Tag Archives: garden centre

Growing Plants from Seeds – much cheaper than buying plants

Seed trays 08.09.09There are few things more cheering and pleasant than the sight of flowers in your garden or around the house.  Stocking your garden with plants can be very costly but there are lots of ways to obtain plants, pots and ornamental objects for very little money.  I am something of a novice in the garden, so we can have the joy of learning (and falling flat on our faces) together.  I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who are really good at this gardening lark and I’m never afraid to ask questions.

The first step is to have a plan, as a bit of forward thinking gives you time to gather materials and scout around for interesting things.  At this time of year you need to be planning for the Spring and making notes about which type of plants you want to grow and how you can get your mucky paws on them.  Get some books out of the library, draw some plans in a notebook. And don’t feel restrained by conventional ornaments and containers.  Look in skips and go to the tip – make yours the most original garden in the street.

Now go to your garden centre or supermarket and see what seeds they have on sale; the back of the packet will tell you when they can be planted, but I am very much an experimenter.  A reasonable rule of thumb is that if it’s in the garden centre, it’s the right time of year for it.  Back in July I planted trays and trays of seeds, about half of which were washed away or drowned by the positively diluvian weather we all experienced at the time. (Although when the rain stopped I did find a pair of giraffes and a two rather bedraggled cockatoos lurking in my privet).

I let the trays dry out and have been astonished to find that more seeds than I expected have recovered and started to sprout.  But the new problem is that the weather has now turned and is not particularly conducive to bringing on seedlings.

Again, a trip to the garden centre was most profitable as they have their seasonal sales like everyone else.  I came home with a small, 3-shelf plastic greenhouse for £9.00, which, if the worst comes to the worst, can be brought indoors; two trays of fuschias for £1 which I’m going to experiment with putting inside and outside the house as I have no idea whether they are hardy; a tray of pansies for £2.00, 30 small plastic pots for £1.12 and a big bag of end of stock compost for £1.50.  I also bought all the plants for my hanging baskets last month from a sale at the market  (9 plants for £9) and they were as bonny as anything.  I could have done with an extra plant in each basket, but I’ll know for next year.

Regular followers of the Wartime Housewife will remember my scavenging expedition to the municipal tip back in July where I found hanging baskets and pots galore for next to nothing and these are really coming into their own now as I am potting up seedlings left, right and centre.  I’m going to start some more to replace the ones I lost in the rain, despite the time of year, but at between 99p-£1.50 for a packet of seeds, one can afford to experiment. I have been reliably informed by the Aged Parent that garden centres often have dump bins where you can place unwanted pots for recycling.  Recycled straight into my garden as it happens.  Always re-use before you recycle.

Just a little aesthetic extra; I use old saucers under my pots in the house.  Bric-a-brac stalls, antique stalls and car boot sales will often have loads of assorted china and saucers that cost pence, look lovely and are perfect for small pots. Try planting in mugs or cups and saucers as well.

Another way of obtaining cheap plants, is to do a Seed Swap.  Tomorrow evening our local Garden Society is holding a Seed Swap at the village hall but you can buy seeds and seedlings if you don’t have any to swap.  If you don’t have a garden soc., go to your friends and neighbours and suggest it to them – it could also be a lovely way to encourage a bit of community spirit.  Get that kettle on! Take cuttings, plant seeds, cover your windowsills with pots and see what happens. Oh and don’t forget the biscuits.

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Filed under Make it yourself, Plants, The Garden, Tips, Skips and Scavenging

A Cheap Day Out on a Rainy Day

Hurricane Jigsaw 27.07.09The school holidays are always a challenge when you have lively children, and although the older ones should be able to entertain themselves at least some of the time, we all need a bit of fresh air to run off energy and clear our heads.

Today the weather was very changeable but, as rain is not actually dangerous, we donned our wellies and macs and set off for Borough Hill, an  Iron Age hill fort run by Leicester County Council and, importantly, free.  There is nothing there but stunning views, cows and sheep and plenty of trees to climb, and we spent a glorious hour running around, getting stuck in rabbit holes and throwing dried sheep poo at each other (although perhaps I should draw a discreet veil over that.  Do make sure to wash your hands after throwing sheep poo…).

However, huge black clouds soon rolled in and we pulled up our hoods and ran back to the car.  It was now lunchtime and the boys needed feeding.  Eating out can often be more expensive than the trip itself and I would normally take a modest picnic on a walk – nothing exotic, sandwiches, crisps or raisins, fruit, a home made flapkack or a Penguin and fruit juice decanted into re-used soft drink bottles are perfectly adequate and healthy.  But today was clearly not an al fresco opportunity.   Everyone must explore their own environment to find  good cheap places to eat, but as a starting point, I would recommend investigating your local garden centres.  Many of them have excellent, cheap snacks and often children’s lunch boxes for as little as £2 which nearly always have a little puzzle book or game.  Although we all know of certain fast food chains that offer similar value, one should always support local business first, or our towns and villages will wither away.  We found a delightful garden centre on our way home which not only offered delicious food but also had gift shops, clothing, books and a play area.  I enjoyed oohing and aahing over plants for my impending garden and they had a super time in the play area.

It was now absolutely torrenting with rain so we agreed that we would go home and do something together.  Like most of you, I have an extremely busy life and, sadly, have little opportunity to spend as much time as I would like with my children. It was therefore  a real pleasure for us all to sit down with a jigsaw puzzle, intermittently arguing about who’d lost the pieces, enduring The Cat tormenting us by relentlessly sitting in the middle of the half finished puzzle and finally relinquishing the last piece to my elder son who could then claim that he’d done the lot.

I live in a country village, but I have lived in the city and I know that amenities vary greatly.   Most areas have parks or somewhere to walk and you’d be amazed at where you can get to on a bus.  Council or Tourist Information offices have great information about days out and how to get there, so make the most of them.

Would you like to try my recipe for the stickiest flapjacks in existence?  Then you must keep visiting The Wartime Housewife dear Bloggers, who knows what you might find!

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Filed under Children, Outdoor Activities