Gardening and homesteading, while ultimately saving you money on fresh organic vegetables, can get expensive when you’re setting up your vegetable garden. Even DIY projects cost a pretty penny. While some gardening tools are worth spending on, saving you time and lasting decades, others are better to save on — and you can pick them up from the dollar store.
Dollar stores can offer their products so cheap in two ways:
- Cheap manufacturing,
- Smaller quantities of quality items,
- Or a combination of both.
Meaning sometimes you can score fantastic deals, and sometimes you end up with junk you have to throw away after one use (like the gardening shears and potting mix).
So what is worth picking up at the dollar store? I took a socially distanced trip to my local Dollarama to find out.
Note: I’m in Canada, so prices will look more expensive than they would be in the US. Prices and products will vary depending on which dollar store you go to.
I assumed trellises would be in the “do not buy” category, as they’re usually so expensive that anything they offered would have to be short and flimsy. But look at this one! It’s just under a meter tall and sturdy, perfect for growing my bush peas and bush tomatoes. They also had a few decorative metal ones (although they probably won’t support as much weight) and a few bamboo ones too. If you’re looking for something quick and cheap for a shorter plant, you can’t go wrong here.
When you’ve got a long day of gardening ahead of you, or even just a lot of tasks, you don’t want to be constantly walking back to your storage shed for small tools or seeds. That’s where the shower caddy comes in. You can load it up with all your smaller items, trowels, stakes, seed packets, and quickly move from garden bed to garden bed, or from task to task without having to get up. Plus, to clean it, all you need to do is hose it off.
Irish Spring soap
If you find your garden under attack by mammal pests like mice, rabbits, and deer, try leaving Irish Spring soap shavings around your garden to deter them. This won’t work 100%, but it’ll cut down on the rate of attack. Combine this with other deterrents, like hanging up cans or a wind chime to clatter in the wind and scare off pests.
Notebook and pens
Who else swears that this is the year you’ll keep detailed gardening records and never follow through? By the time I’m done with the garden, all I’m thinking about is a rest on the couch, and not about pulling out my laptop to make notes. But I’ve found the solution. I picked up a cheap notebook to keep by the door that I can take out with me and make notes with while gardening. Then I’ll transfer the notes to a nicer journal or a Word doc. Because it’s a cheap, temporary notebook, I won’t worry so much about getting it muddy.
If you use spreadsheets or printable to track what you need to do, then pick up some clipboards.
Splatter screens are great for drying herbs or seeds, and these dollar store screens are a great option if you only have small amounts of herbs to dry. As Rosemary Gladstar said, herbs hung up to dry end up as dusty cottage decor, while trays (or screens) that are slightly in the way will encourage you to finish processing dried herbs before they’re covered in dust.
They also had various sizes of sieves or colanders, if you’re planning on saving seeds.
While I love my $20 Dig It gardening gloves, sometimes you just need a spare pair of gloves to cover your hands — especially when the ground is muddy or conditions are wet. The dollar store has everything from cloth gloves to neoprene gloves and even some leather gloves. They won’t last as long, but they can save your quality gloves some hardship.
Jute twine and pantyhose
Jute is an all-natural plant fiber that’s biodegradable and inexpensive, and when rolled into twine, can handle heavy-duty jobs. You can use twine to:
- make a trellis net for climbing plants,
- tie up plants to supports,
- train fruit trees,
- a guide for making straight plant rows (this one came with a spindle to make it easy to roll out).
Likewise, you can cut up pantyhose to tie up tomatoes while giving them some room to stretch. If you have more than a few tomato plants, though, buying a webbed nylon rope will save you time and money.
Mini caterpillar tunnel
This mini row cover (or greenhouse, as they call it), is actually a pretty good deal if you’re looking to just cover a row or three. The plastic cover is surprisingly large and thick (so it’ll last a season or three), and the plastic hoops are pretty sturdy. I picked this up for the hoops to fit over my elevated raised bed with a row cover (which they also had) and insect netting while saving the plastic sheet for another project.
They also had a pack of landscape fabric staples and garden clips for $1, which is a pretty good deal since I don’t need a ton. The kit relies on burying the plastic sheet to hold it together, but you can also use garden clips or binder clips (which you can also pick up at the dollar store) for extra security.
Craft sticks and plant labels
I usually go for picking up a pack of popsicle sticks to make my plant labels (using an eco-friendly weatherproof marker so the marker doesn’t run), but would you believe they’d run out of popsicle sticks? Dollarama had these much bigger plant labels at 10 for $1.25, and they’re about a foot long. My local gardening store sells plant labels this size for $4 per 10. (Although you may save more from a garden center when buying in bulk.)
Gardening is hard work, and kneeling on the hard ground can take its toll on your knees. If you’re wondering if it’d be worth buying knee pads, a kneeling pad, or even a scooter, pick up one of these for a couple of dollars to try first. I don’t know if they’ll last more than a season, but they’ll give you a better idea of what will work for you.
And this is just a small selection. You can also pick up:
- Scissors for harvesting,
- Plastic containers or photo albums for organizing seeds,
- Spray bottles (go for hardware or gardening section, beauty-section ones are too flimsy),
- Epsom salts,
- Towels for cleaning up,
- Scrubbing brushes and toothbrushes for cleaning tools,
- Cheap socks to get dirty
They have a lot of gardening stuff, but you can find better deals by thinking outside of the gardening aisle.
While you can’t pick up everything you need for $1 (I wish!), a quick trip to your local dollar store can save you some cash better spent on tools or DIY projects.
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