This is something I have been meaning to do since the start of the year, a monthly allotment update. So here I am starting bang smack in the middle of summer instead with my July update.
I think July is a much nicer time of year to start documenting my efforts actually. As everything is growing mega fast with all this balmy hot weather we’ve been having. Each time I go out to the plot I have a little fist-punch moment when I see something growing. Here’s the good, the bad & the ugly:
Allotment Update July 2018 – The Successes:
Spuds. The potatoes this year are looking awesome. I’m growing two varieties, the salad potatoes are pretty much ready to be dug out, and some larger ones that I’ll use for roasting. As I’ve planted two varieties next to each other they have cross pollinated and I’ve got potato berries! Which can be used to grow a potato crop from seed. Also worth mentioning, I bought all my seed potatoes from Aldi for £1.50 a bag and they have grown so well! Definitely going to be back for more.
As you can probably tell from my strawberry recipes, the patch provided me many goodies this year too. I’ve also got an abundance of gooseberries that are ripe at the moment (queue some jam making!).
Allotment Update July 2018 – The Almost Ready:
Sometimes you have to just be patient with your crops. There are my raspberry canes that I transplanted from their old home (when I was a newbie I didn’t know you’re supposed to separate them so planted them all in one blob, oops). I’m not expecting much produce this year, but at least they have a permanent home now.
Let’s not forget the tomatoes. They are going wild with the hot weather so I absolutely can’t wait to tuck into these bad boys. Credit goes to the other half for looking after these crops!
Allotment Update July 2018 – The Failures:
Brocolli. I’ve really tried with brassicas but I haven’t had any luck. I tried to grow these lil fella’s from seed and they got totally munched on before they even had a chance to grow much. Fail. Will have to try to cover them next time around. I’m not too put off about this, as it’s the only crop that’s gone wrong this year. Four years at the game and I’m finally getting the hang of this. I haven’t even bothered with a picture because there’s absolutely nothing to show! So here’s me with some radishes instead..
Allotment Update July 2018 – The Total Disaster:
This. Just look at this. This little patch used to be home to our rhubarb, but it’s been neglected and now mother nature is claiming it back. It’s a bit of a nightmare really as it’s a bindweed hot bed. I did try to tackle it last weekend but it’s just too thick, theres too many nettles and I just don’t have it in me. Next best thing is to leave it to die back naturally and cover it over for next year. I don’t even get that much rhubarb out of it because it is competing with the grass, so I think it could do with a rest.
I could ramble on enlessly, but let’s leave it here for the July update. I’ve got some adventurous plants on the go too, which I’ll enlighten you about in my next post 🙂
The best thing about having an allotment is that you can really begin seasonal eating. The rhubarb is in full swing at the moment, which is as good a reason as any to make a pie.
Rhubarb Pie – A British Classic
Rhubarb is actually one of my least favourite fruits. I like fruit that you can pick and eat. Whereas with rhubarb you have all the inconvenience of preparing it and cooking it. However, when I started my allotment there was already some growing (and growing in abundance). Each year that goes by, despite my lack of care to the patch where it grows, the rhubarb comes up as if out of nowhere. Each year I look at it and think how I can’t possibly let it go to waste..
First Pick at the Allotment – Hello Seasonal Eating
Whilst I was whittling away time at the plot over the weekend I waded through the grass to pull up some of the biggest stalks of rhubarb. Oh, and yes that is me in my full ski jacket despite the fact it is the end of April. It’s still freezing!
Despite my advice to fellow allotmenteers to cover over all unused beds (it saves masses of weeding) I’m pretty glad I didn’t cover over the area where these bad boys grow. It’s unkempt and full of nettles but would have been a shame to miss out on the glorious rhubarby goodness.
I’ve finally gotten around to turning them into something delicious today. First thing in the morning I was in the kitchen making pastry and by noon had two golden brown lattice pies staring back at me. Who doesn’t love a good mid-week bake up?
