Growing a Food Forest: lawns to food

a herb garden in the food forest
Herb garden of oregano, lemon balm, self-seeded borage, lovage, sage, bronze fennel, chives, parsley, rocket.

Growing your own food forest does not have to be hard work, nor do you have to own a massive garden to achieve it. You work with what space is available – you can even make a mini ‘forest’ of herbs and sprouts on a windowsill – and do what you have time for.

We’re gradually changing the grass/food ratio in our own garden. We built some raised beds out of old roofing tiles.

Sunflowers, kale, turnips, and flat leaf parsley that basically went rogue.

Kale is one tough cookie. It does well here in Northern Scotland and continues to produce leaves for two years.



A cheap packet of lettuce seeds from Lidl was sprinkled all over this (non-raised) new bed this year and two courgette plants were popped in among it. They’re doing really well. We use the lettuce in a ‘cut and come again’ way as you get a higher yield that way. It just keeps going.

bed of lettuce and courgettes (zucchini)
Lettuce, courgettes and nasturtium.

Potatoes are a really easy crop to grow. This year we planted mainly shops ones that had sprouted at the back of the fridge so they really didn’t cost anything and they have produced well. Admittedly, the Pentland Javelins we bought as seed potatoes have been somewhat more abundant.

Pentland Javelin potatoes freshly dug up
Freshly dug tatties.

Thompson and Morgan offer high quality seed potatoes, often on offer here.

Potatoes can also be grown in containers or even a bag of compost. We know one lady who threw some old sprouted ones into a half used bag of compost and left them all summer to find masses of lovely new tatties in the autumn.

Russian Red Kale – self seeds all over the place once you have it, and produces leaves like crazy.

We like to mix things up and plant a few flowers between. They’re good for attracting bees. Nasturtiums are also edible. Pallet bench in background…

Beets, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, sprig cabbage, chard, black kale, savoy cabbage growing in the food forest
This thickly planted bed contains beets, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, spring cabbage, chard, black kale, savoy cabbage (all grown from seed straight in the ground) and even a few strawberries.

Fruit bushes and trees are well worth the initial investment as they go on giving forever more and create shelter and the ‘foresty’ aspect of your food forest. Birds seem quite good at ‘planting’ the blackcurrant seeds; we’ve had some new ones come up in odd corners of the garden. They’re very low maintenance.

Apples and red and black currants in the food forest.
Apples and red and black currants

Latest seeds planted:

Planned next in the garden: a polytunnel to be constructed of recycled pallets and reclaimed plastic, and a big patch of Jerusalem Artichokes!

Also see our articles Free Food for information on foraging and Making Compost, Reducing Waste, Saving Money for more gardening advice.

A Secret Garden

The Secret Gardening Club is a free to join club for seasoned and beginner gardeners alike. They supply a huge range of high-quality plants at up to 70% discount. Subscribers can sign up and subsequently receive notification as soon as new stock is available.

The prices are so low due to their close working relationship with a number of reputable plant nurseries across the UK. They take any over-supply and pass the considerable discounts on to customers.

Recommended reading:

‘How to Grow Your Own Food: A Week-by-week Guide to Wild Life Friendly Fruit and Vegetable Gardening’ by Dirty Nails. This fabulous book takes you through the year, detailing what you can be planting, preparing, harvesting etc. each week. Humorously written, lots of information on wildlife is given throughout such as facts about badgers, woodpeckers and cuckoos. The book is very well indexed and has some lovely fruit and vegetable recipes too. A user-friendly title that’s sure to help you maximise your garden’s food production. Buy UK

Image93

‘Forest Gardening’ by Robert A de J Hart. Here the author details his garden – a miniature forest filled with an abundance of things to eat. This is low maintenance gardening once established with trees, bushes and perennial plants which provide both shelter and food. Included are recommended plants for different regions of the world – this book is a huge resource of information and inspiration. Buy UK

Creating a Forest Garden: Forest gardening is a novel way of growing edible crops – with nature doing most of the work for you. A forest garden is modelled on young natural woodland, with a wide range of crops growing in different vertical layers. Unlike in a conventional garden, there is little need for digging, weeding or pest control. Buy UK


Be rewarded the Web's Premiere Rewards Site

Frugal Spring: wild food, gardening, slippers…

Frugal Spring

Frugal Spring. We’re saying it’s spring because we’re so desperate for it to be so, and it may still feel like winter, but it WILL be spring VERY soon!

