Compost for 99p, fruit trees for £1.99. Is there a catch?
If you're anything like me, it's likely you've recently made an enormous shopping list of all the plants and seeds you need to buy over the coming weeks. It's one of my most favourite tasks of the gardening year and, being somewhat of a control freak, I like to split my list into sections - veg seeds, flower seeds, bulbs and tubers and perennials etc etc. You get the idea.
Of course writing the list isn't nearly as exciting as the shopping itself. I always aim to have a bit of a strategy, and I've dabbled in several different shopping approaches over the years including buying everything from one place regardless of cost, shopping around for bargains, buying from only local nurseries and trying and do everything online. I've yet to find the winning formula.
This year, things have been a bit different because I've been at home (rather than chained to a desk in a London office for eight hours a day), and I've had time to really investigate what's on offer. And do you know what? You can buy plants, seed, compost and no end of other garden gubbins from virtually anywhere. I am amazed. Supermarkets are the biggest eye opener, with certain chains of German origin offering bare-root trees and roses, seeds, plug plants, canes, compost, cold frames, string and tools - you name it, they've got it. They're all at it though, with better-known supermarkets of UK beginnings also getting in on the act. But it doesn't stop there - I've seen seeds and plants for sale in department stores, petrol stations, pet shops, markets, farm shops and DIY stores. There seems to be a lot of places to choose from these days.
The other thing that's struck me is how cheap everything is. I picked up a big bag of seed compost for just 99p yesterday, and have seen fruit trees for £1.99 and dahlias for just £1.29 - it's quite incredible.
But hang on a minute. What's the catch? Are all these 'pop-up-nurseries' worth buying from? Are the plants healthy and likely to grow? Where are things being imported from? Am I letting my local nurseries and growers down by giving into convenience and cheap prices? These are all things I consider when choosing to buy organic milk from the small shop at the top of my road over regular milk from a supermarket giant, so why should it be any different with plants?
Of course I, like many others, couldn't resist the cheap seed compost and I've picked up a few other bits and bobs from here and there (all in aid of consumer research, you understand) to see how they perform over the coming months. I'll still buy from my favourite nursery, too as they grow certain plants I know I'll never find on the high street, but it will be interesting to see what does the best. Perhaps my 99p seed compost will be rubbish and I'll end up with no plants to grow on at all - that'll teach me.
Do you think my 99p seed compost will be effective? What's your experience of cheap plants and compost? Have you had any luck?