Making a chicken cage into a seating area.

Now I apologise if you’re looking for instructions on how to make a chicken cage, you’ve come to the wrong place. This is how to unmake a chicken cage. We inherited several sheds with our house, and one of them was used to keep chickens and other birds in.

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I’ve been veggie for almost 20 years and I don’t eat eggs, and my boyfriend doesn’t eat eggs often, so it didn’t seem a useful idea to keep hold of the chicken shed. I did like the idea of taking on some rescues, but its a lot of responsibility. When my Mum first suggested turning it into a veranda it seemed a good solution. But for the first while we just used the shed as a dumping storage area.

So on my parents recent visit we decided to do it. In preparation me and Simon cleared out the shed. My Dad was on hand to help take the metal wire of the cage, and it was quite an effort. We didn’t really know how much of the wood was structural and how much was just to hold the wire in place. In the end we left the side intact and removed the front section and door. We made sure to use gloves to protect our hands and took care around any nails and sharp bits. Simon sawed off a couple of bits of wood left over from the cage section and helped take down the old bird boxes.

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We were left with the basic structure for the veranda, but one problem being that it stunk of bird poo. So a combinatin of sweeping, wiping, scrubbing, cleaning an elbow grace later, the cage was cleaned. It was taking on shape and could be used as some sort of beach hut or porch with seating area.

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Me and mum set to on painting it, the paint that was sage green on the tin, looked more pale blue in real life, but it was liveable. The enclosed bit we painted with white paint. This bit was by far the most smelly section of the shed and I wore a mask to help. The outside needed 2 coats, and somehow I agreed to letting my mum paint some African inspired designs on the back.

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Once I gave her the go, mum was off and soon she was happily painting. I think it works well. We then put some beach chairs, and plant pots around and some old rope and bunting to decorate it. The internal bit can be used as storage, so now its a really useful structure that looks nice, rather than the dumping ground it was before.

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Practically free bedroom furniture

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ve probably come to realise I like a bargain, I live life on the frugal side and don’t splash out without reason. So I wanted to share with you how I got my bedroom furniture to match for next to nothing.

Basically I keep an eye out for bargains. Read this post about getting Something for nothing. So the furniture in question is 2 bedside cabinets and a bedroom chair.

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The chair came for my mother, I’ve had it nearly 10 years now and my mum had it a long time before then. Before it was red, it was blue and before it was blue it was black. It’s been repainted several times to match the colour scheme of whatever room it goes in. And red didn’t match the room any more.

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This little bedside cabinet, I found dumped next to the bins at my old flat. People often left things here for the taking, and for the most put them next to the bin, so they were clean and usually perfectly usable. I also got a bookshelf, some paintings and a bathroom cabinet from the bins.

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And this little cabinet, was one of the many things left in the house that a friend bought. My friend didn’t want it, so gave it to me. So none of this furniture cost anything!

So to start with I gave them all an undercoat, this was some paint I had anyway and would make it easier to paint over the various surfaces.

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Once they had 2 coats of undercoat, they were ready to paint. And in the January sales I’d picked up a small tin of gloss paint for 50p. Yes 50 pence, a bargain!

I coated the furniture and left to dry. And dry. Painting gloss in a cold, slightly damp shed in the middle of an English winter, apparently didn’t make for good drying conditions. But eventually they did dry.

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The furniture now is the same colour and despite being different styles, they looked like a set and matched perfectly with the room. This makeover cost the grand total of 50p. If  I did it again, I’d make sure to have better drying conditions for the furniture, as you can see a few drips, as it took about 4 days to dry. Also maybe 2 lighter coats, rather than 1 thick coat would work better. So next time you need some bedroom furniture look around you, see what you have or what someone may be throwing out, a lick of paint can make a big difference.

 

 

Painting 4 and a half rooms in a month.

