When the new year arrives, I always find myself thinking about the upcoming garden season. So what if my beds are buried deep beneath the winter snow? I love thumbing through seed catalogs, drooling over options, planning my spring garden and dreaming about the upcoming garden year.
Some women struggle with overspending on clothes. Others, with shoes. But me? I struggle with overspending on garden seeds! There was a time in my life when I had to account for every penny that went out for garden supplies. And seed shopping was painful. But it made me establish some good patterns. And I’ve never really let go!
Here’s how to buy vegetable garden seeds when you’re on a budget!
How to Buy Seeds Without Overspending
There’s really no secret when it comes to staying on a budget with garden seeds. It’s just like purchasing anything else. Be sure you have a budget. Know your limits. Only buy what you need. Buy what you will use and nothing else.
You know how it goes! But let me walk you through each step.
Tip 1: Set a Budget for Your Seed Spending
You’ve heard the saying before, that the little things add up? I found this to be especially true for garden seeds! A packet here, another there, a new fun variety of this or that vegetable…slowly the costs creep upward.
And when I’d go to check out, I would always wonder how my shopping cart managed to get $300+ dollars of seed in it? Then came the painstaking task of distinguishing between what I wanted and what I needed.
Finally I decided things would be much easier if I set a budget for myself before I began putting things in my cart. And over the course of a few years, it helped curb my seed-binge buying!
And it can help you too. I know people don’t like budgeting. But it really does help.
Tip 2: Buy the Staple Crops First
Another thing that keeps the spending in check is to shop seed for your staple crops first.
What are staple crops?
The food your family eats the most of, in both fresh and preserved form. It will vary from family to family. In this household, our staples are potatoes, carrots, beans, beets, cabbages, tomatoes, squash, garlic and onion…and a few key others.
Get the staples first, so you have your staples covered. If you have money left over, you can use it for “vanity” seed shopping!
Tip 3: Be Realistic About Your Time
Before you buy a million and one seed packets, be realistic about the time it will take to plant and care for all those varieties. Of course you want to grow all the things! But what will it require of you?
I wish we could just put seeds in the ground and harvest from them all summer long…without the thinning, weeding, watering and such. But it just doesn’t work that way. If you plant more than you have time to care for, gardening can be stressful.
Instead of being a source of pleasure and satisfaction, it can leave you feeling guilty and overwhelmed. Be realistic. Think ahead. And be sure to read this post about how to create a low maintenance garden!
Tip 4: Keep Your Garden Space in Mind
When you go to buy seed, keep the size of your garden plot in mind!
The more you have, the more you’ll want to plant. And while planting lots seems like a good idea, crowding things in actually leads to a lower yield and smaller vegetables.
Not only this, but planting too much can make it difficult to move about in the garden. Yes, I once packed so much into my beds that I created an impenetrable jungle for myself! Things had to be pulled up so that I could freely move about to tend the vegetables.
What a waste.
Order your seeds. But be realistic about how much your garden can hold!
Tip 5: Have A “Why” Behind Your Purchase
As a child, did you ever respond to one of your mother’s questions with a “just because”?
I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to cut my sister’s hair. I did it…just because.
We’ve all been there, right?
You can save a lot of money when buying seed if you don’t have ‘just becauses’ in your shopping! Have a reason for everything. Your reasons don’t have to be high and lofty.
Maybe you just realized that paste tomatoes were necessary for making a thick, homemade salsa and you want to try growing them this year? Did you just discover a new herb that you want to grow for medicinal purposes? Perhaps it’s just that you have an open corner in your garden and instead of growing weeds, you want to grow a mix of herbs and flowers in that space.
I think these are all sufficient reasons for buying seed. Have a “why” and you’re less likely to go wrong!
Closing Off My Seed Buying Strategy
That’s how to buy vegetable garden seeds without overspending! Keep these things forefront in your mind as you shop. They won’t necessarily eliminate all overspending, but they will help moderate and keep you grounded as you prepare to grow food for your family in the spring!