London (change)
20 messages
27/05/2014 at 17:20

I've had my allotment for a couple of weeks now, and it's been a constant battle trying to source the equipment needed for such a big challenge, so here's a few things I've found has helped me keep the cost down thus far.

I'm new to gardening, let alone owning an allotment, and was anticipating many long months of waiting before getting my mitts on one, but 6 weeks later, I had a massive patch of brambles to call my own. I didn't own a spade, a fork, anything. So I had to source it all myself! Here are what I have found cheaply and where!

Fork, Spades, Soil Rakes, are all £5 in asda, they are strong and relatively sturdy, and the cheapest I've seen them brand new. Homebase's value range is twice the price, and less sturdy, but are worth looking into when they have their 15% off days as I got my OH's fork for around £8 and it is heavier and a little larger than my ASDA equivalent.

Compost, Topsoil, Manure: This week I got over 200L of the stuff for £14 rather than the £30+ it should have been. How? This time of the month is when things like stock takes happen, and any damaged stock gets reduced for quick sale, in this case any bags that had tears in them, got reduced to half price. I'd have bought more because there were bags upon bags, but my car's size limited me. If you're a penny counter like myself, I never bothered looking at the compost section before at Homebase who I find pricey anyway, but I certainly got lucky, and will always take a wee peek in future! (I also got a sorry looking chili plant that day for £2 down from £7, and it's starting to thrive now!)

Wheelbarrow: This essential piece of kit had eluded me since getting the plot, every one I saw in garden centres just seemed so expensive! My local blooms sells them for £80 and they are pretty plastic colours, which seems a little ridiculous for my muddy old allotment! Even argos' super budget one is £30 and looking at the reviews it seems my money would go down the drain. That and it's flatpack, and I have the DIY skills of a pigeon. I looked on selling pages like Gumtree and Preloved, Ebay too, to no avail! I asked at my allotment's on site shop, they scoffed and said I should go to Wickes, they're only £50! *sigh*

Then I had a thought. Scrap metal. I called the first company that came up in my google search, and low and behold they had one. I walked the quite ample walk to look at it, metal, ancient, and rusty. Perfect for living life on an allotment. I took it on the spot, and the best thing is, it cost me £2. TWO POUNDS. That was the value of the metal. My jaw hit the floor, I was ready to at least part with a tenner, and anything up to twenty we are that in need of one!

I don't even care I walked a mile and a bit in a maxi dress and sandals to the allotment with it, through the centre of town, it's probably the very best purchase I've ever made! It was this that made me think of making the post! Definitely try your local scrap merchants! Nobody had suggested this to me, so I don't know if it's common knowledge at all. I was reminded to call because I saw a scrap man parked up with a brand new wheelbarrow in amongst washing machines and bikes, and I'd meant to call him and I utterly forgot.

Canes for peas, sweet peas etc: Try 99p shops, I got 10 for 99p which is great! ASDA are also selling smaller ones for £1.50 which are thin, and seem pretty good for our tomato plants.

Sheds: At least in my local they are always popping up, if you have the transport they're great! Sadly i've missed out on multiple because I just can't afford to hire a van, nor do I have the tools to construct one, which is currently being a bit of a hassle as I have to lug the tools to and from the house. If you get an allotment you'll soon be living on f

27/05/2014 at 17:41

SweetPea - what fantastic Gardener's Skills you have already 

27/05/2014 at 17:48

I didn't realise there was a character limitation on posts, and I sort of got chopped of mid flow! Bah!

27/05/2014 at 17:50

Sweetpea.............I really like the maxi dress, sandals  and wheelbarrow scenario............if you continue like that, your allotment will be great

As a new allotment holder myself (currently clearing grass and weeds by hand ) I can understand your least mine is only 5 mins walk away so I can easily take my garden tools from garden to allotment

Look forward to hearing of your progress.

27/05/2014 at 17:52

Well done Sweet Pea, so good that you have managed to source so much gear already at such a reasonable price. Lidl,Aldi and the pound shops also do great stuff too. I recently bought some plastic bell cloches at 99p each to put over my courgettes while the weather is cold and wet here. Like a lot of others on here I also use pallets for all sorts of things from benches to cold frames and compost bins.

Sharing plants with other allotment holders is also a good way to save the pennies, I always grow more than I need but then I can swap them for plants I dont have or which might have failed.

All the best with your allotment and I look forward to hearing about your crops this year.

27/05/2014 at 18:01

I'm hoping at some point we might try and share some plants with some girls we've gotten friendly with, but we're a bit off planting anything yet! I should really post some photos! Who knew you could be so proud of some ground you've dug over! I love the 99p shops, great for twine, canes, I even saw some mini poly tunnels which looked fab!