We moved to the house in September and were really busy with settling in and working and everyday stuff. We had little time to do anything about the blancmange yellow satin paint in every room. We did manage to do the living room and hallways, which needed painting the most. (New look staircase for under £20) It wasn’t until January that we were able to start painting the upstairs. As we both work freelance January and February are traditionally quite months for us, so its the perfect time to do some DIY around the house.

I find when you have the upheaval of painting one room, you may as well paint 2 or even 3 at the same time, it doesn’t make it much worse. Everything is upside down already, all your painting stuff is out and accessible, paint takes time to dry, the actual painting part is fairly quick, so really is it much worse to paint 2 rooms at the same time instead of one?

The loo- before

The loo- before

I did a warm up room, the upstairs loo, which looked a bit unloved, nothing really wrong with it, but pretty blah. I painted the walls in the pale beige paint that was leftover from the living room. The back wall (the one facing when you walk in) I wallpapered it with wrapping paper. This was more fiddly than I thought, as wrapping paper isn’t designed to be used as wallpaper, so it didn’t have a logical match to it. It was handprinted so some of the pattern was deeper than other bits. Using a ruler and scissors I more or less matched up the pattern and cut the pattern to the right shape. Unfortunately in the tight little space above my loo, there was no such thing as a right angle. Hence the black boarders to neaten off the edges.

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So the first main room we started on was our bedroom. It had the standard yellow walls which pretty much every room in the house had, it also had a couple of stains on it, of origin unknown. The walls surface was a bit patchy and the satin paint highlighted each imperfection, I hated it and it didn’t feel like home. None of the furniture matched either.

As it was. Satin paint

 

On scouting out a DIY place in january I picked up a tin of paint worth about £40 for £1.50 in a sale. I also got some free paint from scrapstore (mentioned in this blog:here ) We moved our bedroom stuff into the guest room and started painting. In the end the paint almost ran out, so one wall and corner were painted in a slightly darker shade of grey than the rest.

 

The painting chaos starts!

50 Simon's of grey?

50 Simon’s of grey?

I then painted some furniture to go in the bedroom and left in the shed to dry. Practically free bedroom furniture

We then made the mistake of going shopping and spotting some lovely wallpaper, we picked out 2 we liked and ordered it in. Simon’s choice was grey, so could go in the bedroom, so mine would go in the guest room. We’d never wallpapered before, except the loo, which wasn’t even wallpaper. So to buy semi designer wallpaper and use that as first time ever wallpapering was kind of a big thing.

The office before

The office before

When we waited for the wallpaper we moved everything from the office into anywhere else that had more than an inch of space and painted in there. The wallpaper came for the bedroom, we watched various videos tutorials. This was paste the wall rather than paste the paper.

I wont write about the wallpapering in detail (may do another blog about that) but some sort of black magic happened and it went on pretty much perfectly. The wallpaper was delivered about 2pm and we got on straight away and managed to sleep in our own room that night.

Wallpapering done.

Wallpapering done.

 

So then we wallpapered the office too, in some retro wallpaper I picked up in a sale for £2.50 a roll. This again was paste the wall, and went on like a dream.

Office wallpaper

Office wallpaper

But then I looked at the colour of the wall and the colour of the paint and it just didn’t work. So I rushed out and bought some more paint and we repainted the walls. I ripped down the masking tape down and of course I’d put it over the wallpaper. Hence huge tear marks in the wallpaper. Luckily I had some left and managed to botch over the damage. You wouldn’t notice it now.

Guest room- before

Guest room- before

So still in the decorating mode, we tackled the guest room, the previous people had known it as “the sunshine room” and the walls were painted in a much brighter shade of yellow. It was slightly more liveable, but I wanted to tone it down. Plus of the 2 choices of wallpaper we made, my choice was to go in the guest room. So we painted the walls off white and then wallpapered. We were pretty confident wallpaperers by now, but this one turned out to be paste the paper, not paste the wall. This one was much trickier and the paper did tear once or twice, likely from putting too much paste on it, it letting it go soggy. But again we made a pretty good job of it.

