Gardening is a great way to get outdoors and save money by growing some of your own food. Even better, it doesn’t have to cost the earth. So green fingers at the ready, here are some top tips from Faith Archer at Much More With Less for gardening on a budget.
Start from seeds
Buying packets of seeds is always going to be cheaper than shelling out for seedlings or plants. Check out discount stores like Wilko, Poundland and Aldi for packets as low as 25p or 33p each, especially if you buy several, and look out for end of season sales at garden centres. I focus on varieties that we all like to eat and would cost more to buy in the shops – so strawberries rather than potatoes, for example.
You don’t have to blow the budget on seed trays and pots when you can reuse items around the house. Think yogurt pots, loo roll tubes and egg boxes to get seeds started. I reuse plastic trays from supermarket fruit and veg packaging, and other plastic containers. I also cut the tops off big plastic drinks bottles, then turn them upside down to make mini cloches. Make the most of small spaces You don’t need a big garden to get growing. Think pots of herbs and salad leaves on the kitchen windowsill, cherry tomatoes and strawberries in hanging baskets and peas and beans up poles against a wall. Get the kids involved, and you can even grow mustard and cress in egg shells on a bit of damp cotton wool.
Carry on composting
Rather than buying big bags of compost, start your own compost heap. Add in fruit and veg scraps, grass clippings, dead leaves, sticks and shredded paper for a good mix. See if local coffee shops will give you coffee grounds for free. Find guides on how to make your own compost and low-cost subsidised compost bins at Recycle Now.
Swot up for free
You don’t need to fork out for coffee table books or glossy magazines, however tempting they might look, to learn about gardening. I rely on the Royal Horticultural Society website and also borrow a lot of books and magazines from my local library.
Make friends with other gardeners
I’ve definitely learned the most by talking to other gardeners. Talk to your neighbours, join your local gardening society or hang out at your local allotments, and you might benefit from seed sharing, plant swops and free fruit and veg from people who have a glut. I’ve been the grateful recipient of boxes of apples, redcurrants, plums and courgettes. Look out for local plant sales, likely to sell varieties that grow well in your area and climate.
Stick to second hand
Instead of buying brand new gardening equipment like spades, forks, rakes and shears, think second hand. Stalk car boot sales and garage sales, sign up for your local Freecycle group and scour the small adds on Gumtree. For bigger items, ask around and see if you can borrow equipment like hedge trimmers. Alternatively, websites like Fat Lama allow you to hire equipment from people nearby. Now over to you – what are your top tips for gardening on a budget? Do share your recommendations.
Faith Archer blogs over at Much More With Less, all about moving to the country, living on less and making the most of it.