Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 10 January 2011

VPGGB #16: Poundland


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.

9 comments:

  1. After picking up all my onions last year for 50p a bag at Focus we headed back again this weekend to find them at 10p! The reds had, had it all soft but the whites seem good and solid, stuck them straight in and if they show no sign of growth come sowing time they can come back out with only 10p lost!

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  2. Great tips. Amazing bargains to be had in the strangest of places. Weirdly we don't have a Poundland or equivalent near us, but there is always Aldi and Lidl...

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  3. some good bargains can be had, but do bear in mind the qality, so much as in size, and age of plants like the fruit bushes is not going to be like a garden centres offerings that will costs more, as they have to produce these things for a price.... also thing things like lily bulbs look a bargain, but they can be a smaller grade (less flowers) - even if fine and healthy. Not knocking them, but as a professional in the industry, I do know you often get what you pay for, value is relative to performance so hope all your purchases do well for you ... also choice will be limited in these stores. Chris Gardening Express

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  4. i haven't even gotten to the got-seeds stage! generally, i don't set seedlings until may. so i won't get seeds until early feb.

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  5. Nipped into our nearest Poundland this afternoon for a reccie. Sadly the spuds had already started to chit which is a shame - shop like an oven so not really surprising. However I did come away with a bag of gladiolus callianthus which look healthy. As you say it's important to choose any purchases carefully but you can be lucky. The best show of glads and dahlias on on our allotment site last year were purchased at Costco.

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  6. We have an Aldi here in North Texas. The prices are very good....but I tend to forget to go there when I need something. They only accept cash and I use my credit card for nearly all purchases. HOWEVER.....since my bank is in the same shopping area...I think I will give it a try more often. Saving money is ALWAYS a GOOD thing!!

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  7. A friend of mine bought some bare root roses last year from Poundland alongside some from a reputable garden centre and it was the Poundland ones that established the best and are now healthy and strong plants, so its good to hear that they are offering a good range of good doers as this is what will turn new gardeners into successful plants people and hooray to that!!

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  8. Thatnks for the tip VP - best get meself off to Poundland then as I lost all my seeds in the arson attack :(
    I did buy 2 blackberry bushes for £2.50 apiece when I was at the garden centre pricing up for replacement tools and stuff though!

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  9. Dave - that happened last year too! I went for the 50p option this time as I wasn't sure they'd still be there in January. Snowball seems to last the longest for the autumn onions if the past 2 years are anything to go by. Crops well too.

    Janet - I was quite surprised too!

    Chris - thanks for repeating the main points from my post. Needless to say, I can't really recommend you as the alternative to go for.

    Petoskystone - our seeds have just arrived!

    Anna - it just goes to show that the phrase 'you get what you pay for' doesn't always hold true!

    Linda - welcome! I never knew Aldi had gone over the pond!

    Sara V - welcome! Interesting and shows that cheap doesn't necessarily mean bad. I've often found that smaller plants establish better than their larger cousins. I wonder if this is part of the sucess of those rose bushes?

    Nutty Gnome - so sorry to hear your bad news. Perhaps it's an opportunity to make things even better than they were before.

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