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Grow your own Vegetables - the frugal way

Just a small patch can produce much harvest for your kitchen

I should say first of all that my garden isn't the 'Exhibition' type; it's a working garden. I also do not purport to be a flower gardener. Other than the perrenials which look after themselves and don't need more than the occasional hose soaking, that's it !

Frugal gardener's know only too well that there's money to be saved, money not spent and money to be made. On item's such as Insecticides and fertilizer's, there's enough wild plants and weeds which will do the trick just as well, none more than the common stinging nettle (see left).

My Garden

Photo 1 shows, with the exception of the Brussel Sprouts, a 100% free vegetable / growing part of my garden. The two

greenhouses were being thrown out - the smaller one was taken solely on the deal that I took everything that was in it as well. This included mountains of flower pots, seed trays, sprays (mostly non-organic which were thrown) and various small tools. The Water Butt is an old Water Heating Urn found in a disused barn, the downpipe and the carpets found in skips.

Frugal Gardening
Bottom Right - Upturned Bread Boxes protecting newly sown seeds

Photo 2. . one of my finely crafted Garden Benches made out of hand picked Pallets ! I took the one's which were the right length to save me doing too much sawing. The worst part of this is taking the nails out - try to avoid the Pallets with the Staple type fixings ! So all it cost was the price of some nails and about three hours work one rainy Sunday.
I didn't paint or Varnish them (would look too modern !). These are now three years old. When they do finally fall apart, they'll make good wood for the Rayburn - and - the next time I make some, I'll do a better job !

Photo 3 shows a 'Halfway House' made with old sashes for our seedlings in Spring. Many
companies are abound with old frames they've pulled out of people's homes and onlytoo pleased if someone goes up to them and says they'll take them off their hands. Saves them work. I could get around to making a Cold Frame one day !!

Photo 4 shows our Lounge area ! The table, which is covered during Summer, is an old Electric Wire Cable Holder, found in a skip on a local Industrial Estate (probably one of the best places to find stuff). If you are a frequent visitor to a Public House, they've always got goodies, such as Parasols. Buy the Landlord a drink, give him a jar of Chutney and it's out to the Garage to see what he can find for you !

Photo 5 . A wild life haven in an idyllic Country Garden Pond. No, it's a sunken Bath with some Water Plant's from the Stream. Like above, Builder's etc., are often quite willing to let you take stuff away.
It's all a case of having the front to ask them, they can only say "Yes" or "No". Although the latter does occasionally have a couple of extra words put on the end !!

My Chicken Shed (see Photo Galleries) is my proud moment. I was given a shed, but one side was missing. Saw, Hammer, nails, corrugated iron sheets, a Sink Unit, old Cupboard and bits of Pallet gave me 'The Mill Lane Hilton'. The Chickens love it !!

As I've said in other pages, once people get to know your way of life, the phone starts ringing and car's / lories' arrive at the door. I've yet to start assembling the Conservatory someone gave me !

General Vegetable Frugality
I don't take much notice of the 'use before' dates on Seed packets. I'm using Sprout seeds from the same packet I brought 4 years ago. How many seeds are there in a Sprout packet - 120 ? An average house with parents and two kids would only require about 8 plants, if that.
The secret I've found is to sow seeds at the earliest opportunity, then if they don't come up after a couple of weeks, you can race down the Cheapie shop and buy some more.
Swopping seedlings is another good one. Somebody else is invariably growing something you aren't and vice versa. Swopping seed trays in a dark secluded corner of a leafy Lane is quite common around here !

Keeping the slugs at bay is the Vegetable gardeners annual quest and you can avoid buying pellets (which are a danger to wildlife, pets and mostly just attract the slugs anyway). I use soot and put it around all the plants. It has to be more than one year old and after heavy rain, you may have to replace it. Another goodie is crunched up egg shells. Main thing is to 'think slug' and if I had a smooth shiny undercarriage, I wouldn't want to be sliding accross anything sharp. I've had a pretty slug free year using these two methods.

Never buy cloches, bubble wrap, clear polythene held with a few dead branches will suffice and for protection of plants, old bits of chicken wire are easy to find around and about.

Do you know of someone who keeps horse's ? A large sheet in the boot and a spade will see to all your manure needs

It's not just about 'being tight', it's about the joy of getting something good from using your own wits. If you brought all the compost, manure, instruments, bits and bobs etc., it would all lead up to very expensive eating and you may just as well go down to Sainsbury's. You can eat vegetables from your garden all year round for the cost of a few packet's of seeds. You know where they came from and you'll remember the whole process every time you sit down and eat.

Talk Vegetable Growing on the Down the Lane Forum

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