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May 22, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Thrifty or gold-spender?

I know that for some people part of the pleasure of an allotment is about how little money they need to spend.
Let me say from the start, fools and their money are soon parted. However I am sure that there is also a balance somewhere. Most allotment holders already know that the best value pots, twine, and slug-killer is found at Poundland. But good value can also be found elsewhere.
Allotments are fairly large areas of land to garden, generally worked by hand. Inevitabley, small ways are found to make it easier, which then become larger as time goes on and we become more involved with our hobby. The site is also separated, for most of us, from where we live. And your point? Well, We all know about the vandalism threat.
We try and have a limit of how much we will spend on the allotments. For us it is not a simple statement of growing cheap food. We would get much more money if we worked during those periods spent on the allotment. The allotment is about many things for us and most of our allotment friends, and not only about cheap food.
After putting up a trellis support for some cucumbers last year, I received the comment, “Oh, that must have cost you a lot.” As it happens it was a recycle job, and cost nothing, so then I was congratulated on my frugality. This was said in the context of “get it for free, if not wait”. However, I do not want to always wait, though I still source the cheapest supplier of any goods.
I know of a few that stop at nothing to get things free. It is perfectly right if finances don’t allow or you are not willing to pay, to wait. When I had a year without employment, we quickly learned to wait and not spend!
But what about overt scroungers. OK, the first time they ask you think nothing of it, but then again and again and you think stop! Unfortunately, we have one of those near us on our allotment site, and he has a unique gift of making you feel guilty when you tell him to clear off!
Is the allotment and smallholding culture to be as economical as possible, even to the detriment of your plans (no apple tree this year love, as I have not found a free stake post – worth £1)?
We spend more than we should. But then we know that when we did not have this hobby our spending was higher and we got no return! I will not recite all the reasons why we like doing it, as most allotment holders will know them already as we share the same experiences.
Everyones way is different, I know this. But are you a gardening gold-spender or a thrifty plotter?


Leave a Comment
  1. Anonymous / May 23 2010 12:23 pm

    As I've got nobody to leave the gold to, I spend what I want on all my hobbies, including an allotment with an 'entertaining' shed, equipped with cooker, fridge, barbecue and wine cooler, all running on gaz. When it's raining I spend time in there on my laptop just surfing for gardening information.Live and let live says I.

  2. Malcolm Dalebö / May 24 2010 3:24 pm

    I agree with your sentiment, jealousy is always sad to see, but so is looking down on those who follow the old-fashioned frugal allotment approach.My uncle Ted introduced me to allotments when I was 4 years old, and I remember him stopping at the Tavern on his way home to trade vegetables for a pint of bitter, and a packet of crisps for the nipper.There were no frills on his allotment, and I recall that he had to collect his own water as well, as the council did not supply water stands in those days.

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