Real Men Sow

The £5 a Month Veg Plot (well, an attempt at it)

This week, me and Ailsa have been doing a second round of baby budgeting. The impending arrival of junior is very exciting, but for a couple of dinkys, the sudden dent into our disposable income is pretty stark.

I’ve often talked a good thrifty game, especially when I was keeping track of the value of my allotment harvests. This blog has regularly carried a slant towards the money saving side of things, and whilst this is definitely not the main driver for growing my own, frugality has always played a big part in my posts.

Not Always So Frugal…
Despite this, I must confess I’d often chuck money at the plot to fix problems. For example, I bought expensive netting to keep the cabbage white away, put up a brand new shed rather than repair the old one and purchased an expensive vertical growing kit when I could probably have installed some cheap second hand shelving for a fraction of the cost.

I would often take short cuts too. I bought new gooseberry bushes, when I could have used cuttings from my existing ones.

Not that all this is necessarily a bad thing. Spending cash on stuff you love is fun. I like my plot to look attractive as well as functional. There’s no point driving all the joy out of your hobby in an effort to make it as cost-effective as possible. There are some stunning examples of allotments and vegetable gardens in books and on the web, and it’s not like I’m spending the money on sex, drugs and rock and roll*.

(*this is what I say to Ailsa when I want a new bike. She rarely goes for it).

The Times They Are a Changin’
Things are going to have to change though, especially for the first year of junior’s life. Having contemplated this, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ve become quite inspired by a throwaway comment on a message board that I stumbled across this week. ‘I try not to let my allotment cost me more than a fiver a month,’ said the poster.

If I could have a hobby that I love and only cost me £5 a month, I’d be over the moon. That’s certainly a lot cheaper than my other passion, cycling.

A Fiver a Month Spending Limit
So, I’m going to have a go at the £5 a month limit this year. I know that I won’t always be able to keep to it – I want some asparagus and I need to fix some panes in my greenhouse, and every grower wants to attempt something different each year.

I am going to use it as a guide though, and motivation to try and find innovative cost effective solutions to problems. Succeed(ish) and I reckon I’ll get even more satisfaction from my plot.

I can’t promise architectural masterpieces on a vegopolis scale, but I’ll be blogging about my thrifty adventures all the same, and no doubt asking for help too. If you’ve got any ideas I’d love to hear them.

I’ll also be blogging about the disasters – if I’m DIYing, they’ll be plenty.

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6 Comments

  1. AyrisJanuary 23, 2013 at 10:44 pmReply

    *Dinkys* – You said it again. You are so becoming ‘one of those people’ :o )

  2. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!January 23, 2013 at 11:53 pmReply

    The desire to budget is admirable, but where did the number come from? It seems pretty arbitrary, and stressfully low. Are you going to buy seeds? Plants? Will you need to water? Why not set a goal to spend as little a month on the garden as possible, and see what that number ends up being, rather than set a (perhaps) unrealistic goal that leaves you disappointed every month?

    BTW, why does cycling cost more than £5 a month?

  3. RuthJanuary 24, 2013 at 12:24 pmReply

    Interested to see how this goes – I’ve used http://www.freecycle.org in the past for bits and bobs for my garden. As the saying goes “if you don’t ask you don’t get”. Best of luck!

  4. Helen/patientgardenerJanuary 24, 2013 at 6:05 pmReply

    Thats a challenge but some of the things you want such as gthe asparagus and glass are investments, they will reward you year after year so I think they should be exempt and your £5 budget should be for things like seeds, plants, compost that you buy year after year

  5. Jono

    JonoJanuary 24, 2013 at 9:07 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Alan – you’re absolutely right, it is a completely arbitrary! Its just a bit of fun really, and like Helen says there will probably be a few nice, long term investments that are free from the ‘rules’

    Trouble is with cycling is that my bikes often need attention after they’ve had a season’s riding down hills!

    Hi Ruth – thanks for stopping by. I’ve used freecycle a few times too. Managed to get myself a water butt, which was a real result. :)

  6. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » 7 Ways to Get Cheap SeedsJanuary 27, 2013 at 9:22 amReply

    [...] The £5 a Month Veg Plot (well, an attempt at it) [...]

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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