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    • Former MSE Wendy
    • By Former MSE Wendy 15th Jul 08, 3:40 PM
    • 868Posts
    • 1,782Thanks
    Former MSE Wendy
    Revisited! Great 'Grow Your Own' Hunt: share your top tips on home cultivation
    • #1
    • 15th Jul 08, 3:40 PM
    Revisited! Great 'Grow Your Own' Hunt: share your top tips on home cultivation 15th Jul 08 at 3:40 PM
    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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    Last edited by Former MSE Wendy; 17-05-2011 at 6:59 PM.
Page 1
    • By ALIBOBSY 15th Jul 08, 6:51 PM
    • 4,432 Posts
    • 16,463 Thanks
    • #2
    • 15th Jul 08, 6:51 PM
    • #2
    • 15th Jul 08, 6:51 PM
    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
    Last edited by ALIBOBSY; 15-07-2008 at 6:55 PM.
    "Overthinking every little thing
    Acknowledge the bell you cant unring"

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  • tlck9
    • #3
    • 15th Jul 08, 8:29 PM
    • #3
    • 15th Jul 08, 8:29 PM
    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
    • By Larumbelle 15th Jul 08, 9:11 PM
    • 2,108 Posts
    • 10,578 Thanks
    • #4
    • 15th Jul 08, 9:11 PM
    • #4
    • 15th Jul 08, 9:11 PM
    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 . 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 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
    Last edited by Former MSE Lee; 19-05-2011 at 9:58 AM.

    • arkonite_babe
    • By arkonite_babe 15th Jul 08, 9:42 PM
    • 7,259 Posts
    • 8,310 Thanks
    • #5
    • 15th Jul 08, 9:42 PM
    • #5
    • 15th Jul 08, 9:42 PM
    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
    • #6
    • 15th Jul 08, 10:30 PM
    • #6
    • 15th Jul 08, 10:30 PM
    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.
  • Shandra
    • #7
    • 16th Jul 08, 7:14 AM
    Starting a veg patch
    • #7
    • 16th Jul 08, 7:14 AM
    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
    • By Primrose 16th Jul 08, 7:35 AM
    • 8,588 Posts
    • 30,237 Thanks
    • #8
    • 16th Jul 08, 7:35 AM
    • #8
    • 16th Jul 08, 7:35 AM
    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
    • #9
    • 16th Jul 08, 7:43 AM
    Keeping Chickens
    • #9
    • 16th Jul 08, 7:43 AM
    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.
    • cuteusmaximus
    • By cuteusmaximus 16th Jul 08, 8:04 AM
    • 82 Posts
    • 25 Thanks
    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
    • By Kantankrus Mare 16th Jul 08, 8:22 AM
    • 5,533 Posts
    • 14,475 Thanks
    Kantankrus Mare
    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.

    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.
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  • suedogan
    Last year I was lucky enough to get an allotment.I have never grown any veg before.It is easy and saves quite a bit every week.Just buy a book on growing veg,a fork, spade and trowel to start, then order some seeds from an online company.
    You can start now with rows of lettuce, spring onion and carrot, plant pots of herbs from the supermarket.Next spring you can really get going.If possible get some manure to spread over your patch this winter and you can start of growing seeds indoors in pots until its warm enough to plant out next spring.
    I am also growing new potatoes, spinach, tomatoes,cougettes, butternut squash, sweetcorn,broccoli, rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries.
    I haven`t really had any problems except slugs, there are several ways of dealing with them and carrot fly, you need to put a little net fence alongside your carrots to prevent the low flying pest from laying its eggs.
    A word of warning, its addictive as once you have tasted home grown produce you won`t want bland tasting supermarket veg again.
  • wastebuster
    aminopyralid contaminated manure
    Please be aware that many farmers use the above herbicide to kill weeds on pastureland, used for grazing horses, cattle etc. It has been found that the manure from horses using such pastures is contaminated with the chemical and kills many valuable crops. Your veg growing area cannot be used for at least 18 months. Many allotment holders have inadvertently used the manure and had disastrous results.

    It is made by Dow AgriSciences and has various trade names.


    and we try to be organic!!
    • terill
    • By terill 16th Jul 08, 8:59 AM
    • 37 Posts
    • 31 Thanks
    Companion Planting
    Hello, I caught a bit of a very old Gardeners World the other day with the late great Geoff Hamilton and he was talking about companion planting. Apparently there is a helpful "companion" to everything you can grow and I think he said that if you grow onions with carrots, then the bugs that attack carrots go on their smell but the strong sent of the onions confuses them and they are left well alone. Also, growing beans and peas up the wigwams give superb shelter to the more delicate veg and the best place for planting garden herbs is at the base of an apple tree. If there is an expert out there on companion planting with more info I would be delighted to hear. I would also like to add to the excellent value shops of Wilkinsons, Aldi, Lidl, etc the 99p shop and WK. i have bought the most excellent bits from 99p shop and their seeds are really high quality. i would also recommend growing strawberries in hanging baskets. Not only do they look just as pretty as flowers but the slugs can't get to them up there. also, think of using plants and berries as anti burglar deterrents. A lot of thorny climbing roses or blackberries and raspberries near any vulnerable spots would certainly put me off. PLUS, don't forget that if growing veg it is a good idea to rotate your crops every year and grow in a different spot as different veg remove different nutrients from the soil
  • WilChil1964
    Fun but had trouble with slugs
    Two years ago we grew some strawberries (only a handful but only had a few plants), tomatoes in grobags and cucumbers, with some success, all from plants from the garden centre. This year I planted lots of seeds with my daughter, tomatoes, lettuces, cucumber, pumpkins, peas, green beans, broccoli, carrots, radishes, melons, leeks, spring onions, cauliflowers ... and we have very little to show for it. We've had enough peas for one meal, but they were lovely. The bean plants were all bar one eaten by slugs when they were about two inches high. Of the pumpkins only two plants survived, one has a tiny pumpkin on it which has now been eaten by slugs! The carrots died, the tomatoes are flowering but have no tomatoes on them yet (maybe due to the weather?), the broccoli plants are still alive, the cauliflower plants were eaten by slugs, I think we've had three lettuce so far, some look as if they've been attacked by slugs but some are still ok. The leeks died off and the spring onions are alive but not really thriving. The cucumber plants are alive but not really thriving.

