Home and garden editor Tiffany Daneff asked Saga readers for the cheap but ingenious ways they protect their plants from pests and the elements.
Here are just a selection of the responses she received...
Cut off the ends of milk and water cartons, the large plastic ones, and upturn them over plants fixing them in place with a bamboo cane through the handle or bottle opening.
“They are much better than punnets,” writes one contributor, Tricia Wright. Very true.
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Another reader, David Walker, sent a picture showing his collection of Pigeon Protectors - milk bottle cloches, neatly stacked together at the end of the season (though, as he points out, that requires drinking the same milk, week after week).
Wendy Strathdee goes one step further, cutting into large plastic office water dispensing bottles - using a hacksaw. She uses them for cucumbers and courgettes and says that they last for years.
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Old freezer baskets can reused to form another cloche of choice. Sandie Tapping covers hers with garden mesh to protect young green shoots.
I like this idea, particularly because the baskets are heavy enough not to be blown away by the wind or upturned by rabbits and can easily be moved from one plant to another. No good to me though, as I haven’t any.
Another reader ‘sews’ together 18-inch lengths of netting (cut from one 4m by 2m roll) with garden twine to form a length long enough to surround an entire bed. She then surrounds the bed with pea sticks and clips the netting to sticks with clothes pegs. Cuts a piece of netting to form the cover and pegs this in place.
It is easy, she says, to remove the cover for weeding. My problem was with flowering plants in a bed which would make this unworkably big. But a nice idea for the veg garden.
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The winner, however, is Trisha Ryan. Last year, she writes, she surrounded her plants with holly clippings either laying the leaves in a circle around the plants or pushing in stems to form a protective cylinder of holly.
There’s a large holly at the bottom of the field so with Daisy the spaniel to help, not, I collected three trugs worth of spiny cuttings. It took an hour to build enough spiky nests around all the emerging shoots in both new borders.
I did this a few days ago, since when it has been windy and rained but mostly the holly stays put. So far no nibbling!
Best of all this is a technique that looks good. From a distance you don’t even realise that the green in the border is holly. A great improvement on the plastic punnet arrangement!
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