Getting green-fingered and growing your own has all sorts of benefits, including saving pennies on the food shop. But if you have to buy plants, pots and tools the cost of gardening can quickly tot up so we’ve dug up five of the best tips and tricks that will trim back the expense of making the most of your garden.
1. Root through your rubbish
Old tights, food trays and lolly sticks might seem like rubbish, but they could all save you a pricey trip to the garden centre. Stockings and tights make strong but gentle soft-ties for climbing and fruit plants while empty yogurt pots, toilet roll tubes and meat trays will come in useful as makeshift seed trays and plant pots.
You can also use egg boxes for chitting potatoes, lolly sticks as plant labels and even old woolly jumpers for lining your hanging baskets. So think twice before throwing anything away!
2. Be clever with compost
“DIY composting is one of the best ways to keep garden costs down and you can use almost anything to make it,” says James Lentle, horticulture manager at Percy Thrower’s Wyevale Garden Centre. “Throw in grass clippings, weeds, newspaper and organic kitchen waste such as coffee grounds and veg peelings.
It might take a while to get the crumbly, nutrient-rich compost you want, but it will be gardener’s gold dust.” Save money on a compost bin by turning an old plastic dustbin upside down and cutting out the bottom.
3. Start off with seeds
Growing plants from seed is the cheapest option and you can make even bigger savings by using just a small pinch. You won’t need the whole packet so save the rest for another year. Alternatively, join a seed swap to exchange your spare seeds with other gardeners, often for free. Some local gardening clubs run these or visit www.gardenswapshop.co.uk.
4. Leave beer out for slugs
Slugs will be deterred from nibbling your plants if you leave a saucer of ale nearby. Epsom salts or vinegar will also keep them at bay, so no need to buy pesticide. “To keep pests off your carrots, protect the crop with a fleece or bubble wrap,” suggests Steve Guy from Dobbies.
5. Think beyond the garden centre
Garden centres offer some great deals, especially if your local centre runs a loyalty scheme, but they aren’t the only places to look. Car-boot sales, farm shops and church fairs as well as discount stores such as Aldi and Wilko often sell plants at cut-down prices.
From building sites you can get scrap wood to make bird tables and trellises or sawdust for mulch – but always ask first! You will also find secondhand garden equipment, to bid for or for free, on www.preloved.co.uk and www.freecycle.org
- There's more gardening and money saving advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.