How to avoid wasting money for cash strapped gardeners- all contributions welcome

(26 Posts)
onefewernow Sun 11-Aug-13 17:57:32

Hi all

Over the years, I have wasted a heap of cash in the garden.

In this thread, i thought I would put my top tips and let other add theirs.

For starters:

fruit and any other trees- if you buy a large 3 year tree complete with fruit, it will be smaller two years later than the much cheaper 1-2 year 'whip' you put in at the same time. One is £40 plus, the other £12. Starting a tree off younger in the ground, any tree, means it will grow away quicker than one with more and bigger roots.

Perennial plants and flowers:

It is better to buy a really big one and split it at the end of the season to make several, or a couple of really small ones to grow in yourself, than three or more medium size ones.

Annuals: stuff for baskets and pots eg geraniums, grow really fast. Last year I bought £2. pots of them , my neighbour bought trays of six three-inch ones for the same price. A few weeks later, hers had caught up, in a similar position in the garden.

Most flower beds look better with a few shrubs and perennials than just perennials. I used to waste lots of money on perennial only borders which didnt look satisfying. Also, lots of the same plant looks way better than one of lots of different types, especially with perennials.

For me, when growing plants from seed, I am careful these days to have them indoors on the windowsill instead of direct sowing in the ground. In the old way, I didnt always get any results, and would give up. Also, I bought a set of five plastic propagating trays with see through lids, for £4 in Aldi. They have helped enormously. Also, I only grow stuff from seed which germinates easily, eg foxgloves, and is fairly reliable, not expensive tricky stuff- I havent time to give them the care they need.

Stuff like old roses, lavatera, and much more is EASY to propagate just from dumping them in the ground around now, as long as the site isnt too sunny and hot, the soil is well drained and mixed with sand or grit, and they are watered regularly until the autumn. Its worth looking up on the net what is easy to propagate in this way, and what isnt. Especially if you have kids and a job! Take off most leaves and cut of the soft tops. Cuts should be at a slant.Look up each one on google for better instructions.

My dahlias in large pots are looking fantastic, large and flowering well. I took a risk on them at 20p each in packets in the market. They were originally £2.99 each, and intended for February purchase. I bought them in June, way too late, and they have caught up just fine. Just shows how late some of this stuff can be bought, as the warmer weather makes them grow so much more quickly.

Thats it, from me. Any others?

OhDearNigel Mon 09-Sep-13 23:09:43

buy plants from people who have them outside their houses. i bought a large violet for our shady bed, a hebe and a nice looking foxglove for £2 yesterday

Kernowgal Mon 09-Sep-13 22:02:50

Seconding the clubbing together to buy seeds. Or if you're an RHS member, take advantage of their seed scheme - £12 for a huge choice of seeds. Or if you have an allotment, buy your seed from your allotment society shop, if you have one, as they often have excellent deals.

Love the idea of a gardening club, especially a boozy one. I've been collecting seeds from my parents' garden recently, and might have a wander round the flowerbeds at work with a few paper packets in my pocket. The tip on buying whip fruit trees is an excellent one - they catch up so fast. And if you are green fingered, try doing your own grafting - rootstocks are cheap and you can go to scion swaps in January and get some really interesting varieties. If space is small you could even do a 'family tree' with several different varieties on it.

mignonette Mon 09-Sep-13 18:36:22

Learn how to propagate. Taking cuttings and grafting will save you a fortune. They are very simple to learn-I have taught so many people and we then swap the 'fruits' of our labours.

Club together w/ friends to buy seeds, especially vegetable seeds.

Artyjools Mon 09-Sep-13 18:32:27

Set up a gardening club with neighbours/friends. We have recently set one up in our road. The idea is that we shall swop seeds and cuttings, share and give away excess produce, unwanted magazines, compost, tools, pots etc, and have an annual plant sale in order to raise money for the residents' association social events. We may be able to make savings by buying compost etc in bulk and ordering seeds in bulk.

