According to the latest survey by ‘Which?’ magazine, a quarter of us are now growing our own food. 3/5’s of respondents said that a rise in food prices meant they were trying to be more economical by growing their own, with two in ten saying they had less disposable income to spend on food.
The rest (33%) are trying to eat more healthily. According to the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners, a 250sq m plot of fruit and veg is “worth” £1,362 a year – the figure would be considerably less just for veg (soft fruit gives the best return, as it’s always expensive to buy).
The Window Box
Most of us don’t have the time to invest in an allotment, so can growing veg at home or in a window box, still offer a financial saving?
The answer is yes and one of the best, and easiest things to grow, is herbs. Herbs such as parsley and mint are fairly easy to produce. Cost wise, they are much much cheaper than supermarket ‘bunches’ or even the supermarket plants, combined with the sense of achievement and the relatively low cost, herbs are a real consideration for the most inexperienced gardener. Consider also moving onto tomato seeds or chilli peppers in the kitchen window to build your skills before planting outdoors.
If you’re lucky enough to have the skill and time for an allotment the time to get organised is now. During the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign in the Second World War there were 1.4million allotments in Britain. But since the 1980s, councils have been selling off land to developers and there are now only 300,000 allotments left. This has not stopped demand, with 100,000 people on waiting lists. Donna McDaid, spokeswoman for the National Society of Allotment & Leisure Gardeners, says: ‘If you’re interested in renting an allotment, call your council and ask for the allotment officer. If the council has a long waiting list it might still point you in the direction of any available private allotments.’
In terms of savings, a bag of salad can cost around £1.50 whereas a bag of seeds (approx. 100) are less than a £1. Do not underestimate the hard work and time involved in getting the final product on your dinner table though! Maintaining an allotment is a manual job but that said it’s a great workout and perfect for the outdoorsy person.
This post was contributed by Your Debt Expert, who give free initial advice to people with money worries.