Easily Liven Up Your Garden In Time For Summer

If you are anything like me, you are probably starting to get a serious hankering to start some little garden projects again now that spring is now finally here. You have likely already begun planting out some of your seedlings and preparing the soil for the coming seasons.

However, you might also want to think about what you can do to make your garden a bit more interesting, and a bit more original to look at. As it happens, there are always plenty of things you can do on this front, and that is worth remembering if you ever find yourself at a loss as to what you should be doing to make your garden more of a lively and interesting place. In this article, I am going to look at some of the best ways to make your garden more lively in time for summer. 

Pictue Credit

Bordering Wildflowers

If you have a couple of beds which you would like to decorate in some way, a good way to do so is to get a seed mix of assorted wildflowers and scatter those around the edges. You can even get some fast-growing ones which will guarantee to bloom within forty days, so if you are in need of some fast flowers that could be the ideal way to go. Having some bordering wildflowers will immediately add a great deal of colour to your garden, especially if you use a mixed pack. What’s more, you will be providing much needed food for our bees, something that I am keen to encourage as much as possible – It’s good for them, and good for your garden.

Sculptures

If you are looking for some decoration not on your beds, but just dotted around your garden, then you might want to think about finding some sculptures. At one point, people might have chosen the classic gnome, these days there is a massive variety of options available to you. It’s up to you – whether you want a gnome, a collection of frog sculptures, or even a single large statement piece in the centre of your garden. Using a feature piece such as a this is a great way of bringing a little extra something to your garden, it can provide a focal point can help bring a theme to the space or just provide some enjoyment. 

Picture Credit

Vegetable Patch

More and more people are growing their own veg these days (hands up to all you grow your own folk), and this really is a great way to reduce produce costs, while also providing you with a hobby that allows you to get outside – the allotment community is always growing! If you are able to grow your own veg, you will find that you spend a lot less at the supermarket and the produce you do grow, will taste so much better.

Growing vegetables is simple: you don’t always need a dedicated vegetable patch I have seen people grow tomatoes between their rose bushes, or cucumbers in containers by their back door, all you need is well-draining soil and a nice sunny spot (depending on what you want to grow). You can even purchase starter plants which removes the need to grow from seed.

As well as being useful and tasty, many vegetables produce beautiful flowers – providing you with a lovely splash of colour. I really would recommend growing your own to anyone looking for a rewarding project this year.

Picture Credit

Bold Statement Flowers

Finally, a brilliant way to really liven up your garden would be to add some bright and bold flowers. A great example of this is the sunflower, which is truly one of the gardener’s best friends for the way in which it grows fast, strong and has such a well-known distinctive and beautiful flower. Bees love sunflowers, they provide brilliant colour to the garden, and once the season is over you can use the seeds either for recipes, a snack or if you have hens, the heads are a great treat for them! 

Could you ask for anything better??

I hope you get some inspiration for your garden, and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Build Your Own Budget-Friendly Decking

Now that the weather is [finally] starting to warm up, if your anything like me, you are going to want to spend more time out in your garden, and what better way then to sit out on a DIY decking!

Decks are great for enjoying the summer sunshine, relaxing with family, and even entertaining guests. As the bridge between your indoor and outdoor life, they are a great way to extend the liveable areas of your home and increasing the value of your property, no matter the size of your garden.

If you’ve always dreamed of having your very own deck, the good news is that building one is possible with enough guidance – even on a budget!

Below are some steps to build your own outdoor sanctuary. So keep scrolling!


Image credit: Thomas J. Story

Step 1: Create your decking plan

Good planning and plenty of research is important to make the most of your available resources and avoid costly mistakes. Study the layout of your garden and where you would get the most from the decking.  Something important to consider is what the primary use will be for the decking – Will it be a hub for your thriving garden herbs, a centre for al fresco dining, a place to simply soak up some sun, or a combination of the three? What you plan on using it for can help decide where you should build it.

You can use decking to enhance your garden as a whole, too. Wood Magazine explains that even the most difficult problems like steep slopes and unsightly views can be easily solved through smart decking.


Image credit: Anthony Tieuli

Decisions like these will guide you when figuring out the size, shape, and layout of your project. Of course, smaller decks will be less expensive to build than larger ones, as is ground-level decking compared to raised or multi-level decking. (It might be worth noting now, that depending on your area and the size of the decking you will be building, you might need to look up your local laws and see whether you need to obtain any building permits)

Step 2: Lay down the foundations


Image credit: This Old House

Decks need a bottom supporting structure to ensure that the boards don’t touch the ground, which is especially necessary in our notoriously wet English climate. This is comprised of rim joists or beams, ledgers, and interior joists. A good foundation also ensures that the structural integrity of your deck will be strong enough for years of family use. I know that all sounds complicated, but with a little research anything is possible – and google is an amazing resource!


