How We Started Our Little Frugal Garden From Seed

container gardening

Save Grocery Money On Veg, Fruits and Flowers With A Garden

Starting a vegetable and fruit garden for some people is a passion and for others, it seems to be a chore.

I’m both passionate about growing a vegetable garden and flowers around our landscape every season in Canada.

For me, enjoyment of watching something grow, mature and flower is fascinating so it’s definitely a passion that I don’t miss.

Growing plants don’t have to be about huge flowers, they can be the focus or the backdrop or just plain useful.

Every year we grow our own food in the garden, though I’ll be the first to admit we couldn’t live off the land we have, it’s more of a novelty thing.

Advantages of Growing A Vegetable Garden From Seed

There are advantages other than cost to grow your own vegetables:

  • Cost Savings is the number one
  • Organic with no chemicals
  • Superior Flavours
  • U-Pick from your yard

That’s right, organic vegetables will always taste 100 times better than anything you buy in the grocery store and far cheaper.

The disadvantage of growing a garden from seed is having to wait for your vegetables to grow so you can harvest them.

This is why it’s optimal if you are able to can or freeze your bounty to have fruits and vegetables available until the following growing season.

Garden Memories In The UK As A Child

I can remember when I was growing up in England that quite a lot of people had apple trees in their back gardens.

There was also the obligatory rhubarb patch as well as a sprinkling of gooseberry bushes, damson trees and in rough open space you could find blackberries by the thousand.

Coming home from school at a young age we would often scoff free damsons off some old ladies tree.

I do believe it was called “scrumping”, though that term is more synonymous with stealing apples off a tree.

I’m sure growing up in an area that was dominated by old Victorian houses helped as it provided a large variety of mature fruit sources, but a love of the outdoors helped too.

I’m guessing I was a permanent source of disgust for my mother because you couldn’t keep me indoors and I was always covered in muck.

Enough about me getting dirty, I was talking about plants.

Using Seeds Instead Of Starter Vegetable Plants For Your Garden

When Mrs. CBB and I first bought our house we used to buy young tomato and pepper plants, grow them on a little and then plant them outside.

Over the last 2-3 years we have increased our usage and therefore increased the amount of plants we need to sustain that harvest.

Buying pre-grown plants from a nursery would cost a lot of money and defeat part of the object we set out for ourselves, to save money.

Starting Our Frugal Garden From Seed

Gardening Advice For Beginners

This year is no different other than the fact of growing the seeds has become a little cheaper by using old egg cartons instead of those “Peat Containers” or “Coconut Mat Trays”.

There’s nothing wrong with coming up with ways to be frugal that will save you some money in your budget after all saving money is the name of the game here.

After collecting up many egg cartons over the last year I simply cut or should I say separate the lid from the egg holder portion.

The lid is lined with a blue recycling bag cut into pieces large enough to sit inside and have an excess on the edges, this then forms my saucer or watering tray.

Tomato and Pepper Garden Seeds week 2

If you are wondering how to plant seeds and whether starting plants from seeds is difficult, it really isn’t.

All you need to do is follow a few simple steps to get your garden seeds to sprout.

I’m sure the professionals have all sorts of amazing ideas, soils to use, etc but this has worked for me for many years.

Fill your egg cartons with seed/cutting mix, plant your seeds and water.

Within 2 weeks I’ve already got a carpet growing in the front bedroom by the window where there is plenty of sun and it’s warm.

Planting seeds indoors is possible with the right amount of sunshine and care but don’t think they will grow on their own as you do need to check in on them daily.

Tomato Seeds Planted In Egg Cartons

Buying Budget Vegetable Seeds For Our Garden

We kept our eyes peeled on various shopping trips and purchased multiple packs of seeds to plant over the past couple of months including garden flower seeds.

It’s not often to find discount coupons for seeds so we grab them when we see a good sale.

You can even order seeds online from retailers or farmers and homesteaders who sell them on eBay.

Sometimes you can pick up prize seeds for a reasonable price.

In this case, we paid $0.67 a packet at Home Hardware and some seeds are from Dollarama at $0.33 a packet. Nothing fancy, just everyday garden seeds for the frugal garden.

We also have seeds from our tomatoes and peppers that I will try to grow this year as an experiment.

If they work we will just collect the seeds each year and save even more money instead of purchasing garden seed packets.

