Posts Tagged ‘Garden’

Building compost bins – from pallets

Slowly I’m catching up with all the fun things we’ve been up to this year. Back in August the old plastic compost bin we inherited with the house finally started to collapse, leaving us with a leaning-tower-of-compost. Compost is such crucial food for our depleted soil we decided that a serious solution was in order. I’d heard about people building compost bins out of pallets, so we gave it a go, with the help of this “How to build a compost bin from pallets” tutorial from Gardeners World, and the left-over Aquaponic gravel pallets.

I’ve hacked space for them out of the 2m-thick evergreen hedge at the bottom of the garden, behind the polytunnel. and made two at once. It was a pretty easy one-person job:

They’ve been great – we have one-and-a-half full, so nw we’re just waiting to see how the first lot turns out. I already have plans to add a third!

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Books: Food from Your Garden and Allotment

This book is one of my guilty little secrets! How can anyone be really serious about gardening with a book from Reader’s Digest?

Now that the secret is out however, I have to say that if I could only keep one book from our library it would be this one. It has everything you need to know, about almost every type of fruit and veg that you’re likely to grow. It’s simple, clearly laid out, well indexed, packed with great pictures and illustrations, and very very unpretentious.

My only criticism is that it could have done with being more comprehensively updated from the 1977 original. There a several newly-fashionable plants you won’t find in here, and there is an over-dependence on chemical solutions that you don’t tend to find in most modern books.

So, as you may have guessed, this book is another one to buy. Don’t bother with getting a copy from the library – I did initially, but went straight out to buy one as soon as I had the chance. Please order it from your local bookshop, but if you have to buy it online please follow this Amazon link – Food from Your Garden and Allotment, and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

Books: John Seymour’s Complete Book of Self Sufficiency

In our eclectic library of green and gardening books, this is one of my favourites. I combines being a coffee-table “pretty” book and a great starting point for most smallholding topics. There are a couple of sections that I find invaluable: there is a better guide to deep digging than that inHow to Grow more Vegetables; and I find the crop rotation guide, and pictures of the vegetable beds through the year, to be the clearest I’ve read – it’s what inspired our Crop Rotation fantasy plan. But most of all, I like the fact that it has a couple of pages on any topic that might interest me – from bees to chickens, building a storeroom to preserving, and it has the ultimate dream – plans for mini-farming five acres.

The book is beautifully produced, the illustrations are a delight, and the content is relevant and comprehensive. This is another book I’d recommend buying – it’s something to refer to on-and-off for ever.

Please order it from your local bookshop, but if you have to buy it online please follow this Amazon link – The Complete Book of Self-sufficiency and the Trafford Eco House will get some money from your purchase (it won’t cost you any more).

How much food can you grow around your house?

Another great interview from Peak Moment TV. One woman’s experiment to see how much food she could grow from her own garden. She has bees, chickens and rainwater harvesting – it’s an inspiring video – take half an hour to watch, or at least listen, to one person’s view on sustainability and resilience – and the fun she has.

How much food would you like to grow?

If you’re serious about growing your own food, you need to look at Growing Power in Milwaukee. Here are the headlines:

  • Three acres
  • 450,ooo kg of food a year
  • 10,000 fish

Show me a non-aquaponic system that can produce that! Take 5 minutes of your life and look at a non-profit doing something amazing:

Still harvesting!



In spite of the snow and big freeze before Christmas (it got down below -10c) we have been able to keep harvesting food from the aquaponics and under the fleece tunnels. The pic on the left is perennial spinach, and the one below is the first of our aquaponic leeks heading for the dinner table.

And here’s some of our Ruby Pak Choi:

Saving Poppy seeds

As the snow has finally gone and the temperature is heading up into double figures we’ve been taking the opportunity to get back out into the garden and get it ready for the new growing season. As part of that tidying up we started weeding some of the more overgrown areas of the garden and found the heads of the beautiful pale-pink poppies that had self-seeded in the summer. They were looking a bit ragged but rattled slightly as they moved, suggesting they might still have some seeds inside.

My daughter and I carefully shook them out and here’s the result – hundreds of seeds! I’m hoping they’ll germinate ok and that next summer we’ll have patches of beautiful poppies all over the garden.

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