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Wallpaper almost done.

So still firmly in decorating mode I did the cupboard under the stairs, you can read about : here.

All of this was done in around a month. At points it was a bit chaotic, and mostly we didn’t cook that much, but it made a big difference to the way we feel about the house, it feels so much more like ours. Painting in January meant I was able to pick up paint in the sales and decide my colour scheme around that. I was unlikely to want to be outside at the time. Also when you do so many rooms at once, you get better and faster and can foresee problems before they happen, as you’re in the decorating mindset.

The people who bought my flat managed to paint most of the rooms in about 2 weeks, this was easier for them, as they hadn’t moved their stuff in, so was just a case of protecting the floors, rather than having to move everything around. I certainly think that moving things around, and the preparation is one of the biggest parts of decorating, so if you can combine painting 2 or 3 rooms at once, why not?

So what did I do with February?, well I put up my feet and did the kitchen of course: Cheap kitchen revamp

Multi layered fruit corner

After the removal of some of the conifer trees in the garden, we were left with some spaces that were a little “dead.” The most central conifer tree had blocked a lot of light from under it, causing the wendy house which was nestled under the branches to get a bit damp and mouldy. We did try and give it away, but it was obvious that its condition wasn’t great, so in the end we dismantled it and burnt it.

The old wendy house

The old wendy house

So we were left with this empty area, on the corner between the growing and the ornamental section. It’s not really a corner as its in the middle of our garden. We considered making it into a path, but then I picked up a bamboo pergola very cheaply online.

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Meanwhile some of the fruit trees that we’d earthed up ready to be planted, had already started waking up, so we needed to act fast. I decided to have a go at creating an espalier on 2 sides of the pergola. We’d been left with some wooden fence posts, I pre dug some holes for the posts and dug them in, and then hammered them in a bit more. I screwed in some eye hook bolts at appropriate heights to the branches. And then put in the fruit trees. I added the wires from one hook to the other and then carefully secured the branches to the wire, using ordinary garden string. These are not trained espalier trees, so I had to be careful!

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I then used some wood to make a small raised bed around the tree- the beds being long and very narrow, to echo the shapes of the branches. In these bed areas I added some strawberry plants and some bulbs that were a bit past their plant by date.

With the help of Simon we laid out the bamboo pergola and eventually managed to erect it. It may need some sort of tape to hold it together better as it looks flimsy. We put it into position and used some old broken paving slabs to make a base.

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In the space between the mini raised bed and the pergola I dug over the soil and added some fruit bushes, more strawberry plants and put a mulch of grass over the bear soil. I then added a kiwi berry and some wineberrys to climb over the pergola.

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So there will be a layer of climbing plants, a layer of fruit bushes, a 2 layers of strawberries as ground cover. Hopefully in the summer it will be a nice shady spot under it and in spring it gets the sun, so its nice to sit out and drink tea. Already the blossoms are on the espalier trees. One being a cherry tree and the other lost its label, but we suspect its a pear tree, as similar blossom to the other pear tree we have.

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Once its a bit more established I will post an update of how it’s working out.

 

 

A moment in time 15th April 2014

As I step into the garden, endless tasks stretch out before me, will the garden ever be “done”, but I can’t help but be distracted by the scene, it seems like the flowers have awoken all over the garden and the birds sing along excitedly. But its the pink blossom that takes me back to my childhood, walking on the back streets near my childhood home, towards Costella local park. Having a sense of freedom being allowed to go there without a grown up and playing on the playground next to the pond.

