It’s all too easy to march headstrong and full of ambition into the nearest garden centre and get completely carried away with the making of a new garden. There’s that addictive spiral of wanting that pot, and if we get that pot we’ll need that stand, and isn’t a group of three pots more aesthetically pleasing…and on it goes until you’ve filled a trolley, exploded your budget and created a mammoth garden task for yourself when you finally get home. But gardening doesn’t need all the fripperies to be enjoyable. In fact, it’s as simple as getting hands in the dirt.
- Avoid the showy garden centres and instead explore your local flea markets and school fêtes for seedlings. The plant stall at our school fair is legendary in these parts. And coupled with the often cheap plants comes advice and well wishes in bucketsful.
- Get creative with ideas for pots. Think large olive oil tins, buckets, old wooden crates…even old gumboots. Simply drill/poke a few drainage holes in the bottom, sprinkle some smallish rocks (gathered around your home or out and about) and fill with a mixture of soil and compost. Just don’t make them too small; those eager roots need open spaces to explore.
- Try growing from cuttings. Herbs respond happily to a good haircut and the leftover twigs can be reborn into new plants. Perhaps a neighbour has a bushy lavender or rosemary that they wouldn’t mind you gently trimming. Take roughly 10cm cuttings, strip away the bottom leaves, pop into a shallow jar of water making sure no leaves are in the water, and cover with a re-used plastic bag (you can keep one in your tool shed and use it over and over again), Simply change the water weekly and within a few weeks your little snippets will have roots searching for soil.
- Make secondhand your mantra when it comes to all things gardening. Tools, pots, watering cans, pavers, stakes to support tomato plants, even string can all be unearthed from your local op shops/thirft stores, garage sales and flea markets. Jot down a list and carry it with you always so you’ll be able to concentrate your shopper’s eye and hone in on a bargain.
- Seek out willow branches with their bendy ways. With a little manipulation you can fashion cloches to keep out pesky possums. And larger eucalyptus branches can be makeshift garden stakes, or posts to support bird netting.
- Make your own seedling markers. Quirky homemade garden signage will never lose its appeal and when recycling is your motivation it moves from charming to commendable. Use a permanent marker to write on the ends of old bamboo toothbrushes and ice-cream sticks and push them into the soil to help identify your seedlings.
- Make your own compost. A secondhand plastic bin or ramshackle timber one crafted from recycled pallets. Add your kitchen scraps, leaves, brown paper, sunshine and time and you’re well on your way to sweet smelling garden nourishment.
- Explore homemade pest management. Companion planting, a bee friendly design, and a humble soap and water spray can be all that’s needed to ward off attack from invasive pests.
- Save your seeds. If you purchase organic heirloom vegetables from your farmers’ market you can save their seeds for your own garden. A one-off purchase can reap years of beautiful produce.
- Rescue those sprouting potatoes from the bottom of the pantry and tuck them into a soil bed. Nothing quite beats the joy of unearthing a family tree of potatoes from one lone plant.