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? Finished veggie patch

I now declare this veggie patch… open! It’s planted up with runner beans, peas, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, chillis, lettuce and herbs, plus a gooseberry bush and blackberry plant in the side border and fruit trees in the corner of the garden. At the moment it looks really neat and tidy – the way I’d like it to stay, but I’m sure it won’t be long before the place starts looking like a disused allotment. I’m already finding it difficult keeping the herbs alive – I’m pretty sure that I killed off that basil and coriander and it wasn’t anything to do with the fact that I’d planted a supermarket ‘living herbs’ pot in the garden. Oh well! I’ve sprinkled some basil seeds where the plant once lived and I’m hoping for the best…

Everything seems to be taking ages to grow. I know it’s not the fastest process, growing plants, but I expected the runner beans to at least have started trailing themselves up the canes by now! I keep wrapping their little tendrils around the canes to encourage them! The things that are growing well are the tomato plants in the greenhouse. They have already needed additional support from canes and I’ve remembered to water them (most of the time!) so they are growing upwards and outwards rather well. We’ve just added a couple of lines of peas that we bought from a plant seller at the car boot sale but they’ve just started flowering in pretty colours and looking suspiciously like sweat peas, oops!

Even though I might not be the best at growing plants just yet, I’m sure you’ll agree that the garden has come a long way from its bare grass beginnings (see my first garden blog post here). The new veggie patch has really added some interest to the garden and the patio has added some much-needed outdoor living space for summer!

 I still cant believe that Cassiefairy.com has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes on 29th August – thank you SO much!


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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 wood 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 :)