Image credit: David Carmack

To start, The Spruce recommends using stakes and a string to outline the shape. Using a shovel remove any grass and weeds within the area and level out the ground. If building next to the house – remove the trim and sliding where the ledger board will go.

As shown in the picture on the right, you cover the exposed sheathing with waterproof membrane to keep moisture out, and then install your ledger boards. These will anchor your deck to your existing house. Cut each joist to the right size you need and screw them together to build your frame. These will provide a level surface for your deck planks.

 

Step 3: Install decking boards

When it comes to the decking boards themselves, remember to choose carefully depending on how much you’re willing to spend not just during your construction, but also later on for maintenance. Decking boards and kits listed on Screwfix come in a variety of materials and finishes to suit every type of budget. A really popular type is composite boards, which are engineered from wood fibres and plastic that don’t stain or fade for up to 25 years. They’re typically low maintenance but can be a little more expensive initially. On the other hand, wood decking can be less pricey but will weather over time and have higher maintenance costs.

deck and garden of Chris and Mary Beddow
Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii

Image credit: Art Gray

Once the frame and foundations are in place, cut your decking boards.

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Methow Valley Cabin

These will be placed perpendicular to the frame using galvanised screws. Depending on the planks you buy, you may need to sand them down to get rid of splinters and rough edges.

An important step that you shouldn’t skip is to varnish your timber to protect your deck from rain and the sun’s heat. It will increase the life expectancy of the wood, and reduce your maintenance costs.

Step 4: Make it liveable

Image credit: Dominique Vorillon

The last step to building your deck is to make it comfortable for you and your family. Sunset Magazine suggests incorporating lighting, fencing, and railing to match your house’s style and suit your needs. You can also choose to add some shade by adding awnings or even training climbers to add shade through a pergola or trellis. Dress up your deck with furnishings, container plants, and even a hammock or two for the warm summer days ahead.


Image credit: Van Chaplin

Are you looking to add more to your backgarden?Maybe you’re thinking of adding a greenhouse and want to makeit yourself?

Check out my guide to building your own greenhouse. Where i provide a step by step review of how I am making it!

Alternatively, if you want to have a little project in the kitchen and enjoy the sweeter things in life, how about making homemade jam?

 

What ever you’re in the mood for making, have fun and enjoy the coming warm weather!

much love,

Build your own greenhouse – Part 2

Build your own greenhouse – Part 2

Phase Two is complete!

Today I completed the second phase of my little DIY project of building my own greenhouse (view phase one here) .

After the success I had last week (with the help of my family) I wanted to get this part done now, so it doesn’t delay me in the actual building of the greenhouse (I’m on a spring deadline!!)

The most important part of this stage was about not only making sure the slabs were level, but that they were level with each other as well. The timber frame will be sitting directly on these slabs (acting as a stone barrier between the frame and the ground) so if they arn’t level the frame won’t be! This can take longer than you may think as well, especially working on your own and if you have nearly no experience in this sort of thing – like me! I used some sand that had been left in the garden, which is a lot easier to deal with then the soil alone. Little by little I got them all level.

The next stage of the build is the most most exciting bit – to actually build the frame! I have a fair bit of reclaimed wood which I have been collecting in preparation of this project, so I will be building as much of it from that as I can, this is mainly to save as much money as possible, but I think I am going to end up buying some supplies to finish it.

In other news..

I managed to go to the local garden center and picked a couple of things this morning, including a 6.6 ft perma-tunnel ready for some early sowing, plenty of compost and a little ‘mushrooms growing kit’ which I mentioned in an earlier post. My other half doesn’t eat them, so this small kit should provide me with mushrooms for a while – the instructions say you can expect to get 3 harvests from this one kit which will be plenty. If they grow faster than I eat them I will put them in my dehydrator and store them for later use!

I also managed to finally do my seed order – something I have been meaning to do for some time now. I’ve only bought what seeds I need for the next few months, with the idea of spreading the cost by buying the rest nearer the time that they are needed.

I have de-weeded, turned over the soil and constructed the tunnel today as well, it always feels nice to start clearing space ready for the new years growth. I am hoping to sow seeds under the tunnel until the greenhouse is fully set up, as well as using the trough I have nearer the house (which will be used for my carrots and parsnips this year).

All in all, I’ve had a really productive weekend in the garden. This week is due to drop in temperature and there is a good chance of snow, so I’m not sure if I will be able to do much next weekend! If I can’t I will set up my mushrooms and start prepping the first lot of seeds ready to sow.

I would love to hear what you have been working on over the last few weeks in preparation for spring. Leave me a comment or send me an email. Advise is always welcome!

 

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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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!