Build your own greenhouse

Build your own greenhouse

Phase One is complete

This last weekend was just beautiful! I spent some much needed time with my sister and niece (a nice start on one of my 2018 goals – see here for more on that) and after weeks and weeks of planning I finally made a start on building my greenhouse (yippee!). It was bitterly cold when we went to the seafront, and walked out as far as we could, we were wrapped up warm, and treated ourselves to a hot drink after!

Now, don’t get too excited phase one is a bit of a boring phase.. but vital! Let me explain.

The spot that I have picked to build my greenhouse is tucked nicely away behind the shed and is in a prime spot for getting lots of sunshine a large part of each day. The only problem with the spot i picked.. was it was already being used – by a big old Laurel and a lovely climber. I had already made a start on clearing the space, but with just a pair of hand cutters and a hand saw it was going to be a very slow and labour intensive job. I ended up buying a chainsaw, and this weekend was the first opportunity I had to get outside and made a real start of clearing the space up.

With such a beautiful (and surprisingly mild) day we had on Sunday I was able to get the whole area cleared! Even the stumps were either dug up or cut right down below ground level and killed off. It was a lot of work, and I had some help doing it but by finishing it all in the day means I can move on to phase two – which is making the ground level and putting down some slabs for the wooden frame to sit on (because I have decided to make my greenhouse out of a wood, I’m conscious that sitting directly on the ground will encourage rot. The plan is to have slabs just around where the frame meets the ground and then have the inside open soil).

It is at this point I have also re thought about the size I want the greenhouse to be. my original design was to have a 5 sized greenhouse (2 long sides against the wall and fence, and then 3 sides facing out) But I have since put my sensible hat on and realised that although that would look super awesome, the size of the overall greenhouse would be relatively small and as this is going to be my first attempt of building one, i should probably stick to a lot simpler designs! So goodbye cute design, hello practical rectangle design!

I would really love to hear from anyone who has build their own greenhouse, what obstacles did you come up against and what do you wish you had done differently?

Just send me a message or leave a comment!

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5 Most common myths of growing your own fruit and vegetables

5 Most common myths of growing your own fruit and vegetables

There is something truly rewarding about cooking with vegetables grown from your own garden. The produce is better in flavour than the shop alternatives and it can (in most cases) end up being a lot more cost effective, but most people still prefer to go to their local supermarket and buy off the shelf. Gardening is often seen as a hobby and some of this I believe is down to a number of long-standing myths.

Below are just the 5 most common reasons give to why they don’t get involved with growing their own.

1 . “I don’t have the time”

It is a common misconception that to have a successful vegetable garden you need to have hours available everyday to tend it. There are vegetables out there they don’t require loads of time and effort. These include Beans, Courgettes, Cucumbers and members of the Squash family.

All of these simply require good soil, sunshine and plenty of water and you will have more than enough to keep you, your family and your neighbours well stocked for the whole season. They are all pretty prolific growers and when stored in the correct way for each can easily see you through the later months too.

2 . “I don’t have the space”

People assume that to have a productive vegetable patch you need a massive garden, but this is just completely untrue! As long as you have a bit of creativity you can make any outside space work for you, a lot of people are making good use of ‘vertical gardening’. That may sound like a new age fad but its popularity is rising and it is easy to see why.

Vertical gardens can take up a lot less space, are easy to maintain and can be used to grow a number of vegetables you may not have thought possible. This sort of gardening is providing people with even the smallest amount of space the opportunity to grow their own produce.

3 . “I can’t grow anything”

No one is born knowing how to have a successful and productive garden. So the key for any beginner is to pick a couple of easy to grow varieties to start, such as courgettes, garlic and onions which only ask for sunshine, good soil and water.

If your not sure about growing something from seed, most garden centres sell starters(or plug) plants which is where they have grown them from a seed for you, so you buy the plants when they are still young usually by the trayfull. You then take those and plant them straight into your garden. This if you dont have the resources to grow from seed.

4 . “I rent / live in a flat so i can’t”

Not everyone has the ability to dig up their gardens to make vegetable patches, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own fruit and vegetables. There are so many varieties of plant that grow really well in containers – and you can use anything, from large plant pots to old barrels. Any outdoor space can be used for your container garden, as long as it has access to sunshine and you remember to water it. There are a large number of plants that thrive in the container environment; tomatoes, peppers and potatoes to name a few!