Thank you Philippa! Is yours as hard work as mine? It's bramble root after bramble root at the moment! I should post some photos at some point!


27/05/2014 at 18:07

Actually Sweetpea your allotment sounds like my garden............horribly neglected by previous owners ............but, lucky me, the allotment is mostly grass and weeds..........still hard work but at least easier than my garden at the moment

27/05/2014 at 18:09

It wouldn't be so bad but people used to dump their rubbish on it, so you'd get so far down and hit a buried brick and have to shift all the soil and roots from around it. It's been painstakingly slow lately. Hard to keep motivated when people around us are planting out things!

Our last garden was just grey slabs and conifer trees! This one is only a slight improvement!

27/05/2014 at 18:26

Sweetpea, the excitement in your posts is palpable, and infectious!  I'll bet everyone on here recognises it.  I think gardeners naturally enjoy a bargain, especially when they are growing foodstuffs, because the less we spend, the more 'free' all the organic produce becomes.  I hope it is not raining as much where you are as it is here, because it would be frustrating to be so ready for action and get rained off.  Power to your spade!!

27/05/2014 at 18:34

BB it's been raining all day, I spent an hour or so cultivating the soil, until the lack of WCs became a bit of an issue ahem.


27/05/2014 at 19:04

I too have just got half a plot. I am so excited and try to go each day unless it is really pouring. Im on my own though. My husband won't help and the kids run a mile. I have had trouble getting stuff cheap and went to Wilkinsons. They were pretty good on price but I'm definitely checking out your suggestions. I'm desperate for a wheelbarrow!

27/05/2014 at 21:08

Wow - what a beautiful setting Sweetpea - allotments are often a bit utilitarian looking, but you can just stand up and look at that fabby view.  Will make it even more lovely to spend time there. 

28/05/2014 at 14:00
Busy Bee2 wrote (see)

Wow - what a beautiful setting Sweetpea - allotments are often a bit utilitarian looking, but you can just stand up and look at that fabby view.  Will make it even more lovely to spend time there.

 Its even better at sunset BB

My advice is to make as many pals at the allotment Belle, and ask around! I had other tips I'd written, but had gotten cut off, maybe I can add to them later!

28/05/2014 at 14:18

Sweetpea don't forget plastic bottles make great cloches and they're free, if you intend to plant potatoes next year a few egg boxes for chitting seeds, newspaper pots are free too, heavy cardboard boxes for mulching soil or lining pallet compost bins, it rots down too. The kids might like to help make a scarecrow, a couple of pieces of wood, some old clothes stuffed with bubble wrap.

28/05/2014 at 15:19

What a fabulous lottie SweetPea93 and you've really worked that soil! 

(Psst, just between us two.... put pee in bucket, empty pee on compost it is a brilliant activator for compost heaps - in moderation and if modestly done) 

28/05/2014 at 16:12



Marinelilium wrote (see)

What a fabulous lottie SweetPea93 and you've really worked that soil! 

(Psst, just between us two.... put pee in bucket, empty pee on compost it is a brilliant activator for compost heaps - in moderation and if modestly done) 

I've heard that, but I've heard men's is better than womens, and if that true that's something i'll let men have over on us

28/05/2014 at 16:15

In the latter half of the post that was cut off I mentioned how great water bottles are, to keep hydrated, as well as using as cloches and on sticks to scare away birds, similarly saving pie tins and cherry bakewell tins as an alternative to CDs. Annoyingly I can't remember what else I put on my list!

28/05/2014 at 16:19

Hehehe! I agree and they are better equipped.

Just trying to extend your lottie time being cut short for comfort break ( or indeed being caught short on the lottie). 

If you dress anything like I do for gardening then rest breaks cannot be left to the last minute anyway without lots of hopping from foot to foot.

28/05/2014 at 16:28

I'm fortunate in that I live a 5 minute stroll from the allotments, if I get cut short it is a quick run home, simply because our plot is next to the road, far away enough to not be a huge problem contamination wise, but close enough not to risk hiding in a bush plus wellies+skinny jeans does not equal a happy lady! Men get it so easy sometimes! :P

23/06/2014 at 14:11

Sweetpea I can sense what passion you have for your new allotment and as Busy Bee 2 said it's infectious!!

I was very much in the same boat as you when in came to purchasing a wheelbarrow however since doing so I am very pleased that I did as it saved me hours of backache and I felt that within a month it had already paid for itself.

Nothing to fancy or overpriced just this lovely bright green one from this local website:

Had to be nice a colourful for me just to brighten up the the place a little more

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