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In the garden we are working hard to prepare the growing space. We’re tackling a lot of weeds and also a huge bonfire patch, as well as various bits of junk. We’ve gathered up the ashes and put them in a section of the compost heap and a bag. We’ve dug some in and spread it out, but there is still a lot of ash! Every time I go out to dig a robin and a blackbird come and sit close by, sometimes just a meter away and sing sweetly at me, all for a few grubs. The robins first nest came to nothing, the 5 eggs in it sit there unloved. They’d made a nest in a wooden box on the side of the shed, which has some power cables in, and the door just wouldn’t stay in the right position. The cats would have made fine work of any chicks anyway. Tallulah and Phoenix the neighbours cats are regular features in the garden, they win over anyone who comes in including the roofers. They lap up any attention given to them and play mischief. Once they both wouldn’t leave alone one of my globe artichokes. Sitting under it and biting the branches. They also enjoy a good mud roll, which seems a bit wrong for a cat.

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Although the cats are apparently brother and sister they don’t get on and usually come to the garden separately. If they appear at the same time, they usually keep their distance and if close enough you can hear the odd bit of hissing. There is also a ginger who comes on a nightly patrol in the garden. His tail wags uncomfortably, though he does accept tickles. He will try and show off Phoenix if given the chance.

The raised brick bed is doing well and the bulbs have come up okay, the grass is doing well and I’ve even doing a “grass toupee” on another patch that was full of weeds. Simon has taken to regular mowing, more to use the grass cutting as mulch, than to make it look tidy, but still a good start. The fruit bushes we put in are looking healthy, except the kiwi berry, but even that will hopefully pickup. A couple of plants I thought I killed have fresh buds. The weather is really good for april.

Tomorrow my parents are coming, one of their fairly regular top up visits to help with some DIY. I will tidy before they come, but not too much, as soon the usual chaos will be unleashed: home made cushions and colourful fabric offcuts from scrapstore, electrical bits, toolboxes, not to mention the half eaten packets of biscuits and more apples than we know what to do with. But soon we will all blitz the house and garden and more DIY will be done than imaginable. Jobs this time involve the ambitious repositioning of the washing machine from the kitchen into the utility room, so the fridge can be in the kitchen. We will also put a sink in the utility room for all the jobs that are too dirty for the kitchen. The utility room currently has no water, so its easier said than done. We’re also looking to convert the old chicken shed/cage into a sitting space for humans. Making it into something like a beach hut with bunting strewn across it and baskets of salad growing in front and a grape vine growing up its side. There are a few smaller jobs too, and needless to say more weeding.

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At the moment I’m trying to tackle dandelions- they are everywhere. Arnie my old allotment neighbour taught me to at least remove the heads, otherwise they will spread. They are a pretty flower and do look lovely on roadsides when left to grow wild. But when in the middle of a veg bed, I’d rather they weren’t there. So if I only have a few minutes I will de-head them. If I have longer I will pull out the full root and cover it over with some cardboard. Of course, there’s not usually just one dandelion, but several, so it is time consuming, but hopefully if I keep it up, it will reduce their numbers significantly.

We are digging out weeds and dandelions from the main growing area, breaking up the soil, spreading the ash in it and then mulching over the top with cardboard, grass, straw and stuff from the compost heap. We’re trying to pick/sieve out all the nettle roots, glass and nails from the heap as we go along, we suspect there is yet more bonfire ash in this pile. Each day we try to go out and observe were the sun comes from and where the best spots are for each plant. We’ve started off some more seeds. Already in the ground are some asparagus, globe artichokes, peas, oca, onions and garlic and not forgetting the potatoes!

The house came with several sheds, all but 1 still stand, but most need some sort of DIY doing, such as painting or a new roof. One of them we are hoping to turn into an outdoor room/office and we may need to put plasterboard or something in it. The existing greenhouse is doing well and has various plants and seedlings in it. The greenhouse we got free is still in pieces, but we have a rough idea of where it might go.

