Seed Saving and Frugal Gardening

Seed Saving and Frugal Gardening

Seed saving is a frugal way to garden.

You plant a seed, care for it, watch it grow, enjoy your bounty and in the end, are presented with a seed to start all over again.

You hold in your hands the circle of life!


This year, between saved seeds, free seeds my hubby picked up for me and seeds I found on sale, I only spent about $20.00 on my veggie garden.  Of course, I forgot to weigh all the beans, tomatoes, carrots, and other yummy veggies as I picked them, so I have no idea how much money I saved by growing my own, but I do know I would have spent a heck of a lot more than $20.00!

I have been saving peas and beans for years.  The peas and beans are eaten by us and put into Doggy Stew, so those free seeds are paying big dividends.  Plus, legumes fix nitrogen in the soil and work wonderfully as mulch when they are done producing.  I just pull them and drop them back into the garden!  All for FREE!

If you haven’t saved seeds yet, I would recommend Heirloom seeds.  You get the same plant year after year.  With Hybrids, you won’t necessarily get that.  Heirlooms can be a bit more expensive, but I consider it a good investment.  For the price of one packet of seeds, you can continue growing that variety for years, by collecting and saving seeds every Fall.  After the first year, I consider the seeds for each following year to be free because of the money you saved growing that veggie in the first place.


Starting seedlings is a bit of trial and error, as anyone who has ever tried it will know.  In spite of a few failures and disappointments, it is the most amazing feeling to collect tomatoes from a tomato plant that reaches up to your chin, and know that you started it from a tiny seed!  That feeling is worth a million bucks!

Speaking of tomato plants; they can be really expensive too.  I know I saved about $40.00 by starting mine from seed this year, plus I had extra plants I gave away!

Seed saving can also be done with flowers, of course.  I grow a TON of zinnias every year from saved seeds.  I enjoy the bright, cheerful zinnias and they attract tons of bees, that in turn, pollinate my veggies!  I also grow Geraniums and Petunias from seed.


There are many good websites explaining how to collect various seeds, so I won’t go into that, but  if you are excited to try, start with something easy like zinnias,beans or pumpkins. Beans are easy to collect seeds from; just let them dry on the plant!  When they are dry, crack open the pods and keep the seeds!  Zinnias are easy too.  Just cut the heads off the plant after they have lost their brightness and start to turn brown.  If they feel a little moist, lay them on a screen (like in the photo above) until they feel dry.  I keep mine in paper bags over the winter and come Spring, I break the heads apart and collect the seeds!  This site has good tips for saving pumpkin seeds.

Hope I’ve convinced you to try some seed saving.  I’ve gone a bit overboard with it, myself.  I find it hard to throw dead plants when I know there are seeds there, free for the taking.  I think to myself, “I can’t throw these, they will grow!” I feel a bit like Dr. Frankenstein….”It’s ALIVE!!!”  ;)

Saving Money Starting Tomatoes From Seed

Starting Tomatoes From Seed Saves A Lot of Money

This year, I will admit, I got a little carried away with starting seedlings.

Saving Money  Starting Tomatoes From Seed

I started lots of herbs, flowers, grapes (from cuttings), peppers and tomatoes.

Among the tomatoes, were Yellow Pear (because I love eating them as I wander around in the garden), Pink Brandywine (best BLT’s ever!) and Romas (sauce).

I over-planted, with the thought of leaving the best looking seedlings and pulling the others.  I wanted 10 tomato plants for the garden this year.

Saving Money  Starting Tomatoes From Seed

Well, that was the plan, anyway.

All of the seedlings looked healthy and I couldn’t stand the thought of throwing any of them away, so I transplanted all of them. 😛

Saving Money  Starting Tomatoes From Seed

I ended up with 10 Yellow Pear, 17 Brandywine and 48 Roma….that’s 75 tomato plants!

I lost about 12 plants by experimenting with putting them out in the garden early, but covering them overnight.  That did not work so well.  I think I needed a more secure structure and heavier plastic.   (Good to know for the future.)

