Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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How does your garden grow? My greenhouse

Last week, I mentioned that we’d finished off the raised beds for the veggie patch and were in the process of completing the gravel path. The side border hadn’t been finished off so I today wanted to share some photos of the side raised bed ‘before and after’ and let you know that I’ve finally planted some herbs in the massive herb planter beside the patio!

I’m also excited to tell you that we’re at the stage of putting up a greenhouse. We bought this greenhouse second-hand from a neighbour and we able to take out the glass and simply carry it into our garden – the aluminium frame was that light. I decided to wash all the panes of glass before they went back into the frame. Everything was going really well, and the glass was coming up nice and sparkling clean, until I lost concentration for a moment and managed to slice my thumb on the glass – ouch! I took a long tea break before carrying on with the cleaning and we put the greenhouse back together again. All in all, the whole process took about 3 hours.

 

We decided to put the greenhouse straight onto the ground and put a couple of slabs in the middle so that we had somewhere to stand inside the greenhouse.  We dug up the grass and added new compost to the soil before planting a few varieties of tomato – it’s a start anyway! In one of the raised beds we planted courgettes and squash in each of the corners, which we had bought from the car boot sale for 75p each plant.  The herbs also came from the carboot sale and we’re just buying a few at a time whenever we see them. We already had a pot of spearmint and some chives, but the rest of the herbs are ‘new’ to us from the market or carboot sale for £1.50 or less including thyme, rosemary, oregano and tarragon. We haven’t been able to find sage anywhere so we have taken a cutting of sage from our parents’ garden and hopefully we’ll be able to grow a plant from this!

As you can see from the photos, we’ve (almost!) finished the gravel path and we’ve spread woof chippings either side of the greenhouse to make the whole area look neat and hopefully the weed-resistant membrane beneath will keep the weeds at bay for now! More updates to come next week…


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How does your garden grow? Raised beds

Earlier in the week I shared photos of the paths we’d been digging around the veggie patch and told you how we intended to create raised beds around the remaining mounds of soil that we’d taken out of the path. I know this might not be the obvious way round to create raised beds but we finished off the paths and tucked the weed-proof membrane under the wood surrounding the beds so that we shouldn’t get any sneaky weeds creeping out of the veggie patch and into our gravel path.

I forgot to take any photos while we were constructing the frame of the raised beds – in fact, I was busy doing a lot of holding while hubby screwed the corners into place! After each of the two raised bed frames were completed, we dug over the existing earth inside the beds and mixed in a big bag of compost. As you can probably tell from the photos, we had completely finished the first bed before I got out the camera and posed for a photo to make it ‘look like’ I’d been digging – but I honestly had!! :) I’m planning to plant up the raised beds with courgettes and runner beans, and make the large planter beside the patio into a herb garden, so watch this space!


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How does your garden grow? Up the garden path…

After finishing our patio terrace, it seemed appropriate that the next area of the garden that we should work on was the veggie patch. The steps down from the patio went nowhere, so the next step (excuse the pun) was to dig out a path around the raised beds that we wanted to install. Oddly enough, rather than building the beds out of wood first and then paving around them, we did it the opposite way: hubby measured out the size of the beds and we sliced away the turf from around the edges – dumping the excess soil onto the ‘veggie beds’ as we went.

The garden was particularly uneven in this area, undulating at all different angles, so we wanted to get a path that was a flat as possible. It would still slope away towards the end of the garden because that’s just how the land lies, but at least it would be a flat slope after we’d finished digging out the path! We lined each path around the ‘raised beds’ with weed-resistant membrane and as you can see from the photo we added edging down the left-hand side of the path to separate the grass lawn from the veggie patch. This wood came from B&Q and is actually supposed to be a handrail for the top of a decking ‘railing’- is that the right word? It therefore has a curved top edge, which looks great even at ground-level. The reason we bought this wood was because it was reduced to under £2 per 6ft piece and at the time we didn’t know what we would use it for, but knew that it was a garden bargain! These photos are very much a work-in-progress (excuse the mess!) so I will share the rest of the photos in my next blog post when the raised beds are finished.


