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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In the Garden: Saving money in the garden

UPDATED: Mon., Aug. 19, 2019

We gardeners are a thrifty lot. If we can save a bit of money while pursuing our passion, so much the better.

I recently asked my Facebook page followers what they do to garden economically. I wanted to share their wonderful responses with you today.

Several folks mentioned saving money by starting their own plants from seed. This also is a great way to grow hard-to-find cultivars.

“I start almost everything from seed and try to save seeds,” said Spokane resident Lynn Schmidt. “My friends and I also share seeds because you don’t always need to plant the whole pack.”

Laura Slotemaker, also of Spokane, recommended the Seed Library as an excellent resource.

The Hillyard, Shadle and Indian Trail branches of the Spokane Public Library allow patrons to “check out” packets for growing edible and/or ornamental plants. The seeds were initially donated by seed companies or purchased with donor funds.

If someone takes a packet of heirloom seeds, the library encourages them to save seeds from the plants at the end of the season and return them to the library. Find additional information online at

The Spokane County Library District has a similar program at their Cheney, Fairfield and Otis Orchards branches. They offer flower, vegetable and herb seeds and also encourage patrons to save seeds and bring them in for other gardeners. Learn more at

Many gardeners divide plants in their gardens to add to other areas of their landscape, swap with friends or earn spending money.

“When I thinned my raspberry plants, I sold some of the extras and used the money to buy needed plants,” Lynn Clark Young of northeast Washington shared. “I buy lots of perennials because I adore a plant that comes back and multiplies or even ones that reseed themselves.”

“My garden is mostly perennial flowers that I either bought or acquired from friends and family, then divided multiple times,” said Sue Plummer, Spokane County Master Gardener. “I tell anyone who admires a plant that I would be happy to share when I divide.”

Tammi Kreckel of Mineville, New York, takes a practical approach ahead of plant shopping: “I split plants first and move them (to other beds) before I even think of buying new plants,” she said.

Many respondents mentioned local plant sales and late-season sales.

“I buy landscape plants in the fall when they are half price,” said Vicki Henderson of Boise.

Heidi Bertels, of Moro, Illinois, watches for area garden club sales. “The folks at the sales love to chat about the plants, so you get great prices, great plants and free advice.”

Barbara Powell, who lives in Maryland, heads to the clearance section at home centers to find discounted annuals. “I make myself buy ones to nurse them back to health.”

Joyce D’Agostino of Arvada, Colorado, looks for online deals: “I watch for off-season specials from the seed and garden supply companies, especially if I can find something I need that is on sale and maybe has free shipping, too.”

Garage sales are great sources for garden bargains, as well.

“Every garage sale in Spokane has rusty gardening tools on the cheap,” Laura Slotemaker shared. “I’ve found pots, plants and even got a wheelbarrow once.”

Repurposing materials saves money. Lynn Clark Young made decorative planters from old barn wood, and Danielle Miller, of O’Fallon, Illinois, fashioned a trellis from sticks and twine.

The Spokane County Conservation District established the Organic Materials Exchange page on Facebook to allow members “to post buy/sell/trade and in search of requests for organic materials like manure,” according to their website. To join the page, visit

One of the best deals around is the free information provided by your local Master Gardener program. In Spokane County, contact them at (509) 477-2181, and in Kootenai County, call (208) 446-1680.

Gaye Luke of Auburn, California, knows the Master Gardener mantra well:

“The best way to save money in the garden is, ‘right plant, right place.’ If plants are improperly placed, you’re throwing money away.”

Susan Mulvihill is co-author, with Pat Munts, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Contact her at Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow a Garden” video on

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