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

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  • 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.

    What you do gain is greater variety, fresher produce, healthy activity and tremendous satisfaction.

    Hi, A. Badger, I'm afraid I disagree with you there. Whilst I'm not claiming to have solved our family's staple food needs, I do believe I saved myself money through growing my own potatoes this year. I didn't buy seed potatoes, just cut a wedge off potatoes that were sprouting (cooked the rest), and laid them in a bit of compost in a tray (old mushroom punnet) on the windowsill. When they were big enough, I put them into big pots outside (filled with my dad's freely donated compost), and left them to it.
  • Also, tayberries will just grow and grow and grow, giving tonnes of fruit. My father has one growing all over his pagoda (spelling?)- type frame in the garden. This stops it turning into a horrible clumpy bush, and he can get inside to pick the fruit (a hybrid between a blackberry and a raspberry). They're really nice frozen and then blended in fruity smoothies.
  • Triker
    Triker Posts: 7,247 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker Debt-free and Proud!
    Best treatment to get rid of slugs are ducks...I had a couple of Khaki Campbell's a few years ago and they pretty much cleared my old garden (1/4 acre in size) in a few weeks. They love slugs.
    DFW Nerd 267. DEBT FREE 11.06.08
    Stick to It by R.B. Stanfield
    It matters not if you try and fail,
    And fail, and try again; But it matters much if you try and fail, And fail to try again.
  • ALIBOBSY
    ALIBOBSY Posts: 4,527 Forumite
    Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    We usually let the chickens do some unfetted free ranging during the winter months on the beds that aren't in use as they seem to pick out any slugs and their eggs lol.
    Also doing a nightly patrol and picking the sods up and getting "rid" however you see fit helps. BUT all that said this year has been so wet and so bad there has been loads. It was so wet I even found a slug in some standing water that appeared to have drowned lol.

    The heat in the last few weeks seems to have brought things on really quickly though so I am hoping for a mild prolonged autumn so can get some more crops in. Yesterday made a sausage casserole full of home grown toms, peas and broad beans mmmmmmm.

    Now stuff is getting bigger the slugs seem to be much less of an issue. I have found this year that the numbers game helped ie. slugs love lettuces so I planted them left right and centre in pots beds and in the ground. Ok some got munched but still had enough for us and it helped keep the sods off the beans and peas whilst they got growing.

    Also definantely the growing stuff in pots first to be bigger before putting out makes a big difference. Celery was especially the case, the baby seedlings seemed to attract the slugs like crazy, but the ones grown on in pots and planted out later when much bigger seem to be untouched (does the flavour change?).

    I love chard and am growing several different types, the chickens adore it. Small early leaves are brill in mixed salads then when bigger chop up the stems like celery and the leaves go in like spinanch. They give stews/casseroles/sauces a sort of deeper earthy flavour mmmmmmm. But yes no slug ever seems to go near lol.

    The only good thing about the wet seems to have been not many cabbage whites, and those we did have our youngest cat (about 14 months old) had decided she loves to chase and eat them (yuck). She has even worked out if she sits in amoungst the cabbage leaves (so partly hidden) they appear and she can catch them easily lol. Now if I could only teach her to kill slugs I would be sorted :)

    Ali x
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

  • ALIBOBSY
    ALIBOBSY Posts: 4,527 Forumite
    Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    I would defo go for the aldi/lidl cheap seeds they have been great. There are some good online sites as well.

    This time of year often pound shops, garden centres etc will sell up the leftover seeds cheaply. Worth buying cheap now to put away somewhere cool and dry for next year.

    I also find myself looking at the pots/tubs things we buy come in and thinking hmm that would make a good plant pot/seed tray etc.

    I do like the toilet roll for peas and beans although they grow more lush and stronger planted straight in the ground so I do both-rolls for earlier ones in the GH to get a start in spring and also later to fill in any gaps in the direct planting because of non germination of blumming slugs.

    Definately look at doing your own compost, we got 2 bins free from our local authority and one from a neighbour.

    Try freecycle, for greenhouses/top soil/pots etc etc.

    Good luck, it becomes an obsession rofl.

