“In like a lion, out like a lamb”, or so the saying goes. Yes, it’s March – time to prise the shed door open, sweep the cobwebs away and reach for your gardening tools.
But how can you make the most of your outdoor space, and save money at the same time? Here are our top ten tips to help you save money in the garden.
Think planters made from recycled sturdy mens boots; a novel fertiliser solution and a good old fashioned weed killer alternative…
1. Seed swap
All good gardeners remember to let a few of their plants grow to seed at the end of the summer season. It’s a great way to save money on seeds the next year but even if you’re just starting out and buying seeds the first time round, chances are you won’t always use the full packet.
Why not maximise the variety of plants you can grow by joining a seed swap scheme? It’s a great way to experiment and make green fingered friends!
2. Free advice
No need to ‘fork’ out for expensive coffee table gardening books or celeb know-it-all DVDs. Check out fee for all online forums, or turn to that most trusted of sources for detailed info, fact sheets and more, the BBC.
Let Auntie’s very own Gardener’s Question Time be your guide. Listen live on Friday afternoons, catch the Sunday afternoon repeat or checkout the content on the BBC website.
3. Coffee groundsIt turns out it’s not just us humans that need a drop of coffee to get them going – plants do too!
Take your used coffee grounds and dig into the soil and watch your garden grow! Some gardeners use the stuff for fertiliser, others as a mulch.
And as a deterrent against slug and snail attacks, coffee grounds are said to be a top defensive strategy.
So if you’re a big coffee drinker, save on fertiliser and mulch, and simply save and use your coffee waste anyway. Easy!
4. Vinegar weed killer
Got a weed problem but not too keen on chemical killers that might also harm wildlife? Take a look in the back of your kitchen cupboard for an ages old solution.
Vinegar is nature’s weed killer. Pour white spirit vinegar into a spray bottle and douse the pesky plants repeating as necessary until the offending plant pegs it.
5. DIY plantersGot an old pair of wellies? Or shoes the kids have grown out of? Why not turn them into characterful planters?
Likewise, there’s no need to buy another seed tray or seedling pot when you can use anything from yoghurt pots hollowed out grapefruit halves and old toilet rolls to grow plants ready for planting out.
Any receptacle is a potential planter – experiment with new and unusual containers for a unique and inspiring garden.
Not only is it a practical way to use up your well worn belongings, but the end effect is perfect for a quirky garden.
6. Plant marigolds
There’s no need to spend money on expensive insect repellents to protect sensitive plants from bug attack, just plant marigolds. Some insects hate the smell of marigolds – others love it. Either way, a few marigolds planted amongst your veg plot helps keep parasites away from plants that need protection.
7. Make cuttings to cut costsGot an old pair of wellies? Or shoes the kids have grown out of? Why not turn them into characterful planters? Visiting a friend’s house? Take a tour around their garden, take a snip here and there and hey presto you’ll have the best of their plant life to transplant into your own barren borders.
We’re talking cuttings. Spring is the best time of year, morning is the best time to take them.
Aim for new growth, but not flowering shoots. Take off about 10 cm taking the material from above a bud on the donor plant. It’s probably best to ask first, but you could carry a pair of secateurs in your pocket at your pals – you never know when a shrub might take your fancy.
8. Wee on your plants
A study in Finland quoted in the Scientific American magazine found that fertiliser made from human urine and wood ash is at least as effective as mineral fertiliser. And because human wee is almost sterile when it exits the body, it’s perfectly safe to use on the garden.
What might seem like a somewhat icky gardening solution could save you a packet on chemical fertilisers that aren’t necessarily great for the environment. A single human can produce enough urine to fertilise a one metre square patch of soil per day – what are you waiting for!
9. Grow food from kitchen scrapsAbout to chuck away your veg peelings? Stop!
You could be binning next year’s carrot crop.
Many vegetables will root if held suspended over a shallow dish of water. Think carrot tops, lettuce leaves, sweet potato slices, celery sticks, avocado seeds.
Simply wait for roots to develop then plant in soil and wait for your next crop to grow, a simple way to keep your fridge stocked for free.