Self Sufficiency Update

Spring has truly arrived! Yesterday the clocks went forward, the evenings are now longer and the garden has started to wake and burst into life. Everything feels great! We have been so busy over the last few weeks preparing for the upcoming season.

Regular readers of my blog will know that we have been striving to live a more self sufficient lifestyle. 19 months ago we moved house, to a place with a much larger garden- room for our flock of hens and living a grow-your-own life. Last summer we grew lots of food (more courgettes than any human could eat!) but this year we want to do more… lots more! We have an insane amount of space and with some clever planning, we could have our own dream urban mini-farm. We could grow enough food to feed us daily, and preserve some to last over the winter season too.

Waste Free Garden

2 weeks ago, I made a huge decision to try and drastically reduce the amount of waste we create as a family. Part of this was also to ditch plastics and try my hardest to not purchase any more items that contain plastic. It suddenly occurred to me that there were so many plastics found around my garden. Plant pots, compost bags, plant labels… the list goes on. The best method to reduce the amount of new plastic bought into the garden is to reuse as much as you can. Plant pots can all be used and used again, as can plant labels. If I need more labels, I simply cut up a margarine tub and make my own! We make our own compost, but we do need to top up with shop purchased stuff from time to time. This can only be bought wrapped in a large plastic bag. Really darn annoying!

So far this year  I haven’t bought any new plastics for the garden (except for 2 plants, that came in good reusable pots!). We put up a new fence this weekend, and the only waste to come from that job was the plastic bags that the Postcrete came in… 4 small bags in total. But, the job had to be done.

The New Fence

This job was meant to be done last summer, but we never did get around to it. Our dog Scrapper loves to sit and watch the chickens. But unfortunately, he also likes to chase the chickens from time to time. When he does this he just runs straight across the vegetable patches, churning up seeds, knocking the tops off my garlic,  uprooting the onion sets… it’s carnage and stressful. So, we decided to partition off the garden. The top half is now for the kids and the dog. The bottom half is for intensive vegetable growing and the chickens!

Huge thanks to my hubby Jay, who completely surprised me with the new fence after I popped out for 2 hours and came home to his wonderful creation. I painted it… HA!

Digging, Digging and More Digging!

I feel like we have spent the best part of the last 2 weeks digging! The whole bottom half of the garden needed turning over ready for the vegetables to go in. We have a large garden so lots of space for growing.

Unfortunately, the garden had been somewhat neglected by the previous owners. It’s taken 18 months to get the garden completely clear and restored. Last year we grew a lot of food, but this year we are we are growing 6 times as much… in 3 huge beds. As I dig new beds, we are finding lots of rubbish (most of it plastic) and some of this rubbish we have been able to date back to the 80’s! Check out this Milkybar Buttons packet from 1987, sat below the soil for over 30 years. A huge reminder of how vile rubbish can be, and how long it lasts too!

 

Planting Seeds

Lots of things are being sown at the moment. I have broad beans, onions, garlic, beetroot, parsnips, spring onions, carrots, aubergines, tomatoes, chilli peppers, cucumbers, courgette, peas, cabbage, brussel sprouts, strawberries, and sweetcorn to name a few, all growing nicely. There are still lots more to plant and the season is just beginning! If you would like to see what gardening jobs you can do in March, head over to my helpful post here.

The kids are now wanting to join me more in the garden and are asking for their very own little veg patch. Willow came with me seed shopping a few weeks back and chose some wonderful beans to sow. I am so proud that my children love spending time outside and have such an interest in growing food. Many children, unfortunately, don’t know where much of their food comes from, but seeing my girls understand the earth, seasons, weather and science behind gardening fills me full of confidence for their future!

Author: Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 young daughters, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting brands.

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