For the last few weeks I've enjoyed a large bounty of late harvested tomatoes (I got disorganized with planting regimes) and a had a few good potatoes several months back. Also a compost heap was created with chicken wire so I could make my very own "black gold", providing organic rotted humus for the next growing season.
I have herbs and garlic on the go too which are amazingly easy to maintain. Anything that I could not grow myself, I picked from local woodland areas, such as wild apples and pears.
This may sound like a lot of work and may well not be your "thing." If that's the case, I understand, and I can honestly say I feel the same. Gardening in general does not interest me, but horticulture and the maintenance of plants grown to produce food for my own consumption and financial savings is a no-brainer. Once you get over the hurdle and teach yourself this stuff, you've got the knowledge forever – and it's fun!
Dig for VictoryIn order to arm myself with knowledge I read a few gardening books, talked to older relatives, digested plenty of web articles and watched many Guide To's online. Once I made a start, the pyhsical exercise and creativity of digging the garden felt great and I really felt like I was learning something important – the means to survival on a very basic level.
What this cost me in terms of outlay were the seeds, a few bags of compost, a few tools and not much else. I made newspaper pots, used transparent meat trays as propagators and made about 20 gallons of Nitrogen fertiliser from nettles using my brown plastic dustbin provided by the council.
Just how far back to basics can you push yourself in order to see maximum gain at the end of your endeavour? Rising fuel prices and the cost of food sees the world in a post banking crisis fallout where the sentiment seems to be a DIY approach to most things. During World War 2 Londoners were encouraged to grow their own food and to be resourceful and frugal. My Great Grandmother kept chickens and thought nothing of the brutality of butchery.
Perhaps you could expand your money saving efforts beyond the boundries of your property and go all out with a hired allotment. If you're feeling like a bit of an eco warrior, you might try guerilla gardening in the more discreet parts of your local countryside or forage for wild edibles. No countryside? No garden? Try container gardening. Grow herbs on your windowsill. In my front room window I have hydroponic tomatoes growing, and this is during December!
Home brewingAnother thing I enjoyed doing was making my own wine made from Elderflowers. There is a modest tree in my garden, and it took me a while to actually identify it and set about making the stuff. Again, this cost very little and required only lots of sugar, lemons, yeast and balloons with a pin hole to act as an airlock while fermenting in the bottles. With plenty of wine bottles collected, cleaned and sterilised I ended up with a fair few gallons of strong plonk that makes your eyes water. Prior to this I had no knowledge whatsoever when it comes to homebrewing yet advice and recipes are so easy to find online. I even created a label for it as a little graphic design/marketing exercise. They'll make lovely gifts.
- Read up on gardening and learn a little about horticulture
- If brewing alcohol, avoid glass bottles - the pressure can cause explosions
- A balloon with a pin prick in the end can act as an airlock - expect to see the balloons half inflated for several weeks.