Give the children an extra outdoor interest at the same time.
Plus saving you money.
Three for the price of one.
Let us show you how it is done.
With the ever increasing price of food our ideas will help you to budget and feed you and your family well.
If you have space or if you are able to rent an allotment and grow a few vegetables, this is the way to beat inflation.
Alternatively, can you offer to cultivate part of a neighbour's garden, offering them half of the produce as 'rent'? One of our free garden tips that would benefit both parties.
You will doubtless be spraying your crops with less chemicals than commercial growers, which is another bonus.
You stand a chance of converting a finicky child who is 'vegetable-averse' into a fan if they are able to eat what they have grown.
This will save more than money. It should save your temper, time, and frustration etc, so this must be a winner.
Why not go to
Our Gardening Diary
and read how we are installing fruit and vegetable plots. There you will find loads of additional free garden tips.
It is said home-grown vegetables provide more vitamins, minerals and nutrients than supermarket equivalents - so 'growing your own' is a big step towards a healthier lifestyle, as well as helping to cut the cost of your food bills!
There's no excuse not to grow your own. You don't need a large garden or an allotment, just a few pots, a grow-bag or two - the patio will suffice if space is limited. Even a window box can be pressed into service for growing a few herbs.
FREE GARDEN TIPS
1. Even if you do not have space outside, the youngest child could manage growing cress in a small dish with a piece of damp, soft cloth in which to root the cress seeds. They must remember to keep the cloth damp.
They will love to do this, as the results are very quick. This garden tip will give you a useful addition to your salads and sandwiches. Also, if the dish is kept on a window sill, your child will be able to watch progress. This is one of our small, free garden tips that could give your child another interest for life.
2. Sprouting vegetables grown in jars are another suggestion. Your local health food store will give you instructions.
Another free garden tip here: It is not necessary to buy a special kit – a large jam jar, a piece of thin cloth and an elastic band are all you need – plus the appropriate seeds.
These sprouted vegetables are good for Chinese recipes. The bought ones often look a little jaded on the Supermarket shelves. These will be fresh and will save money. Can't be bad - and a fantastic gardening tip!
Once you have kindled an interest in growing plants you could well change the course of a child's life. It will probably promote an interest in eating their produce and may provide them with a life-long interest. The author speaks from her own personal experience here - gardening at school - only to be hooked for life!
3. Marrows and courgettes are plants that the children will also like to grow. They need very little looking after except plenty of watering and harvesting. A great winner because of the short time these plants take to grow and the fantastic looking results.
You could also try pumpkins in readiness for Halloween. The children will thank you for this one of our free garden tips to grow their own pumpkins. They will enjoy carving out the face in readiness for a Halloween party.
The best of free garden tips where children are concerned is always grow plants that are quick, easy, spectacular and useful if you want to retain their interest.
Runner beans just keep on coming and are really sweet when they are picked when small and eaten raw - the kids will love them - almost like taking a forbidden fruit! They are also spectacular to look at particularly when they are grown 'wig-wam' style. Think Jack and the Beanstalk here. The children will be helping your budget as well as learning about growing vegetables. They will hopefully also learn that there are other ways to spend their time apart from watching TV.
4. Another of our free garden tips is growing herbs in pots outside the kitchen door in readiness for giving plain meals a tasty ‘lift’. If you have an unusual container, i.e., an old wheelbarrow with holes drilled for drainage - this can make a feature herb garden. If you include mint in this herb garden, plant it in a pot submerged in the soil, otherwise it will run riot amongst the other herbs. Another one of our garden tips!
Parsley and chives are also particularly useful and very easy to grow. A cheese and chive omelette is a winner as a quick supper dish. Don't let the chives flower and run to seed otherwise you will have chive plants everywhere next season.
Rosemary is a lovely shrubby herb and the small, pointed leaves give a special taste to roast or sauté potatoes etc. but this plant will need a very large pot or otherwise planting in open ground is recommended.
Probably the best of the free garden tips that beats all others on how to save money is the following:
5. After potatoes have been peeled, if they have produced any 'eyes' save the peel in a dark bag or container. When enough have been collected, dig a line trench in the garden, sprinkle the peelings in, cover with soil and wait.
It is amazing to get so much from so little. Just think how amazed the children and you will be at the results. Lovely new potatoes from nothing! Thanks to Jane Rice-Oxley of Denmead, Hampshire for this best of money saving free garden tips. Well done!