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Inside the house, things have been moving slowing after the initial burst of painting and wallpapering. That’s partly as there isn’t lots left to to and partly as we felt we’d done enough painting for now and want to do the outside. I’m still very keen to do up the bathroom, but I’m not yet sure if I should make it bigger or not. It’s tiny, very tiny. The loo is separate so we could knock through to there, but its nice to have a separate loo, we could also knock through into the wardrobe, but its nice to have the storage space. There is a space downstairs we could fit a loo, but it would be cramped. For now we’re going to fix the tap that doesn’t work and live with it.

We’ve been in the house for a little over 7 months and very happy, and we’ve certainly put our own stamp on it.  We’re still yet to feel settled into the village and should make more use of some of the local shops and pubs- there isn’t many and we don’t want to lose them. We’re looking forward to the summer and seeing what fruit and veg we can grow and if we can have a few garden parties while we’re at it.

 

 

How to beat the weeds from day 1.

 

Well if only if it was easy as saying it, beating the weeds seems to be an endless task. Hence this post will be a bit long winded, so I will write a shorter version, with less personal information too. In the last 4 years I’ve started in 5 new growing spaces, so I know a lot about how to start, but I’d have to say my methods are not so tried and tested as I’ve not always been around to see the results. So to begin this I will mention a bit about my gardening history, this is also mentioned in my intro blog, so sorry if its repetitive, I just wanted to catch up anyone who hasn’t read that.

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I’ve lived in London since 2001 and never really had a garden, or at least one that I felt was mine to do something with. I started dating Simon around 4 years ago, at the time my balcony was put to good use growing tomatoes, salad and herbs, this was the most growing I’d done in a long time. I can’t say things flourished on there, as it did seem windy up there, and I had a neighbour downstairs who once or twice got annoyed when I watered my plants, as the water dripped through to her balcony. Simon was involved in a community permaculture group, so of course I went along and I enjoyed having a bit more growing space and freedom. We also began a bit of guerilla gardening, sowing a few crops in the communal gardens that my flat was in.

Community permaculture

Community permaculture

After around 6 months doing the permaculture we were told the site we’d been working on, was no longer ours and we were giving a new one to work with. The new space being under some trees in a woodland and also to be shared with some bee-keepers. It was far from ideal and we were a bit dispirited that we’d lost our original growing space, that we’d put a lot of effort into. By now Simon had moved in, and it was further away from us both. Then luck struck out and I managed to get an allotment. So a year on we’d sadly given up the permaculture group. The communal garden patch hadn’t really taken off as the cats used it as a loo, and we were loving the allotment. So we decided to take on a second plot, surprisingly there was good availability so we didn’t feel bad to have two. The weeds were the worse in this one, with lots of mares tail.

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And then a few months into the new giant sized plot, we decided to move house. In the end London was too expensive, so we moved just outside of London to a house with a much bigger garden than we could have hoped for. We weren’t sure if we should keep the plots or not, but in the end we decided it didn’t make sense to drive all that way, when we had a good sized garden to use.

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So what have I learned from starting over so many times? Well basically it’s hard work and really I’m yet to see if I can tackle the weeds, but I can see I have improved the soil structure, which is half the battle. And certainly the weeds are getting less and less. So how do you start, you’ve moved into a new house and you have lots of other things to do, but you don’t want those little weeds to turn into a jungle as you unpack- how do you cope? Do you resort to using chemicals or do you prefer to do it naturally? Or perhaps your new allotment is already a jungle and you don’t know where to start.

So what is a weed? I’ll always remember a headteacher telling us this at school, but I think its a famous quote as well. “A weed is a plant in the wrong place” so some things that are a weed to one person may be a pretty flower to another. To some people nettles are a nuisance, they sting, they grow where you don’t want them, but to another person the leafs are a delicacy- have you tried nettle tea, nettle soup, nettle risotto? If you haven’t please do- they loose their sting upon a short amount of cooking. Dandelions roots can be used to make coffee (I’m yet to try this) Cleavers or sticky willy can be used as a tea, Comfrey is great to use as a plant feed. So one mans weed is another mans treasure, so as you get rid of the weeds, do consider if they have other uses.

