Economic Gardening Ideas
It will probably be necessary to improve the soil in all or in part of your garden. Compost heaps provide the cheapest improver for cheap fertilizer of all, so start a compost heap right away as this is really one of the best economic gardening ideas that I can recommend. If you have the room, allow for two or three, on the principle of ‘one on, one off and one in the drawer’.
Where space is limited, there are many neat containers of wood, metal or plastic to keep things under control and speed up the process. An old dustbin with the base knocked out and air holes punched in round the bottom edge will do the job quite well and so will black plastic sacks. This is a good way to deal with fallen leaves. They take longer to rot down than garden and kitchen waste, so should be bagged up separately and left for two years when they will have become splendid leaf mould. Do not add the leaves from plane trees or conifer needles. These should be put on the bonfire and the ashes added to the compost heap.
In the Autumn, I make forays into the countryside, armed with black bags and two boards. I find a quiet place where the road runs through beech or oak woods and just grab up boardfuls of fallen leaves from the roadside – I do the same with horse-droppings. If visiting stable or farm owning friends, always go armed with shovel and sacks. Try and get the oldest, most well-rotted manure, as this can be spread around straight away. Fresh manure can be added in small doses to the compost heap, to act as an accelerator, and so can the dog faeces that you have scooped up from the lawn.
If you have a large garden, it might be worth investing in one of the compost-shredding machines, or an old chaff-cutter (keep both well away from all children). These chomp everything down to a fine mince which will rot away very quickly and could be applied as a mulch right away. Never add perennial weeds or diseased plants to the compost heap; burn them instead. Bracken could be processed in the cutter and fed to your lilies which would be grateful. It can also be put into a bucket and chopped up with the garden shears, to be added to the heap or spread as a protective mulch above any delicate favourites.
Another economic gardening idea is to use seaweed – which can be used in much the same way as bracken; it can also be dug into the bottom spit of soil when trenching or spread over the top to rot down, but this is rather smelly.
Finally, to the equipment and gardening tools you will need. I have already cited private auctions as a fertile hunting ground for good, cheap tools, but if you have moved into an old house, you may well find an abandoned cache of perfectly usable if venerable tools in the garden shed. Even those that are broken can often be mended, and if it is only a matter of replacing the handle, you can do that yourself with a piece of broom handle and a nail or Araldite (strong).
Good solid tools are a sound investment, but don’t think you have to buy everything in stainless steel, and only buy those you really need (a rake will be of little use in a paved courtyard). In general, it is surprising how little you can make do with if you can only afford the basic essentials.