Save money on your gardening
Money may not grow on trees, but follow our foolproof tips for thrifty gardening and you'll be quids in
Don’t go dashing to the garden centre to stock up on tools, sheds or equipment. Second-hand is just as good – after all, those brand-new shiny tools will soon be covered in mud! Check out eBay for quality second-hand tools. And Freecycle– where you can pick great garden goodies up for free – is even better.
Go potty over pots
Used yoghurt or cream pots – in fact, any small plastic containers you can make a few holes in the bottom of – make perfect plant pots. Larger ice-cream tubs and margarine containers make great seed trays, too. See how to make newspaper seed pots
Turn muck into money
Instead of a buying a purpose-built compost bin, use an old dustbin with the bottom knocked out. Remember to add thin layers of shredded newspaper, leaves or wood shavings in between each layer of kitchen and garden waste to keep air flowing and to speed up the composting process. See how to make perfect compost
Be a good neighbour
Before you head off to the garden centre, have a chat with your neighbours and see if you can swap plants or cuttings. Any plants that grow well in your neighbour’s garden will probably do well in yours, too!
Make your own mini greenhouses
Cut the bottoms off old 1l or 2l plastic drinks bottles and use them as individual plant protectors. They’ll get any transplanted seedlings outside off to a great start, creating a protective environment until they become established.
Tightwad ways with old tights
● Use them as plant ties – they’re strong enough to give a good hold, and soft and stretchy enough not to damage tender stems.
● Pop one over the end of the drainpipe that goes into your water butt and tie it in place. This will act as a sieve and keep leaves and debris out of your water supply.
● Hang your onions in them – it keeps them off the ground and lets the air circulate, keeping onions and bulbs fresher for longer.
Don’t waste money on expensive plant labels – old plastic knives and forks, or yoghurt pots cut into strips will do the job just as well. Just use a waterproof marker pen to write the name of the plant on your homemade stick.
Get some support!
If you’re patient, you can grow your own bamboo canes. Choose a quick growing variety and within a couple of years, you’ll have more canes than you can shake a stick at!
Blitz those weeds
Simply weigh down old carpets, newspapers or curtains over the area of weeds you want to kill and leave in place until they’ve died right down. It’s labour saving, too!
Thank you very mulch
Apply a good layer of water-retaining mulch (grass clippings, leaves, wood chippings, shredded newspaper, homemade compost) around plants. This will keep the roots moist and give the plants a boost of nutrients.
Reap what you sow
Gathering your own seed not only conserves cash but it also means you can keep growing your favourites, year after year.
● Decide which plants you want to collect seeds from. Leave a few of those plants (choose strong, vigorous ones) to go to seed. They’ll send up a flower and this will in turn become a seed pod.
● Be patient and check for signs the seeds are ripening. As soon as they are ripe, pick off the whole seed head or pod and dry it fl at indoors on newspaper. A few days at room temperature will do it.
● When the seeds are on the inside, leave the vegetable to mature as long as possible. Then cut it open and scoop some of the seeds out and dry them as above.
● Put the seeds in an envelope and mark clearly with the name and growing instructions.
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