Super frugal gardening tips from my mother.
Potatoes, turnips, seeds and more!
Save your own seed or trade with other seed savers for what you want.
Make seedling pots from biodegradable newspaper so you won't have to disturb the tiny roots of the seedlings.
Use your own compost or trade with someone for some of their compost to start the seedlings.
Test the soil by putting a drop of vinegar in a teaspoon or so. If it fizzes, it's too alkaline. Then test it by putting in baking soda mixed with a little water. If it fizzes, it's too acidic.
I have yet another way. If you're not really into starting plants from seeds, but you want to garden within your budget nonetheless, there are ways to get free or almost free plants.
When you buy fresh vegetables over the winter, look for plants that have some of the roots left. Often, these can be put in a dish of water and they'll begin to grow. Keep your eyes open, too, for food that's trying to sprout.
Potatoes are the most common of these. (No, you don't need special "seed potatoes.")
Save potatoes with "eyes" for spring planting outside.
Turnip roots can be replanted indoors and so can celery roots, onion bottoms and carrot tops.
Don't cut too much of the vegetable away (carrots excluded). Leave a half inch or so with the root. You can eat the rest.
Carrots that have gone limp in your refrigerator will often grow beautiful tops in a container on a windowsill. You can eat carrot greens fresh or cooked, and you can stick a radish that's looking pretty bad in a container of dirt with plenty of water and it will grow and give you delicious radish seed pods.