30 DIRT-CHEAP WAYS TO GROW-YOUR-OWN AND CUT COSTS 

Garden Organic is dishing up 30 days of budget-busting biodiversity projects to celebrate Organic September – which prove organic growing is eco-friendly and economical.  

On each day of the month-long campaign, the sustainable gardening charity will be offering #ThriftyThirty inspiring ways people can save money while also helping to save the planet. 

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Projects will include swapping expensive bagged salads for homegrown gourmet leaves, saving seeds, growing from scraps, and creating new plants for free.  

The idea behind the campaign is to show how gardening organically – by growing-your-own, reusing and recycling and saving seeds – can help people save money on their shopping bills. 

CEO of Garden Organic Fiona Taylor said: “Far from being an expensive or exclusive hobby, organic gardening is a brilliant way to buffer the cost-of-living crisis, allowing people to grow fresh, cheap and abundant food close to home.  

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“All you need to get started is some bare soil, a packet of seeds and you’re good to go. Over the 30 days, we’ll be sharing a myriad of practical, money-saving projects to get the most out of seeds, plants and produce, while at the same time nurturing nature – so that gardening is good for you, and good for the planet.” 

Should you wish to view some of these ideas on the ground you can also visit the organic demonstration garden at Ryton Organic Gardens near Coventry on 14th or 30th September. A full garden tour will show you how you can create your own thriving organic space and on 28th September you can take a behind-the-scenes tour of their Heritage Seed Library to discover how its rare collection of heirloom seeds are grown and saved to preserve their unique qualities. 

Alternatively join one of their online talks to find out how organic gardening can benefit your garden (7th September) or how to save your own seeds (20th September and 27th September). To book the tours or workshops visit: www.gardenorganic.org.uk/get-involved/courses-and-events.

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Here’s a sneak preview of some of the clever, cost-saving organic gardening projects you can get your teeth into during Organic September… 

1.    Grow a cut-price gourmet salad 

Avoid the over-priced bagged salad in the supermarket by growing your own fresh, tasty salad leaves at home on a windowsill or container outdoors. You can use old boxes, fruit punnets or shopping bags if you don’t have pots. You can sow a mix of leaves now such as spicy mustards, mizuna and spinach into peat-free compost. 

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2.    Make your own paper pots 

Making your own pots out of paper is a great way to save buying new pots, and plan ahead for spring sowings. They’re also perfect for sowing sweet peas in October. Fragrant sweet peas are loved by pollinators. 

  • Place a strip of newspaper flat on a table and place a small bottle on top. Roll tightly away from you. 
  • Neatly fold the remaining paper and fold to make the base of the pot.  
  • Turn the pot over and push down. Clasp carefully and extract the bottle. 
  • Fill with peat-free compost and sow one seed in each pot as per the packet instructions. Grow on in a cool but frost-free greenhouse or windowsill, and when they’re 10cm tall, pinch out the growing tips to produce bushy plants.  

3.    Grow new houseplants for free 

Many houseplants such as pothos, spider plants, spiderwort and Chinese money plants (pilea) can be propagated by rooting cuttings in water. This means you can share cuttings with friends and get new plants to add to your collection or make more of those you love! Cut a four-inch piece of soft, green stem, which has two to three leaves, just below the root node (this is the bump along the stem where the new roots will form). Pop in a vase of water and wait until a nice nest of roots has formed, and then pot up into a small pot of peat-free compost. 

4.    Regrow scraps from leftovers 

Recycle your vegetable tops and bottoms by growing them for nutritious, flavoursome greens! It’s a great project for kids. Instead of throwing scraps into the compost bin, place the flat end of your vegetable leftover in a shallow dish of water and watch them regrow. Try carrot and turnips tops and the bases of lettuce, celery and onion/spring onion. Change the water regularly and once they get growing, snip the green shoots into salads and stir fries. 

Follow the #ThriftyThirty hashtag during September for more cost-saving organic gardening advice and ideas. 

Further information on growing organically and becoming a member of Garden Organic can be found by visiting gardenorganic.org.uk/join-us

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Tony Flanagan
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