Fancy starting to grow your own veg?
It’s one of many dreams I had when moving to the country. A ‘Good Life’ fantasy of creating a veg patch once we had a garden bigger than a small rug – although I do draw the line at Felicity Kendal style dungarees.
Lockdown seemed the perfect opportunity, while we had more time at home. Trouble is, it’s been tricky getting seeds when loads of other people had exactly the same idea and stripped the shelves. Taking part in #30DaysWild, with a random act of wildness every day during June, has encouraged me to make more effort. Yes, I’m sure expert gardeners have been coaxing seedlings for months now, but it isn’t too late to sow a few seeds!
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So for this week’s five frugal things post, here’s how I’ve been attempting to grow my own veg.
Previous post: Where to buy cheap garden seeds
Subscribed for seeds
Many cheers. The big news this week was that the free seeds from my birthday subscription to Kitchen Garden finally arrived, after delays due to lockdown.
So now I’m delighted to have a whole selection of 20 veg and herb seeds, and it’s probably late enough in the year to sow them directly outside, rather than starting them off inside. I’ve also received my first issue of the magazine, with another couple of freebie packets: onion and pointed cabbage seeds.
Kitchen Garden are still running a subscription offer at £6 for 3 issues plus 20 packets of seeds. It then continues at £21 every six months unless you cancel.
Planted seeds from previous years
While waiting for the Kitchen Garden packets to arrive, I unearthed some seeds we already had in the house. For Day 3 of #30DaysWild I finally planted a few calendula and beetroot seeds that came from Mud & Bloom, the lovely monthly gardening subscription box for children. As well as ideas for nature crafts, it includes seeds, growing instructions, compost pellets and plant markers. I spotted signs of progress yesterday, with some tiny red leaves emerging.
I’ve also been growing a few pea seeds that I claimed from an Innocent Drinks promotion last year.
Shared veg seeds with another gardener
I did sow a few seeds before #30DaysWild started, when my mother passed on some half packets she didn’t need. Much excitement as the courgette and bean seeds on the kitchen windowsill have actually produced leaves! In true budget style, I sowed them in cut up loo roll tubes put in plastic trays that used to hold dog food, and filled with compost leftover from last year. Total outlay: 0p.
On Day 8 of #30DaysWild, the seedlings were plenty big enough to plant out in our new raised bed (pic at the top). Keep your fingers crossed they survive!
Grow your own veg from other veg
Perhaps the easiest way to grow veg if you’re stuck for seeds is to regrow vegetables. Ever hopeful, I stuck the end of a spring onion and the stem of a lettuce into little pots of water and shoved them on the windowsill above the sink.
Hey presto, the lettuce stem grew some little leaves (although it has subsequently gone soggy) and the spring onion has sprouted enormously. Wish I’d know I could regrow spring onions from a bit of bulb when I was doing the Ration Challenge. Great way to add a bit of green veg at no extra cost at all.
Buying veg plants other people have grown
Earlier this year, I bought some growing herb plants from a supermarket which are still staggering on (chives and flat leaf parsley), although the coriander met a sticky end.
Then at the end of May, as lockdown loosened, we drove over to explore Groton Wood and came back via unfeasibly picturesque Kersey. Someone had set up a plant stall outside their house, offering a 3 plants for a bargain £2, so I carried off a replacement coriander, oregano and a tomato plant to beef up the windowsill garden. Since then, a single small green tomato has appeared on the tomato plant, but I really need to move it to a bigger pot.
Visit the Virtual Hidden Gardens of Hadleigh
Not veg related, but if you’re interested in gardens and gardening, do check out the Hidden Gardens of Hadleigh website. Sadly the annual event couldn’t take place as normal last Saturday – so the organisers created a virtual version instead. Hadleigh gardeners were asked to send in recent photographs of their garden. See if you can spot the pic I submitted of our garden!
Now over to you. What are your top tips for growing your own veg on a budget? Any suggestions for idiot-proof plants would be very gratefully received. Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear.
Want more frugal inspiration? Do head over and join the Much More With Less #MoneySavingYear Facebook group, to share thrifty tips and support. It’s a private group so your comments won’t be splashed all over your friends’ Facebook feeds.