Wild garlic and nettles are already starting to grow in the garden and woods, great for recipes such as wild garlic pesto and nettle soup.

We’ve been doing a little bit of early gardening. In the pots pictured above are: red chilli seeds bought for 10p last autumn from Asda, coriander seeds from a Thompson and Morgan sale (their special offers are always worth checking out though we also saved the seeds from last year’s coriander and will be doing later plantings with them), rosemary that we grew from cuttings (so easy, just snip healthy looking bits and stick them in pots or the ground), and some thyme that was reduced to 30p in Tesco last year. These herbs have survived the winter well.

See our gardening/foraging/free food section here for more information.

The Cheap Slippers (and other clothes/shoes):
Everything5Pounds have their last winter sale on here with lots of things at £2.50 including some sweet slippers, unicorn style or Fairislse patterned!

Popular pages:
Cheap Holidays and Days Out
The 25p Meal
Make Money, Earn a Few Pounds

Bargain Food:
Low Price Foods
Approved Food

Frugal Spring

Featured Recipes:
Tomato Rice Soup
Leek and Potato Soup
Singapore Noodles
Beer Battered Onion Rings
Chocolate Cake

Wishing you all some lovely spring sunshine soon!

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!

Aberdeen’s 1597 witchcraft panic (mermaid) and 18th century kidnappings (fireflies) combine with love and hope in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR & FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE.

Both books are available on Kindle Unlimited and from the library!

Potato Broccoli Croquettes, a #nowaste recipe

potato broccoli croquettes, a no waste recipe

These potato broccoli croquettes are absolutely delicious, frugal and a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.

The Frugal Story of the Plate

The mashed potato we’ve mentioned, but the broccoli came from an Olio Food Hero who had been given 78 heads of the stuff by Tesco. (Olio is a food sharing app, search for it on your phone or it’s on the web here). We took a box from her for the compost (compost post here) as there was no way she could give all that away, but we used as much broccoli as possible in our meals during that week! The cornbread in the picture also came from Olio; the food heroes always have LOTS of bread, much of which gets binned if it doesn’t get requested quickly enough.

The hummus on the bread, we won in an Instagram competition. See our sister site’s account here where we share a lot of these tag and like competitions on the story. Feel free to tag us if you want! The chilli contained 2 peppers from one of those £1.50 big veg boxes Lidl sometimes put together. They usually contain at least £10 of food. In our local Lidl they seem to only appear early in the morning at weekends. The chilli also had a tin of mixed beans from Lidl and we used the water from the can as well as the cooking water from the broccoli earlier. There’s nothing particularly frugal about the salad…

Be rewarded the Web's Premiere Rewards Site

Potato Broccoli Croquettes Ingredients

  • Mashed Potatoes (we used roughly a soup bowl sized amount for four people to have 5 or 6 croquettes each)
  • half a head of broccoli, lightly steamed or boiled
  • a tablespoon of chickpea flour (gram flour). Other flour will do too.
  • optional: other leftovers. We had a small amount of veggie haggis in there too.
  • we also put in a little sourdough starter discard in to save wasting it (sourdough post here) but it’s not actually required.
  • a teaspoon of mustard, but you can use any herbs or spices you like to flavour these up.
  • a little salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs to coat. Crushed potato crisps also work well.
  • a tablespoon of oil for shallow frying

Method

  • Chop the broccoli into small pieces and mix it into the mash with any other leftovers and mustard/spices/salt you’re using.
  • Prepare some breadcrumbs on a dish for rolling the croquettes in.
  • Form the mixture into small sausage shapes – if it’s too wet and sticky, add more flour.
  • Roll them in the crumbs and lay on a plate ready for frying. These can be prepared earlier and left to sit in the fridge until needed.
  • Shallow fry them, turning at least once during the frying process, until nice and crispy brown.
  • We served them with a homemade garlic mayo dip (recipe here). It went really well with them.

