A great way to save money is by growing your own fruit and vegetables. I love any excuse to spend more time in my garden, but even if you only have a small garden you can still grow produce to reduce how much you have to buy. If you don’t have a garden you could still grow a pot of salad leaves or a few herbs, on a window sill.
I have a small garden but I’m fortunate to have a couple of apple trees. In addition, I’ve planted some raspberry canes, a blackcurrant bush and some rhubarb, in a border along a garden fence, which takes up very little space.
As far as vegetables, I use pots and containers. Vegetable seeds are cheap and I don’t have to pay for any compost. All those rotted peelings and grass clippings in my compost bin, provide an ideal medium for growing vegetables. As long as you don’t overcrowd the pot or allow it to dry out most vegetables will grow well in a suitable size pot. This year I’ve grown loads of different vegetables in pots including potatoes, carrots, beetroot, spring onions, runner beans, courgettes and tomatoes.
One other thing that I do have is a greenhouse. This can be a great investment if you want to take growing your own produce to the next level.
Although you can grow much of the food you want in the garden with plant pots, raised beds and even just straight into the soil. There are some reasons to consider adding a greenhouse:
- Extends the growing season – having a greenhouse lets you start growing earlier and keep growing later in the year than just in the garden because your plants are protected from the weather
- All-year production – you can even grow some foods over winter or prepare them for early spring crops
- Plants are protected from pests – it is easier to use natural pest control in a greenhouse and avoid those airborne and soil pests that can wreck your crops
- Sustainable planting – you can collect seeds from your plants to grow more plants next year, meaning you don’t need to keep buying new plants every year.
If you decide to buy a greenhouse, there are some considerations to help you make an informed choice.
Where will it go?
Often, the size and shape of your garden will play a big part in the greenhouse you can add to it. You want to make sure it is located somewhere that gets the right amount of sunlight and is also easy to access. You might also want to put it away from the main garden area where you sit and enjoy your time outside – greenhouses aren’t always the prettiest things to look at. You should also consider any local authority rules about outbuildings.
What’s your budget?
Another top issue is how much you have to spend on the greenhouse. Remember that buying the structure itself is just one part. You also need the equipment to put in it and plants to grow. You may also need extras such as an irrigation system, temperature controls and shelving. So make sure you can afford all of the things you need before you decide on a greenhouse.
What will it be used for?
Once you know how much space you have available, having some ideas about what you want to grow is the next step. If you can only have a small greenhouse, then what you use it for will be limited, so you need to prioritise the most important foods that you use the most. Larger greenhouses give you more scope to grow more.
What type of greenhouse do you want?
The other big consideration is the type of greenhouse and the style – because there are many variations. For starters, you can go with either glass or plastic for the glazing. Plastic tends to be more affordable than glass and less prone to breaking but glass is better to conduct than sunlight. You can also get wood and aluminium frames with wood sometimes being cheaper but requiring more upkeep. Glass works well with aluminium and plastic works well with wood.
Armed with information from these considerations, you can start looking at some of the other things that might need to factor into your plans.
One of the major ones is the construction of the greenhouse. Are you a keen DIY fan who can put it up yourself or will you need someone to do it for you? If it is the latter, remember to leave some of your budget for this.
Another issue, is how will you water the plants in the greenhouse? Water is key to success in growing your own food. There’s nothing wrong with a simple watering can system but if you have a bigger greenhouse, you might want to consider an integrated irrigation system to do the hard work for you.
Whether you decide to just grow a pot of cress on your window sill or invest in your garden to produce most of your fruit and vegetable needs, it will help you save money. The added benefit is home produce tastes great. You also know how it was grown, something you don’t know when you buy from a supermarket.