Gardening is one of the most cost effective hobbies

applesSitting back one lazy Sunday morning with the newspaper in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other I was fully prepared to read all about the doom and gloom of our current economic climate. Petrol prices have risen, food bills have increased and the cost of living is the highest it has been since the 1930s. However, there was light at the end of the tunnel; many families are now taking up gardening as a means of entertainment.

Gardening has seen the average monthly cost rise due to inflation, but only by 17%*, which is considerably lower than the 46%* increase in price when taking the family to the cinema. I have always found that gardening is a great way of keeping the family entertained and a good motivator when it comes to being outside instead of cooped up inside playing video games. And now as it’s considered to be one of the cheapest ways to occupy the family there is no reason why people shouldn’t be spending more time in their garden.

Whether you want to start dressing the lawn with some beautifully planted flower beds, create the perfect environment for fruit and vegetables to grow or craft your idealistic outdoor living space, there is so much you can do to make the most out of your garden. My garden is springing to life with many plants growing and changing at every glance. The transition between spring and summer is beautiful. I have welcomed my spring perennials after a long and dreary winter of bare beds, but now as they have finished their show I’m watching them grow larger clumps for next year.

For me this is one of the most exciting times in the gardening calendar and one that provides you with the perfect opportunity to get your children involved in the wonders of all things horticultural. As so much is going on in the garden with flowers blooming and vegetables sprouting, now is the time more than ever to get into gardening.

If you’re looking for an alternative hobby that will help you look after the pennies and believe gardening is something that you and the family will enjoy, here are a few tips to get your garden blossoming:

  • If you have never ventured out into the garden, strip it bear to find out how much space you really have to play with
  • Dig up any old flower beds and sow grass seeds if you wish to have a green garden. However if you wish to own a decked garden, cover the base with a ground sheeting material to stop any weed growth
  • Plan the landscape; where a patio will go, how many flower or raised beds you want and if the decking will cover the whole garden
  • Test your soil to discover what type of soil you’re working with
  • Find out what sections of the garden receives sunlight and what parts are always kept in the shade, this will determine what can and cannot be grown
  • Do your research and see what plants will grow in your garden, focusing on their growing times.

Remember to save costs you can transform your garden bit by bit, there is no rush.

Five jobs to do in early summer

It is June, isn’t it? It certainly doesn’t feel like we’re half way through the year, nor does it look like we are in summer. We may all be praying for some sunshine, but that doesn’t mean that we should be deterred away from the garden. There are plenty of things we should be getting on with and after using my guide for the jobs to do in June you’ll be pleased to get yourself outside start enjoying your garden again. Once you’ve completed these jobs, hopefully the sun will rear its head and we’ll fell like summer is finally here to stay.

All your bedding plants should be planted out into borders and beds. It’s June so all of your half-hearted plants and Dahlias can be placed outside.

The Allotment/Raised Beds
Tend to your allotment or raised beds and begin to sow lettuce leaves, radishes, beetroot, Calabrese, spring cabbage, carrots and peas. Now is the time to harvest garlic plants.
Remove the side shoots of your tomatoes and start feeding your plants once flowers harvest.
Keep tying your cucumbers if you’re growing the climbing type and repeatedly feed them, the soil needs to be moist at all times. However, if you’re growing them in a greenhouse I have found that putting a bucket of water in there will prevent any damage caused by red spider mite.

Fruit trees
If you have grown fruit trees before you’re aware of the June drop. Once that has taken place cut any excess apples. The June drop – This is a natural process that apple trees do during the early summer months. After the apple trees have flowered, they will shed some of their apples.

Dead-head your roses regularly as this will encourage future blooms and ensure they are watered well during hot months. This is usually the time when you begin to see signs of your roses suffering from diseases or an aphid attack. When you see these signs, treat them immediately.

Now is the time to fill your compost bins, layer coarse material from the garden (clipping etc) with grass and vegetable waste from the kitchen. To speed up the composting process I’ve found that Garotta is a great activator.

Mr McGregor
Mr McGregor is a well loved guest writer for the popular garden centre Notcutts, sharing with his readers the trials and tribulations of growing your own and making the most out of your outdoor living space. Mr McGregor has been in the gardening business for over 27 years and to this day still enjoys experimenting and learning from his experiences.
*Results from Halifax’s review of leisure spending