Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Thrifty Gardener

Now I'm no Charlie Dimmock (although I do have a rather ample bosom) but since starting to grow my own veg and herbs I have discovered that my garden can really save me money. You don't need a massive veggie patch or allotment. In fact you can even grow veg and herbs on a balcony or windowsill.

I can also confirm that you certainly don't have to be green fingered to grow plants. I generally have the fingers of doom when it comes to gardening so everything that I have included in my post is really easy to grow. I have grown all the plants that I write about myself and I promise that they need nothing more than a bit of water and occasional weeding.

When I did my Supermarket Challenge I became something of an expert on food prices and I found that in any range the most expensive product will always be the one that is "organic". In fact I had stopped buying organic produce as, although I knew they were better for us,  I felt they were not great for the budget. However as long as you don't use pesticides all your homegrown veg will be organic and you can feel smug about your carbon footprint too as the furthest you will have to go to get your veg will be to step into your back garden.

Packets of vegetable seeds are usually under £1 or if you want to buy the plants themselves you are looking at spending £1-£3. We have grown potatoes, runner beans and courgettes and all of them have lasted us the whole summer. In fact the courgettes we had last year grew so fast that we could hardly keep up! Compare this small initial outlay to the prices of organic veg in the supermarket and you will see that you are soon making a great saving:
Organic courgettes £2.19 (500g),
Organic runner beans £1.49 (180g)
Organic potatoes £1.79 (4 pack)

A fragrant herb bouquet from my garden

Another tool in the thrifty gardeners trug is growing herbs. These really are worth their weight in gold as far as I'm concerned. The ones that I use the most and find easiest to grow are rosemary, mint and lavender. These all grow like wildfire and have so many different and varied uses. It is lovely to walk out into the garden and pick a handful of homegrown herbs to throw into a casserole or stew, you can make a refreshing mint tea on a hot day or make a herb bouquet which not only looks beautiful but smells really fragrant too.

Once you get your herb garden growing you don't have to worry about spending out for Christmas or birthday gifts either. Dried lavender can be used to make scented lavender bags and some dried rosemary in a pretty jar would be appreciated my most keen cooks. You can even save money on bath lotions and potions as dried lavender in a muslin bag held under a running tap will ease away cares and worries or you could try rosemary to ease muscle aches and pains.

Most herbs cost around £1-£4 to buy from a garden centre so if you compare this to supermarket prices you will again make some great savings:
Fresh mint £1.69 (100g)
Fresh rosemary 85p (20g)

So what are you waiting for? Make like Mr Bloom and get gardening!!

If you do decide to grow runner beans you can try this lovely runner bean chutney recipe


  1. Your garden sounds pretty similar to ours. We grow broad beans as well, though. Have your tried them?

  2. Yay! Another veg grower. I love growing stuff like rocket - SOOO expensive in the supermarket, or just pick it out of the garden. We grow loads of salad in troughs just outside the kitchen.