    Ali x
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

  • A._Badger
    A._Badger Posts: 5,852 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Hi, A. Badger, I'm afraid I disagree with you there. Whilst I'm not claiming to have solved our family's staple food needs, I do believe I saved myself money through growing my own potatoes this year. I didn't buy seed potatoes, just cut a wedge off potatoes that were sprouting (cooked the rest), and laid them in a bit of compost in a tray (old mushroom punnet) on the windowsill. When they were big enough, I put them into big pots outside (filled with my dad's freely donated compost), and left them to it.

    I don't dispute that you can save a bit of money here or there but, truly, how much do you actually spend on potatoes? And in the greater scheme of things, does the saving really amount to anything really significant in your budget?

    I would be the last person to try to dissuade someone from taking up gardening - it's easily my most absorbing interest - but I worry that people get sucked into it by promises of feeding their families for next to nothing. There's a lot of heartache, even for the most skilled gardeners, and it's easy for beginners to get deterred - especially if they are only doing it because they think they'll save a few bob.

    The big factor is time and effort. Unless you actually enjoy it and have the time to spare, gardening is a time thief and a cool analysis would suggest you would be better off driving a cash register for a few hours a week as a second job, if financial concerns were your prime motivation.

    Ask a smallholder how he or she works out financially. They do it for love, not money. I completely understand (and sympathise) with that instinct but there's no point deluding oneself about the benefits.
  • rabidbun
    rabidbun Posts: 321 Forumite
    I grow mostly hard to find crops (tomatillos, odd varieties of beans, chillies and tomatoes), herbs, salad leaves and soft fruit. There is definitely a saving to be had despite compost costs (making your own is handy here) and costs of feed as long as you choose produce with care, and with all but tomatoes, there is very little maintenance.

    This year, despite the weather, I have had bumper crops of herbs (good to dry and freeze and saves 80p or so each batch), tayberries (at least a saving £50 or so at £2 per punnet cost guess), blackberries (£30 and still cropping) and chard (saving whatever fresh spinach costs these days), and look to be hoping for a massive crop of raspberries and french beans soon. Tomatillos, cucumbers and tomatoes have been moderate but the latter two have covered costs at the very least compared to buying the produce.
  • Sounds like we will never convince you. One taste of a fresh carrot or anything else for that matter will convince you though. Even veg from the market is not as fresh as picking it out of your garden and eating it. They are delicious and worth the effort.
  • officeguru
    officeguru Posts: 725 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    A._Badger wrote: »
    I don't dispute that you can save a bit of money here or there but, truly, how much do you actually spend on potatoes? And in the greater scheme of things, does the saving really amount to anything really significant in your budget?

    I would be the last person to try to dissuade someone from taking up gardening - it's easily my most absorbing interest - but I worry that people get sucked into it by promises of feeding their families for next to nothing. There's a lot of heartache, even for the most skilled gardeners, and it's easy for beginners to get deterred - especially if they are only doing it because they think they'll save a few bob.

    The big factor is time and effort. Unless you actually enjoy it and have the time to spare, gardening is a time thief and a cool analysis would suggest you would be better off driving a cash register for a few hours a week as a second job, if financial concerns were your prime motivation.

    Ask a smallholder how he or she works out financially. They do it for love, not money. I completely understand (and sympathise) with that instinct but there's no point deluding oneself about the benefits.

    I've been a gardener for over 40 years and have grown virtually everything worth growing (in a normal garden) and there is no way that it is cheaper than buying the veggies.. Mark you, I suppose it matters where you buy your veggies from.. For example some of the farm shops around here are dearer than anywhere else ... but all-in-all people do it for the love and also being able to go out before tea time and pick the veggies you need... I have also stopped growing potatoes as I can buy almost any variety, cheaply at our local Morrisons... and don't get me started on the cost of growing my own tomatoes!!! Every year, I say to myself, never again... I'll just buy the vine tomatoes out of Lidl, which have a beautiful smell and taste ..... and I wouldn't have the cost of feeding them, growing them etc etc....

    But, no doubt, I'll be sorting out the seed packets in the spring and growing my expensive veggies !!!!

    Cheers
  • Syl
    Syl Posts: 15 Forumite
    AlanW1980 wrote: »
    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?

    Try dried coffee grounds. Also, try the upside down 'shell' of a grapefruit. The little darlings can't resist citrus fruits and once inside can be disposed of humanely ie by boot
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