In the last week, I have wandered around two of my neighbours' gardens taking cuttings and seeds.

The boozy evenings club meetings, which we take it in turn to host, when we sit around talking about gardening and other stuff, is a bonus smile.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Sun 08-Sep-13 16:21:00

I would also say be ruthless when you grow things from seed - if you get a lot of plants give or even chuck some away when they're little if you don't really have space for them. I've grown pumpkins and tomatoes from seed this year and ended up buying loads of pots (and canes and twine and compost etc.) for them because once they reached a certain size I'd invested too much in them to get rid of them.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Sun 08-Sep-13 16:08:33

I bought some plants through a special offer in Gardener's World magazine - it was supposed to be £5.95 for 48 plants or something like that. So a bargain you'd think, right? No. Firstly, I only realised when I looked at my bank statement a couple of months later my card had been debited £10 something - I guess there was small print I hadn't read. But it was too late to do anything about it and I thought to myself 'It's ok, I'm getting 48 plants in 9cm pots, it's still great value for money'. But of course the plants turned up and they weren't in pots, they were plugs. And I had no compost to plant them out in, and couldn't get any for a couple of days coz I was doing crazy hours at work, and rather stupidly didn't sit them in water because I had no idea how quickly they'd dry up. When I came to plant them they were bone dry. I did plant them in the vain hope that they'd revive but they were dead as dodos and I lost all 48.

Quite a few lessons there!

Bearleigh Sat 07-Sep-13 22:22:20

Look for reduced seeds in Wilko and garden centres. Some seed like parsnips have to be fresh but once opened if you keep them cool lots of seeds last ages.

I also discovered, by taking a chance on some 75% off seeds, that growing some perennials like dahlias and oenothera is as easy as growing annuals.

Morrison's is amazing for climbers: really good AGM varieties that just need potting on and hardening off.

I have learned that Bob Flowerdew is right:

1. what makes the most difference to most fruit & vegetables is plenty of water.

2. As fruit costs more money than vegetables, and takes less time to look after, it makes sense to grow fruit first and then veg if you have time/space.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Mon 26-Aug-13 15:27:26

Join your local gardening society, as they are bound to run plant swaps and sales

Do the rounds of all your local fetes and summer fairs, as they invariably have a plant stall full of stuff that grows well in local conditions

funnyperson Mon 26-Aug-13 02:16:27

Talking about green fingers- I meant to say that the best way not to waste money when gardening is to plant plants with a good deep hole filled with nice compost, and to improve the soil with compost/mulch etc. And water the young plant and feed the maturing one (if it needs it) This sounds a bit basic but when I watched Monty planting clematis I realised I had not previously dug a big enough place for the new plants and ever since all my clematis have done really well.

funnyperson Mon 26-Aug-13 02:11:45

My poundland seeds germinate- but not into what it says on the packet!
I know I could have mis labelled the seed bed but twice now I've had something very different grow.

OhDearNigel Sun 25-Aug-13 22:56:19

Funnyperson, i've never had a problem propagating poundland seeds. But i do have green fingers :D

onefewernow Sun 25-Aug-13 15:45:13

..even with grit mixed in.

They often came up the first year and rotted before the next. Curiously I'm on clay here too, but more acidic, and can grow more bulbs, including snowdrops.

onefewernow Sun 25-Aug-13 15:43:37

Texting from France!

I do think its worth checking out what neighbours say will come back year on year, in terms of bulbs.

In my last house the soil was quite damp alkaline clay, and I was wasting my money on most bulbs, even

cantspel Sat 24-Aug-13 01:34:26

I got some lovely daf bulbs in poundland today. Nice big healthy bulbs at 4 for £1. I got Armada and red devon

funnyperson Fri 23-Aug-13 21:15:36

Poundland is very good for plants and bulbs but their seeds are suspect. Lidl did fruit trees for a pound 2 years ago and I planted 2 'sticks' , one plum and one pear, but though still alive, and growing, there is no fruit or blossom on either. Cheap clematis are often not very hardy yearlings so need nurturing before planting out.
Take lots of cuttings this time of year from friends, family and neighbours, and seeds of course.