If you liked these potato broccoli croquettes, check out our other frugal recipes here.

Other no waste recipes on site:

In other news, the Jerusalem Artichokes we mentioned in our frugal living basics post finally got planted! Check out our free food and gardening page here.

Jerusalem Artichoke in the ground

The Secret Gardening Club always have great offers of overstock from nurseries:

Books

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

Set in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

Paperbacks and kindle on Amazon UK and  Amazon Worldwide and all good book shops and even the library!

“Ailish Sinclair spins this Scottish tale filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

Frugal Living Basics and Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes and Garlic to be planted

Happy New Year!

It’s wintry here in Scotland. Of course it is. It’s January after all. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have garden plans. Above are Jerusalem Artichokes (like wee nutty potatoes, but plant once and have them forever) and some garlic bulbs that sprouted in the fridge. This is a good time for planting both. We just have to brave the cold and dig them in now! See our gardening/foraging/free food section here and Jerusalem Artichokes here from Thompson and Morgan.

But on to the Frugal Basics, great for a new year and a new start. One of the quickest ways to start reducing your spending is to rein in the food bill. See our food shopping tips here and all our frugal recipes here.

frugal recipes

Also see:
Frugal Living Around the House
Cheap Holidays and Days Out
Healthy Eating on a Budget
The 25p Meal
Sourdough Bread for Pennies

Some cheap places to shop online:

Low Price Foods
Approved Food
Everything5Pounds (clothes etc.)

Featured Recipes:

Wishing you all a happy and fruitful 2022!

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!

Red Dragon Pie and Bargain Seeds

red dragon pie

This Red Dragon Pie was inspired by a recipe in the classic book Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen (BBC cookery series). Topped with creamy mash, the base is a rich mix of aduki beans – traditionally said to give you the strength of the dragon – and brown rice in gravy.

Red Dragon Pie Ingredients (serves six)

  • Aduki beans, 200g dried and soaked overnight or two tins of cooked ones
  • 200g of rice (brown is best)
  • 4 sticks of celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs (or fresh, lots of parsley is great)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • a teaspoon of yeast extract or vecon stock
  • salt, if needed
  • Potatoes, mashed with margarine and milk of your choice, for topping

Red Dragon Pie Method

Soak beans overnight if using dried ones. Place in a  large pan, cover well with water, bring to the boil and let simmer for a couple of hours until soft. Throw in the rice about half way through cooking. Add more water if needed. Once it’s all nearly cooked add the vegetables and boil a pan of potatoes for your mash topping, quantity up to you. We do like a nice thick layer of mash.

Frugal Potato Tip

Leave those skins on! It saves waste and money to not throw away a section of potato. Just give them a good scrub and cut any gnarly or bad bits off and you’re good to go (compost those gnarlies!). The skins are rich in both fibre and vitamins too. For mashing we cut them up quite small to save having large bits of skin in the mix; they also cook faster that way, saving cooking fuel.

Method cont.

As the beans and potatoes cook , add the herbs, puree and yeast extract to the bean mixture. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir well. Drain and mash the potatoes with marg and milk. Place the bean mix in an ovenproof dish, if not already using one, and top with the potatoes. Easier if using cookware that transfers from hob to oven such as a Cast Iron Casserole – and bake in a hot oven (200C/400F) until nicely browned. Running a fork round the top of your mash gives it lots of nice little crispy bits to brown.

