Tag Archives: home made

Gardens looking lush

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For the first year the gardens really looking lush everythings growing well and there is still loads to put in. Looks like all the fruit trees will be having a crop this year, so that means Quince and Plums as well as apples and Medlars, I’m very excited about our first ever plum and quince crop. My only niggle is that it’s a little too green, must remember to add more flowers for next year, not that I don’t like the jungle look.

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DIY cold frame

Spent most of the day transforming some old windows and scaffolding planks into a cold frame. With the price of a shop bought one anything from £100 – £500 it’s crazy not to make your own. I’ve been really struggling the last couple of years trying to make do without or cobble something together with polythene- which always looks grubby, why make your garden look like an allotment? I’m a strong believer in Permaculture design but don’t see why it always has to look shabby. Up to now this first one has cost nothing, the second will need approximately £15’s worth of extra scaffolding planks, everything else I’ve got in the shed- rewards of being a womble.

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I’ve painted the inside white to reflect the light and the outside green as it was a little stark white, although I am a little worried it looks a bit national trust, ah well I’ll just charge an entry fee next in future.

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the naked garden

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I wish I had a greenhouse, I wish I had a patio for that matter, the area directly outside the house is more Steptoe than Gardeners world. The house and garden are still in a state of flux, extension possibilities, renovation work unfinished and a general accumulation of stuff all make for a rather stressed area. Money is a major factor, could I do it myself? possibly, can I afford it? no. Materials are another, I want to produce a house and garden than has been sustainably and holistically designed, however sometimes that means waiting longer to do something as that material needs to researched and sourced. The only way I can keep positive about it is to keep it productive, if it’s producing food then at least it’s doing something. I’m not looking for homes and gardens perfection but I also don’t want it to look like an allotment, I do have to look at it everyday.

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Suburban fuel foraging

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The gas bill arrived today and for the first time I didn’t tut, it was in fact cheaper than last year, partly to do with a so called ‘reduction’ in prices but the exact amount of gas we’ve used is half! from 5625 kWh to 2509 kWh. I put this down to two things, 1 we didn’t use the central heating until November and 2 we’ve been using the wood burner more than last year. Using the stove not only to heat the house but cook on has made a massive difference.

Having a wood stove is seen by some as a middle class toy or only for those lucky few who live in the countryside but if you care about your environment and want to save money I’d say you can’t go wrong. After the initial cost of instillation your next issue is fuel cost, there’s no point saving on gas if your spending hundreds of pounds on fuel, that’s when they become a toy.

I used to think that the only way to be totally self-sufficient in fuel was to live in the countryside because where else did wood come from? However having spent a year living in a small hamlet I realize the country mouse is not always better off than his townie cousin. If you live in a house surrounded by fields it might be beautiful but your access to fuel is limited to your nearest woodland, which may or my not be private or even someone’s livelihood, on the other hand living in the town opens up a mass of free fuel opportunities.

You don’t have to walk far in the suburbs to find a skip, these are the suburban foragers friends the trick is to see whatever’s inside as a potential fuel. As long as it’s not MDF or chipboard it’s free warm for you. I used to walk past skips that didn’t have pallets in but now a broken chair, carpenters off cuts, anything wooden gets brought home and chopped up.

Pallets are an obvious one and many places are more than happy for you to take them off their hands, just remember to ask first some companies reuse them. It’s surprising how a few pallets can heat your house for an evening. Another place to look is charity, junk and auction houses they often have things which are unsellable or broken, most places will happily give you something that’s destined for the tip.

Last year a neighbours tree blew down in a storm so I offered to saw it up for them if I could keep the wood he was only too happy and we ended up with about a weeks worth of fuel. Every time we go out for a walk in a park or in the woods around the city I make sure I at least pick up one piece of wood however small, if you do it all year you’ll soon have a ready supply. I’m going to have to get a trailer for my bike or perhaps a trolley so that I don’t miss out next time I leave the house, having set my foragers eye for fuel as well as food has made me realize I should never need buy fuel again.

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Next years fuel is stacking up nicely we are aiming to fill this by the end of the year.

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