Friday, 2 November 2012

Frugal Friday - Bare (grr) rooted or naked plants.

So here's a first. I'm attempting to join in on a regular themed blogging spot. Now, I'm not known for planning, organising any part of my life very much. I'm more of a life butterfly and I'm trying to be a bit more structured.  Robyn and I met, as you do, over the internet. Robyn's spent a lot of time in the Uists and thus our bonding began. As lasses blether, we found we had SO much more in common. Like 'frugality'.
Now for some that's penny pinching, or being 'thrifty' - for me these days, its partially how I want to live. for me its common sense and a more sustainable way to live. Why waste money/energy/life on those things that just don't really need it. With a bit of cunning and a bit of no how, or savvy, or 'borrowed' ideas, the things in life we either 'want' or 'need' can be foraged, found, borrowed, or gained 'as if by magic' for less than we expected. Or even for free. That's what 'frugal' means for me. It's a mind set. Its looking at the resources you've got and deciding what you'd like, what you do and don't have and how to get it. And sometimes, you need to think about what you'd happy sacrifice to get there. We all have different priorities, so we all have our cunning means to get them. For instance, I spend my life looking like, well, a hedge for the most of the time. Yes I do.
Clothes aren't really that important to me, they're for warmth and functionality in my mind. Others love them and spend their live being careful to get what they love and thats great, but its not me. For me its family, food, adventures and plants. In no particular order. I'll buy shoes from a charity shop, before I'd sacrifice a beautiful plant I've been after for ages.  So for all of us I'd say, 'dad on' (go for it), we're all different and if its clothes or cars, or whatever you get excited about, its always good to find a way to maximise your efforts into getting what makes you happy.

So for my first dip of a toe into the 'Frugal Friday' spot..... I've no notion to blether on about stuff I don't know, but I'm happy to frugalise about plants. Us gardeners don't like to spend money on much, but plants are something we'll part with hard earned cash on. If we can of course we'll get cuttings from friends, grow from seed or ask for something from a chum we really like. But, sometimes, if you find something you like, plants give a quicker effect than seeds or cuttings. With that in mind, we will spend hours just to hunt down that ultimate plant. If you like shoes, think of it as finding that pair you've always wanted rather than borrowing them from a friend. For us gardeners, plants are our 'shoes/dresses/chocolate' we live and breathe plants. We wake up thinking about them, its our fix, with that in mind, that's what this post is about. Getting what we want for less.
Frugal Friday - Bare (grr) rooted plants. [when you say the bare make 'bear hands' and 'grr', its a family tradition]

OK so listening to the radio the other day with Mr Flowers (who's the least biological person I know), the gardening show were talking about bare rooted plants. He was confused, its not his fault, he's an engineer, not use to the complexities of nature. So like the patient person I am, I attempted to explain what they were.

Initially I tried to tell him bare (grr) rooted plants are naked shrubs and trees.
He didn't understand and thought me a trifle rude. I this found confusing in my 'I'm sort of a gardener' mind, I thought everyone knew about bare (grr) rooted plants. Maybe not. Time for some fun.
OK, so I might have told him they were plants licked by specialist 'botanical' bears, to encourage strong and hearty growth.
He didn't believe me.
Then I tried to tell him they were naked as they didn't have any soil on thier bottoms.
But still he didn't believe me. No really, I'm not lying.

These are cheaper than your average shrub or tree as they are sold with no soil on the roots whilst plants are a slumbering (dormant) over the late autumn/winter months. No pots, no compost, no fuss, just a plant bare (grr) naked, ready to take home.

At this time of year you'll see bare rooted offers at garden centres, on the net and in the magazines etc. Its a great time of year to buy plants which are dormant, for little more than a pair of socks. And, if you're looking for a few plants, or say enough for a swaith of something or a hedge/orchard/larger planting, buying them like this often is the best value for money. Even if you just buy one, its always cheaper than a potted plant of the same size.

Great things to find are:

Ornamental shrubs and trees including fruit bushes - anything woody is great bought like this and often so much easier to transport and transplant. You often see these in supermarkets in bags looking a bit lost. Do them a favour and rehome them, if you can. Always a bargain to be had.

Perennials (those kind of plants which come back year after year) also are a good purchase over the next 5 or 6 months whilst 'asleep' and essentially bare rooted. They tend to come as a root, or a clump or a rhizome. They look quite strange but believe me they'll come good when they peek up in spring. Again these will often be in pretty picture boxes in supermarkets or garden centres - roots lightly dusted in compost to keep them safe until their potted up.

