Frugal Garden: recycling, compost, self-seeding

frugal garden - meadow
Ox eye daisies in the meadow

The frugal garden has been somewhat neglected due to health problems here this year. But nature carries on regardless. Things still grow. And now a little catch up is happening, slowly, as can be managed.

Frugal Garden: Polytunnel

Life goes on in the polytunnel. This was built of pallets and food hygiene plastic discarded by a food factory. Cardboard box path.

frugal garden: polytunnel built from recycled materials
Polytunnel interior

You can see nasturtiums which self-seeded from last year and lettuce seedlings from a cheap pack of Lidl seeds which we just scattered onto a layer of homemade compost (see compost post here). Last year’s winter lettuce, kale and cabbage are still providing copious leaves. Some beans have been planted in the gaps. And some things have grown out of the compost by themselves:

A sturdy butternut squash grows among pak choi seedlings. Some tomato plants have come up like this too.

Upcycling

The latest upcycled pallet project, a corner seating unit, just in need of facings:

frugal garden: pallet furniture

Our favourite place to buy seeds (apart from Lidl!)

Thompson and Morgan because the seeds (and plants) are super high quality and always grow.

Other frugal garden posts and pages

Frugal Holidays

House sitting and/or pet sitting can be a simple way to get really cheap holidays or maybe even free ones if you don’t have to travel far. TrustedHousesitters have owners registered in over 130 countries, from townhouses in London to renovated farmhouses in Tuscany, apartments in New York to beach homes in Hawaii. They connect pet and home owners with reliable sitters, saving costs for both home and pet owners, and sitters looking to travel and stay somewhere new. You can register as either a sitter or an owner on their site with a range of membership options available.

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.

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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:

Bargain Alert: plants and bulbs!

Thompson and Morgan have a sale on their high quality plants and bulbs at the moment. With up to 75% off, it’s a great way to pick up some bargain plants! There’s a lot of flowers in the sale but some fruit bushes and rhubarb too, and those just keep on giving year after year.

This is the sale link valid 12th to 18th of August 2021, but if the offer doesn’t go through at checkout, use the code TM_TAW60W.

bargain plants

This is the time of year that many shops and garden centres reduce certain items so keep your eyes peeled for bargain plants elsewhere too.

Related posts:
Growing a Food Forest, lawns to food
Bargain Alert: cheap seeds and grains



Newsletter: food forests and frugal gardening

frugal gardening

There’s a new article up on site about growing a food forest, turning lawns to food, though this concept can be as small as a windowsill of herbs and sprouts. See the article and read about our frugal gardening ways here.

Super Cheap Food
We also posted about some really cheap seeds and store cupboard grains we found in Asda here (still there last weekend).

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

Cheap Clothes
Everything5Pounds: exactly what it says, though there are still some items in their £2.50 sale.

Featured Seasonal Recipes:
Bramble Chocolate Chip Cakes
Radish Top Soup
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
Apple Pie

May the August sun shine brightly down upon you and your frugal gardening!

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

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



Sourdough Bread for Pennies – easy too!

sourdough bread decorated with parsley
A somewhat volcanic loaf, decorated with flat leaf parsley

Sourdough bread is absolutely delicious and can be really easy and cheap to make. It’s the way bread was made for thousands of years, containing healthy bacteria for the gut, and the long fermenting process partly breaks down and digests the gluten. We’re not experts by any means, and are quite lazy bakers, but we’re successfully making lovely sourdough for pennies. Tesco sometimes sell off 1kg bags of plain flour for 15p (in baskets round the store) and those are what we’ve been using here, each one making just over two loaves.

We made this starter recipe using grapes and it certainly created a wonderfully frothy active starter that sits on a windowsill and is called Herbert! There was no wasting the discard when we first fed Herbert; we made pizza dough and left it to sit all day, then topping with tomato sauce, tomatoes and Asda free from Mozzarella (they have much cheaper free from cheese than the other supermarkets). It was gorgeous.

sourdough pizza

There’s a basic sourdough bread recipe here. What follows are our lazy variations!

The first bread we made was a herby olive oil focaccia. We kneaded the dough once, coated in herbs and olive oil and left it to rise all day in a tin before baking late afternoon along with dinner. It tasted amazing.



Then we tried olive bread, and returned to the dough after a couple of hours and gave it a second kneading and shaping. This one was left to rise overnight and baked in the morning. Again, the taste of this stuff is delectable.

It was great sliced up and served with our tomato rice soup.

Artisan Sourdough Made Simple

The loaf pictured at the top of the page was the result of putting it into an oven that was not pre-heated (told you, no expertise here). The high rise happened during the lower temperatures, and we love it.

For a more expert view and LOTS of ideas, we highly recommend the book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Delicious Handcrafted Bread with Minimal Kneading. We’re going to be trying a jalapeño bread from there soon.

And in the garden we’ve been sowing some seeds that are good to put in during July:

potato patch poppy
A frilly red poppy popped up in the potato patch!


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