Enjoy your Red Dragon Pie! Try our other frugal recipes here

beans for red dragon pie
Tinned beans from supermarkets: Tesco’s Adukis and Lidl’s mixed beans which do contain some adukis.

Thompson and Morgan have a seed sale on for the next 48 hours (time of writing 22nd October 2021 but they usually have good deals on)! Stock up on seeds for next year for £1. See the selection here and use code TM_TN2468W for the cheap price.

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic while FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children of Aberdeen.

The blend of dark events and romance in these stories is perfect for Autumn!

Paperback & kindle: http://author.to/mermaid

Novels by Ailish Sinclair

Newsletter: it’s all about the tatties today!

tatties

First up, soup of tatties. It’s simple and Scottish, it’s delicious and it’s a new recipe on site. Also told, is the frugal story of the plate of food above. See it here.

Composting Fun and Tatties

Admittedly this is only partly about tatties. We have a new article here on making compost to reduce waste and save money. There’s also a section on growing no-dig potatoes.

Great recipes for October

Blended Soups
Roast Pumpkin and Garlic Pasta
Chick Pea Curry
Mushroom Gravy
Banana Raisin Flapjacks

Popular Pages and Posts
Healthy Eating and Exercising on a Budget
Books on Frugal Living
Frugal Christmas

As the world opens up again
House sitting and/or pet sitting can be cheap ways to holiday. TrustedHousesitters have owners registered in over 130 countries, from townhouses in London to renovated farmhouses in Tuscany. For all our advice on holidays, days out, railcards, motorway secrets and more go here!

In case you missed it last time:
Use code FREE10 for £10 off at Flava Buy Now Pay Later Supermarket. Not a discount store but they do always have some offers for pennies and there’s no credit checks or interest.

Stay warm and well fed as the season gets colder…

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!

Making Compost, Reducing Waste, Saving Money

making compost in recycled pallet containers
Making compost in recycled pallet containers

Making compost is a great way to reduce waste and nourish the soil. It also saves money if you are in the habit of buying ready made compost. And it’s easy.

Making Compost in Triple Bins

Above are our triple compost bins made from old pallets. They are the perfect size for hot composting (faster composting) as you want your pile to be 3 feet wide x 3 feet high to make sure it heats up in the middle. You can, of course, just make it in a pile or heap. The idea behind having three bins is to have one that you’re adding material to, one that’s being left to rot down (usually for 6 or 7 months) and one that’s finished and being used in the garden or pots.

making compost from kitchen scraps and other materials

What to Put in the Compost

  • kitchen scraps of raw vegetable origin (cooked food will moulder)
  • used tea bags
  • coffee grounds
  • grass cuttings
  • leaves and twigs
  • weeds that have not gone to seed
  • garden waste such as dead or finished plants
  • seaweed
  • hair and nail trimmings
  • the contents of your hoover bag/bin
  • ripped up cardboard, the lower quality the better

You’re looking to get a good variety of layers in there to balance the nitrogen from green things and the carbon from brown things.

Be rewarded the Web's Premiere Rewards Site

Doing It Wrong Can Be Right!

When we first started composting we did it all wrong in this container:

making compost in a plastic container

We used exclusively kitchen scraps which went a bit smelly and gooey. However, after about a year the goo did return to being basically soil and proved to be an exceedingly rich food for the plants. The ones that had a layer of this fertiliser in their pots or beds grew significantly larger than the ones that didn’t. So it can be done like that, even if you don’t want to use it for growing; it still reduces waste and returns veg scraps to the soil. The ground around compost bins always becomes beautifully rich, as you can see with the nettles above. And we don’t mean to knock the plastic bins – they can be very handy for smaller spaces.

making compost and growing squash

We intend using the wee boxes at the base of our pallet bins above to grow squash in next year.

