Barley straw
Best source we know of is Bay Landscapes in Richmond 544-2076. $11/spray free bale They have trailers for loan for transport.
Find under nearby trees, rake and bag them. Also look for bags of leaves each autumn in your neighborhood. Ask your neighbors to save them for you. Most people gladly give them away because it saves them the cost of disposal. Check bags from others for content. Make sure there is no trash, gravel or pine needles in them. Best leaves are those which have been mowed and ground up and mixed with grass clippings. Note: Do not use leaves collected from gutters next to roads due to potential for contamination.
Grass clippings
Save your own and ask neighbors to save theirs for you. Don’t use clippings which have been sprayed in the last month. Smell it. If it smells like chemicals, don’t use it. Try to use it within 48 hours to optimize nitrogen benefit and before it turns slimy, smelly and anaerobic. Use them during the growing season between plants on your garden to shade the soil and feed worms. Also, use it on no dig beds or in your compost piles. Ask lawn services guys working in your neighborhood. They will usually give you clippings or drop them off at your house. Nelmac does this too (but check with them first to ensure they don’t come from sprayed areas). If you won’t use them for a few days, spread them out on a tarp to keep them from getting slimy. Don’t lay grass clippings more than about 5cm thick, as they will start to become anaerobic and smell bad.
Large boxes from furniture, appliance and bike stores are the best source and have the least wrapping tape and staples to remove. There are usually bins behind the stores. You might also keep your eye out for cardboard on trash pick up day by the roadside. Cut down to ~ 60 x 60 cm. Make sure you remove all plastic tape before using.
Soil and compost mix
The best sources we are aware of are: Green Waste to Zero in Richmond 544-8857 $18/scoop in trailer (half cu m) or $5/ 40 litre bag. Call ahead of time if you want bags and to make sure the soil mix is weed free. Sand and Land in Pascoe St Tahunanui 546-4933 $58 for cu meter (large trailer) or $5/ 30 litre bag Garden and Landscape in Saxton Rd in Stoke 547-4777 $6/20 litre bag
Rake and bag it from Tahunanui beach after a storm. Rinse off sand and salt before using.
Look around for local sources for red wiggler or tiger worms or see if friends can spare some from a worm bin. Another source is bags of horse poo which often have these type of worms in them.
Horse manure
Look in Buy/Sell /Swap for free manure or stop at local horse farms and ask for it. They will almost always give you some for free. You can also get small quantities in bags for $2 or borrow a ute or trailer or pay a small fee for delivery of a larger quantity. Use fresh manure to make ‘hot’ compost piles. The heat will help kill pathogens and weed seeds. For no dig gardens, use aged manure (one year or older) as a base layer. Straw and manure mix from horse stalls can be useful in compost piles too.
Used timber for building raised beds or cold frames
Look for long, straight, nail free, untreated timber. You can stack 2×6’s or 2×8’s on edge and hold them up with used pipe, rebar or metal posts.
trowel-150Garden tools
Garage sales are the best source of inexpensive wheelbarrows, shovels, garden and leaf rakes and hoes, also try NEC’s Resuse Shop (details above), or borrow and share among your friends and neighbours.
An excellent source is Paul’s organic garden stall at the roud a bout (Waimea and Beatson) -open Friday and Saturday. Otherwise Bay Nursery, Down 2 Earth, Mitre 10, Bunnings, etc. Waimarama Gardens (up the Brook Valley) also sometimes has seedlings available.

An extra note: If you are planning to do a trip to pick up any materials, why not consider asking your friends and neighbours if they want anything – that way you can combine resources to make trips more pleasant, cheaper and energy-efficient!