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Spill the beans... on tricks for cheaply growing fruit & veg

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  • Leif
    Leif Posts: 3,727 Forumite
    A._Badger wrote: »
    I'm afraid I really think the whole notion of 'saving money' by gardening is almost always misplaced. A few items are cost-effective (at random, blueberries, French beans, anything 'out of season') but for the most part a serious analysis of the money spent on seeds, plants, materials, fertilisers, pesticides (if used) and the incalculable hours spent doing it suggests that it is usually far cheaper to let the farmer do it for you.

    I do disagree with that. It might be true of veg such as onions and carrots, which are cheap to buy, but rocket costs a fortune, good chillis (fresh Habaneros say) cost a fortune, rhubarb costs a lot, and mangetout are expensive. It cost me very little to grow most of these things. Some of my chilli planters are more than 10 years old, and I bought some from the local tip for 10p each. My tomato fertiliser lasts years, and goes on many plants. Mange tout just goes into the soil, with a few bamboo canes found stuffed above the patio ceiling. I was suspicious of home grown tomatoes, but mine are nicer than bought. Rather than buy a punnet, and sometimes they lack flavour, and they go off unless I eat them soon, I can pick a few when I want. Strawberries are cheap once you have a few plants, although they do seem to be a bit of a pain to look after. Of course I have spent some money on some nice plots, but that is because they are decorative items, so not really fair to add this to the cost of growing food, they are garden decoration.

    I have huge amounts of compost cooking, which will reduce costs further. (I've had too much green matter and have had to dump some at the tip.)

    My neighbour bought some potato seedlings cheap, and now has huge amounts of potatoes ready to pick soon.
    A._Badger wrote: »
    What you do gain is greater variety, fresher produce, healthy activity and tremendous satisfaction.

    Definitely. I like being in the garden.
    Warning: This forum may contain nuts.
  • Syl
    Syl Posts: 15 Forumite
    Growing food has so many benefits, not all money saving ones.
    It is great for your physical and mental health and a very useful skill to boot. I would say though that there are lots of ways to save money if you want to. Join your local horticultural society (I did and now I'm the secretary!!), there are often lectures or workshops which give you lots of tips and give you access to experts or just fellow gardeners.

    Concentrate your efforts on food that you will eat but never be afraid to try something new each year.

    Collect your own seed where you can - beans, peppers, tomatoes, chilies are particularly good. Swap seed with others to increase your range.

    Look after seed carefully. Keep them in a cool dark place to conserve viability. Some seeds have a very short shelf life (parsnips particularly) so if you can't use them all at once give them away while fresh.

    One of the cheapest places to buy seed is on ebay, there are several ebay shops that sell seed, they usually come in plain envelopes so no glossy pictures, the information you need is on the website.

    Don't worry if something doesn't grow one year, it may just be the weather, you might have better luck next time, persevere.

    Above all always remember the gardeners motto

    NEVER MIND - THERE'S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR
  • Hmm_2
    Hmm_2 Posts: 81 Forumite
    I grew up with a large veg garden and several fruit bushes, but I seem to have learned nothing!

    Now that I'm starting my own family I would really like to grow our own produce, but everything I bring into the house dies.

    The pattern seems to be that they get covered very quickly in little transparent to white-ish flies and then wither. Can anyone tell me what these beasts are and why they cover everything within a day or two of being brought into the house?

    I'd also really appreciate any advice on natural pesticides. I have read that you can use diluteed castille soap, but no details of how and the quantities. I'd like to keep things chemical free and old school.

    My goal is to be able to successfully grow a few things indoors (even the herbs are dropping dead) before investing in a larger plat in the garden.

    Any advice gratefully received :-)
  • spadoosh
    spadoosh Posts: 8,732 Forumite
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    grrmich wrote: »
    7. Keep an eye out for skips and discarded but useful rubbish. e.g. bits of wood for raised beds, bricks for weighing down netting and fleece, and my favourite-divan bed bases. When you remove the material, the wooden base makes an excellent frame to cover with netting and protect cabbages. Just paint with a little wood treatment.
    .

    Awesome idea! Thank you! Just spent about £20 quid building a frame for my chicken run, couldve easily used a bed frame!!

    Will keep an eye out! Assume you could add polythene to harden any new plants aswell?! Forgotten the word but like a greenhouse.
  • spadoosh
    spadoosh Posts: 8,732 Forumite
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    Hmm wrote: »
    I grew up with a large veg garden and several fruit bushes, but I seem to have learned nothing!

    Now that I'm starting my own family I would really like to grow our own produce, but everything I bring into the house dies.

    The pattern seems to be that they get covered very quickly in little transparent to white-ish flies and then wither. Can anyone tell me what these beasts are and why they cover everything within a day or two of being brought into the house?

