Growing on a shoestring budget

Spring Border
As Spring arrives… sort of, between the grey and rain… I’m well aware that my maternity leave is approaching. And although I should have saved hundreds of pounds in preparation, the reality is that I know it’s going to be a tough slog getting through those months on statutory pay. So everything I’m doing now is in preparation for the leaner months, and I’m thinking about ways in which I can do things on a shoestring budget. Getting as much veg, herbs and fruit bushes in the ground now should help over the summer and autumn months at least.

I don’t mind doing things a little Heath Robinson… I remember watching The Darling Buds of May and loving Ma and Pa Larkin’s slightly rambling setup. And besides, I’m not a tidy person. Everything I do is always a little rough around the edges and that suits me – and the wildlife in my garden, I suspect – absolutely fine.

Last year I grew some lettuces in the big veg patch, and they were delicious… and weirdly enough, we had no slug issues. This year, I bought some bargain lettuce plugs from my local plant nursery and decided to pot them up by the back door in easy reach of the kitchen. I found a few old pots hanging about (who doesn’t have masses of pots hanging around?) and tried to use up as many large pots as possible. The bigger the pot, the less watering. I ended up having to use a range of sizes, but to be honest, with the amount of rain we’ve had watering isn’t my biggest issue right now.

lettuces in container

I placed them in a little spot in front of the conservatory that gets light for at least two thirds of the day in summer. It was looking completely ramshackle so I tidied it up and cobbled together a platform for the pots from some bricks and large slate tiles that we had to hand. Something I’ve learned over the years is that we can’t have anything like pots in direct contact with the ground, otherwise the black and red ants that love our sandy soil just move in.

I’m hoping to turn the slightly redundant space outside the back door and before the garden gate into a growing space. One side is really shady thanks to a privet hedge and and next door’s terraced housing access path. But I’ll just have to do a little research and figure out which herbs and plants will be fine in shade, and what I can fill up the sunny side with too. I’m quite looking forward to it, and doing it all on a tiny, almost non-existent budget seems like a fun challenge! She says. I’ll keep you posted…