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How does your garden grow? My new dining room…

Last week I showed you some plans for the garden and how we needed to move the caravan into a new position to make the design work. Well, the eagle-eyed of you will have spotted a patio area on those plans and that’s exactly what we’ve done – oh boy, was it a lot of work! First we measured out the space according to the number of patio slabs we had then set to work digging!

Hubby had already bought the slabs a year ago when someone was selling their old patio locally on Gumtree. The slabs were used but still in good condition and it meant that we could measure the patio to fit the slabs, rather than the other way around. I also liked the fact that the patio would look weathered as soon as it was laid rather than taking months to blend into the garden. We needed to dig out the top of the sloping garden so that the patio would sit flush with the concrete path around the house, and we used this excess soil to fill in the bottom of the slope so that it would all sit at the same level. Hubby actually built a retaining ‘wall’ using pressure-treated timber so that we could back-fill against it. He actually built it as a long planter and any of the spare topsoil we had left over from digging went into it = retaining wall, compost bin and potential herb garden in one!

From there, we laid weed-proof membrane and levelled the ground even more with a ton of sand on top. We spent ages pushing a plank back and forth to pat the sand flat and get the levels right. I took a brief break to make some lunch and by the time it was ready, hubby had already laid all of the patio slabs! Mr Muscle or what?! I couldn’t believe how quickly it went down. Okay, it know it had taken hours of preparation to get to that point, but it was very satisfying that I could see the result so quickly. We actually moved our garden bench onto the patio that very day and ate our dinner outside! Now all I need is a set of patio doors so that I can step straight out onto the patio and really use it as part of the house as an indoor/outdoor dining area!

Because we’d built the patio up it was now sitting at a higher level than the rest of the garden, so hubby added two steps which we filled with gravel. We now have a patio ‘terrace’ and it’s a lovely sun-trap. My cats Cookie & Muffin certainly like the way that the slabs retain the warmth of the sun anyway! I’m looking forward to eating al fresco more often now that we have a useable outside space – we just need to find a cheap or second-hand garden table now so please let me know if you hear of one :)


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How does your garden grow? My little vintage caravan

Last month I told you all about my plans for creating a gorgeous garden over the summer and so far we’ve managed to save a bit of money by thrifting a fence and doing a lot of digging to even out the undulating lawn. After finishing the construction of our new fence we could really see what kind of space we were working with so hubby and I decided to draw up some rough plans for the garden. I’m sure the design will change as we go along and will be mostly based on what we can afford to spend on the garden at the time. For now, there’s one thing that’s clear – we want to move my little vintage caravan into a new location at the bottom of the garden.

planning a new garden

It will be central to the lawn and should be easier for me to access with a path or stepping stones along the side of the grass – no more trekking over muddy ground to get into my caravan workshop anymore woo! Previously the caravan had just been sitting on the grass with a couple of paving slabs underneath the supporting legs. This ended up looking quite messy when the grass and weeds grew beneath the caravan because I couldn’t get underneath it with a mower nor could we move the caravan without help. So before we moved the caravan into the new location, we decided to lay down a base of weed-proof sheeting covered with wood chippings to keep down the grass and weeds, and we put the paving slabs in the corners to support the legs of the caravan.

After preparing the base, we got help from our family to move the caravan down the garden and into position alongside the new fence. It took quite bit of shoving, because the caravan had actually sunk into the ground in its original position and needed digging out a bit before we could get it rolling down the garden. We weren’t moving it far but we needed to be careful when manoeuvring it into position – we didn’t want to damage the fence we’d just put up or the fruit trees we’d planted!

We made sure the caravan was level but when we stepped back it looked completely wonky because the was a slope on the ground from left to right. This might be something to level out in the future (with a lot more digging!) but I don’t mind leaving it as it is for now. Eventually there will be a little patio outside the front of the caravan and the ground will have to be levelled out for this, so in the meantime I’m just going to grow a couple of pots of lavender at the front and hope that no one notices!