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Also some weeds are perennial, which means they will come back every year, these are the hardest to remove. Some seeds will spread lots of seeds, and when the conditions right they will grow back. Some will grow back from the slightest bit of root left in the ground. But one things for sure if you leave the ground bare for any length of time weeds will start to grow. So be it mulch or plants get the ground covered with something ASAP after weeding.

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One method that I’ve found to work is mulching with cardboard. If you have no time either flatten the weeds or pull out if you have more time and then add flattened cardboard boxes over the top and hold them down with bricks, stones, pieces of wood whatever you can get your hands on. Try and let as little light get to the weeds as possible. Like this you can leave it for several months, though in winter the boxes may disintegrate and need replacing. When you’re moving, you’ll likely have a lot of boxes, if not the supermarkets will usually give you some if you ask nicely. We’ve had a couple of midnight trips to Asda’s to get boxes. After a while the boxes tend to stay down, but do make sure they are secure and try and cover even the smallest gaps, as the weeds will find them.

Friend Mark with turf mountain

Friend Mark with turf mountain

What if it’s mostly grass and very little if any weeds? The method we used for this was a turf mountain. We marked out our bed and then cut the top inch or so off the soil with the grass attached and then stacked the turfs upside down in a big stack. Cover the stack with cardboard, you can also add manure if you want. After around 2 years it will have rotten down and you can then use as compost. We grow potatoes and squash in the pile. Just try and block out the light from any potential weeds.

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For something like Dandelions it can be time consuming to remove the roots, but this is the best method to get rid of them, but if you only have a few minutes, the best thing to do is to remove at least the flower, but also any leafs if you can. Removing the flower will stop it spreading seeds, removing the leafs will weaken it. Also do this for any other unwanted flowering weeds and plants.

When weeding I like to have a few containers handy to help me sort out the various bits. Ideally you’d have 4 containers, or maybe 1 big one which you can sort later. So what are the bits. Firstly there is the normal annual weeds which can be added to the compost heap straight away. Then there is the stones, most soils contain stones, and certain crops don’t like stony ground, so if you can remove them as you go, it will be handy and you may be able to use the stones in another project, such as a drainage hole. The third container is for any rubbish you find from bits of glass and wire to rusty old tools, it’s amazing the rubbish you’ll find. And lastly a container for perennial weeds, this is the nastier of the weeds and you want to make sure they are dead before you compost them. For these weeds I normally do a drowning bucket. I add them into a bucket, fill the bucket up and then add water to the top. I leave the weeds in there for 3 months, stirring on occasion to make sure they are submerged. After 3 months they will be a horrible stinky slimy mess and they can then be composted in the normal manner.

Me with the neighbours cat- 2 weeks in.

Me with the neighbours cat- 2 weeks in.

Remember if you take something out of the earth, be it weeds or vegetables, that you should replace it, if you’re constantly taking stuff out, you should put more goodness back in.

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The more you weed, the more you will weaken them. Some weeds will grow back from roots left in by mistake and some from seeds that are in the soil. Sometimes weeds may spread in from other sources, but one things for sure, more weeds will grow. Do not get disheartened if everytime you turn around, a new weed has grown, it does get better. Even in the first year on a new place, I see the improvement. Do what you can to tackle the worst offenders, the ones most likely to spread straight away. And remember bare soil is an invite to the weeds to start growing. Once your crops get big enough they will block the light from any weeds. If you grow your crops closer together you will get smaller crops, but they will block more light, and need less weeding.

You do need to dig to get the roots of perennial weeds, but if you can keep digging to a minimum, you’re less likely to disturb and wake up more roots and seeds lurking in the soil. No dig is done by using layers of mulch and I will go more into this method in a future post. I hope this has helped you!

