Getting Our Urban Mini-Farm Ready For Spring

THE GARDEN IS NOW CLEAR! F**K YES!!!!!! You have no idea how much this means!!

So we have now been in our new home for 6 months. That’s gone bloody quickly! When we first moved in we had the challenge of cutting back the (very) neglected garden, working out what was underneath the 6ft grass, pulling out the rubbish, numerous tip runs and replacing the patio and some of the fencing.

My dad working hard!
My dad working hard!

Then winter hit. Cold, wet and at times rather unbearable.

Our attention turned to inside of the house. We started painting the kitchen first, then the hallway followed by the living room. We reopened the fireplace in the lounge, which is now fully functional at keeping us warm. All of our windows and doors are being replaced on Monday. It’s been a very tough journey with a lot of surprises (including a huge hole in a floorboard with an open gas pipe poking out- next to the fireplace. Gulp) but slowly our house started to resemble our home. There has been a lot of tears, but considering we have done it all on a tight budget (AKA: NO F***ING BUDGET) we have done a grand job.

My Dad and Jay put up the new fence.
My Dad and Jay put up the new fence.

On Sunday we wrapped up warm and drafted in an extra pair of hands in the form of my good friend (and pyro buddy) Danii. The piles of old wood left from the previous tenant was to be chopped and burnt. Sadly hardly any of it was useful for burning inside in our open free because much of it had been treated or was growing mould. We did manage to save a few railway sleepers and floorboards, which I shall use around the veg plot. The piles of rubbish (you don’t even want to know what we found in there) was sorted and sent to the tip. Old bricks were piled up for later use.

The bonfire made a fine mess.
The bonfire made a fine mess.

I started burning the wood in our old washing machine drum, converted into a fire pit. Works great when it’s only really good for a small amount of wood. But after an hour of constantly feeding the little thing, it became clear that we were getting nowhere fast. So we built a massive bonfire. Burnt all the sh*t within a few hours. It went up so fast that I am pretty sure our neighbours were curtain twitching very nervously, fingers hovering over 999 on their phones. But it got the job done. In fact it got the job done so efficiently that we actually began looking for stuff to burn. Instead of just looking at any patch of land and seeing crap to be gotten rid of, we were rubbish free.


Suddenly the garden looked 10x bigger. We now have space for growing food. Our main goal. The reason we took on this huge project. The next task is clearing away all of the ash from the bonfire, making the shed water tight and praying every night that the muddy ‘grass’ starts to grow back.

…And then I remembered the space behind the shed, which was also used as a dumping ground. We shall tackle that space next weekend and get our greenhouses up. But over all I am feeling really positive and very, very excited for what the year has to bring.


Happy #WorldSoilDay!

Happy World Soil Day, sounds weird doesn’t it?


How much do you know about soil? It’s something that most people don’t really think about. As an amateur gardener and someone who spends a LOT of time outside, I look at mud a lot. I have 3 small girls, 2 dogs and 3 cats. That muddy stuff seems to bring itself into my house too, so for me, it’s really unavoidable.

Here are a few little muddy facts to celebrate World Soil Day 2016!

  • The Oxford dictionary defines soil as :[mass noun] The upper layer of earth in which plants grow, a black or dark brown material typically consisting of a mixture of organic remains, clay, and rock particles.
  • There are 3 main types- clay, loamy and chalky.
  • It is made from a variety of matters. Bashed up rock, sand, clay, salt, water, and organic material- such as dead rotting plants and (no longer living) beings.
  • 1 handful of ‘ground dirt’ contains more living organisms than people of earth. FYI there are 7.125 billion living humans living on Earth. Wow.
  • 0.1% of the Earths water is held in mud.
  • It takes a minimum of 500 years to make 1 inch of top soil.
  • 10% of the worlds Carbon Dioxide emissions is stored in mud. The more we did this up – via aggressive farming and construction the more Carbon Dioxide is released into our atmosphere. Global warming sucks remember.
  • 15 tonnes of soil passes through an Earth worm each year!

But why?

The more we look at soil, and what it’s purpose is, the more clear it becomes that we must look after our soil. The soil we stand on is under threat, from constant man made effects such as construction, deforestation, mass farming (livestock and plant based) and  irresponsible mining. Its easy to forget something like soil, after all it’s just mud. But if we abuse it where would we grow our food? How would we survive? It isn’t just mud, it’s literally our world.
For more information about #WorldSoilDay and why we need to protect it, visit the FAO website.

Also, please take a moment to vote for The Newhouse Family in the UK Blog Awards. All it takes is an email address. Choose ‘Green and Eco’ in the drop-down list.