Vegetable woman here! Don't get sucked into buying lots of vegetable seeds and using space unless; you eat that vegetable; it is expensive. So, I eat a lot of green beans and snap peas. They are easy in my garden and expensive in the shop. Fab. DH wants to grow turnips/swedes which we eat once a year at Burns Night and are cheaper than chips in the shop. Waste of time, money, space and energy.

bassetfeet Tue 20-Aug-13 17:10:41

Herbacious plants dont mix with dogs that go cracker dog around the garden blush. Shrubs mostly chez Basset these days sadly.

Buy reduced spring flowering bulbs and plant late . November even here up north and they flower later and then correct themselves. Tulips in particular .

echt Sun 18-Aug-13 02:36:45

Mulch sooner rather than later. Saves on watering.

Buy end of season tatty perennials/climbers/shrubs at the sad plants units; I'm sure Homebase still has them. A bit of TLC can revive most of them.

Sconset Sat 17-Aug-13 23:28:31

Ha! I was trying to decypher 'farde era'!

Great idea for a thread, though I shall not have much to contribute I'm afraid.

My main tip is - re-pot as soon as you need to, rather than letting stuff die because it's outgrown the pot blush

See- I really need help!

onefewernow Sat 17-Aug-13 17:39:08

Gardeners world not "farde era!!" Whatever that is, iPhone.

onefewernow Sat 17-Aug-13 17:38:16

Thank you very much folks.

I am on holiday from Monday for two weeks, but I will check on again.

I do like the not pulling up weeds idea! I bought farde era world magazine last week and got a 125 allium bulbs- 5?different types- for a fiver from T and M, via a code offer.

plipplops Sat 17-Aug-13 08:32:07

Have a good look round local gardens and see what grows well as they will probably do well in your garden. And don't be afraid to ask other people if you can have a chunk of some perennials from their garden (I dug up loads from MIL and would be happy to pass it on).

If something really didn't work one year, don't persist next year just because you love it (I tried growing dahlias for a few years but they always always get attacked by earwigs and I've finally accepted there's just no point sad. Likewise, if some particular type of bedding works really well, stick with it (and buy it small like onefewernow said).

EauRouge Wed 14-Aug-13 22:08:05

Great idea for a thread.

My contribution: don't pull up random 'weed' seedlings until you know for sure what they are- I've had loads of good freebies from the wind and passing birds.

Liara Wed 14-Aug-13 21:40:16

Oh, I've also wasted a fortune.

My tips:

Never buy too many of one kind of plant/bulb. Buy a few, see how they do and then either propagate them or buy some more of the ones that are successful. Don't be swayed by all the arguments that plants look so much better in large swathes. They do, but only if they are alive and doing well.

NEVER buy in soil, if there is any way you can avoid it.

Take your time, and be prepared to put up with a few empty spaces until plants grow enough. If necessary use annuals to fill the gaps. Don't overcrowd plants, especially shrubs. This is quite difficult to do when you are planting things as barely more than rooted cuttings, so measure a large established one and block out the same amount of space for the new plants.

If you have an area you can't really deal with properly, don't bother buying plants for it. Plant things you have grown yourself and you don't mind losing, on the off chance they will take, but anything bought in will need a lot of care for the first year or two.

yourcruisedirector Sun 11-Aug-13 18:06:39

Fantastic! Watching with interest. I love gardening and have done what I can with my postage stamp garden. I'm shortly going to move into my gorgeous new house which has a 100ft+ mature garden that's not to my taste at all. We're planning a greenhouse, veg plots, and lots of new flower beds. I can't wait!

My top tip... If you are buying expensive plants, put the time into working the soil and watering. They may look like they're doing ok, but if you don't nurture them they won't survive the winter.

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