Gardening on the cheap – 11 cool tips

You can spend a fortune on gardening. Or you can re-use, re-purpose and recycle everyday bits and bobs and trim the cost right back.

Here’s my top 11 tips for saving money on the green stuff.

  1. grow seeds in cardboard egg boxes. Because they retain moisture they do a great job
  2. forget weed killers. Use mulch instead. It’s great for preventing weeds and when it rots down – which happens very quickly – it feeds the soil. It means you don’t have to dig either. Non-dig gardening is great stuff. Just mulch on top, let nature take its course and never disturb your soil again. It’s the way nature works, and recent research shows it’s much better for your soil than digging it up and exposing the microbes that live in it to the air. What mulch? I use lawn cuttings, leaves and clippings, scattering them on our beds in even layers on a rotation basis. You should see our garden – it’s a jungle even though it was originally just six inches of crappy topsoil on top of thousands of feet of chalk Downland!
  3. if you have an attic full of ancient cassette tapes, pull them apart and use the tape itself to scare the birds off your veg. They hate the way it flaps about and throws reflections
  4. make a mini-greenhouse from a jam jar or a plastic bottle – great for protecting tender plants until they’re tough enough to survive the big outdoors
  5. cream containers make great pots for seedlings, once they’re big enough to pot on from your egg boxes. Poke a hole in the bottom with something sharp first. Lining it with a layer of newspaper helps retain moisture
  6. instead of throwing your old clothes out and buying special gardening clothing, wear your disreputable old gear for gardening
  7. you can buy plant food. But indoor and outdoor plants adore cold tea, and the contents of tea bags make fantastic fertiliser
  8. bulbs are tricky things. To keep them in good condition without rotting or drying out too much, store them in an old pair of tights, perfect for airing. Tights also make excellent tie-backs for plants because they don’t damage tender stems or restrict stem growth. Dark coloured tights blend into the background beautifully too, so your garden doesn’t end up looking like a jumble sale!
  9. use moss from your garden when planting your hanging baskets. Or use an old black plastic bin bag with a few tiny holes poked into it, lined with a few layers of newspaper for extra water retention
  10. mix a few drops of washing up liquid with water and you’ve made DIY aphid spray
  11. buy old forks and table spoons from charity shops or boot sales. They make brilliant gardening tools, especially for small stuff like planting seeds and seedlings