The author tried this tip and carried it a step further. 'Eyes' were cut from Maris Piper potatoes and planted in small starter pots. When they had sprouted these were eventually planted out into larger pots due to lack of garden space. The yield from the 'eyes' was greater than that from the highly expensive seed potatoes. A moral here somewhere or maybe just taking saving money to the ultimate extreme. Waste not want not!
To make the most of all the lovely vegetables you will be growing, take a look at five a day facts for some ideas ideas .
6. This next one of our free garden tips has a bonus attached. If you are planting a new hedge try including prickly items such as hawthorn, blackthorn, brambles etc. Such a hedge will be a deterrent to burglars, intruders etc and will definitely save money. The added bonus is it will be appreciated by birds and wildlife.
7. To keep slugs and other creeping invaders away from your veggies or prize plants such as hostas, find a hawthorn bush and snip off 1" or 2" cuttings, making sure you have a thorn on each piece. Let your collection drop into a bucket. Spread these cuttings around your prize plants. With thanks to Graham from Norfolk for adding to our free garden tips.
8. To kill weeds under and around conifers and shrubs instead of using a spray or watering can - both of which could cause damage to the plants, use an old long-handled ceiling roller and tray. This will apply the weed killer exactly where you want it, and is also very economical. Thanks to Guy from Suffolk for adding to our free garden tips.
9. The following suggestions on alternative weed killers for paths and paved areas have not all been tested, but all certainly seem feasible:
A dilute solution of caustic soda.
Take all the usual precautions regarding your skin, children and pets. Use on paths only and do not use on soil where you intend growing a crop/plants next year just in case any residue lurks in the soil. Fine for paths as lurking residue here is an advantage.
10. Even if you have just a small patch of grass, this could easily be turned into good looking lawn by following the easy instructions given.
11. Start a compost heap. Somewhere out of sight in the garden make a small space to contain a compost bin. In best money saving tradition this can be home made with scrap wood. Ideally it should have no or very small gaps in the sides, be situated directly on the soil and covered by an old piece of carpet to keep in the heat that will be generated as the material rots down.
Make thin, alternating layers of the following:
grass cuttings, young weeds,uncooked vegetable waste from the kitchen, animal manure such as waste from guinea pig cages, poultry manure. Do not include perennial weeds.
It is also possible to incorporate small quantities of:
Sawdust and wood shavings. Shredded paper (from a paper shredder?)
Fallen leaves are best placed in a separate pile or wire cage to rot. Otherwise placed in black plastic bags with a small amount of water added. Leave until they become degraded into leaf mould, then added to the compost heap in layers.
Not only will you be finding an easy way of disposing of your waste you will be producing a free source of manure for the garden. To accelerate the rotting process you could try the old country tip of adding urine to your heap as a way of keeping it damp. Otherwise, an occasional sprinkling with water is fine. If you use urine as part of the rotting process, wait for a year before using the compost on the garden.
Do not compost meat, fish, cooked food, coal and coke ash, cat litter and dog poo and disposable nappies. This is the place for good, free garden tips.
12. When re-potting a pot plant instead of the usual stones in the bottom of the pot for drainage, use a few large leaves to make a single layer covering the drainage holes. The water will still drain freely but the soil will be contained. The leaves will eventually rot, giving your pot plant the advantage in the process. When it is necessary to re-pot the plant just use the process all over again. This one of our free garden tips was passed on by a very old gardener who grew the most beautiful pot plants.
13. When planting a shrub or tree, make sure there are no unwanted weeds etc. around the shrub. Place couple of sheets of newspaper in the base of the newly dug hole and thoroughly soak with water. Add a layer of well rotted compost and then insert the tree or shrub in the hole. The wet newspaper will help retain moisture and the compost will encourage the newspaper to rot, making a good compost sandwich for the shrub. This should give it a really good start. Don't forget to keep the plant well watered during the first year until it is well established.
14. Kill ants by sprinkling any cheap talcum powder on them. The cheapest one found at the moment is Tesco's own brand 'My Baby's Powder' at £1.31 for 400g. Failing this use any unwanted presents. This is also a useful tip for killing ants that have invaded the house. Another of our unexpected good, free garden tips.
Talcum powder is safer and cheaper than proprietary brands of ant-killer. This tip is also useful if you find ants in the house, particularly in the kitchen where there is food. It also has the advantage that when the ants return to their nest, the talcum on their bodies will help to kill off the rest of the ants.