Currently, we have the following garden seeds ready:

  • 2 different types of Tomatoes
  • Spring Onions
  • Peppers
  • Fennel (Anise or Finocchio)

The flowers I’m growing for our handing baskets are beautiful Petunias that I will add to with various greenery.

There will also be Basil, Swiss Chard and Mixed Salad planted a little later in various odd containers that I find around the house.

This will add to what is already out in the garden such as Rapini, Parsley, Chives, Mint, Oregano, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Grape Vine (no grapes just yet) and Crab Apples.

The seed packets are worth reading and then kept for reference purposes.

Reading the sowing information such as time of year and then the planting outside instructions help in harvesting the best possible crop.

I have an area of the garden where my tomatoes and peppers seem to like it so this year’s plants will go in the same patch.

Other plants will be moved around the garden depending on how they performed last year, it’s all about trying something new and learning from it.

Last year I lined the hanging basket coconut liners with plastic bags (with a couple of small holes in the bottom) which led to reuse and savings this year as they never rotted down.

Composting For Your Garden

This year I will once again use the compost in my compost bin from fallen the leaves last fall in our garden and to put in our hanging baskets.

You could say it’s a little like “The Good Life” which was a BBC comedy from the ’70s about a couple going self-sufficient although they had a slightly bigger garden than us.

If I had a lot more land I’m sure I could fill it with even more crops like beans, cucumbers, leeks, potatoes, cabbage, onions, carrots and get a chicken run too.

I’m not planning on becoming a small farm but growing your own vegetables and flowers can be done even from an apartment as long as you have a patio/balcony area and the best part is the reward for your time and effort.

I’ll be reporting all summer long how our frugal garden is doing so make sure you subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on the action.

I hope I’ve given you a few small vegetable garden ideas today so that you too can start in your own garden from seed.


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  1. omg i would so pay off some debt got so faar behind with work being so slow picked up a second job but not a ton of hours either 500 would go to something im behind in for sure

  2. Great post! I think i might try this! I have always always dreamed of starting a garden…just never thought i could…LOL…..and as for the contest if i were to win 500 i would take my kids on vacation 🙂

  3. I’m going to try planting one more time; last year’s garden was a total flop! We have a huge back yard but the soil is all sand not a drop of top soil in it. I saw all of these post on Pinterest talking about pallet gardens and how easy and great they were for growing vegetables. I got all excited and thought I could do that and it wouldn’t require a lot of soil. I nagged my hubby until he brought home a pallet. I filled the pallet with a good quality soil, planted and water faithfully all summer long. I was so excited when my zucchini plants sprouted beautiful yellow blooms and imagined all the things I could bake with zucchini. No sure what went wrong but the blooms all turned to cute little miniature zucchini which would grow to the size of my pinkie finger, then turn yellow and fall off. The pepper plants didn’t ever grow any larger than the little seedling size that they were when I put them in the soil. The cherry tomato plant yielded about a dozen tomatoes and the kale never grew any larger than the size it was when it was planted. This year I won’t be using the pallet. I’ve purchased a couple of the hanging tomato planters for $2 each from the dollar store and I’m going to get some large pots for the tomatoes and pepper. I would like to try zucchini again but not sure what I would plant it in. I did see some sort of bag type thing at the dollar store for planting but not sure if it would work any better than the pallet; I don’t think the soil is deep enough.

    1. Oh, I’m excited to hear you have chosen to give it another try. You don’t know unless you try and learn why it failed and what you can do differently Sometimes in life it’s easy to give up but it’s worth the effort if we just try a bit harder. Let me know how it goes Pam.

  4. I love my veggie garden, they taste soo much better than store bought (and its neat watching them grow from seed) #CBB

  5. I have my own take on assuring myself that my seeds have a fighting chance of turning into plants. I pre-germinate them. Pop over to my blog for a step-by-step tutorial of the process.

  6. We do what’s known as ‘square foot gardening’ which allows me to get a lot of produce out of a very small garden – it’s basically high density. An no rototiller, because it’s a raised garden.

    However this year I’m considering renting a plot at a local farm. The business of renting out small food plots by farmers seems to be growing around here, there’s probably 3-4 places around here I can rent a small hunk of land for a veg. garden.

    1. There are plenty of farmers in our area that do the same. In fact my siblings in the UK purchase a plot of land from a farmer and grow their garden there. They have rain barrels set up around the field as well to help with watering costs.

  7. Hubby and I have done this before and we enjoyed it so much and it’s great quality time together 🙂 We really could use a rototiller of sorts to help amend the earth and make planting easier.Inspired.