For those rented properties that don’t have access to any outdoor space, there are still ways you can grow some of the smaller varieties. You can grow fruit trees such as lemon and a wide variety of salads right there on your windowsill.

5 . “I don’t get enough sun in my garden”

Just because you garden doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, does not mean that nothing will grow! You just need to be a bit more selective with the choices you make! For example, if you are hoping to grow veg such as sweetcorn or peppers which are heavily dependant on the sunshine, you may need to re think your garden goals. However, there are plenty of plants that are forgiving in the sunshine department (this still means the path needs at least 3-6 hours of direct sunlight).Broccoli and Radishes are good examples of this, they don’t mind a bit more shade and will produce good quality produce, even if they are a tad smaller then their sun soaking counterparts.

Although gardeners tend to praise the fact their gardens get plenty of sunshine, there are some advantages to having a slightly shadier plot. For one thing, places that get high temperatures may struggle with their plants being scolded, and having full sun often means that the ground becomes dry quicker meaning more watering.

So as you can see, as long as you put your mind to it, there really isn’t anything stopping you growing your own little spot of heaven.

I would be interested to know if anyone has overcome any of the situations mentioned above and gone on to grow some truly delicious veg! Leave me a comment below!

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10 Gardening jobs for January

10 Gardening jobs for January

Now that January is well and truly upon us, it is time to start looking at the years plans for your garden. Even though it’s still too cold to start planting, there is still plenty to do! Keep scrolling to go through 10 things you should have on your list.

1 . Draw up you plan for the year

The first thing anyone with a vegetable/flower garden should do this time of year is to draw up what you want your garden to look like throughout the coming months. This keeps you focused, organised and means that you will never be left with bare patches or too many plants. It also helps you get sorted on what seeds you need to purchase and what tools you will need and when!
It is always good to know ahead of time where everything will go, as not all vegetables enjoy being neighbours.

2 . Take stock of your seed collection

Once you know exactly whats on your list for things to grow, the next obvious step is to take stock of what you already have – whether its dried poppy pods from previous flowers or spare seeds that never quite made it to the potting shed. You want to get them all sorted and labelled so if there are anything that you don’t have stored away, well….

3 . Order any seeds you need

Now is the time to get your favourite gardening site and get ordering!! The place i go at the moment is D T Brown but everyone has their own favourites. It you have an allotment, you often get access to offers that you can’t get any where else which can help when bulk buying. But if you don’t have access to those, you can usually buy seeds from local garden centres, supermarkets etc.

4 . Clean your pots / tools ready for spring

If you are anything like me, you often leave pots half filled and dotted around in little piles. When there is a break in the bad weather, head out and round them all up! This month is great for getting everything cleaned and organised so they are there and ready to use when you need them!
You can clean your tools with a bit of warm water and a brush and make them as good as new! Alternatively, now is the ideal time to replace anything that has seen better days, if you look at the right time there is usually a good deal on gardening equipment to be picked up before spring comes along. Something I like doing so going to a local antiques centre where there are often companies that have numerous collections of old but really strong garden tools, their often really good prices and are often stronger than anything new (if you shop right).

5 . Prune any fruit trees/bushes

Another important job to tick off before spring begins is to prune any of your fruit trees and bushes. Its important to do it now, before the plant start putting energy into branches that are weak, or wont bear fruit. You want to remove the oldest branches or canes, as well as any broken or diseased wood. Any branches that cross over and would cause rubbing can be tied back or removed to reduce chances of damage. To make sure your pruning in the correct way it is always best to seek out advise for the specific plant your cutting.

6 . Composting

This is something I have recently got into myself. Your compost pile may freeze solid during the colder season but there is no reason to stop composting. In fact, the thawing process can help break down the materials that you add over this time , so they decompose even faster in spring.

Some people insulate their compost pile, either with a dark tarp or a generous layer of straw, newspaper or leaves. This reduces the drop in temperature which in turn keeps the bacteria that breaks down the material warm enough to not go dorment.