No Dig Potatoes

Another use for cardboard in the garden is to lay it down on the ground to prepare the soil to be used in a “no dig” manner. The grass will rot away and you’ll be left with bare soil. We’re doing it over winter for next spring’s growing. We’ll then lay the seed potatoes on the ground without digging and cover them in a thick layer of grass cuttings which we will replenish throughout the summer. Potatoes should grow well in that – we will report back!

no dig poatatoes
Weighed down with old roof tiles.

Related posts

sunflower
A sunflower growing by the upcycled polytunnel (more to come on that later).

The Secret Gardening Club always have great offers of overstock from nurseries:

Cheap Plants! In a secret garden…

cheap plants
We’re perusing the herbs…

Cheap Plants alert! The Secret Gardening Club is a free to join club for seasoned and beginner gardeners alike. They supply a huge range of high-quality plants at up to 70% discount. Subscribers can sign up and subsequently receive notification as soon as new stock is available.

The prices are so low due to their close working relationship with a number of reputable plant nurseries across the UK. They take any over-supply and pass the considerable discounts on to customers.

Well worth a look for cheap plants, with a 10% off deal just now when you sign up for their newsletter.

Related posts

Autumnal Cooking and Garden Capers

autumnal cooking
leek and potato soup

That Autumnal Feeling…

There’s a definite quality to the sunshine and breeze now. It’s autumn here in Scotland. The leaves are just starting to turn and it’s weather for soup and time to start thinking about log fires.

Autumnal Cooking

Leek and Potato Soup, pictured above. Included are two recipes, one very basic and mashed and the other a little fancier with peas.
Roast Pumpkin and Garlic Pasta, works well with butternut squash too.
Roast Potatoes with lots of variations detailed.
Chick Pea Curry
Apple Pie and Fruit Crumble

Garden Capers

We’re busy in the garden building new compost bins with reclaimed pallets. You can read about some of our other upcycled pallet projects here. We’ve also been sowing coriander, radishes and winter lettuce.

Useful YouTube Channels

Bonny Prepping Quine: building an old style kitchen pantry for food security.
Huw Richard’s frugal and free gardening advice.

In case you missed it last time

Olio is an app that you can download to your phone to share food in your local area. People share things that they can’t use up in time, while farmers and gardeners sometimes offer produce that they have too much of. We’ve added this information to our free food section but you can just search for the app.

Cheap Food and Clothing

Clearance food outlets Low Price Foods and Approved Foods are well worth a regular check as they get new products in often.

Everything5Pounds: the £2.50 sale is still ongoing. This is the longest we’ve ever seen it last!

May autumn bring you lots of beautiful sunny days and delicious autumnal cooking!

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!

Food Sharing, Cheap Seeds and Websites

Food sharing…

Olio is a food sharing app that you can download to your phone to give or receive food in your local area. It does have a desktop version too. People share things that they can’t use up in time, while farmers and gardeners sometimes offer produce that they have too much of. We’ve added this information to our free food section but you can just search for the app!

Cheap Seeds

Thompson and Morgan have an amazing seed deal on: 10 packs for £10. Go here for the seed selection which contains over 300 types of fruit and vegetables, many usually costing £3.99 each. Offer ends midnight 25th of August 2021 or as long as stock lasts.

Use code TM_TAW61W at checkout to make sure you get the offer price for the seeds.

Making Money From a Website

We’ve updated this information on our make money page. Base it on something you’re passionate about and we’re sure you’ll fly!

In case you missed it last time

House and/or pet sitting can be a great way to get cheap holidays. Trusted Housesitters are active in over 130 countries and you can register as a sitter here, or look for a sitter of course! See all our other frugal holiday and days out tips here.

All Our Frugal Recipes

For all our soups, sides, mains and puds go here.

Cheap Food and Clothing

Clearance food outlets Low Price Foods and Approved Foods are well worth a regular check as they get new products in often.

Everything5Pounds: the £2.50 sale is still ongoing.

Happy food sharing, and seed gathering!

All at Frugal Living in the UK
http://www.frugal.org.uk

and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frugaluk
and now, Facebook!