Cut the cost of growing your own fruit and veg

Prepare in advance

Buy seeds on offer at the end of the planting season. They will still grow the next year as long as you store them in a dark and dry place.

Supermarkets in particular don't like to have products on their shelves all year round and will often reduce prices to get rid of leftover stock. Alternatively go to to connect with other gardeners happy to trade their bounty.

Or sign up to the BBC's Dig In: Grow Your Own Club and receive free seeds (correct 23/03/2010) for five vegetable varieties.

Shop around

You can also buy plants cheaply at school sales, car boot sales and farmers' markets, but check their condition before parting with cash. If you have any green-fingered friends, see if they have any plants to donate.

Often fruit and vegetables ripen within the same two-week window, your friend may thank you for taking some off their hands.

Get your hands dirty

Make your own compost by storing any food and garden waste you have collected in a bin.

If your local authority doesn’t provide compost bins, pick one up cheaply from your local garden centre. You should aim for a 50-50 mix of ‘green’ waste (such as tea bags, grass cuttings and vegetable peelings) and ‘brown’ waste (such as fallen leaves, twigs and paper).

A compost bin should be covered but not airtight because the bacteria that breaks down the compost material needs oxygen to multiply.

Meat, cooked vegetables, dairy products and weeds should never be added to your compost. For more ways to make the perfect compost, see the website.

Another option is manure, often on sale at local farms. Avoid garden centres, which charge a premium for their products.

Do a little research

Spend a bit of time researching the best produce to grow depending on your own circumstances. How much room do you have, is your garden south facing and well drained and which vegetables are expensive to buy in the shops?

To find out try a website such as Gardening calendars are handy for reminding you when to plant different crops.

Be realistic

Be savvy about getting new equipment; think about what you will realistically use. Most jobs can be achieved with a handful of tools and for less regular tasks try sharing with a friend or neighbour.

Old tools are built to last, so scout out for them at car boot sales and look for bargains on eBay.