7 . General Tidy

If like me, you have reclaimed a patch of land that was previously a waste of weeds and brambles, you can use this time to also keep the ground weed free. Although the weeds don’t actively grow when the temperatures are low, they are still busy. Their roots and seeds are patiently waiting for the warmer weather. If my patch is veg free I try and turn over the soil a couple of times, to help bring any deep roots to the top and keep ontop of the weeds that are being a bit tougher to get rid of. This year i have some left over broccoli, brussels and some garlic, so using a smaller hand spade or folk I move around them being careful not to disturb the plants.
It is also an ideal time to tidy any fallen leaves or debris that has found their way into the garden. These can be moved into a pile to break down a bit before adding to your compost pile or disposed of.

8 . Grow your own Mushrooms

You could try growing your own mushrooms using a mushroom kit, you can kind these kits in any of you local garden centres or online, they are a great little project and are great to add to a lot of meals. It is so much simpler than it looks and you can grow loads of different varieties including white cap, oyster and shiitake. The kits are reasonable prices and comes with everything you need. Once site that gives great step by step instructions, and plenty of details for each sort is Thompson & Morgan .

9 . Early Potatoes

Now is the time that you want to start preparing your potatoes (if you want to grow them). Chitting is when you start the sprouting process and is done by collecting up the potatoes you are going to use and putting them with the majority of the eyes facing upright in a light, cool and frost free location. Greenhouses are perfect for this, but you can also use a porch or unheated conservatory. Light is important for the chitting process, so don’t put them in a cupboard or under the stairs.

You can stand them up using egg boxes, or if your using a large number of potatoes you can use an open box. You are looking for 1inch short green shoots from each eye of the tuber. Thin white shoots that potatoes grow when left in a cupboard to long is just the same, although may still produce potatoes if planted. For the best results you need the best possible shoots!

If you have done all your January jobs, but still want something to do, here is a little something that will keep your green fingers busy:

10 . DIY Bird Feeder

Everybody loves a little DIY project to brighten up these dark days. This is one that gets your hands busy, is great to do with the kids and helps the wildlife out all in once package! Its easy to forget that this time of year is one of the hardest for the wildlife, especially birds. Food is hard to come by, often buried under frozen soil and snow so one thing I think is great to do is to make some nice homemade bird feed ornaments.

There are loads of tutorials out there, but one of the easiest (and least messy) I have found is this one by a lovely lady called Shae! Her tutorial includes 4 ingredients plus kitchen twine or string, makes 5 ornaments  and takes no time at all!

Keep an eye out for next months list of garden jobs, I’m off to make some tasty treats for the birds!

and you’re welcome along for the ride!

Starting on my garden

Now that Christmas is out of the way, it is time to start working on my garden. I have a lot of things I want to achieve this year – and a lot of it depends on the seasons.

Last year I grew a handful of things in a small patch at the top of the garden. The ground is uneven and had to be cleared of a lot of stuff that the previous owners had dumped, including old metal hangers, carpet and glass. At some point someone liked the patch, as there is a lot of good top soil there. It has just been mixed into a lot of stones. When clearing all the rubbish, and fighting back the jungle of weeds there was also old lining that had been left untended (meaning the weeds had grown on top of it and unfortunately through it) I am still fighting back the large number of weeds but i think with constant tending I am starting to win.

What was left of the vegetables grown last year has been a little forgotten about over the last few months, and what remains has been growing by itself. I have a scattering of garlic, broccoli and Brussel Sprouts. The Brussels and Broccoli had been attacked quite heavily by the caterpillars, and if I’m honest, I had written them off, leaving what was left until I could get back out and clear the patch ready for the new year, but after the weather turned colder they seem to have survived the army of ‘pillars and are doing a good job on their own.

One of the last things I did last year was to plant the garlic. They were just from bulbs that were starting to sprout in my kitchen. I didn’t want to waste them, as they were past the point of eating, so I planted them to see how they would do. My last attempt of growing garlic wasn’t amazing – they grew.. but were tiny!! strong – but small.

One of the big jobs that I want to complete this year is to change that patch into a raised bed. At the moment it is pretty unsightly, it sits right next to the house and the small patio section that we have. I would love for it to be a little tidier, and making it a raised bed will help with my homegrown garden.

