Category Archives: Selfsufficiency

Growing our own

Finally, spring has sprung! This afternoon we got out into the garden to get some jobs done. Mr S dug up and moved the compost heap as it had been invaded by bindweed so the compost was unusable, whilst I dug over one of the veg plots. 

We have decided to sow wild flowers on one of the plots this year. We were short of time last summer and cultivating, harvesting and preserving everything felt stressful. If I didn’t work full time I would grow a lot more but it is difficult to find the time. So this year we will stick with a few crops that we know are likely to do well: perpetual spinach, runner beans, courgettes, broad beans and chard. We shall also grow tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse. Keeping it simple, but still growing some of our own food. A wildflower garden will be lovely too!

We have blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries and a few apples as well, but they take very little work. So healthy and delicious.

I just loved getting outside. I am sure we must both be lacking vitamin D, we have been cooped up so much!

We went to see my lovely Mum in hospital this morning. Her hip replacement operation seemed to go well. She was a little uncomfortable but not in great pain. I will pop in again on my way home from work tomorrow. She has had a steady stream of family in today so she might actually enjoy some peace when we are all back at work tomorrow 😀.

Have a good week. Bye for now.

How long could you live on NO money?

Here is another excellent book for my frugal bookshelf – The Moneyless Man: a year of freeconomic living by Mark Boyle.

It was written as a response to the author’s observation about how disconnected we are to what we consume. We rarely stop to think about where the products we purchase come from, who produced them, what their social and environmental cost was or how destructive some of our shopping habits are. As he says, ‘If we all had to grow our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it…If we had to make our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior decor’.

He decided that for one year he would not receive or spend money. He lived off grid in a caravan he got from Freecycle. He parked it on a farm in return for his labour. He built a compost toilet and grew much of his own food. He also ate waste food rescued from supermarket skips and foraged wild food. He relied on a bicycle for transport and, since he couldn’t pay anyone when it needed repair, had to do himself. He made home-brew – the point wasn’t to be austere and joyless, and fun was allowed!

Although I couldn’t see myself living in this way, reading this book made me realise how much I could do without and still live a happy and comfortable life with less damage to the environment. The story of Mark Boyle’s year without money is extraordinary and hugely inspiring.

You can, of course, order it for free from the library, but if you choose to purchase it through my link I will receive a small commission.

An evening pottering

I should be out sorting the mess that is the garden but I had a busy day learning first aid today so I’m having a constructive potter around. It gets dark early too so it would be a rush! I have packaged a couple of items I sold on eBay, sorted a mass of laundry, given the kitchen a clean, stewed a load of windfall apples to go in the freezer and I am about to do a pile of ironing. After that I will do a yoga session. Gentle but busy!

Mr S is out and DD3 is at her boyfriend’s house so it is just me and the cats. I quite like having the house to myself sometimes!

Anyone else enjoying a potter?

All is not lost!

Yesterday I blogged that there had been a few disasters with the veg growing this year. Well, I went down to water the patch this morning and things are looking up! 

The runner beans that survived the slugs have suddenly become super productive, the courgettes have all grown a lot in the last few days and I can see some baby courgettes on the way, there are masses of cucumbers and we still have lots of broadbeans coming. We have hit the time of year when I can more or less stop buying salads and veg for a while.

We even have some lovely blueberries. The first year our little bush has produced this many. So I have blueberries on my porridge today – lots of healthy antioxidants!

We said goodbye to our French student this morning. I had an early start as I had to drop him for the coach at 7 am. This is why I had time to look at the garden and blog before work! He was a pleasure to host, so polite and thoughtful. I have two more next week so I hope they are as nice!

Do you grow your own?

Blackberries and raspberries from the garden

One of our money saving schemes is to grow as much fruit and veg as we can. We are constrained by the amount of time it takes to sow and plant out, prepare the soil, feed, water, weed and ultimately harvest. We both work full time and, although we love getting outside, we don’t want to spend all our precious spare time working in the garden. I also need time to preserve some of the harvest so I freeze what I can as it is, make soup for the freezer too and some preserves when I have enough fruit.

We are lucky if course to have a big enough garden to do this. I know that some people have to wait months or years to get a council allotment.

This year has been a mixed bag. Two crops we can usually rely on have been rubbish! The courgettes have failed to thrive and the runner beans got eaten by slugs. The tomatoes looked fantastic but are showing slight signs of possible blight. The carrots either failed to become seedlings or were eaten immediately, I’m not sure. We do have a few growing in an old recycling bin though 😀. The spinach also bolted as I put it in a sunny spot then we didn’t water it enough and the raspberries were smothered in bindweed so we have just a few. 

However, we have fabulous beetroot, leeks, cucumbers, redcurrants, broad beans, some chard coming on and sprouts which have so far avoided being decimated by cabbage whites, as happened last year. The neighbour’s blackberries tip over to our side and they are already ripening. Not our best year, but not a complete failure!

I think it is just about worth the effort. Do you grow your own? Do you think it saves you money?

More dental woes, and preserving the summer glut for a frugal winter

  I can’t believe I am still suffering from dental pain! I went to the dentist and he said it was a cracked filling then booked me in for a months time! The pain went from bed to excruciating over the weekend and I had to find an emergency dentist on Sunday morning who told me I had an infection so she couldn’t do anything except give me antibiotics and to go back to my regular dentist.  I have an appointment tomorrow and just hope he can sort it. 

  However it still hurts a lot and I have had two days off work with it – very unusual for me but I can’t sleep and am a bit out of it with all the painkillers I have been taking. I can’t believe one little tooth can cause so much trouble, and I daren’t think how much it will cost if I have to have a root canal treatment. I am seriously considering dental insurance for the future. I have rarely had problems, but I’m getting older and so are my gnashers!!

  I tried to distract myself today by pickling more cucumbers, making tons of courgette soup for the freezer and making a nice vat of ratatouille for tea tonight, which is soft enough for me to eat if I mash it up a bit. I feel like a baby!! All my food is currently in purée form.

The courgettes, tomatoes, peppers and onions in the ratatouille are all from the veg patch, so I am very happy with that. It’s delicious, if I say so myself.

Thd pickled cucumber recipe is here if you fancy it. It’s really yummy, sweet and crunchy!