Nifty, Thrifty Vegetable Gardening: How to grow your own food without costing the earth

Invitation to contribute to a free resource to support people living in food poverty. ** Massive thanks to everyone sending in tips already **

This document is about how you can contribute to the Nifty, Thrifty Veg Gardening booklet; please refer to, or ask for, the document About the Nifty,Thrifty Veg booklet if you haven’t already seen it. If life’s too short for that, in brief, this is a project to compile a down-to-earth guide to growing your own food on a tight budget, inspired by the initiative of Greater Manchester Poverty Action to reduce food poverty in the region. It will be printed for local distribution to people on low income, and available online for everyone. No fees are being paid, and no commercial sales made.

About the writer/compiler, Danielle Lowy.  My own experience comes from enjoying many years growing fruit and veg in my garden, with the usual mixed bag of successes and failures. I’ve found there’s always something new to learn from others.
Professionally, I created and ran the WEA’s first online distance learning organic gardening course, and have delivered gardening workshops focused on food growing. I wrote a booklet for parents on gardening with children, sold to raise money for a school grounds development project. Since 2008 I have run a plant and seed swap group in south Manchester, Chorlton Plant Swap. I run a small business, Rubbish Revamped, focused on recycled crafts including some in the garden. I am doing this work at no cost because I think growing your own food is a fantastic activity for health and wellbeing - the joy of eating something you grew yourself! - and no-one should feel they can’t have a go because it’s too expensive or complicated.

How you can contribute  You are invited to send in your tried and tested thrifty fruit and vegetable growing tips. Please, no links to daft videos on Youtube showing beautifully groomed hands that have never gardened, posing with faked projects. Suggestions need to be suitable for UK gardening, and not harmful to wildlife. And of course nothing that requires high expensive, even if it’s ‘just’ an initial outlay.
No payments or commercial profits are involved; other than paying printers.

You can find out more about the planned content in the document About the Nifty,Thrifty Veg booklet.

*** Please email your contributions to Danielle at [email protected] ***

 Here’s an idea of contributions that would be welcome:

  • Easy to grow: low input or cost, high return; tips for anxious newbies dipping their toes in.
  • How to make new plants for free or cheaply. Anyone with their own good images (drawn or photographed) of seed sowing, cuttings and other propagation techniques? I am not a good photographer and can’t draw ☹
  • Compost tips: Personally I never have enough compost and this is probably my biggest area of expenditure; how to speed it up (urine noted already!). Can compost be homemade for seedlings?
  • What to grow that doesn’t need much compost. Or how to grow without using a lot. For instance, do all potatoes really need much earthing up?
  • Clever ideas for containers
  • Busting any myths?
  • Fruit and veg not recommended due to expense, time, difficulty, space
  • Tips on maximising your space
  • Tips when buying plants
  • Anyone run or used a gardening tools library? Any tips for running them? Any issues with health and safety?
  • A chart for what to start from seed, when and how.
  • Some ‘eat your own weeds’ and foraging will be included; mainly what I have eaten (and survived) myself, but if any more experienced or professional foragers wish to contribute, fact check or supply photos that would be great. Unlikely to include fungi though.

Photos. Hi-res photos are very welcome. They must be your own, and they will all be acknowledged. I have taken quite a few photos of thrifty gardening practices this spring and summer, sowing seeds in recycled containers, drilling holes in old IKEA drawers for growing salad etc. I don’t have any photos of sowing seeds, making cuttings, creating compost and tons more! I’m not the best photographer either…

Acknowledgements. A list of all people who have sent in suggestions will be available on the online version; possibly not in the print version to save on paper. Contributors can be acknowledged by name or organisation name and your social media if wanted. Please make sure you include this information in your email. As the same suggestions might be made by several people – or indeed already feature in my draft document - I can’t put people’s names against them within the booklet. If your suggestion or practice is unusual, very particular to you or involves an illustrated tutorial, I am happy to try to include your name (and your social media). For instance, if you would like to contribute a step-by-step guide, say, for building a compost heap from wood, then you would be acknowledged. 

It is assumed that by sending in an idea it is something personally ‘tried and tested’. If not, please send contact details of the person who has tried and tested it so I can check with them. The internet, and some print articles, are too full of great ideas that haven’t actually been put into practise by the writer. I’m trying to keep it real and doable in order not to scare anyone off having a go at growing their own veg.

Any questions, please email me at [email protected]

Danielle Lowy, August 2019; @DanielleLowy