Saving the planet by growing stuff 🌱

It’s been well over a year since I posted on this blog. I decided to be less obsessive and stop forcing topics and start doing things that were blog worthy. I began a number of posts which I’m still working on. Like long-term projects.

I have also had a busy year, in October I moved out to Australia to do a working holiday, my initial plan was to only stay for 6 months but the opportunity was too good to waste and I’ve extended my stay. To get an extension on my first year and stay for up to two years you have to complete 88days ‘regional work’ so I found myself living in the country again and being surrounded by fields and animals which reminds me of home. 

I’m working with some beautiful horses as well as helping around the house. Because it’s winter most of the horses are on spell so very little needs to be done to take care of them and while its a 7-day a week job I find myself more of a baby sitter for my four legged friends and I have a lot of time to cook, go running and do some gardening.

Something I have always wanted was my own vegetable garden so even though I’m only going to be here for 6 months and then someone else will take on my role here I have started to take advantage of the time I have during the days to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs.

I’ve bought very little to get my garden going because there have been some old pots lying around and I’ve used recycled egg cartons to sew my seeds. 

In this post I’m going to show how to make versatile growing pods from your used egg cartons. I have also begun making a herb garden from an old pallet which I’ll show the beginnings of but I’m still working on finishing it and of course growing my herbs to fill. 

So I use eggs a lot and buy my eggs in 12’s, always free-range and local where ever possible. Back home (UK) I would use even more so I would buy trays of 30 at a time, some times as frequently as twice a week. But this method will work with any size (that’s how durable it is!) so start saving your cartons! 

This is what my pots look like:


As you can see I’ve separated the lid and used it to create a draining tray for the mini plant pots in case I water them too much and I’ve ‘water proofed’ the tray. 


It’s unnecessary to buy the pond lining stuff because while its very tough and durable it’s expensive and for this purpose I simply bought heavy duty bin liners (trash bags) from the local hardware store. They’re used for cleaning up building sites so are made of tougher black liner than your usual bin bags. They were also about 1/4 of the price of the pond lining. 

Ta-dah 

For drainage from each pod poke a hole in the base of each cup. I used a pair of pointy tweezers, haha, but if you’re carful just use sharp sissors but don’t make the hole too big. 


Fill the pods with compost (I recommend compost as opposed to garden soil as it will have the nutrition to help the seeds grow). 
Follow the instructions on your seed packed about depth and moisture. Gently press down the compost and sprinkle your seeds on top, dependant on what I was growing I sewed about 7/8 seeds per pod. Cover lightly with more compost and again very gently press down. 


When I began growing my seeds it was still about a month before winter began so I left my seeds outside. The second set of seeds I planted winter had ‘officially’ begun so I used my bedroom window (which faces the sun from rise to set) as a greenhouse. 

I had sewn carrots, silverbeet and strawberries. Then parsley and thyme. And again basil and chives later. The carrots and silverbeat grew without a problem but the strawberries failed to make a start outside and it wasn’t until they were out of the bitter cold and inside that they slowly took off. 


On the back of the seed packets it says what time of year is best for sowing and there are very few that are good for winter in Victoria. However having them inside has created a false Autumn/Spring temperature and the chilly winds are kept at bay. 


Before I planted my second and third lot of seeds I ‘re/potted’ my tray of silverbeet into a larger pot to allow them to grow larger. I had read that egg cartons take between 3-6 weeks to biodegrade. All I did was separate each pod (which was easy because they were soft from regular watering) and place them into my pot with fresh compost.


I saved my drainage tray to use with another lid.


Another thing I have done with this project is to use used coffee grinds. I mixed the grinds in no particular ratio with the compost. Be sure to break up the coffee and mix well with the compost, the grinds will begin to grown mound if they aren’t broken down and mixed well enough.


Fresh coffee grinds are very acidic so using unwashed grinds on acid loving plants is also a great way to add extra nutrients into the soil surrounding your plants. So if you have a coffee machine at home (or you work in a cafe) and you’re particular about having only the very freshest of ground coffee for your cup don’t throw away the unused grinds, store them away somewhere!

Washed/used grinds are neutral so great for all plants to add valuable goodness when growing, nurturing and maintaining plant. 


Other recyclable items to use as plant pots: used takeaway coffee cups, chipped or old tea cups/ pots/ glasses (imagine a kitchen windowsill of wine glasses growing herbs- my dream!)
Here’s my sneak peak at the on-trend pallet garden.

