Revisited! Great 'Grow Your Own' Hunt: share your top tips on home cultivation

Former_MSE_Wendy Posts: 929
I've been Money Tipped! Newshound! PPI Party Pooper Best Buy Bear
edited 17 May 2011 at 6:59PM in Greenfingered MoneySaving
Growing fruit and veg at home is all the rage with celebrities and old-stylers alike, and given rising food prices there's never been a better time to start. So this week I'd like to call on greenfingered MoneySavers' knowledge of getting a vegetable patch together, to help out those who'd like to get going but simply don't know how to begin.

What do you need to get going?
What are the easiest things to grow?
How much time do you need to spend tending to it?
How much does it really save you?
And finally, is it worth the hassle?
Click reply to share your suggestions

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    ALIBOBSY Posts: 4,527
    Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    My first year growing veggies, so I can give that much info re savings etc. But I will say the thrill of growing and then eating your own veg is far more amazing than I imagined lol.

    One thing I have found is you may be suprised how much you may already have to use for your grow your own veg. Whilst clearing the garden and garage we found loads of plants pots and plant feed. You can also use old pots and trays from microwave dishes/yoghurts etc to grow seedlings in.
    Lidl/aldi/wilkos/£ stretcher are your friends. For seeds and everything, far cheaper than garden centres.

    I got 6 strawberry plants from Lidl for £1.49, and daughter has had loads of berries off them already. The few I managed to grab were lovely mmmm.
    My hubby made me 2 raised beds out of reduced price decking and we filled it with compost from the recycling centre. Plus I planted loads of stuff in those morrisons black buckets and treated myself to one of those mini green houses from aldi.

    Probably spent around £40 ish all in, but of course alot of that was initial set up costs which will actually be for a number of "growing years". You could start off for alot less, depending on what items you already have at home.

    Next year will have even more beds and hubby is after keeping chickens as well. Hubby has decided where the coop will go and some friends of ours who live round the corner and keep their own are advising us, can't wait for free range eggs as well mmmmmmm :)

    I have found most plants easy to grow so far, but my chillis and peppers have gone wild.
    ali x
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

  • tlck9
    tlck9 Posts: 320
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    on the subject of chickens, I saw somewhere where an old battery farm is looking to re home chickens, that would otherwise be slaughtered.

    Might be worth checking on google to see where and how, I would imagine free to a good home, but I dont know - I know alot of local farms near me have taken quite a number but there are hundreds to rehome
  • Larumbelle
    Larumbelle Posts: 2,140 Forumite
    edited 19 May 2011 at 9:58AM
    You need surprisingly little to get going. Sure, you might hit a few snags along the way but you'd be amazed what you can do by just chucking a few seeds in some dirt and watering it every now and then. The best advice I can give is to read the stickies at the top of this forum then search for whatever interests you!

    The easiest things to start with in my opinion are herbs, and salads: lettuces, spring onions, and radishes. All you need is a suitable seed tray-type container (plastic trays from the supermarket are good) some compost, and the seeds. They'll grow fine on a sunny windowsill so long as you give them a little water every few days.

    You can get cheap plastic flower buckets from the supermarkets (usually 8 for 99p or free for the taking) or containers from freecycle, use them to grow corn, peppers, chillis, tomatoes, beans, peas, strawberries... you can grow most plants in them! If you don't make your own compost most councils give away the compost they make from the contents of 'green bins' for free. And you can sometimes get leftover veg plants on freecycle too. Seeds you can get from surprising places; I always grow potatoes and garlic from the supermarket, and get seeds in the sale or from friends. Seeds are cheap from Alan Romans too - 50p per pack!

    Don't feel restricted to growing stuff in 'traditional' ways. I grow potatoes in dustbins, compost bags and pop-up laundry bins, I grow squashes and pumpkins up trellises so they don't take too much room, I grow brassicas in an old freezer and in an old chest of drawers turned on its side with the drawers removed (lettuces are growing in the drawers themselves), my 'greenhouse' is a gazebo frame covered in plastic, my raised beds are made from old wood and door hinges... just look at what you've got and give it a shot. What's the worst that can happen?!

    I make plant food using nettles and comfrey, antifungus using horsetail (a weed), and other than that I rely on nature to help me out. I have slug tape round my pots but the blackbirds and hedgehog between them are so greedy it hasn't really been necessary.

    Regards time, I spend a few weekends 'planting' and after that I only need to spend maybe fifteen or twenty minutes every day or two tending the plants. But growing your own is so addictive that you find yourself little jobs to do!

    If you use a little ingenuity you can grow a lot of food for free. This year I have spent around £100 on all gardening materials - about £35 of that was materials to build my greenhouses and another £10 was a new spade. I plan on trying saving seeds so next year I should only have to spend about £20 tops :D . You can spend a fortune if you choose to, but it's like anything, you decide if it's an important enough purchase and if not you find another, cheaper, way. I couldn't begin to tell you how much money I save - I love my veggies and salads and fruits and used to spend £30-40 per WEEK just on these for OH and I :eek: This is down to £5 at the very most now as I grow enough to store and prefer to adapt to what I've got. So yeah, the savings make it worthwhile, although I appreciate how lucky I am to have enough space to be self-sufficient veggie-wise.

