Frugal Gardening: Plant Buying Tip

“No, those are weeds.”  That’s the patient response I got from my neighbor when I pointed and bravely asked about a plant popping through the soil.  “Are those volunteer tomatoes?”  Uh-huh.  I’m a professional, people.

The same neighbor was out planting some bell peppers today, and it just so happens that he over-bought.  Guess who got to gather the children to dig holes for free pepper plants this afternoon?!

Frugal plant-buying tip: See how I have three pepper plants here?  Look again; there are actually 4!

When buying your plants, see if you can find some where “extra” plants are growing in the pot.  You’ll pay the same as a single plant, but if you know what you’re doing (I don’t!) you can carefully separate the plants to get more bang for your buck.

We went ahead and separated them before planting.  I’ll let you know how many actually grow.  😉

Notice the dry soil?  Yep.  Sure do wish some of you who are sloshing around could share with us here in Kansas.  The only water our plants are getting are from the hose or watering can.

How’s your garden growing this week?  Link up with your updates! Don’t forget to visit Smockity Frocks and Getting Freedom to see what’s growing in their gardens this week. 


  1. Ha ha, I am always afraid to pull anything that looks substantial just in case it’s something good. Not sure where I’m imagining these volunteer plants might be coming from, but you just never know!! So far mine have always been weeds though.

  2. Another tip to get extra plants: When you break off the tops to make the plants bush out, or even if you trim off side shoots (or if they get broken off accidentally by wind, transplanting, etc) save the cuttings and put them in water. Sometimes they will root, and you have yourself a new plant.

    I discovered this one year accidentally with tomato plants. I had ‘pruned’ my plants and had a handful of stems, thought they looked kinda nice so I put them in a cup of water (like a cheap vase of flowers, but just leaves). Several days later I went to throw them out and saw that the cup was just full of roots. I planted them, and voila, new free plants.

    A few things I’ve learned since then: It’s better to just put one or two stems per container or they get all tangled together. Stems from the top of the plant or ones with new growth at the ends are more likely to root and grow than ‘dead end’ stems from the sides of the plant, but sometimes even these will work. OJ cartons work great for rooting larger cuttings, but don’t use milk/cream cartons. There is something in them that inhibits growth. My mom found the same thing with dixie(like) cups when she was using them to start seeds, so we assume it is something to do with the wax coating.

    Oh, and I’ll gladly send you some of our rain. It’s coming down pretty good here, and our ground is still pretty saturated from snow melt. Many places are still too muddy or flooded for farmers to put crops in (not to mention many washed out roads). And just as I was typing this the rain went from ‘heavy sprinkle’ to ‘soaking rain’ to use my own made up technical terms.

    • My grandma does that! She has saved shoots for me in water. Not that I’ve had success growing them, but she sure does a good job. 😉

  3. I do this all the time. I bought tomato and pepper plants and got 50% more plants this way. You do have to be careful separating them so that each has a solid root system to plant. The further apart each plant is or the smaller you buy them, the easier separating will be. I look for the ones with the two plants per spot that are furthest apart to be sure they aren’t too tangled.

  4. I do the same thing as Kristin- look for those that are the furthest apart, and then separate VERY carefully! 🙂 And hey, you can’t beat free plants, that’s for sure!!

  5. Great point!!

  6. Rebecca L. says:

    I would love to send you some rain!!! We’ve got about 6 inches already in the past week. Ugh, can’t get it dry enough to get all the garden planted. Have fun.

  7. Karen P. says:

    So jealous of you getting to planting already.I wish we could get in our garden! Here in Pa. it’s been rainy day after rainy day. It’s got to dry off sometime, right?

  8. Antoinette says:

    prolific tomato trick (for drier climates in welldrained soil):
    1. dig pit 2 feet deep (if your soil permits) and about 1.5 feet wide
    2. take large plastic milk jug and poke holes in bottom
    2. layer grass clippings and dirt up 1 foot and then soak in fish emulsion (it stinks but it’s worth it)
    3. trim off all bottom leaves of tomato and plant tomato in 1 foot hole along side the plastic milk jug (you want the holes near the roots)
    4. fill in with dirt around jug and plant
    5. water only into the mouth of the jug as needed
    We had 6 foot tomato plants and prolific peppers the year we did this :-). The other years we were too lazy :-).

    rain and frost here still too (UT)!! some have been brave enough to plant already but we are holding out for this weekend to plant the “cool weather” seeds…and waiting until almost Memorial Day to plant those sensitive things like tomatoes and eggplant…it’s going to be an interesting season.

    I’m going to do “edible ornamentals” again in the front yard (only morning sun) or we might not have a salad garden this year – we are likely to go from highs in the 60’s to highs in the 90’s in less than a month.

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