Move over Felicity Kendall

Posted October 26th, 2005 by Penny Wise

I really enjoyed reading the latest newsletter about Simple Savings member Lesley Barber and how she has turned her life around. What a fantastic life she is enjoying these days! The idea of being self-sufficient has always really appealed to me - I think it stems from watching The Good Life in my younger days! Whatever the reason, this month's section on gardening on a budget was very timely for our household, as that is exactly what we have been doing. Rochelle and I were out for a run yesterday when we saw a tree-lopper in action outside a nearby house. 'Ooh! Go and ask him for some free mulch!' I said excitedly. Unfortunately neither of us knew where we could put it at that time, but it's great to know for the future and as the newsletter says, they're definitely out there.

We are very lucky to be surrounded by lots of established trees and when we bought our home there were no real flowerbeds, which I have mainly kept that way, favouring easy-care shrubs instead. I'm a big rose fan and love climbers, but the price of roses means they are not something I would treat myself to often. However, I went to my local garden centre last year and asked if they had any roses 'out of season'. They happily showed me their stash of baby climbing roses and I bought enough of one variety (Alberic Barbier) to plant along our entire fenceline for $4.00 each. Being ramblers, they took off straight away and have almost covered the whole fence already in creamy-white flowers from top to bottom!

I am lucky to have two enthusiastic gardeners in my mother and mother-in-law and they are always passing on bagfuls of cuttings, bulbs and even hedging plants for me to poke in somewhere. The garden we had at our previous home was a picture and made up almost entirely of cuttings given to me by a friend, I hardly had to buy a thing. However, my latest garden purchase has to be a favourite - I created an entire orchard in an afternoon a couple of weekends ago for less than $80! When we moved in, we were stuck with an area of 'no man's land' which was smothered in blackberry and various other weeds. Noel sprayed, mowed, chopped and sowed until it was transformed into a pleasant grassy area, but it still needed something. The plan was to plant fruit trees and turn it into an orchard over the coming years, but the cost of established trees was rather prohibitive, so we were always keeping an eye out for a bargain. It came unexpectedly when Ali and I were going grocery shopping and saw a large sign outside the garden centre 'Bare root fruit trees 50% off'. 'This could be fun!' I told Ali as we swerved in and we had a great time pulling apple, pear, peach, plum, guava and nectarine trees out of a large pile of soil. The lady explained to us at the counter that the reason they were half price was because they all needed pruning, but that wasn't a problem. What did prove to be a problem was trying to squeeze them all into the car along with all our shopping bags! I called Noel to warn him there would be some serious hole-digging to be done when we got home and by the end of the afternoon our non-descript grassy area was completely transformed.

We also decided to pick up some seeds and vegetable seedlings while there was a special on those too, as we felt it was time to finally get round to planting out a decent vegetable garden while the weather was being so kind. As well as our trees, Ali and I came home with strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, passionfruit, lettuces, tomatoes, carrots, sweetcorn, beans and gooseberries and got digging and planting. We had already been saving our pumpkin and courgette seeds and these were growing nicely. Our whole garden centre expedition cost us less than $80 and we had heaps! All that remained was for Noel to make little protective fences around the trees to stop the donkeys eating them. He did this using some netting and stakes that we already had, so it cost us nothing. Now all we need are a couple of sheep to help keep the grass down. Felicity Kendall eat your heart out!

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