14 February 2011

Mythbuster: You don't need to start sowing veg now or need lots of cash...

Unfortunately the great Celtic tiger missed our household.  What with being a stay at home mum for years and making terrible car choices (we've had 11 in as many years), I'm not embarrassed to say that we've always had to garden within a very limited budget.

It's one of the reasons why we started growing our own veg. It's also why we don’t have any raised beds, why we have grass between all of our little plots and why we don’t have an irrigation system.
We made do without heated propagators, horticultural fleece or cloches. All of those ‘must have' items were off limits to us. Some weeks we couldn't afford a bag of multipurpose compost let alone new seed trays. We didn't have a polytunnel back when we started so couldn't grow all the warmth loving plants such as peppers, cordon tomatoes and aubergines.
However, life was very easy and simple.
We just planted everything a little later in the year when the temperatures had warmed up and the days were longer. We didn't need all the gadgets.

Most of the seeds were planted directly into the soil and had to fend for themselves. We had a few losses but on the whole the plants grew bigger and stronger. It also made gardening less time consuming for us as we didn’t have to worry about frosts, transplanting or potting on.
All we had to do was weed around the plants and watch them grow. We didn’t feed them with liquid fertilizers or spray them for pests. We were very lucky to have a free supply of as much well-rotted cow manure as we wanted, so could pile it on the beds at the beginning and end of the growing season but that was it.

Recycled heating pipe

It's only as the growing bug dug a bit deeper (well, a lot deeper) and finances eased a little that we slowly started to build up a little stock of things. Firstly a small plastic 'greenhouse', then a decent fork. Horticultural fleece came next and a roll of clear plastic to warm up the beds to give us a 'head start'.
We were given the polytunnel and I'm still looking forward to the day when I can switch on a heated propagator, but we can and have managed without.

Would I like all the latest and best gizmos? Well of course, what girl wouldn’t? Do I need them? No, they’re not essential (but don’t tell my husband).


  1. We also try to keep gardening expenses to a minimum, our biggest expense was our little greenhouse and I built that myself in order to save $. That last picture of your garden is amazing, I love that you have made do with what you had and still managed to create such a nice gardening area allowing you to enjoy the wonderful experience of growing and eating your own foods.

  2. Thanks for your comments Mr H.... we love it here and I definately think you appreciate things more when you've had to work hard for them.

    Having said all that though, I do wish I'd had someone to turn to for advice or to answer my many questions. We'd have grown a lot more, a lot quicker and without as many losses.

  3. Nice post, thanks.

    Agree with Mr H, its brilliant that you have made such an attractive space with few resources.

    I had a stroll around the allotments the other day, it was really inspiring seeing what people use on the plots. Bathtubs, driftwood, all manner of stuff. The resourcefulness is wonderful.

  4. It's great to be able to use old stuff, some of which has good memories associatied with it. It makes you appreciate everything all the more I think.


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