Now we are more settled in our home it would be great to host some little get togethers over the warmer months, but I don’t want to have people in the garden if it looks like a mess! Our garden has so much potential – I just want it looking/working at its best!

Another large job i have planned is to build myself a little greenhouse. I have found a patch which would be ideal for it. It would get full sun, but also be tucked out the way and would be protected from the worst weather.

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As you can see, I have started clearing the space – there’s a climber growing along the wall and there were lourels running all the way upto the shed. So far I have cut them both back within an inch of their lives but the plan is to cut them down completely (I was due to do it this weekend, but mother nature had other ideas… mainly rain and snow!) I only had a hand saw, but with past knowledge of just how hard a job that would be – and how long it would take – I invested in a chainsaw yesterday.

The lourels run down the whole right side of our garden and along the back. They are a brilliant natural fence, but because they have been left to grow on their own, they have got way out of hand and honestly take up more space then I like. I am losing 3ft along both border lines and it makes a big difference. Another reason for me wanting them gone is they are taking up a lot of space in an area that I am planning on dedicating to chickens. (I have owned some previously and when buying this house the intention was always on getting more, it is just a case of being ready for them. There really is nothing better than fresh eggs, they are also great for left over green waste and are honestly a joy to have. I could spend hours with them)

So while the weather has its wintery-way and I am forced to stay indoors I started measuring up and designing how i wanted the greenhouse to look. I’ve made the decision to make it out of wood and hard plastic. Not the most common materials, but I like the idea of a wooden frame, on the principle that it is going to look a lot nicer and more natural. The hard plastic will be in replacement of the glass that is usually used. This is more for safety. Footballs are often sent flying into my garden, and I wanted something that wouldn’t break so easily – but it is also down to being able to customise the shape and size of the panes myself instead of having glass cut professionally and then delivered.

Once the weather clears up my first task is to cut down the trees in the way and dig them up the best I can, or kill off the roots if i can’t dig them up. Next I need to level out the ground, making the frame out of wood means I need to put something down so that the wood doesn’t rot quickly. My plan is to have either slabs, or bricks.

I already have some reclaimed treated timber which i plan to construct the main supports from. These will be screwed into the wall of the shed to add stability and then build from there.

Another big job on my list is to clear out some of the rubbish that has been left from when we originally tidied the garden. Alot of it is going to have to be taken down the tip, but there is a lot of burnables including the left overs from a large ivy plant that was left to grow up an electrical pole in the garden.

I bought an incinerator with the idea of burning as much as I can, and saving us having to take natural waste to the skip when we don’t need to. Ash can also be good for soil and compost heaps if the pH levels are off. It is also easier to get rid of then bags of branches and logs.

Lastly, over the next few weeks I need to stock up on any seeds i need for the spring sowing. I have most of the first batch, either from purchasing over winter or by finding my stash that I saved from previous grown plants. What i have left to get I will be buying from my local garden centres or my D.T. Brown Seed and Plant Catalogue. Hopefully by the time spring is here, I will have my greenhouse ready for some serious vegetable growing.

If anyone has any advise about starting my 2018 vegetable garden, leave me a comment. I would love to hear how other people are getting ready for the growing season.

and you’re welcome along for the ride!

My 2018 new year Resolutions

I say ‘resolutions’, but what I actually mean is 2018 goals! I’ve never really been one to make resolutions before, on the basis that I have never really stuck to any of them. They have just been throw away statements I make every January, never to be thought or spoken of again.

I have however got quite a few goals for 2018, I am thinking of this year as  the new chapter  The next book in the series! We are settled into our own home, freshly married.. I want to this to be a real new start; to a more organised and more resourceful version of myself..

[yes, i see this dangerously becoming another throwaway statement too..]

Well, I am pretty determined this year. So, without further ado…:

Spend more time Outside

This sums up about a third of my goals for this year. I want to become slightly more involved with my garden:

  • grow more vegetables, not just the occasional one like last year.
  • Build (not buy and construct) my own greenhouse and start growing the vegetables from seed, not always relying on starters.
  • I also want to plant some more bee-friendly plants, to encourage more into the garden. I received a ‘bee hotel’ for christmas as well so I will be putting that up at some point too.
  • Clear the area at the back of my garden, ready for when I get some Chickens (I’ve had some before, and loved them but due to moving and renting while we saved we had to give them away so I can’t wait to finally be able to get some again – nothing like fresh eggs)

Be more mindful

Last year I read a couple of books that revolved around the subjects of practicing the art of Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) and mindfulness. They are, in my mind at least, a similar way of thinking and really appeals to me. I want to be able to take a step back from things and really enjoy the moment I am in, who I am with and what we are doing.

