Friday, 30 August 2013

FREE HERITAGE OPEN DAYS

This is your once a year opportunity to visit places not normally open to the public and for absolutely no charge- yes! Free!
Heritage Open Days takes place this year over 4 days; Thursday12th - Sunday15th September. This is a great opportunity to explore on your own doorstep (or away from home if you still have holiday time) and all for free.
If the kids are back at school this will make a nice weekend treat or if you'd like to explore without them- go on Thursday or Friday!
Just check out the Go Explore search to find places near where you are!

OOPS! I JUST FELL OF THE YONS WAGON!

Yes, I have to own up - today I bought something I didn't need or have to have. These 5 little Heuchera plants were sitting in the hardware shop just asking for me to pick them up, so, for the first time in my YONS, I've fallen off the wagon so to speak. 
I'm a bit of a Heuchera fan and, as they always seem to be around £9 each in the garden centres, and these 5 medium sized plants totalled £I8.75, thought it was a good opportunity to further stock my new garden. I'm trying to persuade myself that in the spring, they will all be bigger and I will divide them and get a lot more plants for nothing!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

35 FREE THINGS TO DO WITH THE KIDS!

If you are struggling to find free things to keep your kiddies occupied through the rest of the school holidays, take a look at these 35 ideas from Mu Cheese's Fun Activity List
It's a downloadable pdf booklet with loads of ideas including pavement chalk art (no harm done it all washes off!), mini sports days in the garden or park, making cress heads or ice lollies, miniature gardens (use a food tray, garden soil, leaves twigs etc), making your own magazine and much, much more!
Get busy and these last couple of weeks' summer holiday will fly past!
More things to do in the school holidays!

Monday, 5 August 2013

FREE NEWSPAPERS AT WAITROSE!

Get a free copy of your favourite newspaper at Waitrose. You need to be a  My Waitrose cardholder and spend £5 or more in store. Choices are a free copy of the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Scottish Daily Mail, The Guardian or the Observer! 
You can also swipe your card at any time and get a free cup of coffee or tea from the bakery counter/café!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 38

Checkout the garden centre casualty corner!
All garden centres have a casualty corner where they put reduced plants that have been damaged, have finished flowering or just need a little TLC. Providing these "casualties" are at least 50% off  you will probably get a bargain. 
When you get them home, check if they are dry and if they are, stand in a container of water for 24 hours. Keep out of strong sunlight, just until they are acclimatised and, if you are planting them out in the garden, check the roots for vine weevil grubs (little creamy white grubs) and remove and destroy. These grubs eat away at the roots of your plant and even if it is planted in fresh soil they will soon kill it. 
If your bargain is a pot plant, you will need to re-pot it in fresh compost as there will be almost no goodness left in the original soil. Although there is no immediate rush to do this as sometimes, it is better to leave the roots undisturbed just at first.
It may take until the following year to see the best of the plant and if you are due any low temperatures in the winter, it may be best to protect it from frost, but with any luck, you should have a lovely plant for the new season. 
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

Friday, 2 August 2013

MY YEAR OF NOT SPENDING!

For those of you who have been following me on my YONS - I'm still "not spending" and doing well! I have 2 new gardening books (bought with Amazon vouchers earned from doing surveys) but nothing else. I may have to buy a new mascara soon, but at the moment I'm making it last!
Sitting in the garden with a cold drink, when it's so hot you can't bear to do anything is very cheap! It's even too hot to barbecue! 
I've had a couple of birthday presents to buy (for men) and so that did necessitate me dusting off my purse and going to the shops - if they'd been presents for women, I'd probably have found something in my "present stash", but men are soooo difficult to give to!

FRUGAL SUMMER GARDENING

It's the height of summer and all those spring plants and flowering bulbs have finished and you're thinking a bit more colour would be good in the garden - but before you head off to that very expensive garden centre, make yourself a list - and stick to it!
Garden centres have one aim in mind and that's to get you to buy much, much more than you went in there for! All those tables of pretty flowers, coloured pots, flowery gardening gloves and tools, suck us all in!
Decide what you need - potting compost? Check out the big supermarkets- they are selling compost quite cheaply, but check the size of bags- if you need a large amount, you may be better off researching local garden centre offers such as 4 bags for the price of 3 etc. However if you need a small amount to repot a houseplant or sow a few late seeds then may be a small supermarket bag is best - potting compost can get saturated and go off during a wet winter even if unopened, so buying a large amount that you won't use up before winter is probably not worth any saving you might make. 
Supermarket compost seems to work well for me - any compost loses all its "feeding" properties after about 6 weeks, so it's really only a medium to plant in and I've found the texture of supermarket brands to be finer than garden centre proprietry brands. All potted plants containers will need feeding (I buy plant food tablets from pound shops- works well!) about every 4-6 weeks in the growing season.
If you need pots, ask on Freecycle or Freegle - just Google for your nearest group. Many people have a clearout or downsize their pots and some offer plants and topsoil too. 
Look out for keen gardeners and allotmenteers in your neighbourhood who sell excess plants at their garden gate - real bargains can be had this way as many people only charge around 50p per plant.
Get to know your gardening neighbours by hosting a plant and seed swap party - this way you can expand your range of garden plants and knowledge!
Buy pots, plants and tools at boot sales, many small growers and individual gardeners sell there.
Think perennial! Perennial plants come up year after year (often called herbaceous plants) so these will fill your garden and, along with other "framework" shrubs and roses, will make it cheaper to achieve a good show in your garden every year. You will only need a few annuals for summer colour that you can cheaply grow from seed. 
If you have any large clumps of perennials dig them up and split them - into 3 if you can and then replant all 3 together but spaced apart. This gives a good effect the following year as 3 or 5 plants of the same type really have the wow factor when they're flowering.
Lastly - check your own garden for bargains! The end of the early summer flowers means you can start to collect seed from perennial plants such as Aquilegia, Lychnis and Alchemilla Mollis, but make sure the seed pods are very brown and dry before harvesting. You can allow them to drop and self-seed for next year or you can pack them in paper envelopes and label carefully with their name and the date. Check when it is best to sow them next year ( Gardeners' calendar) and write this date on your envelope too.
Happy frugal gardening!