A garden can be a great place to help you save money as well as gaining other benefits such as exercise, fresh air and healthy, organic food. Assuming you have a small to medium sized garden then there are many things that you can do to optimise the space, but the first thing to consider is make a plan. Think about how much time you want to spend on gardening – do you want something that is low maintenance, or do you have plenty of time on your hands? Plan where you want things to go, like a vegetable patch, a compost heap, a propagation area, places to collect rainwater and also do you have any friends or neighbours who can help or advise. Once you have made a basic plan there are some fantastic ways you can save money – and even make the garden profitable:
- Don’t buy new equipment – basic gardening tools are very expensive to buy from DIY shops and garden centres, but if you visit a local car boot sale you can pick up all the basic equipment for a fraction of the price of new. Also be on the look out for cheap plants as people often use car boot and garage sales to sell off their surplus plants. Keep an eye on Ebay for any items local to you and where the buyer can collect.
- Grow your own vegetables – if you grow things that you like to eat then this will save you a fortune. Basic vegetables like potatoes, carrots, cabbage, runner beans and broccoli can be grown quite easily from seed and don’t require too much pest control or fertiliser. Also herbs and salad crops like basil, coriander, parsley, chillies, garlic and tomatoes can easily be grown in pots, a small greenhouse or simply a sunny part of the garden. If you think of how much you spend on these each year, then it could well run into £100s of savings. In a bigger garden you may even grow some surplus to sell.
- Cooperate with allotment holders. Especially in spring you may find that a lot of allotment holders have surplus seedlings which they might want to sell – or even give you. If you have grown many of your own ‘crop’ from seeds, you may also be in a similar position and have things you can swap
- Have a compost heap – get in the habit of not throwing biodegradable items in your rubbish bin, but throw them on a compost heap instead. Needless to say, most garden waste can go to compost as well.
- Fruit trees – a lot of gardens over look fruit, but assuming your garden is an appropriate size then having a few apple, plum and cherry trees are something of a no brainer! Also some bramble, gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes can yield fantastic crops if you can shield from birds.
- Use your freezer – what many gardeners find is their main crops arrive at the same time and/or they have a huge surplus for a few weeks of certain vegetables. Some items from your garden will store quite well, (potatoes, apples) but many can simply be frozen and used say in winter when your garden isn’t producing. Using the freezer is an obvious place to start in terms of produce storage, but you could also consider using fruit for making jam or even pickle other crops!