Gardening – the cheap as chips version

I shouldn’t complain, because I inherited an array of (knackered) gardening tools when I moved into my current house. Rusty lawn edger? Check. Spade with wobbly handle? Triple check. Ossified Flymo? But of course. So I’ve saved a bit on the initial investment, since we can make do with this tat in the short term, replacing items that fall apart or give us blisters as we go along. And yet still, I raise this complaint: launching as a gardener (even a low-volume, amateur gardener) can be pricey. Once you’re up & running you’ll probably be supplying your own compost & sharing seedlings with neighbours or whatever, but all this requires a basic level of kit that might put you off getting started.

I’ve trialled 80% of the following items & found them to be acceptable makeshift options:

(NB some of these are well known, sensible things. Some are very makeshifty. I make no claims regarding originality or slickness)
For seedlings, especially indoors:
– Plastic tubs from yoghurt, instant porridge, dip (e.g. houmous), etc., as small pots. Bonus: since they’re destined for the recycling eventually anyway, you can punch holes in the bottom for drainage, in the sides for hanging on a nail in the wall/on a trellis, even trim the height for light, without it being “a waste of a perfectly good pot”
– Kitchen cutlery for moving potting soil around etc., if using your hands makes too much mess and for carefully adding water to new shoots
– Cheap sandwich bags for keeping seeds. Keep them all together in the dark when not using. Bonus: scribble what they’re seeds for on the bag. Depending on the bag, biro may work. Sharpie should always work. Double bonus: start saving seeds from the veg you eat, especially if you buy “proper veg” (organic and/or varieties chosen for taste rather than uniformity of appearance)

For small-scale growth:
– Cheap sandwich bags (again!) as crude propagators. Bonus: Sainsbury’s basics ones come with the little plastic&wire twisty ties, which are especially well suited to this task (can open up then reseal easily)
– Knackered old terracotta pots or even broken mugs, smashed up, as additive to dense, poor draining soil to improve that
– Oven gloves in place or garden gloves (warning: this is likely to ruin them, only advised if you have no garden gloves but duplicate oven gloves!)
– Crushed up eggshell round plant stem as slug & snail repellant. Bonus: biodegradable!
– Bowl or mug as scoop for soil or fertiliser or whatever. You’ve been hanging onto that “happy 16th birthday” mug so long that you never actually drink out of it; give it a new lease of life!
– Kitchen scissors for trimming little plants. They’re not tough yet, you don’t need secateurs

For medium-scale growth:
– Scrap wood, wire, punctured bike inner tyres, etc., leashes together, as a trellis. Especially handy if that junk was lying in the space you want to put plants – double whammy!
– Wonky and/or busted chairs, stools, stepladders, steps, for getting plant pots up off the floor (e.g. for better light)


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