Shopping, swapping and scrounging

We asked some Leeds Growers for advice on what new start-up groups should buy or scrounge first – and where from. Here are some of their suggestions. 

Freecycle had a lot of recommendations

And there is a free section on Gumtree

And here is a top tip from Johnsonfold Community Action Group via the Incredible Edible Network. “When out shopping consider what rubbish the shop you’re in may be throwing away. Then ask if you could recycle it for them. We went for sandpaper and came back with free soil, plant pots and a grenhouse! The group then gave a donation towards the store’s charity, Alzithmers, and we now have a regular contact.”

Pots / Containers / Raised beds

See Raised Beds Containers etc.

You can get (Free) pots on Freecycle, or use free florist buckets from Asda (Free), and/or make pallet beds (Free). Or you can buy from the usual places.

Raised beds made from soil-filled builders sacks (Free) work well. But if you’re gardening on soil then just making raised humps (Free) works well too. Less faff and materials, and you tend to get fewer slugs and ants which like to live in brick and wooden edges. Plastic For Sale signs from estate agents (Free) can be buried vertically to isolate beds from creeping weeds.

One good source for (Free) timber and much more is the Why Waste website (based in Bradford)

Or try asking these guys:

If you’re looking for cardboard to use as a weed-suppressor, then bike shops and council tips might prove fruitful. You can also use old newspapers (in bulk), other bulk organic waste, fresh coffee grounds etc as a mulch if you can track down a local supplier. 


Dig out any paths and use the soil to raise the beds. Approach local tree surgeons, they may give you woodchip for free if they are in the area. Use this for paths, mulch and/or making compost. Bedford Fields have big piles of woodchip, so may be able to advice where to get it from.

Soil / Compost 

See Soil Health and Safety

There used to be a supply of (Free) growing material in Leeds (from Yorkshire Water, at Esholt) made from ‘phytoremediated’ green and brown waste, which is cleared for growing garden plants, but not veg as yet (though we understand it to be safe, and that it should be accredited as such in due course) – this project is currently stalled. 

You can also buy soil and other growing media at most garden centres and nurseries, including 

Redhall Nurseries

Or try these nice people:


You can get tools from most garden centres as well as many online sources. Start with a spade, fork, trowell, hand fork, and a hand rake/weeder. Sets can cost as little as £10, but this can be a false economy. it’s better to get sturdy ones that take the wear and tear. 

These are pricey but wear well—Set-1/p-53-98-342/

• Trug 

A wide open basket for holding tools and produce (£5)

• Watering can 

Essential even if you have a hose – 10L is a good size (£5)

• Gloves

Essential if you’re new to gardening! (£2-10 per person – cheaper is fine for veg work)

• Wheel barrow 

Depending on space and land used – about £40.00

• Storage

This is essential if you need to avoid carting tools to and fro. 

B&Q Basic (£40) 

Padlockable Box (£60)


Veg is mostly grown from seed. See Videos for some quick and easy films on the basics. You can buy seeds from nurseries, garden centres or online (a mixed starter pack with 12 veg is £5-10), or you can barter with other growers (even if all you have to exchange is your labour). 

Redhall Nurseries

Seeds to share 2 (Leeds Facebook group) 




UK Organic seed suppliers

If you run a community project ask for donations from Wilkos, Lidl, Aldi or your local garden centre, and/or post a general ask on Freecycle and/or Parent Network. 

Growhouse / Cold Frame / Cloche etc

Start your seeds indoors using a propagator or chopped-off plastic bottles or cartons, and keep them inside till the weather is warm enough to plant out

Electric propagator (£25)

Milk bottle propagator (Free)

Carton propagator (Free)

A cold frame to bring on and protect seedlings is a good investment. 

Sturdy Timber Greenhouse (:£200+) 

Lightweght Greenhouse (will blow over easily) (£50-80)

Sturdy Aluminium Frame (£30)

Sturdy Timber Cold Frame (£90)

Lightweight Growframe Kit: (£30)

Collapsible Growframe (£50)

You could even make your own using some of the above as a pattern. 

Outdoor Classrooms etc

These guys are reported to be generous:


Herbs and fruit trees are more commonly bought as plants.

The Arium

NB The prices are out of date – but the Arium manager is on our committee 😉 : ”We sow all edibles into X84 cell trays, and as of next year probably X240 cell trays as well. We grow for Parks’ requirements, competition beds and schools/groups that deal direct with us, and of course we have plenty that we sell in the shop at very low prices, either in seedling form or grown on into larger plants. Prices typically range from £0.50 for a 6 pack of ¾ grown cabbages etc., up to £4 -£7 for a full seedling tray of herbs/salads. The more we can grow, the better prices we can offer, (edible growing gives such a good return for outlay if we can do large numbers), as you will appreciate. We start sowing in late February, and through right into May for some of the faster crops, so there is a steady stream available within this time. Also, if you have any specific requirements, we can grow specific crops and numbers for any group / organisation, if we know before 31/12/14.” 

See Resources for list of Edible plants available.  

For local garden centres see the Resources layer of the Map

Online resources

7000 Edible and Medicinal Plants – Plants for a Future Database

See also a large number of downloadable files in ‘Growing Vegetables’ on the LESSN ‘Bookshelf

Please advise of any broken links, or links you think should be included here.