Makeover your garden for less this summer with these 15 money saving gardening tips.
1. Say sayonara to slugs
Slugs are the bane of a gardener’s life – but you don’t need to buy expensive, chemical-laden slug pellets to keep them at bay.
Slugs hate rough surfaces, so putting crushed nut or sea-shells on the top level of soil can be surprisingly effective in repelling them.
Slugs hate coffee grounds and copper tape – but they love beer!
The slimy pests also hate caffeine (as it dries out their bodies) so scattering used coffee grounds around new seedlings also works well.
To protect prize plants, cut a hole in the middle of a sandpaper grinding disc and attach it to the base of the plant to stop slugs climbing up it. A band of copper tape wrapped around plant pots also works (copper apparently disrupts a slug’s nervous system).
Plus while slugs hate copper, they love beer – so place a shallow dish of beer away from your plants, and the next morning you’ll find a dish full of (presumably drunk) slugs you can easily dispose of.
2. Plant lavender to attract the birds and the bees
Bees and finches can’t get enough of lavender – while ants hate the stuff.
If you’re serious about attracting bees into your garden, it’s also worth planting some wild daisies – they carry large amounts of nectar and are one of the most bee-friendly plants.
Thomson and Morgan also have a great ‘Buy 2 packets of seeds and get a 3rd FREE’ promotion running at the moment.
3. Grow your own
Why bother growing your own tomatoes, chillies, herbs and other fruit and veg? Well for one thing they’ll taste better than the bland veg you get at the supermarket (which is all too often chosen for how it looks rather than how it tastes).
For another, growing your own fruit and veg will save you money. Car boot sales and fairs are perfect places to pick up cheap plants, while you can buy small herb pots from the supermarket for around a pound. With a bit of care, these will last for a whole growing season – a gift that keeps on giving!
4. Match the growth of prize peppers and chillies
Peppers and chillies grow best when they are planted in soil that’s rich in sulphur. The good news is that it’s easy to artificially increase the sulphur content of your soil – just place a few (unused) matches into the soil beneath the roots. The plants will gradually feed off the sulphur which will help boost their growth.
5. Plant growth nailed
Another strange but effective gardening tip is to put a few rusty nails in the water of your watering can. Make sure you leave them sitting in water for at least a few days, and the water will become infused with iron from the rust. All plants need iron to function, but having an iron-infused water solution is especially effective when used on iron-hungry plants like rhododendrons and camellias.
6. Bring out your blooms with bananas
Banana skins are rich in potassium, phosphorus and calcium – all things that plants lap up in order to grow. Burying a banana skin or two in the soil underneath your plants can work wonders (banana peels are especially effective at boosting the growth of roses).
As with the rusty nails, you can also soak banana peels in water for a day or two to help create a growth water solution.
7. Getting the most out of seeds is a specialTEA
Soaking seeds before planting them is an old gardener’s trick to help them germinate faster.
But if you really want to give your seeds a head start, try soaking them in chamomile tea. Not only will this help soften the seed casings, but chamomile tea has natural anti-fungal properties that will help protect them from damaging fungal diseases.
8. Can’t afford a greenhouse? Think again
Greenhouses are great for those with green fingers, although buying one can easily set you back a few hundred pounds.
But you don’t need to spend anywhere near that much to take advantage of the greenhouse effect – in fact, you can pick up decent little plastic greenhouses for under £20 that do a fantastic job for smaller pots and plants.
9. Collect rainwater and save your water bill
The simplest way to do this is use an old barrel or container – but if you’re serious about collecting rainwater, you can buy a proper water barrel for under £20 to collect the hundreds of litres of rainwater that normally gushes away from your gutters wastefully down the drain.
Don’t forget that wastewater from the kitchen can also be used to water plants (though boiling or salted water should obviously not be used on your garden).
10. Never buy salad again
Why not grow your own salad? It’ll save you money – and what’s more, you can grow plenty of varieties of salad leaves right throughout the winter. Have a look at Thompson and Morgan’s wide selection of salad seeds – you’ll never have to buy salad from the supermarket again!
11. Make the most of old milk containers
You can use your old milk containers to make your own watering can that works just as well as a store bought one.
In fact, you can easily make different DIY watering cans for different purposes – for example, you might make one with lots of smaller holes for seedlings, and one with a few larger holes for bushes and larger plants. See how to do it here.
12. Have your own hanging garden – with a shower caddie!
This is such a simple idea, but it works beautifully. Buy a standard, cheap shower caddie, line the baskets with felt, fill them with soil and plants, and voila – your own hanging garden, good to go! See how it’s done here.
13. Create egg-cellent plants
There’s absolutely no need to spend money buying loads of seed trays (often sold for around £3 a pop). Use empty egg cartons and fruit punnets instead – they’re perfect for planting seedlings and cardboard egg cartons will naturally decompose.
In fact, you can even plant seedlings in empty egg shells – they too will easily decompose, adding natural nutrients to the soil as they do so.
Finally, ask your local greengrocer or supermarket for spare wooden or plastic crates. They often have plenty knocking about and are perfect for storing plants and tools in.
14. Keep your gardening tools in tip-top condition
Storing your gardening tools in a bucket of builder’s sand will help prevent them rusting. You can get bags of builder’s sand from most DIY stores – it shouldn’t cost you more than a couple of quid.
Using a little bit of car wax on the hinges of tools also helps stop them from jamming and keeps them in good working order.
15. No need to fork out on fertiliser
Having good quality soil makes a world of difference to how well your garden grows, but you don’t need to keep splashing out on bags of fertiliser that cost £20-£30.
It’s not hard to make your own compost – and it’s environmentally friendly, too. Collecting wet leaves make excellent composting material while pond algae is also a fantastic natural fertiliser.
Our final money-saving gardening tip? Remember that gardening help keeps you fit for free! (Though we’ve also rounded up some other ways you can get in shape without the gym for good measure).
Have you got a great gardening tip? Let us know in the comments below!