  8. I think I remember “The Good Life”. Were the homesteading in the city with neighbours who were a wealthy lawyer or businessman and his society wife? If it’s the one I’m thinking of (with a stylized daisy in the show’s logo), I really liked it.

  9. What varietal of tomatoes are you growing from seed? Many varieties of fruits have non-viable seeds, so I’m always interested in what people are growing as I’d like to save my seeds as well.

    1. I am growing bush beefsteak and Earlianna tomatoes. This will be the first year we try it from seeds from the previous years crop. I”m sure I’ll post about it along the way to let everyone know how it’s going.

  10. Mr. CBB I loved this post! We started small in the beginning and got addicted and out of control but I watched this fantastic video this past week about a gardener and the head of a movement to grow food in LA and he said growing food is like printing paper and isn’t that true! I know you will enjoy lots of tomatoes and peppers this summer! YOu will so be grilling out! I also appreciate you linking up this week to “The Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post” Blog hop this week!

  11. I wish we had a big enough backyard to plant some veggies. We have a small, Japanese garden/patio area. Although I did hear that if you stick green onions in water they will grow and grow…..I don’t really need a yard for that 😉

  12. This is what I have started this year too, using the egg cartons that is. They seem to be working great so far. Last year I did an experiment with a cantaloupe seed from one I bought in the store and it started growing! Too bad my toddler needed to pick the one that started to grow! This year I’m trying a few more things-Tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, peppers, cucumbers and some beans. Oh ya and a sprinkling of some flowers 🙂

  13. I’ve threatened to create a garden and this year I’m going to follow through. I’m with you: the main reason I run is the same that I’d garden. It’s “me” time. Quiet, outdoors working, where you’re in the moment. That’s why I like cooking, too. I’m sure there’s few things more fun than cooking vegetables that you grew in your garden! Double bonus!

  14. Loving this post, Mr. CBB! The egg carton idea is great, and we have plenty, so it will save me a trip to the store and the cash that I was planning to shell out on the little throw-away containers. We are planning our first really big garden this year, and hoping we’ll have enough veggies to make it through the winter into next spring. Your wise tips will certainly help us to plant and grow well – thanks!

  15. I love gardening and growing my own produce. There is a certain sense of satisfaction that you get from eating something home grown.

    I have started collecting my own seeds so that I don’t have to rely on the packet seeds.

  16. I heard that bell peppers are pretty easy to grow,and they are expensive, so I might try those. After my failure with a tomato plant last year, I’m a bit gun shy, but what have I got to lose other than my pride?

    1. Exactly so you might as well give it a go. That’s just it if it works it works but you have to put in as much effort as you expect from the plant. They are not all set it and forget it! Cheers

  17. We don’t have a yard, but I’m thinking about planting a few potted plants (tomatoes) on our roof this year. I’m not sure if they’ll survive up there, but I’m going to give it a try.

  18. My flowers are doing OK that I started but I need to set up the grow light and timer to keep them growing. The seeds are from past years that didn’t get planted then but are growing now. The advantage to my big plant stand is the plastic cover to keep the warmth in and to keep Stuart from sampling the greenery. That cat likes to munch on chives!!!!!!I have a bunch of flower seeds that I got from my flowers in the last year or three to try and plant. I don’t have a lot of space out back but the hanging pots do well and the raised beds are mostly perennials. My geraniums made it through the winter in the front porch(enclosed) so they will go back outside when things are warm enough.

    1. I brought in geraniums and they are spectactular and still have all the flowers… lol. Let me know how it all goes for you. We don’t have lots of room either but we make the best of it. The hanging baskets are a chore but worth it in the end when you see the cost of them already done for you at the nursery. Do you use seeds from past vegetables you grew?

      1. I have a hard time growing veggies due to the lack of room so it’s just flower seeds so far. I do have a pot of catmint in the back that the local stray population likes!! I’ve had the squirrels bury peanuts from the feeder in my big pots. Last year for fun we pulled a sprouted peanut plant out and repotted it in the house. The squirrels were not impressed but the blue jay loved it!!! Once it got big enough we harvested the peanuts and put them on the feeder tray….
        With the hanging pots I’ve done a red and white with bought plants, the impatiens worked better than the petunias. 3-4 plants to a hanging pot worked nice, planted in late May it filled put nice by July first. I bring the pots down onto the edge of the raised beds if rain is in the forecast, that works well. Just a thought….. I have a bunch of pictures from my garden over the last couple years on my Facebook if you want to have a look…. Feel free.

