We are now in the situation of having to be more careful with our cash due to the ever-increasing cost of living. For anyone who hasn’t thought of it perhaps now is a good time to look at growing your own.

Some people are a bit scared as they see those lovely telly programmes of large and well regimented rows of lots and lots of assorted vegetables and think they can’t possibly compete with that. The secret is, of course, that very few people can as they can’t affort the armies of gardeners to keep these acres going.

Let’s start with the easy ones: spuds and tomatoes. Now is the time to order seed potatoes mail order. They will turn up in the garden centres later over December and January. Some seedsmen offer kits. These consist of three large pots or tubs, usually with a couple of handles to move them, and enough potatoes to put six per pot. There will be three varieties, one for each pot, first early (new potatoes), second early which are salad potatoes or multi-use and the last main crop.

There is nothing to beat the first new potatoes and if you thought this amounted to the first ones in the shop you can multiply that flavour by at least ten. You also have the pots for next year. It is very easy and doesn’t take up much room. Have a look on the interweb!

(TIP: Search in Google for or your favourite search engine for “patio potato growing kits” If you use Google clicking this link will take you to Google to search.)

At the same time look at the tomato seeds on offer. They don’t always have to be grown indoors and the outdoor types have increased over the past few years. Plant peas. Use varieties that are recommended for planting now in pots or Roottrainers and keep warm until they germinate then put in the greenhouse, polytunnel or somewhere indoors where they can keep going. Plant out when the soil is warm and get a really early crop.

Roottrainers are brilliant. They are rows of small cells with more height than width that come with their own framework. This gives seedlings more room to develop roots, hence the name. My descriptive powers aren’t that good so have a look!

Current jobs include pruning climbing roses. Take the main shoots to 45degrees or horizontal (produces more flowers) and trim off the sideshoots as they flower on new shoots. Remove to ground level any old shoots to promote new replacements.

Plant perennials and biannuals while the soil is still warm from now until early November. Don’t buy large plants. Five little ones for the price of two big ones and they will grow better. If they come in pots place them around as you think they will grow best then go and have a brew or a walk round then reassess. Easier than planting then digging them up and re-planting. Better for the plants as well.

Clean the greenhouse to get maximjum light in there during the winter months and washing the glass and frames will remove any insects or diseases lurking in there. Then if you have tender plants in the greenhouse insulate using bubblewrap. It is possible to get horticultural bubblewrap as opposed to the commercial stuff your mail order parcels have inside. I don’t know the difference.

Keep weeding – it gives you the chance to plan.