I gave a few to my daughter, who is also an avid gardener.

I planted the 10 I wanted in my garden, which left me with a huge bunch of tomatoes with no place to go.

After about a week of deliberation, I decided to plant the remainder of the tomatoes in a variety of open spaces; around a tree stump, by a rose bush, in front of the veggie garden and in a flower bed.

I now have 43 tomato plants growing vigorously and setting beautiful tomatoes.  I can hardly wait to see how many pounds I’ll end up with!

Affording 75 tomato plants would have been impossible for me, but being the frugal person I am, I used left over seed from the year before and bought one packet of seeds when they went on sale.

Dirt was free (from my garden), seedling cells were free (saved from other plants I’ve gotten).  All the seeds cost $7.50 total.

Heirloom tomato plants at greenhouses would cost about $4.00 each.  75 plants @ $4.00 each = $300.00.

MONEY SAVED: $292.50!!!

Plus, I got the joy of sharing plants and expanding my knowledge with the ability to experiment with low cost plants!

Harvesting Daisy Seeds

Harvesting Oxeye Daisy Seeds

Yesterday, I spent part of my morning harvesting spent heads from my Oxeye Daisies.

It was a beautiful morning.

Heidi was laying in the shaded grass, listening to the birds singing, reveling in the light, sweet smelling breeze as it blew across her and standing at attention whenever the sudden movements of a rabbit caught her attention.

I was doing much the same, as I was sitting on the front steps, picking through daisies, plucking the petals off the flowers and stripping the leaves from the stems.  The thought of the thousands of seeds I was gathering was mind boggling and I couldn’t help but be excited by the possibility of all those future plants!  It’s very empowering to know you can take seeds and produce more plants and when you’re frugally-minded, it’s also empowering to know how much money you can be saving!

To the best of my knowledge, these daisies are Leucanthemum vulgare, which are field daisies and naturalizing perennials.  In fact, they are invasive.  I started out with one small plant and this is what I have now.

Harvesting Daisy Seeds

They are even growing in the grass!

Harvesting Daisy Seeds

After stripping the leaves and petals from the flowers, this is what I end up with.

Harvesting Daisy Seeds

I then hang these bundles upside down in a paper bag and wait for them to dry out.  When they are completely dry, all I’ll have to do is give the bag a pretty good shake and I’ll have the seeds gathered in the bottom of the bag!

I’m not sure how to quantify the savings (or possible earnings) created by all these seeds, but seed packets are at least $2.50 per packet of 500 seeds and quarts of daisies can cost as much as $10.00 per quart.  I am going to go with a moderate estimate and say I would save/earn $150.00 from all these seeds!


Feeling of empowerment by collecting Mother Nature’s bounty….priceless!!

dividing plants, sharing plants

Sharing Plants and Saving Money

Dividing perennials helps them to stay healthy and grow vigorously, plus you get extras to transplant or share!

I have always treasured getting mature plants from people.  Mature plants from divisions are a year or two ahead of what you can get in the greenhouses, plus there is always a story that goes with them!  I love hearing how old plants are, where they came from and how they got to where they are today.

Sharing Plants and Saving Money

Sharing and receiving plants is its own form of “community”.  Like-minded people propagating what nature grows, sharing knowledge, caring for the earth, and caring enough for each other to share what they love.

Last fall, I transplanted some irises that I originally dug up from the homestead where I grew up.  I’ve had them for about 20 years!  They have followed me where ever I have gone, and they are going to be trying out a new spot in the yard. Those Irises have grown in Minnesota, North Dakota, and soon some of them will be growing in Iowa!

I shared some of my perennials with my daughter, who now has a nice place to grow plants.  She will be getting irises that her grandmother once grew, plus a bunch of lilies I’ve had for years.  (Which I got from a friend of mine!)

Irises, sharing plants and saving money

Mom, me and the Irises!