Rhubarb Pie Recipe – Thanks to That Skinny Chick Can Bake
This recipe did kill my plan of eating healthy during the week as I couldn’t help but get stuck into a little slice. Rhubarb is best when it’s caked in sugar and cinnamon and hugged by some nice buttery pastry. I got the recipe from Pinterest from a great food blogger called Liz. This rhubarb pie is home baking at it’s best. The filling bakes to perfection to make a sticky, sweet and enticing centre. Definitely getting saved into my recipe box. Mine looks a little more rustic than the one advertised, but hey, as long as the flavour is there it’s no big deal right?
Easy as Pie
Honestly, pie is such a simple thing to make. If you are thinking of doing some baking then definitely add this to your list. The pastry is just two ingredients and a bit of water. Roll it out, line your tin and then all that’s left to do is add your fruit straight in. I know some people swear by blind baking the pie first but it isn’t always necessary. The top is your choice, so if you don’t fancy making a lattice you can always do a crumble topping for minimal fuss. There are hundreds of great pie recipes out there, I must make my own sometime soon!
This was actually my first attempt at a lattice pie and must say I quite enjoyed the process, it makes baking feel artistic. One rhubarb pie is going into the office with me tomorrow (I am seriously going to be in the good books with my colleagues). The other will be divided between myself, my beau and our parents. It always feels nicer when you can share these delights with those around you.
Eco Friendly Seasonal Eating
On another note, how exciting to be using home grown fruit! This is just the first of so many seasonal eating recipes I am going to make with my own allotment produce. Seaonsal eating is a great way to help the planet. There are no air miles on my pie, as I walked the 30 seconds from my allotment back to my house there are actually no miles at all. I just hate picking up fresh fruit at the supermarket and seeing the origin is Spain when it grows perfectly well over here. See, we can all do our little bit for the world.
I’m off for a run in the rain now, that way I won’t feel too guilty about heating up another slice for pudding later and that extra addition of hot creamy custard. I’m drooling at the thought..
As part of my ongoing effort to make my life more eco friendly I have started to look at my consumption, so I’ve stopped buying and started selling instead. And here’s why.
6 reasons to stop buying and start selling
1) Owning more stuff doesn’t make me happy
I think we can all associate with that nice feeling of having something new, but it does begin to lose it’s appeal. Have you ever gone through your place and filled a black bin bag with unwanted goods? Chance are that if you look closely there will be a few things totally unused in there. So, that moment of fleeting happiness of having something new? Well, it ended up being a waste of your money and of the worlds resources.
2) I’m running out of space
That’s one of the big problems of buying new stuff all the time, you have to find somewhere to put it. My triple wardrobe, chest of drawers and ottoman are bursting (let’s not forget the boxes of shoes and bags under my bed). Living in clutter is no fun. I want my home to be easy to tidy and look after, which it never will be if it is constantly bulging at the seams. Ridding myself of all this meaningless stuff is going to make it so much simpler. No more searching for something and finding it buried at the bottom of a pile.
3) I’m being marketed to 24/7
There used to be four seasons to shop for, now there are 52 mini seasons. There’s mid season sales, end of season sales, black friday, cyber monday. 10% off your first order. Buy now pay later. Not a day goes by that I am not being marketed to and encouraged to spend. I’m making a conscious effort to see this for what it is, rather then getting straight onto my laptop for some ‘bargains’. Chances are I don’t actually need anything new and I’m just being inticed out of fear of missing out.
4) Selling my stuff gives it another life
It’s so easy to do a spring clean and just throw out the things you decide have no purpose anymore. I used to do the same. Chances are though that there is someone out there looking for that very thing you are chucking out. On a whim I decided to set up an eBay account see if this really is the case. It made me feel good to see that my unwanted purchases were being used by someone else instead of contributing to landfill. But I will admit, I didn’t expect it to be so successful! People literally buy anything; my broken nintento DS, the old thermostat from my house, etc. I genuinely sold these things, and people paid a fair amount for them. At one point I was posting out 10+ parcels in one go!