Todays world is so fast paced and I don’t want to look back when I’m older and wish I had taken more notice of the little things. It also fits in nicely with my other goals for the year; to enjoy the simplicity of growing something or making something by hand. Its all about slowing down and being in the now.

Be healthy

Ah, we all add this to our lists at least once, dont we..? I started my healthier living journey a few years back, when i started following weightwatchers and slimming world (not at the same time – obviously). I also started running a bit last year, and completed the ‘Couch to 5K’ challenge.

Without meaning to I started to enjoy going for a run, so this year I want to continue with the work I have already put in and continue to run, eat healthily and drink more water!

Spend more time with Family

This one is another umbrella goal, it also loosely ties into being more mindful. I want to start putting more effort into being with family, enjoying simply sitting with them and eating a home cooked meal.

This also branches out to my now extended family of in-laws. Living an hour away from them sometimes means we don’t see them as often as we probably should.

I believe that it is always important to set yourselves goals, how else do we improve as people? But you don’t have to wait for a new year to set yourself a goal, its something to aim for and keeps you challenging yourself, and pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself.

and you’re welcome along for the ride!

 

 

What to do with a Bullet Journal

Last year I was introduced to the wonder that is ‘Bullet Journals’, a form of planner that mixes bullet points, doodles and diary entries to produce a fast and easy way to bring organisation to your daily lives.

The best thing about the bullet journal, is there are no rules! You can be as creative, or un-creative as you like – you can adapt it to any lifestyle!

I am still pretty new to the world of journaling, but one thing I found really useful was to follow people with Instagram accounts dedicated to it! It is a great way to get inspiration – below are just a few  of my favourites;

 

Misfit.Plans

 A truly beautiful instagram account to follow – primarily weekly page layouts, but the detail that has gone into them is amazing.

Bumblebujo

 A mix of weekly spreads and amazing fill pages, the artwork is breathtaking.

Grandezzasjournal

Primarily a daily/weekly spread with trackers for different things, such as fundraising and gift lists.

Norajournals

Pages filled with daily entries, accompanied by little illustrations. The detail on each page really shows how much has gone into creating it.

My first year was mainly dominated by wedding related pages, and weekly spreads dedicated to keeping track of my food diary. I want to be a little more relaxed in 2018, concentrating on monthly spreads, my goals for the year and project ideas,  I also plan on using my journal for keeping track of films we want to see, and books i want to read.

I would love to hear what other people use their Bullet Journals for ? Leave me a comment below.

and you’re welcome along for the ride!

Dreaming of the Good Life..

Now i enjoy Netflix, Amazon and Spotify as much as the next person (and i use them all) but there is something about sitting down to a home cooked meal where the veg was grown just a couple of meters from your table, or curling up to watch a film under a blanket you made.

I have always prefered a homemade, unique gift to something that everyone from your friend to the stranger down the road owns. I’m not saying that i don’t buy new things from the highstreet, i do! I just don’t get quite as much enjoyment from it compared to when i watch someone open a present that I spent the last few day making, or the glow of pride I get when someone asks where i got my oven gloves, or the snood my niece wears.

I think at heart I’m Barbara Good from ‘The Good Life’. I may be able to go and buy everything i need from a shop, but why would i want to, when i can grown it right there in my back garden? After a busy day at work, where the pressure is high and the hours are slow, i crave the simplier and quiet world of my garden or craft room.

That being said, I’m not a homesteading queen or a diy goddess – I’m just someone who likes to get creative, and get my hands dirty! For the first time, I have my own space to enjoy and learn all the wonders that comes with growing your own, improving your home – but most of all.. enjoying the journey!

This blog will be companion as i learn how enjoy growing my own back garden allotment (fingers crossed) and make more homemade beauties that friends, family and hopefully myself can enjoy!

and you’re welcome along for the ride!