I set myself various New Year Resolutions this year. One of 'em involved gardening. You see, I set myself an annual budget. I'd spend no more than £50 a year on gardening.
It was always going to be a tall order, and in fact I pretty much knew I wasn't going to keep to it. But it still makes sense - at least to me - to have the intention in mind. It helps focus me ... at least most of the time.
I've held back from splurging on yet more flower seeds, knowing I've got plenty of packets already in my seed tin.
I've held back (largely) from buying more ceramic planters, because I've got several already and don't need more right now.
I've held back from mooching up to the nearby horticultural nursery on a Sunday afternoon for a little look-around, knowing I'd be tempted to spend money once there.
What I have spent I've kept track of. Here's my expenditure so far:
75 p - courgette seeds. (I want lots of veg this year, and I'd run out of courgette seeds.)
25p - spinach seeds. (Didn't have any, and love spinach. Cheaper to grow than buy it bagged.)
£5.00 - two thyme plants. (Want lots of fragrant thyme leading to the front door. Okay, these purchases weren't strictly necessary. I succumbed to their heady scent.)
£6.98 - two bags of Vermiculite. (My container plants were looking bogged down in over-wet soil. I'm hoping the Vermiculite will aerate the soil and perk my plants up.)
£6.98 - two bags of Perlite. (To help keep my seedlings healthy and the soil from drying out as they grow.)
£1.49 - a bag of Seed & Cutting Compost.
£2.49 - a bag of Organic Compost.
£1.98 - two multi-packs of seeds. One with a mix of veg, one with herbs. (Both included varieties I wanted/needed. Including broad beans and Marjoram.)
£1.99 - a small ceramic planter. (Bought on impulse - slapped wrist! - but it did come from a charity shop._
£2.79 - two pairs of gardening gloves. (I get through so many of them. Essential unless you want your hands be permanently grimy and rough as sandpaper.)
£3.99 - a set of four seed propagators. (I had little luck with individual plant pots last year. I think the seeds have more chance in proper propagators this year. Hopefully the propagators will be good for several years of use.)
£3.38 - two pots of hyacinths, three bulbs to each pot. (Okay, another frivolous purchase. But the scent of hyacinths is heavenly!)
£2.49 - an Aloe Vera plant. (Guilty look. Another un-necessary purchase. No excuse, I just wanted an Aloe Vera.)
£3.99 - two soft fruit bushes. A gooseberry and a redcurrant (if I remember rightly.) I want to grow my own berries as well as herbs and veg.
And that comes to a grand total of - ta dah! - £44.55. Actually, now I think of it, I also bought a small palm indoor plant that must've been about £3.00 or so. So that's more of less my fifty quid budget used by the start of April.
As said, I know I'll go over it. I've lots of potting compost to buy for the new flower beds in the front garden, given the extremely poor soil hidden under the bricks out there. Plus I could do with buying a garden fork and I need a water butt to capture all the lovely free rainwater that'll no doubt pour from the sky this spring/summer.
But I'll keep the budget in mind, and keep track of costs, and hopefully in future years I'll be able to lower my outgoings with more success.
P.S. Incidentally, if you're wondering why the amount of £50 was chosen: I read a piece in the book 'my tiny veg plot' by Lia Leendertz. About Penny Golightly and her budget gardening. She'd set herself a £50 limit and blogged about it, gardening creatively and enjoying the challenge a financial limit imposed. (The blog's at http://golightlygardens.com/category/grow-it/ if you're interested.)