In light of how much sharing plants can mean, it almost seems wrong to point out how much money it also saves.  However, in the spirit of frugal gardening, let’s figure it out!

Gallon buckets of plants are usually $10.00 + and I’m giving my daughter 6 buckets of a variety of large, healthy plants that are homegrown and mother approved. ;)

MONEY SAVED $60.00!!

Passing on mom’s irises….priceless!

Herb Garden

An Herb Garden For The Future

One of the many things I like about gardening, is that it is a work in progress.  An ever-changing canvas of colors, fragrance and beauty.

Herb Garden

During this past fall, I decided to remake one of my flower gardens into an herb garden.   I felt an herb garden would make better use of the space, be more “useful” in the culinary and medicinal sense, and be more inviting for the bees, as well.  With our big tree gone, I had the opportunity to spread my Lilies, Liatris and vintage Iris out over the yard, to make room for the herbs.

Herb Gardens

I mentioned my plans to my daughter and asked her to design an herb garden for me.  She very quickly sent me a beautifully designed herb garden, including some unusual herbs like Woad, Weld and Angelica.  I put the plans up on the wall and started dreaming of what the garden will look like in the years to come!

Reseda luteola

For Christmas this year, Amanda and Tom gave me over half the seeds I need to bring my garden to life!  David also got in on the fun and gave me a huge herb drying rack, so now I’m ready for my future herb garden!!

I will be starting all the plants from seed and as my plants grow, I plan to collect the seeds, to help carry on the tradition of seed saving!  I’ll post more about my herb garden as it comes to life!!!

Fish Fertilizer, home made fish fertilizer

Gone Fishin’: How to Make Your Own Fish Fertilizer

How to Make Your Own Fish FertilizerHow to Make Fish Fertilizer


Fish fertilizer is fairly easy to make.


There are 6 steps, ranging from easy to queasy, but in the end, you will  have a super food that your plants will LOVE!


Here are the steps:


  1. Dig some worms, then grab your fishing rod and a bucket with a tight fitting lid. *
  2. When you get to your favorite lake, put some lake water in your bucket, catch 3 or 4 fish (Sunfish work well) and add them to the water in your bucket.  If you catch some weeds, like I usually do, put those in too.
  3. Enjoy the rest of the day fishing, listening to the birds and feeling the sun and breeze on your face.
  4. Go home with your fish bucket.
  5. Here comes the queasy part….grab a hatchet or axe and chop up your fish.  I take the fish out of the bucket place them on the ground, near my compost heap and chop away.  Once you get past the first fish, the rest won’t seem so bad…..until you get splashed with fish guts.  Might want to wear goggles.  I’m just saying.
  6. Shovel your chopped fish back into your bucket.


*If you don’t fish, find someone who does and ask for their left-over fish guts.  Yes, they will look at you like you’re crazy, but carry on.


Now we’re ready for the Fish Fertilizer Recipe


  • Lake water (about a gallon)
  • 3 or 4 fresh chopped fish
  • Browns…leaves, dead grass, sawdust (enough to soak up the water)
  • Molasses…about 1 cup (helps the mix ferment and keeps the stink down)
  • Epsom Salt…2 tablespoons to add some magnesium
  • Let it ferment for about 1 month, stirring or shaking the mix every 3 days.
  • After a month, it will be ready to use as a tea.  To make a tea, put 1 part fertilizer to 5-6 parts water in a bucket or watering can.  Let this set for about a week, stirring every day.  When you are ready to apply the fish fertilizer tea, water your plants a bit first, (just in case the tea is a little too strong) and then apply the fertilizer to the base of your plants.


After that, just set back and watch your plants grow!


You’ll be glad you went fishing in order to Make Your Own Fish Fertilizer and you’ll have saved a lot of money!  32 ounces of fish fertilizer sells for about $15.00.  You’ll have a gallon (128 ounces) for the cost of a cup and molasses and some Epsom salt!   Money Saved $59.50!