A trip into town last week revealed a surprising slew of gardening bargains to be found at my local branch of Poundland*, where I picked up this packet of 8 seed potatoes for, erm... a pound.
A couple of years ago Threadspider and I selected a potato variety each in fond memory of the ones grown by our dads and the pictured Pentland Javelin is now a firm favourite with us both owing to its great taste and good yields. As it's a first early, it usually doesn't have problems with blight either. Other varieties available are Charlotte, Maris Peer and Rocket: all are good sized and appear to be good quality.
There were large packets of reasonably sized onion and shallot sets too, though these were of variable quality. Look out for signs of softness or mould and avoid. In my case Red Baron was the best bet in my shop, the rest were to be avoided**.
Elsewhere small summer fruiting raspberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes were on display. I couldn't see if they were a particular variety, but might be worth a go if you have the space to experiment with. However, a lot of them were to be avoided as there were signs of leggy growth, indicating they've been in the shop (or another warm place) for some time. Avoid plants like this and any where the roots look dried (as Lucy told me she'd found with her 'bargain' blueberry once - it died, so be warned). If all looks OK (especially if you can confirm the plants have been in the shop for a short time), go ahead and buy though they will need a good soaking in water to refresh them just prior to planting.
On the non-edible front were boxes of wildflowers seeds (enough for 15 square metres), lots of bulbs (e.g. Gladioli, Dahlias, Irises) and the usual suspects re boxed perennials (Eryngiums, Papaver, Kniphofia etc). There were also colour themed mixed selections of bulbs. My above warnings re checking for softness, mould and signs of leggy growth or dried roots apply and all but the wildflower seeds will need planting out or potting up in the greenhouse soon.
Of course these aren't the choice varieties many of us now hanker after, but if you have a new garden or vegetable plot, not much cash or a large space to fill, they're still worth considering. Actually, they're worth considering full stop as most of them are tried and trusted 'good doers'.
So, to summarise there's plenty of good basics to be found at Poundland, but you need to choose carefully to ensure that bargain isn't a dud.
Previously I've found compost and autumn onion set bargains at this time of year and just before Christmas I found onion, garlic, daffodil and tulip bulbs on offer at my local branch of Focus for 49p. Avoid any compost bargain if it's been stored outside as the rain and snow we've had will have drained out any nutrients. Only firm bulbs or onion sets should be considered and these should be planted out immediately. They'll probably reward you a little later than those planted at the conventional time, but does a couple of weeks or so matter?
Have you found any gardening bargains yet this year?
* = previously thought of as rather chav-tastic, but the media are currently lauding Poundland as the destination of choice for the suddenly cash savvy middle classes ;)
** = if a good proportion of packets have soft or mouldy bulbs it's probably best to avoid the whole lot as it's likely they've been stored incorrectly or are poor stock to begin with. Whilst bargains are a good thing, ones which don't work are just a waste of money.