To be continued in a post of its own where I will explain my process and hopefully I will have finished it!

😊

First time savers

I’ve been saving money for a few months now and I’ve learnt a few useful things.
Saving big? Live with your parents. I know, everyone knows it’s easier to save if you’re living with your parents. It’s not just easier, it’s a freaking gold mine! Don’t be an idiot about it, you’re not loosing your freedom, you’re investing in your future. Your parents aren’t going to charge as much as your landlord (if you pay board at all) and you’ll probably get a lot of things done for you, washing, ironing, cleaning. Be respectful and do as your parents ask. They understand it’s not easy saving money, especially for a house. They know things are different now and that’s why they’ve opened their doors, they want to help. If your mum asks you to clean the cooker (the first time ever the cookers being cleaned and she wants you to do it!?) just do it! If your go out drinking and don’t roll in till 3am don’t bring your mates round, don’t make yourself a sandwich (because we all know you’ll make a mess and won’t clean up. I bet you’ll even leave the mayonnaise out of the fridge you baboon!) just quietly tip toe to bed. You’ll save so much by moving home!
Direct debits. Setting up direct debits does the hard work for you, the hard work being transferring all that money from your current account into a savings account when you could just spend it on shoes. Set yourself up a direct debit for each time you get paid, that way when the money comes in you’re savings are going out straight away and you don’t even see them to miss them.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I have three bank accounts, my current account which I get paid into and I have a bank card for (all my direct debits come from this account), a savings account and an ISA. I put 75% of the money I’m saving into my ISA, so I won’t be tempted to change my mind and withdraw it back, and 25% into my savings account. The theory is that I have money set aside for emergencies, just last week I had a flat tyre, it’s also there for when my car insurance, tax and MOT are all due. Having that account means I don’t worry that I won’t have enough money. It’s my safety net. You might think ‘why not just get an over draft’ well I spent 3 years stuck in my over draft (which was thankfully a student account so I didn’t pay any interest) and I learnt the dangers of ‘free money’ through experience, an overdraft is more like a trap than a safety net.
Work out exactly how much money you spend in two time frames, weekly and monthly. So weekly I pay board into my dads account and every other week I pay off my credit card. Monthly I have a gym membership and phone bill. If your have a gym membership etc decide if it’s worth it. Do you use it enough? Would you miss it or would you relish that extra bit of money? Once you know what your bills are and what you spend you can figure out how much to save. I did this by calculating my average income for 4 weeks and subtracting the cost of my spends per month.
Don’t just save what you’ve set aside. If you have a lot of money in your savings account, transfer some of it to your ISA and same with your current account. You’ll only spend it on rubbish anyway.
A few don’ts… Don’t eat out every day. If you buy your lunch at work, start taking your own. You’ll soon notice the change in your pocket getting heavier, then one day you might want to treat yourself. Don’t struggle, be realistic not over ambitious about what you can afford to put away. Just because you have X amount remaining when you deduct your weekly/monthly expenses doesn’t mean you have to put it all away. Now would be the best time to quit smoking. You know you should and it’s not going to get cheaper or healthier. Don’t be going out drinking every night/week. Give yourself a last hurrah! Go out on a bang, and then only go out when you can really afford to. This included friends birthdays and bank holidays. Your friends should understand that you’re saving money, you cant possibly afford to go out for every birthday especially with the amount of friends you have! You’d be bankrupt!
If you’re saving for a house here’s another good tip… Forget what your parents told you about how credit cards are the devils work ‘you don’t need one’…’ You’ll never pay it back’ … When you’re buying a house the banks will do what is called a ‘credit check’ on your financial history. Credit cards accrue a good credit rating if you use it responsibly. When you start saving it might be worth getting yourself the most standard credit card your bank will offer and building your own credit rating. Use it little and often but only for things you would normally buy and can afford, for example your weekly food shop or petrol, and pay it back in full every month. I’ve been using a credit card for the last year to pay for my petrol, I keep my eye on the online banking and have a direct debit set up incase I forget (hasn’t happened yet) to pay it back.

Once you get past the first few weeks it will all get easier. If you’re still finding it hard remind yourself why you’re doing it. What you’re saving for, your own house? Starting a business? A holiday? A wedding? You’ll get there!