    I'd also really appreciate any advice on natural pesticides. I have read that you can use diluteed castille soap, but no details of how and the quantities. I'd like to keep things chemical free and old school.

    My goal is to be able to successfully grow a few things indoors (even the herbs are dropping dead) before investing in a larger plat in the garden.

    Any advice gratefully received :-)

    I could only assume the bugs are whitefly?! http://www.harrodhorticultural.com/whitefly-cid64.html?Aff=G010&gclid=CPjg7LPo-rECFeEntAodfAUAow theres a link to a few pest control methods, would do more research though!

    Herbs generally dont do too well indoors. They tend to be in a pot too small and are either allowed to grow to big killing most of the plant or growing too tall and flopping over. Especially the supermarket potted herbs, as far as im aware they rarely last over a month.

    What i would suggest doing is just growing them outdoors, theyll need very little care and attention and you open them up to wildlife defenses (other bugs and creatures will eat some bad bugs) obviously its true the other way slugs (especially this year grrrr!!!:mad:) will be a problem but easily over come with pots and copper tape. When it comes to late autumn/winter take a cutting/split from your herbs bringing it indoors and you should be able to make it last till the outdoors herbs come back again.
  • Sulevia
    Sulevia Posts: 57 Forumite
    I have only pots and no-where to make compost but I save tea bags and make a jug of 'second-hand' tea, let it cool and then water the pots with it, free fertiliser.

    I have a big tub which I use for potatoes but I don't buy seed potatoes, too many in the bag for me. I simply use a few regular potatoes that have started to sprout. Ok the yield may not be as great but at least I get a good big bag full of new potatoes which are often so expensive to buy.
  • nephilim
    nephilim Posts: 251 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    In my area we have a wide assortment of fruit bushes and hedges. I rang the council and asked if I could dig one up that was small and plant it in my garden as they always cut them so the fruit doesn't flower much.

    They said yes, as such this year my crop has included Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Loganberries, Tayberries, and Gooseberries.

    Ask the council if you can remove 1 bush of each type from the area. I did and it seems to have had no adverse affect on the wildlife. I also teach my daughter about the fruits we are growing and as and when they are ready, we are freezing them so she can take them to nursery to share with other children.
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  • Many crops provide more than you can use at once but can be home frozen for later use .... good examples .runner beans ..... blackberries and sliced apples for pies (from hedgerows ) raspberries etc etc lay out on trays to freeze then bag them .... slice runner beans first
  • we've tried to grow a lot this year but get demoralised by the slugs! EVERYTHING gets eaten. What's everyone's favourite way of stopping the !!!!!!s?
  • MissR_2
    MissR_2 Posts: 1 Newbie
    edited 22 August 2012 at 10:36AM
    This year and last my garden in my long slim yard with little sun has been quite successful. I have done this on the cheap by
    1. Using old recycling boxes that our council gave out before the wheelie bins and no one uses any more as planters. Any time I spotted one close to home I just knocked and people gave them to me.
    2. Seeds kept from rocket and spinach have yielded a good harvest this year with many left over for next season. Hopefully the broccoli and beetroot will do the same (first year I've had flowering beetroot, perserverance is worth it).
    3. The mild winter kept my broccoli seedlings alive all winter and success this year- I wrapped their tub in an old fleece blanket when it snowed. So don't give up on anything that doesn't seem to be doing much right now. Turns out broccoli leaves are just as good as cabbage and has a bigger harvest.
    4. The tip about using empty bottles as mini cloches kept my carrots alive in the late spring snow. I also used my expensive gu pudding habit to save money by using the glass pots over seeds like a tiny green house.
    You can also make a cheep cloche by splitting some old plastic filing sleeves ( i had a3 ones handy), pinning them together and using a bit string, bamboo and inventiveness to make a quite durable cover for young plants. If you know an art student you could probably get even bigger ones for whole tub coverage.
    5. This year I will be saving egg boxes and plastic tubs from shop bought veg as they were great to rear seeds in (especially the ones that already have holes for water.
    6. Don't follow the money saving tip of using toilet roll tubes to grow carrot seedlings in- they don't keep them straight as I read they only compress the soil and stop growth. In darker spots I also had a problem with them growing fungus as the cardboard rotted.
    7. And finally I really should have realised the damp summer would ruin my courgettes and kept them inside. I have done this once and while you don't get quite the same yield you can at least wait for better weather. It also requires some "tickling" as my biology friend suggested- going round the flowers with a soft paint brush and tickling them to cross-pollinate when there are less insects to help you. Feels rude but it works.

    Oh and I nearly forgot, forget plant feed, when you are boilding veg or anything really, save the water let it cool and use to water plants. All the nutrients in the water will make a great feed
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