        1. I’ll go have a look. I put about 7 or 8 plants per geraniums and petunias with a mix, trailing and high in the centre with one spike. Our bigger baskets get alot more but they were beautiful last year. I also give them a good dose of fertilizer which lasts them the summer. I also take them down when there is lots of rain but I also watch for wind so they don’t get damaged.

  19. What a great idea using egg cartons. I have lots of them and some dirt so I will be getting started within the next week or so. I grow herbs, tomatoes, hot peppers, peppers. This year I am also going to try the topsy turvy planter. I also have to split all my hostas in May. I am going to have tons of spare plants. If you know of anyone who would like some let me know. I live in Ontario.

  20. I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to start seeds this year, because I’m pretty sure my cat will eat my seedlings. Life was a lot easier when I worked at a greenhouse! I’m thinking about seeing if my father-in-law has space in his medical marijuana grow room.

  21. i plan on starting my seeds in the next week or so, My father in law just picked me up a small 5′ mini greenhouse for me to use this year so I’m excited to see if it makes a difference with my veggies and herbs.

  22. Mr.CBB I have started to save some egg cartons too! While my girl is here we will be planting all the tomatoes and peppers into peet pellets like last year 🙂
    Last year we planted pepper seeds from the seeds of the pepper we cut up and they grew great and had we not had a massive hail storm in the middle of july and an expected frost in sept they would have grown enough to eat. So next time you cut up your pepper or chilli let a couple seeds dry out and then plant them 🙂
    Really look forward to seeing your garden grow so please keep us updated and post lots of pics!

    1. That is what I did with the tomato and pepper plants from last year. I dried out the seeds and will plant them this year. It’s my first year trying that so I want to use it as an experiment to see if it works rather than have nothing if I rely solely on them. I will blog all summer about the garden!

  23. Thanks Mr CBB, I am giving my seeds a second chance this week. On your pepper and tomato picture, the little plants are very close from one to the other, do you then replant everything with more space or cut and leave only one plant per egg hole to grow stronger before planting out?

  24. I think the only successful thing I’ve grown is tomatoes, but I was seriously like a proud parent. I’ve mostly lived in places where having a garden was impossible, so no I live in a place with a shared backyard, but there is a garden box than an old tenant built and since I’m next in line with seniority, I kind of have the right to use it. Last year my neighbor took over and planted squash, which was a nightmare and took over the backyard, so I need to make sure I’m on it this year and get to it before she does. Do I need to replace the dirt that is already in there?

    1. I would probably put in some well rotted manure because you always have to be putting back in some nutrients. I would even put in some good quality fertilizer. That’s what I would do but I’m not a gardening pro… nothing quite like a bit of poo though lol…

  25. We’re getting very close to starting our garden for the year. At least we were before we got more snow dumped on us last night. 🙁 We grow ours from seed in the house as well as buy some plants for other things. It’s really cool to see something you started from seed in the house in a simple egg container turn into something that produces some good veggies.

    1. I’ll likely buy some flowers from the nursery for our baskets to fill them in. I saved as much as I could from last summer like all the spikes which cost me $1.00 a piece. We were due for more snow but they cancelled it. I hope this is it now.

  26. I love this time of year. We planted our tomato seeds yesterday and will transplant them into my greenhouse when they are large enough to transplant.

    1. Same here mate, it’s raining outside right now and I’m the happiest guy around!! I just get sick of the snow after about a month. I love gardening and landscaping and just being outdoors with the grill and a cold beer!!! Ah! What kinds of tomatoes do you plant? Where do you get your seeds, from a previous crop?

      1. I planted beefsteak, better boy, big boy, celebrity and Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. I had a greenhouse business up until 2007 and bought the seeds in bulk packages. I kept them in the freezer which keeps them fresh even as the germination percentage dips. slightly over time.

        I plan to post pictures from my time as a greenhouse owner as the spring progresses. I have one post now with pictures under the greenhouse category.

        1. That’s a nice variety. I would like to start some cherry tomatoes. Our neighbour has them and the bush comes through the fence and I nobble them here and there. He doesn’t mind we are good mates. Have you ever used seeds from your own crop? I’m trying that this year with peppers and tomatoes from last year.

          1. I have not. Usually by the time the garden plays out I am just over the whole experience and do not try to save seeds. If you saved seeds from hybrid plants you may not get exactly what you want. But it is possible to start plants from the seeds you saved.

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