Free Substitutes

Just because gardening can be an expensive hobby doesn’t mean it has to be. There are loads of things that can be substituted from bits of rubbish from around the house. These items are just as good as more expensive alternatives if not better most of the time. All you need is a bit of imagination.


The most obvious choice is using the rolled cardboard from used toilet rolls – these are great for sowing plants that have long roots, especially during their early stages, and plants such as broad beans, sweet peas and runner beans that have fairly large seeds. Using these allows you to sow early rather than straight into the ground after waiting for the soil to warm up. Simply place all the rolls into a tray and put on a warm window sill. The added bonus of using cardboard is that you can plant it straight into the ground, not disturbing the roots of the plant. Another option is to use rolled up newspapers. There are specially made newspaper pot makers available to help you too.

Plastic milk or juice container – what size depends on what how big the plant is that you want to protect. If you cut the bottom off not only are you helping to protect young plants and seedlings from a late frost but it also protects plants that the slugs are able to devour overnight. These are great for peas not just because the slugs can’t get to their young stems but because they can use the container as a support and when you come to water them the water won’t run off, instead it will go straight to the roots. Whats not to love?


String – string is something we all have lying around, usually in abundance. For those who grow tomato plants whether it be in a greenhouse of outside may want to try string as a support instead of expensive bamboo (especially if you don’t have a supply already). People tie the stem loosely with string and attach the other end to either the roof or a single piece of bamboo cane running above all the plants. This way allows you to save on bamboo if, like me, you have a limited supply and aren’t prepared to spend lots of money on a load of new canes. Other plants that can use this method include runner beans and many different climbing plants.

Kitchen and garden waste – This is of course something most people do especially serious gardeners. The compost heap can easily be overlooked and sometimes neglected; used as a place to dump anything and everything from the garden. However, with a little bit of effort compost heaps can be producing fresh compost much quicker than previously thought. Cheap plastic compost bins will do the trick but for the best results construct one or use an area where there is enough room and it is easy to turn over the waste every few months. Doing this will speed up the process greatly and make the fresh compost much more accessible.


Dissolved vitamin C tablet – Some people swear by hormone rooting powder. I myself have never used it purely because I have never felt the need as I’ve always been quite successful when it come to taking cuttings. I cheap alternative though to the powder that many people dip the bottom of a cutting in is a dissolved vitamin C tablet in water. It’s certainly worth a try and many people who use this find it better than its expensive alternative. I’ll definitely be giving it a go this year. If you want to try taking cuttings for yourself and are new to the idea heres a guide on basal cuttings.

(Image used for string supports originally from


4 thoughts on “Free Substitutes

  1. Pingback: You Can’t Be Too Organised | Our Garden Diary

  2. Pingback: Sowing Sweet Peas | Our Garden Diary

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s