5) Consuming less helps the environment
This is a big one for me. So much about our modern way of living doesn’t make any sense when you look at it in the context of looking after our resources as a planet. The mass shopping we all partake in plays a role in that too. The manufacture of goods causes a lot of pollution, then you add to that the emissions from shipping it from the factories to our shelves. Oh and the plastic it all comes wrapped in. I could go on, but alas I won’t go off on a rant right now! All I’m saying is I don’t want to play a part in that and spending less on products I don’t even need is a pretty easy and realistic way I can ensure I’m doing my bit.
6) And lastly, I’m saving loads of money!
Now if there is one final point to end this blog post on, it is this one. I am saving a fair amount of money. There’s no more H&M orders on my bank statements and as I’m not impulsively going out to the shopping centre either that’s saving even more. Plus the extra cash coming in from selling my old gear is being put aside to fund a charity hike in Romania. Not too shabby, especially considering that this has taken minimal effort. If you, like a lot of people in the UK, are living from paycheck to paycheck, it really could be a good thing to start doing. Just make one conscious choice to think before you spend and you too could be benefitting from a slightly healthier bank balance!
Being a conscious consumer can be pretty easy, you just have to figure out how you can adapt your lifestyle in a simple way. If we all did this it would make a big difference!
Just before we had all this snow my beau and I managed to get out to our allotment. First we just thought we’d “survey the situation” ie, poke around, talk about all the things we were going to do..and then go back in for a cuppa. But no, we actually got to work! I am so thankful we did now, as it’s been mighty cold lately. I think we managed to sneak out on one of the only mild days in February. Here are some allotment tips for garden growers and plot owners alike!
We’ve had the allotment for three years and we’ve both gone through little spurts of enthusiasm with it. Although we are by no means experts we have learnt some valuable lessons over the years. If only we knew these from the start..
Our Favourite Newbie Allotment Tips
Put your allotment to ‘bed’
This one might be little late for some of you, as if you haven’t already done this you’ll have to bear it in mind for next winter. Once the growing season is over (like, in October/Nov) take a load of cardboard, or black tarpaulin and just cover everything. Every bed you want to use next season. It’s prevented a load of weeds, which will spare SOOO much time in the summer months. This way you can just peel back the covers and get stuck in, no evil weeds lurking.
Don’t worry about digging all the weeds out
So if you haven’t been organized and covered all your beds (or in our case, some of your covering flew off) and you have weeds growing, you don’t need to dig em’ all out. We had already started when a friendly neighbour gave us this handy allotment tip. Just turn all the earth, leaving the uprooted weeds at the top. Yep, you heard right, leave the weeds there. So we were told, the cold and frost will kill them off, then you can just turn them back into the ground.
Word of warning, this is actually the first time trying this. So I genuinely don’t know if it will work, but the friendly oap allotment man surely must know his business. He has a totally banging plot so I am going to have faith in him on this one… Remember though, this tip only applies for the colder months, where frosts still happen, you can’t go doing this in the summer.
Buy your fruit trees now! (Quick!)
So I had no idea, but you are supposed to plant fruit trees in the dormant season. They have a far better chance of establishing that way. So if you want to get a lovely apple tree growing, you best get down to the garden centre quick sharp, as spring is almost here. Technically we should have our fruit trees planted up by now, but I am going to chance it and plant mine up this weekend. I did actually know all winter that I wanted to get an apple tree. But when it’s just so cold and miserable out there it’s so easy to put it off until the last minute.
Oh and check this out, still got some badboy veg and herbs that have lasted the harsh winter!
Looking forward to the season ahead, fresh fruit and veggies taste so much better than store bought. Take advantage of any milder days and get out there to put our allotment tips to use!Yum
Thrift shops, I love them. Well, in Britain we don’t really call it ‘thrift’ though do we? We call it charity shopping. Which doesn’t quite have the same bohemian-esque ring to it. But I’m trying to be hip and cool, so for now let’s keep it as “thrift”. For a bit of inspiration below you’ll see what I threw on today and where my best buys were from. Shopping second hand doesn’t mean you scrimp on style.
I think the idea of thrift shopping is actually super popular already in the UK, more so than some of our European buddies. My dear Mam is Czech and you would be hard pushed to see a second hand store anywhere. Our charity shop culture is great, I know it gets some bad press because some high streets have too many and they get favourable rates blah blah blah. Essentially though they are here to do good things for their causes and it means we can recycle clothes rather than chuck them to land fill.