Carpenter ants are found in the United States and love to make their home in moist, rotting wood. You will probably be able to hear them rustling around and see the piles of sawdust that they 'excavate' when tunneling into the wood. Try baitng the ants with small amounts of honey diluted with water in small, shallow containers (jam jar lids are OK) placed where you suspect activity. Check your bait after sunset and see of you are able to track the ants back to their 'home' (maybe your home). Probe around with a screwdriver and find their nest. You may need to drill some holes in the rotting wood so that you can puff boric acid into these holes. If this method fails to work, then it will probably be necessary to call in a professional exterminator.
15. Don't buy hanging basket liners when you are making up your baskets for the summer. Instead line the basket with an old knitted type sweater. It is easy to cut holes in these to insert the plants around the sides, and the knitted texture of the sweater retains the moisture. Nobody will know and this is another of our good, free garden tips.
16. Following up on the previous tip. if you place a saucer or shallow dish in the base of the hanging-basket after you have fitted the old sweater lining, then fill with compost and plant up as normal, this saucer will help retain moisture when the basket is watered. This will make your plants happier, keep healthier and last longer. It also saves on water. Another of our good, free garden tips.
17. Don’t buy sprayers for the greenhouse, just wash out one of your empty domestic cleaning sprayers and re-use. Free! Another one of our good, free garden tips.
18. Use one of these rescued sprayers to clear your wooden garden furniture of green mould that can collect over the winter. Fill with about an inch depth of Jeyes fluid, top up with cold water and then spray your wooden garden furniture. Leave for a few hours or until the next day and the mould should have all disappeared. Stubborn build-ups of mould may need scrubbing with a garden broom.
19. Collect all the fallen autumn leaves, put them in a bin liner bag, add a small amount of water to keep the leaves damp and in rotting mode, securely tie and leave in a secluded part of the garden. Give the bag a good shake occasionally. When rotted down the resultant 'compost' can be put around shrubs and trees or added in layers to your compost bin. See Tip No. 10 above.
20. If you have an Aloe Vera pot plant, make sure you make use of the healing properties, the liquid from the leaves is very cooling. This is another one of our good, free garden tips to save you money.
21. You may be lucky in having a gardening club in your area. Some of these clubs are exceedingly well organised and buy fertilizers, seeds, etc. in bulk giving members the opportunity of saving even more money. Some have an arrangement with local shops prepared to give members a discount on purchases.
22. To protect your strawberries use old mouse mats with a round hole cut near to one side. Those in the picture (which shows strawberries growing in a raised bed) had a slit cut about 1" long, which then developed into a round shape (outlined first by using the base of a tumbler). The circle was removed leaving a mat with a 1" slit. The mat was then easily inserted under the plant. Place the shiny side of the mat on to the soil with the rubberised side uppermost to protect the fruit. Remove the mat at the end of the picking season, wash and store away for use next year. These mats help to suppress weed growth but do not affect watering.
If you can't find enough mouse mats call in at your local carpeting shop and ask for an old out-of-date book of vinyl flooring samples. You will probably find they are given away FREE. This has got to be another of our really good, free garden tips to save you money and effort.
23. We have found Harrod Horticultural give an excellent service regarding the supply of garden equipment, even assisting with calculating measurements etc.
24. If you plan to use last year's fleece to cover your tender plants, take the precaution of washing it in luke warm water then hang it out on the line to dry thoroughly. Better still if the sun is shining as UV rays will help kill off spores. This will help kill off certain nasty items carried over from last year. It makes sense to wash your fleece after use and before storage during the summer months. Acknowledgement given to Pippa Greenwood for another one of the timely, free garden tips
25. Use old plastic yogurt pots to raise seeds. Just make a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot with a skewer, fill with potting compost and place your seed in place. Use two seeds per pot to ensure successful germination. When it comes to planting out, invert the yoghurt pot (which has been well watered) with the new plant between your index and second fingers. Squeeze the yoghurt pot gently at the base and the plant should drop out into you hand - ready for planting. Polystyrene drinking cups can also be used. These are particularly good as they retain warmth and promote growth.
26. To remove slug or snail slime from garden paving, just treat with vinegar. This should also deter re-visits. Thanks to Bruce Denness, Whitewell, IOW.
27. Do you have an unidentified plant in your garden? Try a search on Plant Index
28. Avoid toxic weed killers. Keep weeds and moss from brick and paved garden areas by sprinkling all over with table salt on a dry day and then sweeping into the cracks. Work on a section at a time, so as surplus salt can be swept to the next area. this is especially good if you know rain is due over the next day or so. It is an eco friendly and cheap method. Thanks to Desiree via Hotmail
Allotment Vegetable Growing Allotment diaries, photographs, advice about growing vegetables, fruits and herbs with a forum for chatting on the plot.