    OH still won't let me have chickens though. I've been on at him for THREE YEARS and he won't budge :mad:
  • arkonite_babe
    arkonite_babe Posts: 7,377
    Combo Breaker First Post
    Don't forget friends, neighbours and family who are also growing fruit and veg can be good sources for swaps of plants, seeds and produce.
  • MC_Emily_2
    MC_Emily_2 Posts: 52 Forumite
    Just a quick word about chickens. Please be very careful about their housing...even during the day. With the increase of foxes in suburban areas, chickens are at serious risk and it's heartbreaking to find your birds dead or dying after a fox has been. They are a very real risk. A fox with cubs will be even more daring and it's highly likely you could lose your birds during the day as well as at night.
  • I got some cheap tools from my local tip, where there is a huge bin full of spades, forks, hoes etc, all for a couple of quid. I've also invested in a 'wormery', which gives me a seemingly endless supply of liquid plant food and lovely compost. All I do is feed the worms my waste food and they do the rest.
  • Primrose
    Primrose Posts: 10,619
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary I've been Money Tipped!
    It's surprising how much you can grow in a little space. Be imaginative and grow vegetables mixed in with your flower borders if necessary. La Lollo and other red lettuces are very decorative and look attractive mixed in with flowers, and Bright Lights Swiss Chard comes with yellow and red stalks and also looks very much at home in flower borders. Don't forget your front garden too, which is often unproductive growing space. Instead of flowering shrubs, grow gooseberries, black currants, redcurrants, or strawberries for ground cover, which will save you weeding. If you only have limited space, grow things that are expensive to buy or you use a lot of: lettuce, courgettes, climbing beans. If you're just starting a veggie patch now, sow winter cabbage and Swiss Chard (which is mostly hardy) and if you cover with plastic cloches if further north, will give you greens throughout the winter,
  • rfburke
    rfburke Posts: 31 Forumite
    Remember your title deeds to your house might forbid the keeping of live poultry on the premises. You don't want to get in trouble with the neighbours! Although a free supply of free range eggs goes a long way.
  • I've been growing veggies for three years now. My first year I had a bumper crop of tomatoes (in grow bags) and pumpkins. Since then it's been rubbish (including this summer). While this may be a by-product of the crap weather we've had, what I'm ready to do is grow plants in my back garden that are suited to the nasty cold wet climate we have. I don't have a greenhouse, so I need plants that can grow without heat (no peppers, as I've learned to my cost). My garden is a bit shaded in the early morning and late evening, also.

    I really loved the pumpkins I grew, but the past two years I've had no luck with them, from either direct soil or grow bags. I have a compost bin for compost, and I chuck earthworms into it for good measure.

    What I've tried so far:
    spinach (plants alive, but not growing)
    tomatoes (good one year, bad the rest)
    courgettes (some luck)
    pumpkins and various squash (limited success)
    peppers (no luck at all)
    strawberries (eaten by birds or slugs)
    leeks and onions (plants grew but didn't get big, then went to seed)
    globa artichokes (didn't grow the first year, but survived through winter and now sprouting)

    So - what should I grow? Am I stuck with growing turnips?

  • Kantankrus_Mare
    Kantankrus_Mare Posts: 6,093
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Im just going into my third year of owning an allotment.

    The first year was really a case of clearing the plot and getting it dug over by hand. Had more brambles than we could cope with (made wine) and had our first success with main crop potatoes.

    The second year was ruined by floods and only the brambles and elderberries kept me going in wine.

    This year is the best yet!! Have invested in a greenhouse for home where I can start things off and so far this year we have had:

    Red and white onions which had been over about another sixty onions to lift in a few weeks time.

    New potatoes


    Salad leaves



    Biggest success was strawberries. Planted them first year but this is first year had fantastic crop and keep doing runners for more free plants.

    Veg to come........More potatoes, beetroot, peas, mange tout,sweetcorn,spring onions, tomatoes, peppers, sprouts, broccoli, .

    I wouldnt say at the moment that it is saving me money when I take into account the rent of allotment and cost of getting it how I want it but Im thinking long term and just the satisfaction of eating your own produce is a great feeling.

    At the moment I also have an abundance of sweet peas to pick from. I planted them all down one side early spring in the hope of having a wall of flowers and it worked. :D

    Also dont think you have to be a gardener...........when I took mine on I had never lifted a spade in my life and get books from charity shops for all my info or look on grapevine. (A great site for budding veg growers.)

    Good luck to anyone that gives it a go.
    Make £10 a Day Feb .....£75.... March... £65......April...£90.....May £20.....June £35.......July £60
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