    Certainly hasn't been worth the amount of money I spend on pots, compost etc. Although it has been fun, but I'm not sure I'd do it again next year, maybe just lettuce and tomatoes.

    I had to plant everything in pots as my four cats make such a mess of any garden I did over.

    One tip someone gave me: apparently they sell buckets really cheap at Morrisons - 8 for 1 or something, which make great planters - but I haven't had a chance to look yet. Aldi had compost for 1.99 which is much cheaper than Homebase etc.
    • ModernSlave
    • By ModernSlave 16th Jul 08, 9:05 AM
    • 219 Posts
    • 200 Thanks
    I've been on at mum to start a veggie patch for years now and she's finally agreed to it. The only problem is the rabbits she's allowed free rein in the garden - how can she get rid of them?

    I suggested she borrow a dog for a couple hours regularly.

    Any advice welcome.
  • mary43
    Due to limited space we've got 'veg in pots' and so far this year we've only had to buy two courgette plants for 1.60 and a packet of carrot seeds.

    Runner beans
    Tomato plants (hanging basket ones and normal) plants given by neighbour

    Variety of herbs and some chilli plants given by a friend

    Potatos...............supermarket ones that had started to sprout
    spinach seeds given to us from a neighbour

    So, all in all it's so far cost us the price of compost, courgettes and carrot seeds

    I'm creative -you can't expect me to be neat too !
    (Good Enough Member No.48)
    • radio10
    • By radio10 16th Jul 08, 9:25 AM
    • 76 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    If possible make some raised beds for your veggies, preferably in a sunny spot. My two are about 6 foot square. This keeps things tidier and much easier to work with. I used some left over wooden floor planks with some stakes made from an old pine bed. Fork over the soil and add lots of home made compost from the compost bin.

    Slugs are best picked up by hand, yes by hand! at about 10pm. Go out with torch and bucket. Afterwards "re-home" them somewhere far away from the veggies.

    Runner beans and tomatoes are probably easiest to grow.

    If you like organic, then accept that the insects/pests will get some of your hard earned veggies. Accept the philosophy "some for the slugs, greenfly" etc and some for me/us.

    Final tip is you need a good supply of free water, so if you haven't got one already, rig up a water butt or similar.

    Have fun. Everyone should try growing their own food, ar at least some of it. If in doubt, then I say have a go.You'll probably be surprised!
    • Kimitatsu
    • By Kimitatsu 16th Jul 08, 9:38 AM
    • 3,779 Posts
    • 7,834 Thanks
    We keep chickens we started off with 6 rescued battery hens and now have 20 (from various sources such as freecycle etc) All are housed in a hen house at night and have 6 ft fencing around their patch during the day. There is a fox that lives in the woods next door (less than 12 feet away) but does not bother them as they are too much hassle to get to compared to the other sources of food (wild rabbits etc). They are pretty easy to keep and eat any leftover fruit and veg peelings, the only additive we have found that we have put in is cider vinegar into the drinking water otherwise they tend to look after themselves! Much can be done on the bartering of half a dozen eggs at a time!

    We have a small veg patch going, we grow potatoes in potato barrels (made from recycled plastic and are re-usable), tomatoes, lettuce, beans, carrots.

    A tip that was given to me for slugs was to put down (clean) cat litter around the plants - apparently they dont like the texture and it creates a barrier. Never tried it as we have a family of hedgehogs which we have encouraged to stay over the winter by building them some shelter and so we dont have a slug problem this year!

    Log piles around the garden are an excellent way to encourage beneficial insects.You can also make ladybird hibernation houses with some bamboo in a sheltered spot, make them large enough and you will encourage bees to hibernate over the winter too.

    Companion planting of french marigolds between the carrots and toms has worked well this year and it looks pretty too!
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    • Kantankrus Mare
    • By Kantankrus Mare 16th Jul 08, 9:45 AM
    • 5,533 Posts
    • 14,475 Thanks
    Kantankrus Mare
    My neighbour on the allotment also swears by cat litter though I havent tried it myself.

    As others have can be as expensive or as cheap as you wish.

    My first year I bought one book.............a few seeds but was given a lot of spades, forks etc

    I work in a restaurant and so get to take home all veg peelings, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags which i just pile into one of my many compost bins.

    I now have a wonderful source of free compost which will get thrown all over the plot to replenish nutrients when this growing season is over.

    Even pots can be free. Use the inners of old toilet roll tubes. Some plants such as peas, sweet peas and sweetcorn prefer this as there is minimal root disturbance when you plant the whole thing in the ground.
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