5 Simple Solutions For Gardening On A Budget
18th July 2018
Gardening is a great way to get outside, but it can come at a price! Buying seeds, gardening tools and other accessories can quickly take the money out of your pocket, so here are a few tips to help you reduce those costs and garden on a budget.
Saving seed from plants you have grown this year is a brilliant way to be prepared for next season, and you get to grow your favourite varieties again, too. Lots of gardeners grow using F1 seeds, but these hybrids are not suitable for saving seed from as the plants grown from the saved seeds will not have the same characteristics as the original. Heirloom/heritage varieties are therefore needed.
To save seed, mark a plant that is growing well with a piece of string so that you remember not to pick the yields from it – you want the fruits to develop to maturity. Then once large enough, harvest the produce, extract the seeds, and leave them to dry – this can take a few weeks. Once this process is complete, store them in paper bags, or others are kept best in an airtight container. Saving seed seems relatively straightforward but veg left to seed could cross-pollinate, which you want to avoid, so if deciding to carry out this process look up whether the plants self-pollinate or not, and the best seed saving method to use for that type of crop.
Create a Windowsill Garden
Not all gardens are large enough to create a veg patch, and the wait for an allotment plot can be painstakingly long, so make the most of the space you have and create a windowsill garden. Grow quick crops such as salad leaves which can be cultivated in containers on a warm sunny windowsill; create a mini herb garden indoors with chives, basil and parsley; and grow hot chillies in pots on the windowsill – they love those warm summer rays. By growing crops, such as salad and herbs, that you can take several harvests from will help reduce your weekly shopping bill.
Making the most of resources you have on the plot is a great way to save a few pennies. Get a waterbutt installed on your patch to collect the rainwater. This helps you not only to be sustainable with this resource, but also lessens the need to use tap water, so you save money on your water bills! Using rainwater is better for some plants, too, as tap water can change the acidity of the soil, which can be a problem for acid-loving specimens like blueberry bushes. You can also put food waste and annual plants that have finished cropping (although not diseased specimens) to good use by creating a compost heap. This will eventually provide you with a great soil improver, and reduces the need to buy so much from the garden centre.
Don’t feel that you always need to buy new products for your crops to prosper – you can grow veg in a variety of structures from old plant pots to metal baths! You can also make your own gardening products and be resourceful while saving money. Turn any old newspapers into paper pots, perfect for sowing beans; use wooden pallets to make a huge range of structures, from compost bins to planting stands; and use a variety of unwanted household items as planting containers, you could always try using old wellington boots to grow flowers in!
Go Kitchen Crazy
Sometimes a variety of crops will all be ready for harvesting at the same time, and will continue to produce yields. You can quickly get a glut of produce and not be able to eat it all fresh. If this is the case, you don’t want it to go to waste so spend a day in the kitchen using the harvests in recipes and preparing for storing. Freezing produce is one of the easiest methods of preserving, and makes the yields easily available when you need them. You can also dry out and store crops, such as onions, for use during the colder months. Make cakes, pies, crumbles and jams with any leftover fruits, such as blackcurrants. You can make chutneys from any excess tomato harvests, too.
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