As many Australians look at ways they can tighten their belts from a financial perspective, here are some ways that gardeners can save money.
Grow vegies and colourful annuals from seeds not punnets
Propagate your own plants from cuttings or divisions. If you produce too many plants, why not share them with family or friends, local schools or organisations that are fundraising, charity shops or community groups.
Buy small plants or tube stock, rather than advanced specimens. Ask your local nursery or garden centre how long it will take for the smaller plant to reach the larger size in a garden situation (even though this is under the ideal conditions). Often it is only a matter of months and yet the dollar saving can be significant, especially when you are purchasing a number of plants.
Buy mulch in bulk – either bark based mulch by the cubic metre from the landscape supply yard or bales of straw based mulch. Purchasing bags of mulch or chopped straw may be convenient and easy to handle, however it is much more expensive when you consider how much you get.
Buy fertiliser in large bags – Even though the initial outlay may be more, it is more economical to buy larger sizes and store them in a garden shed or carport.
Make your own compost – Recycle kitchen scraps, garden prunings, and even newspaper and shredded office paper (not shiny) to make this vital ingredient that can make your soil into a sponge and make your whole gardening experience so much easier.
Buy bare rooted. When purchasing deciduous fruiting and ornamental trees and vines, wait till winter when many varieties are available bare rooted. Although care must be taken in their early establishment, these plants will often power away. Roses are also available bare rooted in winter and it can reduce their cost by up to half when compared to potted specimens.
Purchase preloved. Look out for second hand pots and garden features at garage sales, salvage yards and recycling depots.
Wine barrels. For large tubs for vegetables wine barrels, water features or large tub specimens, use a half wine barrel. Although they will not last forever, you will often get at least 5-10 years from them before they deteriorate. Even old foam fruit boxes can be used as small portable beds for vegetables and herbs, although they are not very UV stable in the long term.
To glean fabulous inspiration visit Botanic Gardens and other gardens that open to the public. You will always come away with ideas, practical tips and information.
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To finish this column here is a cautionary list things not to skimp on:
The right advice – By choosing the right plant for the position to start with and nourishing and watering it appropriately, you will greatly reduce the incidence of pests and disease problems, and hence the need to intervene for pests and diseases.
Soil preparation – there is an old gardening saying that suggests ‘plant a $1 plant in a $10 hole’. In most cases, if you take the time to prepare the soil where a new plant is to be planted, improving it with organic matter and gypsum as required, your plant will take off and outgrow a much larger specimen planted in an ill prepared site.
Mulch – Doing the soil preparation and correct planting is useless if the new plant gets overrun by weeds or bakes in harsh exposed soil, so be sure to mulch to insulate your plants roots and give it the best chance of survival.