Small allotment, 2 photos 6 months apart

Small allotment, 2 photos 6 months apart

 

10 simple green things everyone really should do today

This is slightly off topic for me, but is intertwined with the essence of the blog, so I hope you’ll forgive me. Now, I’m sure you all know this stuff already, but sometimes people do need to be told multiple times. But here is a list of little easy steps that everyone should do to help the environment. These are bare basic things, that everyone can do today. I do aim to write in more detail about this in the future and what efforts we are making. For now this will give you a starting ground of ideas and hopefully the simplicity of this will scare you less than a longer article.

  1. Everyone should cut down on the heating/air conditioning. It’s simple really if you’re hot- open the window, if you’re cold put on a jumper. I’ve lived in both hot and cold countries and coped. It’s easy to think its our given right to live in a nice warm cosy house or a cooler house in the heat, but when you’re using so much power to achieve this, that has to be a bad thing.
  2. Everyone should cut down on their shower time. Just because the amount of water on the earth stays the same, it doesn’t mean you have the right to use as much as you like. The processes that go into making clean sanitary water are alarming and you should cut down on your usage, we use a timer set to 5 mins now.
  3. Cut down on food wastage. This is one we need to work on, we may plan for the week, but sometimes things come up and you end up not eating the meals you planned. Or sometimes just buying food without planning means you have leftovers. Learn to get creative with leftovers. We recently made a stew with the leftover veg we had in the fridge. Scraps could also be used to make your own stock. Check dates when you buy and remember a best before is just a guide and the food should still be perfectly usable after this date.
  4. Say no to plastic. Cut down on your plastic usage, find items with the least packaging and switch to bringing in your own carrier bags were possible. Reuse plastic containers as plant pots, lunch boxes or to hold craft bits etc. Reuse is better than recycling.
  5. Reduce meat consumption. I’m veggie so I have this one down. I don’t expect everyone to be vegetarian- I’ve heard enough excuses over the years about it (without ever asking), but really if you could reduce your consumption of meat products that would be great. A lot more energy goes into producing meat, and people tend to eat more than needed nutritionally, so it makes sense to cut back.
  6. Reduce car journeys. People tend to rely on their cars too much, using them for even shorter journeys. For people in towns and cities most things you need are within walking distance or accessible on public transport. It’s only since I moved to a smallish village that I understand how easy I had it before. Some people get into their cars without giving it a second thought, so maybe next time you do, just think if you could be walking or catching the bus instead.
  7. Eat local, seasonal produce. Now this one may be slightly harder, but a lot of bigger supermarkets are labelling produce better, there are veg box schemes popping up everywhere and also why not try growing your own, you don’t need a big garden to keep yourself in salad and herbs for most the year. Also not everyone allotment site has a waiting list, especially if you ask them nicely!
  8. Recycle more. Most councils these days provide a door step recycling service, it’s worthwhile checking from time to time that you are doing it right. There may be things you can recycle that you haven’t thought of, or things that you are adding that you shouldn’t and this does change from time to time. There may also be places you can take things that you thought you couldn’t recycle. For larger items you can try freecycle, freegle or any local charities as well as asking friends.
  9. Compost your waste. If you have a garden, or even just a balcony composting your veg waste is a great way to make your own compost. You can add old papers and cardboard too. The trick is to get the right balance between the green waste which is the veg and the plants and the brown stuff which is the dry leaves, paper and card. You then need to turn it regularly and you’ll soon be awarded with black gold.
  10. Use less chemicals around the home. Since the 1950’s we have been encouraged to use more and more chemicals around the home and on our bodies. We often use these without questioning the ingredients of what long term affects they may have on the environment and us. There are alternatives but something as simple as a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar can be used as a cleaning agent. You can add essential oils to make it smell nice. Try mixing your own work surface cleaner to begin with, experiment with what works best for you.

So I hope this gives you food for thought, all of these things you may be doing already, and for the most part if you aren’t already, it can be simple enough to try them out and start doing them today!

 

Please feel free to add some tips in the comments.