Planning for summer: Where to splurge and where to save in the garden
If your garden isn't summer ready just yet – don't panic. There's plenty of time to get your yard looking lush, and it won't cost you a fortune.
Gardening guru Katrina Wolff, from Blue Borage, shares her tips on where to splurge and where to save when updating your garden this summer.
Be water wise
According to Watercare, parts of New Zealand have experienced drought over the past few months, with some areas, including Auckland, expected to extend tough water restrictions into 2021.
Investing in a sustainable watering system should be a priority for gardeners if they want to keep their lawns green and plants pristine. A rainwater harvesting system is one of the most sustainable options that catches any rainfall and stores it for future use.
"Many parts of the country have had water shortages, and the first thing to get banned after washing your car is watering your garden. Having a sustainable watering system in place will be key to looking after your garden well this summer," says Ms Wolff.
Give your garden the edge by accessing expert advice, workshops and even discounts for gardening products by joining a club or community garden centre. You can even get access to rare seeds and plants to make your garden unique.
"Joining a local gardening group can you give you access to a wide range of plants. There are lots of people who love sharing their surplus, and so much can be grown from cuttings. Suddenly you'll realise just how abundant Mother Nature is," says Ms Wolff.
Don't forget to search for your local community garden to see if you can swap seeds with other budding gardeners.
DIY garden supplies
Compost is the gift that keeps on giving and making your own is one of the best ways to save dollars and reduce waste. Start by finding a shaded area of the garden and decide if you want a specific compost bin or would rather utilise an area of your garden. If you don't have a garden, there are plenty of kitchen and balcony solutions out there too.
Begin your compost by introducing materials such as fruit and vegetable scraps, ground coffee, grass clippings, dry leaves, and newspaper shreds. Keep your compost healthy by regularly watering and tossing it and adding raw ingredients to speed up the process.
You can also make your own mulch to benefit both your garden and your wallet.
"Devote time to gathering leaves to make leaf mould, it takes a good year or so before you have something really useful, but it's the very best mulch for summer, and is great in home-made potting mix," says Ms Wolff.
Save with seeds
Rather than selecting expensive established plants from your local garden centre, which can average anywhere from $10 to $30 per plant, save your dollars by starting from scratch with seeds for a lower price of $3 or $4 per packet. You can pick up a variety of seed packs for a small price – you just need patience as they grow.
You can also collect seeds from fruit or vegetables picked from your garden and use egg cartons to start sprouting them. Alternatively, you can use newspaper fixed into cylinders and filled with soil. While they take a little more love and attention, you will have a sense of pride when you see that first sign of growth.
Enjoy fresh garden vegetables, without growing a thing
If you've missed the boat to plant your summer veggies this season, you can still enjoy farm fresh produce through Community Supported Agriculture, a program to connect consumers with small-scale market gardeners and urban farmers.
At the start of each season, farmers will announce the rate for the season and take bookings. There are a wide range of methods, but the traditional process is that customers will pay for the entire season, so that the farmer has the cashflow ahead of time to get seeds, soil, tools and pay running costs and labour.
"The customers and farmer then have a committed transactional relationship for a vegetable box each week," says Ms Wolff.
The Community Support Agriculture program is a great choice for those who don't have the time or space to grow their own vegetables but would like to support local farmers and stick to their grocery budget.
Although summer is underway, it's never too late to make a start on your garden so you can sit back and reap the rewards.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Resimac.