My Thrift Shop Style
Let’s see my outfit today (which is all old purchases I’ll have you know! I am keeping to my word of not buying any more stuff). It is at least half comprised of second hand thrift shop finds. Bargain!
Oliver Bonas patterned pink scarf for £5 from Cancer Research UK, coat cost me £10 & these jeans (I wear them to death) were £4. Thank-you-very-much. That is £19 and I look the business, plus I’m far too broke to ever shop in Oliver Bonas anyway. So I’ve actually got better quality stuff that what I’d usually buy new.
If you are guilty of going out to Primark ‘just to pick up some new tights’ and you come out with a hoard of clothes, then you should give charity shops a chance. I’ve often found brand new items, so you really don’t need to get all funny about someone else wearing your stuff first.
I’m going to ramble on about the planet now (sorry not sorry). As I mentioned in this post we are spending more and buying more, but throwing things away faster than ever before. Quality is no longer the prerogative when shopping. We should stop seeing clothes as dispensable items as we ultimately lose out. We’ve all done it, bought something on the high street and half the stitching has come out a few weeks later. Queue feeling all annoyed that you’ve wasted your hard earned cash on something that is now basically a useless rag.
If you really aren’t convinced then at least think twice when you buy new to make sure that you are buying for quality over quantity. Just know I will always come out on top when it comes to price 😉Yum
Inspired by this ladies plight to spend less, or in fact, spend nothing, for a whole year, I am looking at how we can all benefit from spending less and living more.
I’m not going to lie, the reason I started this post is because I live in a teensy cottage and have soooo many clothes (and shoes, and bags..) that my boyfriend is forever nagging me that we haven’t got enough space. He’s right, but during my clear out, it did get me thinking..
“The average consumer is now purchasing 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but each garment is kept for half as long”
Why Do We Do it?
We are all guilty of spending too much and on stuff that we probably didn’t know we even needed. A well placed advert appears whilst scrolling through the internet one minute and there you have it, a full trolley on Asos the next. We are constantly reminded to spend at every corner. On the TV it is more advertisement than actual content. When I read the sunday suppliment in the paper there are pages dedicated to flogging us the latest cream or a smelly candle that costs upwards of £40.00.
The big companies are good at making it look as though you need to buy something. They focus on human pyschology to hook you and give the illusion that your life will somehow become better and more enriched from buying their products.
What are we actually getting out of it?
We are getting stuff, obviously. We’re also feeling that buzz of having something new which is exciting. But, we are also losing space in our homes, money in our purses and worst of all excess consumerism is contributing to pollution. According to the World Resources Institute fast fashion has allowed us to consume more. “The average consumer is now purchasing 60% more clothing in 2014 than in 2000, but each garment is kept for half as long”. Now that can’t be a sustainable way for us to live. I know when I was doing the rounds at the shopping centre I wasn’t thinking about the environmental impact of the top I just bought from a fast fashion retailer, but I will now.
What could happen if we stopped?
Spending less could not only save you a load of cash, it will help the environment also. Making a small change like re-thinking where you buy your clothes can help make an impact. Second hand shops and vintage markets are a good start. Even if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can make a start by ensuring to recycle your unwanted garments. Big companies have already started to take responsibililty and H&M have introduced a garment collecting initiative in their stores, so you really have no excuse!
So, I’m not saying I’m going to go all out and spend nothing, but I am certainly going to give it a good try and implement some new tactics in my life to help reduce my impact on the planet. It’s also been really nice to have more space at home. Like us all, I get attached to my clothes and stuff, but queue some mass-ebaying and the little cash injection every time I sell an item and I am convinced. I have still got a full wardrobe with lovely stuff in it, so I really don’t need anything else. I’m not going to get drawn into ‘fast fashion’ this year.
1) Before I buy something, ask myself if I really need it
2) Spend less in fast fashion retailers and more in second hand/vintage shops
3) Keep looking at what I already own and if I haven’t used it, donate or sell it
Spend less & live better is definitely my new motto!