Friday, 2 August 2013


It's the height of summer and all those spring plants and flowering bulbs have finished and you're thinking a bit more colour would be good in the garden - but before you head off to that very expensive garden centre, make yourself a list - and stick to it!
Garden centres have one aim in mind and that's to get you to buy much, much more than you went in there for! All those tables of pretty flowers, coloured pots, flowery gardening gloves and tools, suck us all in!
Decide what you need - potting compost? Check out the big supermarkets- they are selling compost quite cheaply, but check the size of bags- if you need a large amount, you may be better off researching local garden centre offers such as 4 bags for the price of 3 etc. However if you need a small amount to repot a houseplant or sow a few late seeds then may be a small supermarket bag is best - potting compost can get saturated and go off during a wet winter even if unopened, so buying a large amount that you won't use up before winter is probably not worth any saving you might make. 
Supermarket compost seems to work well for me - any compost loses all its "feeding" properties after about 6 weeks, so it's really only a medium to plant in and I've found the texture of supermarket brands to be finer than garden centre proprietry brands. All potted plants containers will need feeding (I buy plant food tablets from pound shops- works well!) about every 4-6 weeks in the growing season.
If you need pots, ask on Freecycle or Freegle - just Google for your nearest group. Many people have a clearout or downsize their pots and some offer plants and topsoil too. 
Look out for keen gardeners and allotmenteers in your neighbourhood who sell excess plants at their garden gate - real bargains can be had this way as many people only charge around 50p per plant.
Get to know your gardening neighbours by hosting a plant and seed swap party - this way you can expand your range of garden plants and knowledge!
Buy pots, plants and tools at boot sales, many small growers and individual gardeners sell there.
Think perennial! Perennial plants come up year after year (often called herbaceous plants) so these will fill your garden and, along with other "framework" shrubs and roses, will make it cheaper to achieve a good show in your garden every year. You will only need a few annuals for summer colour that you can cheaply grow from seed. 
If you have any large clumps of perennials dig them up and split them - into 3 if you can and then replant all 3 together but spaced apart. This gives a good effect the following year as 3 or 5 plants of the same type really have the wow factor when they're flowering.
Lastly - check your own garden for bargains! The end of the early summer flowers means you can start to collect seed from perennial plants such as Aquilegia, Lychnis and Alchemilla Mollis, but make sure the seed pods are very brown and dry before harvesting. You can allow them to drop and self-seed for next year or you can pack them in paper envelopes and label carefully with their name and the date. Check when it is best to sow them next year ( Gardeners' calendar) and write this date on your envelope too.
Happy frugal gardening!

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