During 2020 I kept a spreadsheet of everything I spent on gardening and reviewing this has been a really interesting exercise.
I had always considered myself a fairly frugal gardener. My plants tend to be swapped with friends or grown from seed and cuttings rather than bought from the garden centre and I reuse and recycle where I can. So seeing all my spending down in black and white was enlightening.
Is gardening an expensive hobby?
The bottom line is that I spend £766 over the year, not including the greenhouse (which I have justified under ‘home improvements’).
While plants were the largest outlay at £116, this was closely followed by £100 for two tonnes of manure, which has done the soil the power of good. The single largest spend on plants was £22.50 for my Tetrapanax rex via mail order, which should grow into a magnificent statement plant.
The next largest category was £95 in landscaping materials. This mostly went to moving the swings from one side of the garden to the other to make way for the greenhouse, requiring a new piece of artificial grass, postcrete, and pigeon spikes. All dull, but necessary.
£81 went to pay for the sub base, sand, cement and pebbles needed to build my mosaic. Money well spent on something that makes me smile every day.
So far, so reasonable. Now the bits that surprised me. Despite my 2020 seed resolutions, I managed to spend £70 on seeds, £55 on bags of potting compost, and £35 on bulbs. Without a written record, I would have said that I didn’t buy any bulbs at all this year, but I can see from my notes that most of them are from Wilko and must have slipped in the trolley during my regular shop there for guinea pig food. £55 bought me 6 bags of peat free compost, 5 bags of John Innes no 2, and a bag of vermiculite.
How on earth I managed to spend £70 on seeds I have no idea. I certainly don’t remember growing them all. They are sold so widely and at only a few pounds each I suspect many are bought absentmindedly while shopping more generally. Its also difficult to resist the seed company websites early in the year, when the ground is cold and frozen and your fingers are itching to get something in the soil.
£50 on tools bought me a new pruning saw and hand fork and some other bits and pieces like garden canes, gloves, and replacement secateur springs. Another £50 went on gardening books, both factual and autobiographical. £40 on RHS membership, and £56 on my green bin collections, which were a bit hit and miss over lockdown. Book spend was higher than usual due to the libraries being closed. Lastly, I spent £18 in the ‘other’ category – mainly bird food for the garden feeders.
Who benefitted from all this spending?
The largest part of my spending (£270) was done locally at the family run garden centre down the road, local hardware shops and a landscaping firm for the manure .
Unsurprisingly during lockdown, mail order suppliers also features high up on the list – a catch all category including everything from Amazon and Ebay to mail order nurseries, seed companies and booksellers totalling £223. National chains accounted for £178 of spend with B&Q and Wickes being the main players, with Aldi, Wilko and Morrison’s also getting a look in. The council and RHS made up the final spends for green bin collection and membership.
Gardening is a big part of my life so while I think the total is a little on the high side, as one of my main hobbies its maybe not so horrifying. If I were a different sort of person I am sure I could have spent the same amount on decent haircuts and nice clothes. One thing I will take away from this is to join a seed swap site and also collect my own seeds more; those little packets certainly add up!