Bulbs, rhizomes and tubers, whilst its a bit of a lateral leap, these  are essentially 'naked' or bare (grr) plants - hidden in a very handy botanical suitcase. Its a great time of year to buy those and plant them and you'll find them in the usual places.

Just think about it. Us/Those nursery folks make the most money from plant sales when things are in season or flowering because, lets face it they look pretty. So by buying them when they are asleep, bare (grr) naked, you get more for your money. You get less soil (and all the issues that might bring) and generally slumbering healthy plants. Be it as a shrub, a perennial or a bulb.

Obviously if you can get them from friends, from freecycle/freegle or for free then even better. But, if you're thinking of buying plants that will last year on year and you can wait, autumn/winter is a great time to dip a toe into the world of naked plants. The plants are likely to be stronger, hardier and less likely to be damaged in transet. And, their MUCH cheaper.

Don't blush, you don't need to, despite thier nakedness, these types of plants are absolutely asleep. Honest. But, if you feel wierd about it, just pot them up with your eyes closed. Save the embarrassment all round.

When they arrive - be it by foot, postage or courier - if they are bare rooted trees or shrubs - either plant them up or heel them in, they'll be fine until they wake up.

Perennials - you would treat pretty much the same. Talk nicely to them, as you would any plant, but hush your voice being careful not to wake them, it costs nothing and they appreciate it.

Bulbs - either pot them up, or put them in a dark, dry place and check them now and again until you're ready to plant them.

As they're asleep, they're cheap, and they're probably the easiest gardening you'll ever do. Tuck them in and wish them well.

Much better value than buying them just before flowering - and far easier to handle.

There you go - my first frugal Friday. If you've something fun and frugal to share, pop over to Robyn's blog and have a peak, leave a link on her Frugal Friday.

The more we share the more we learn. Except perhaps for those of us telling our partners that bears lick the roots of plants, just for the hell of it.

That was naughty of me, there's no bears in this country, so obviously squirrels do the job instead. That's why we imported grey ones.


  1. I promise that this year all the bulbs I buy I will plant. I will not leave them in th workshop until next autumn and then curse my stupidity again. Next year I will have some new flowers!!

    Ive also been scattering Giant Hogweed seeds around the place just for a laugh. See how that turns out, all Jurassic :)

    1. Good promise Tony. I promise to go into the garage over the weekend and plant the remaining daffy bulbs too.

      Jurassic's a fine ambition, but careful the bobbies don't catch you - in the UK hogweeds propagation is restricted in wild places. but maybe you're OK if you're planting them in your own garden!

      Have fun.

  2. I had never realised it was cheaper to buy plants that way - what a good idea! Bulbs though - yes, just think how much you pay for one of those little pots of daffs just ready to burst into can get an entire garden of them in bulb form for the same cost, can't you!
    Tony - we have some Foxglove seeds saved JUST to scatter about somewhere that the council will be deeply irritated by, but of course there will be nothing they can do about it! *evil chuckle*

    1. Ah Robyn as you become more of a plant-head the ways of securing the loot for less money is always something to look out for. Happy you've found out something frugal from me, makes a nice change!

      You're right and those in the trade know we all love a pretty pot of something in flower. The key is to have patience buy and plant them in the dormant season for so much less money.

      I love foxgloves.

  3. Bare grr no, they'd be dead in our climate. But cuttings! Portulacaria afra, spekboom,is adapted to make the best of being on the menu for messy elephants. Each little bit that falls to ground will root itself and grow. I am going to take LOTS of cuttings to make a hedge in our next garden.

    1. Oh dear Diana of course at this time of year in temperate climes I meant! And cuttings for a new hedge - how exciting! Goodluck with that.

  4. Love the bare (grrr) :) We do a similar thing with pause/paws (put your hands up as if they're paws - similar to the grr action I imagine!) :)

    Must get back out into the garden, and see what plants I can find for next year! I shoved in 40 tulip bulbs and some crocuses I think, but right now I'm imagining how fab it would be to wake up in the spring to a garden entirely filled with flowers... I may need to go a bit overboard I think!

    1. Cheery - love it. Going overboard is good!

  5. You make it sound easy, Fay, but going by my bare-rooted raspberries, the failure rate for bare rooted plants is apt to be quite high....

    1. Kininvie - I've never found it hard (and I am the worlds most unlucky gardener, wonder why that is that the rasps sulked for you - did you do the bear (grr) hands?

      Seriously though do you think you had bad stock sent along or does your yellow clay prefer thier bottoms to be adorned in soil first. Curious.

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