Since then I’ve spent a total of just under £25 on seeds, replacement greenhouse panes, and multipurpose compost. That’s me left red-faced.
I’ve offset the seed spend a little by swapping surplus seeds on Twitter. In came broad beans, celeriac, and courgettes in exchange for other packets I’d never had used. I was also donated a water butt by a nice man at work, after chatting to him about gardening.
In practise, a fiver a month is a tiny amount but one I’m glad that I’ve set. Although I might not keep to the budget, I’m challenged to innovate and think about what I’m using.
Squash Bottles, Margarine Tubs, Bubble Wrap and Football Nets
Whenever you go to do something, you ask yourself is there an item you already have that you can adapt. I think this is healthy not just for a garden, but as a human being. Silly things like pricking holes in the lid of a squash bottle rather than buying a fine rosed watering can, and covering early sowings with bubble wrap instead of horticultural fleece not only save money but prevent otherwise redundant materials from going to landfill too.
I also made 30 plant labels from a 500g tub of margarine. There wasn’t much room for free-flowing italics admittedly, but 2 more tubs should see me through the sowing season.
If you don’t have a suitable item to hand, your mind is inspired to find a solution. What alternative could work? Who might have some of these? How can I get them for free?
I applied this to my vertical squash growing ambitions. I need strong netting to support the fruits and came up with the idea of football nets. A quick chat with a gentleman who looks after the local pitches, and I was on my way to pick up a couple of old nets that had been replaced a few weeks before.
Having measured out, I’ve got enough netting to wrap around my pea wigwams too.
Experiments and the Scavenger Instinct
You start to experiment as well. With an increasing interest in container growing, I’m conducting my own little trial, growing potatoes, carrots and other veg in a mixture of homemade compost and molehill soil.
The emergence of a scavenger instinct is also entertaining. Any walk is peppered with glances in skips and thoughts of ‘what could I use that for?’ Hoarding becomes a danger. As my wonderful wife so succinctly put it ‘yes, Jono that’s fine, so long as the garden doesn’t become a dumping ground for toot’.
She may or may have not been referring to the entirely unsuitable but awesome sleeper that she found in the boot of the car…
Gardening is a Wonderfully Inexpensive Hobby
Despite all this frugality, I’ve begun to appreciate that one of the great things about gardening is that as a hobby, it is relatively cheap. Just a few pounds worth of seeds arriving in the post can provide that heart-missing-a-beat sensation.
Regardless of my massive first-month overspend, I’m going to stick with my £5 a month challenge, but instead, use the budget as a guideline to encourage and inspire me to make do and mend.
The £5 a month challenge was intended as a money-saving initiative, but more than anything I’m learning that resourcefulness is good for the soul as well as the wallet.