Seed Shoestring Budgeting: a £20 spend

The seed catalogues have been arriving in earnest and I’ve starting idly thumbing through them. I need to sit down and have a proper planning session, and decide what seeds to grow this year in the flower borders and the vegetable patches. There are some really fantastic new specimens around, including some stunning dahlias in Sarah Raven’s catalogue. But I must be disciplined – my seed spend has got to be done a shoestring for 2018!

This year I’ve got a small seed spending budget; around £20. This includes buying things like seed potatoes, onion sets and any packets of flower seeds that I decide on. I was given some gardening vouchers for my birthday, and I want to spend them wisely. As ever, I’ve got to be realistic – having a toddler who hasn’t got through the putting-everything-in-her-mouth stage (and who always finds a way to go somewhere or do something she’s not supposed to) doesn’t afford me much time in the garden at all. So I want to avoid otherwise simple but time-consuming things like potting on, if I can help it. And I need reliable growers that don’t need buckets of TLC to survive! Then there’s budgeting for the long-lasting companion plants like nasturtiums and marigolds…

shallots in the greenhouse

There’s one thing that I am set on already, though. This year I really want to try again with shallots. I ADORE cooking with shallots, but whilst my homegrown efforts always taste great, they seem a bit miserly compared to the bags of big banana shallots that I like to buy in bulk. I also like to have some homegrown potatoes too. Picasso and Charlotte are my go-to potatoes, so I might try finding space for one or the other. Or both. I’m still on the fence about whether to do onions. I haven’t had much success with them over the last three or four years. Again, they taste wonderful, but the actual size and yield has been woeful. I need to look into feeding again and make sure that I’m on top of any feed schedules for this year, otherwise I just shouldn’t bother!

Morning light

The only exception to my rule about fuss-free growing, are Spanish Flag flowers (ipomoea lobata). The first year I grew them, they were a stonking success, but in the two attempts since, they have been an abject failure. I suspect this is because I started them off too late and they prefer a long period of warmth and regular watering to flourish, neither of which they were serviced with over the last couple of growing seasons. But I still hang on to the memories of the arch covered in cascading, climbing vines that stood proud, adorned with flashes of cream, orange and flame red. I’d like to try again this year, to see if I can recapture the success of 2015. 

As I’m having to become ever more thrifty and manage my finances properly, I’m thinking about how to get more on a shoestring budget. Seed saving and cuttings are, of course, the first thing that come to mind. I might try taking some rosemary cuttings from my mum’s thriving plants, and lavendar from my own, and growing them on. This will have to happen a little later in the year when the plants are throwing out new growth, but it should save me a few pounds in the long run!

So my next task is to get my calculator out, get a pen and work out what I can do with £20, to get my growing season started… what’ve you got planned for this growing season?


  1. I’m so impressed by your budget, seed catalogues are my downfall every year. The promise contained therein is almost impossible to resist (even though I too have a resident small person with a haphazard approach to seed planting / spilling / eating). I’d love to find a seed swap sort of meeting but googling is turning up nothing. I’m a fan of carrots, but 300 is probably a few too many, surely it’d make sense to share…?

    • The Sarah Raven catalogue is just packed with temptation! So I have to really rein myself in… but I know what you mean about seed saving. My local Freecycling group used to have an offshot for seed saving. Might be worth putting up a post on Freecycle asking for a swap, or starting your own seed swapping initiative? I’m sure plenty of people would be up for it!

  2. Good luck with all your growing ventures… read back and love the idea of a cut flower garden.

  3. Yes, £20 is a good budget as I think most people find they have seeds left from the previous year, as I do, that can still be used unless you want to grow something special. I have spent just over £27 on seed spuds! However, I really wanted rhubarb this year and after asking a neighbour who works at a local nursery he “liberated” one for me, gratis, so that would have cost me a good £14 I think. Good luck with your sowing and growing.

    • Thanks you, and yes you’re so right! I am going through my various packets of leftover seed… I seem to have accumulated a lot of cosmos seeds! Can’t complain really as they are one of my favourite flowers to grow 🙂