Greenhouse growing is a great way to extend your growing season, and the variety of plants and vegetables that you grow. But if you’re on a budget, setting up a greenhouse and filling it with plants and seedlings can seem like a dauntingly expensive process.
However, there are a number of ways that you can fill your greenhouse with plants, produce and equipment on a relatively modest budget. This article summarises three budget-saving methods to get you going.
If it’s plants you’re keen to grow on a budget, then cuttings are a great way to grow in your greenhouse without spending a fortune. Not all plants can grow from cuttings, and the method used to take the cuttings will vary from plant to plant. For instance, hardwood and softwood cutting methods are different, and some plants or shrubs may require you to take cuttings from single leaves, stems or roots.
Softwood plants such as rosemary and lavender are however, extremely easy to take cuttings from. Simply pull at the ‘heel’ (where the soft new shoot grows from the older, harder wood) and place into a pot of sandy compost. You can dip the shoot in root growth hormone, and just need to make sure that the cutting is kept relatively warm and moist. You can produce many new plants from just one plant or shrub, saving yourself a significant amount of money!
Seed Saving and Swapping Schemes
You can save money year upon year by saving seeds from the plants you grow. You should always check the variety of plant or vegetable you’re growing, as some may be infertile hybrids that you won’t be able to germinate. When collecting seeds, contain within an airtight and waterproof box, envelope or tin, and label with the year and month that they were collected. Some seeds, if kept properly, can be used up to two or three years after collection.
Seed swapping is a growing phenomenon, especially amongst Internet groups that operate on a local level. Allotment holders may also collect and swap seeds, so if you’re lucky enough to keep your own allotment, why not ask your neighbours if they’d like to trial a seed swap of your own. It’s a great way to try out new plants without having to splash out. Seeds also make a great budget-saving gift for friends and family- a small gesture that produces long-lasting and fantastic results!
Recycling Schemes and Classified Ads
If it’s an actual greenhouse you’re after, you should never underestimate how much you could save by simply checking the classified section in your local newspaper. There are many people that may be perfectly willing to sell their greenhouse for as little as £10 or £20.
It may be that you’re expected to pack down the greenhouse, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the majority of cases, a second-hand greenhouse won’t come with any construction details, but as most greenhouses are built to standard measurements with standard-sized bolts and screws, there should be little problem putting it back together if you’re organised about deconstructing it. Tape together, pad out and label the frames and panes for later use – and you can always take along your camera, as the pictures may prove to be a helpful reference point.
Another great budget resource for greenhouses, greenhouse equipment and plants are local recycling schemes, such as Freecycle. However, it’s worth noting that in many areas, greenhouses in particular will be snatched up quickly, so don’t be disappointed if you takes you a long time to find yourself a greenhouse in this way. It does and can happen though, so make sure that you’re at least prepared to be able to pick up the greenhouse as soon as possible. Some people may offer the greenhouse foundations or flooring alongside the greenhouse, which can prove to be a huge bonus.
Often during the growing season, many people will kindly offer to give away surplus seedlings or plants that they’ve grown for free. This is a fantastic way to grow your own produce on a budget. As Freecycle etiquette demands that items are advertised on the basis that they’re absolutely free, all you should end up spending – if anything at all – is the cost of travel to collect the plants.
The main point is that if you need something, let as many people know as possible. You never know, a neighbour may have a friend of a friend who’s looking to get rid of the lonely and abandoned greenhouse that’s been sitting in the corner of their garden for years!