay the seeds on top and push them down with the pencil eraser, but I like to make little holes to make sure my seeds actually get covered.
Drop 2 seeds into the hole you’ve made in the soil in each of your cups.
Now spritz them with some water from a water bottle or use a dropper. You can also moisten the soil before putting it in your cups to skip this step. You want to be very gentle when watering because you don’t want to uncover your seeds by washing away the soil on top.
Finally, put them in a container and cover them. The little plastic shoe boxes from Walmart work great and at only 98 cents, you really can’t beat the price!
Keep a close eye on your seeds and make sure to uncover them and move them closer to sunlight when they’ve sprouted.
Based on the information on the back of your seed packet, determine when to plant your seedlings outdoors. This is based on the last frost in your area, so be sure to know your zone.
For the last 7-10 days that your little seedlings will be indoors, be sure to water them less frequently and take them outside to “harden” them. This gets them used to life outdoors and gives them a much better chance of survival when you actually transplant them. We’re just going to place ours on the front porch to let them harden off for an increasing amount of time each day, starting at one hour the first day.
That’s it! It sounds like a lot of steps, but starting your vegetables from seeds can save you SO much money in the long run. Just check out the prices for vegetable plants at your local nursery. If you can grow a few of that same plant for just 20 cents plus the cost of supplies to get them going, you’re going to have veggies for pennies on the dollar.
Plus, you get the satisfaction of growing your food from seed yourself!
Go grab some seeds from Walmart, a ripped back of soil from Lowes, and some Dixie cups from your bathroom and get started. I promise, you won’t regret it!
Do you grow your own veggies? Is this your first year trying? Be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments!