Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


Hack a garden border with just about anything

Today’s blog post is all about a book I got over Christmas – 101 Organic Gardening Hacks by Shawna Coronado. I’ve been dipping into it during my time off and it’s been a really inspirational read. I enjoyed it so much that I asked the publisher whether it would be possible to give a copy away to you and they were delighted to oblige. So there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway to win a copy of 101 Organic Gardening Hacks at the end of this blog post – be sure to enter today!p147-tiki-hut-shedThe book not only covers all the planting, pruning and growing tips you’d expect from the title, but it also offers practical advice on making the most of what you already have to turn your garden into an organic oasis. Who knew that there were so many easy ways to water plants? And it’s amazing what materials you can reuse to great effect in your landscaping. With thriftiness at the forefront of my mind at all times, it was wonderful to read a book that wasn’t recommending buying new materials or spending lots of money. In fact, I’d call this a money-saving advice book on gardening more than anything else, so you can see why I enjoyed reading it so much.


To give you an idea of some of the projects in the book I’ve shared the images above, which include reusing old furniture to give your flowerbeds height and drama, and how to give your basic shed a makeover to turn it into a fun tiki hut! Below is an extract from the book itself about using collections of objects, waste products or natural materials to hack a garden border – read on to find out how!126a-hack-a-garden-border

Glass insulators border this garden bed and patio area, delineating the flagstone from the mulched soil edge.

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Garden inspiration – Beach hut sheds

I’m spotting them everywhere. In gardens, on Pinterest and even at Latitude festival. Yes, painted sheds are ‘all the rage’ these days and it’s a trend that is certainly here to stay. No longer do sheds have to be a boring brown or blend-in-with-the-bushes green, especially now that there are so many garden paint colours available in DIY stores. Read on to check out some of the examples of ‘beach hut sheds’ that I’ve recently come across and find out how to get the look in your own garden painting and installing small shed - duck egg blue beach hut in garden-20 I actually painted my own shed a lovely duck egg blue shade last year, and decided to add contrasting trims with a cream garden paint. I was definitely inspired by all the gorgeous beach huts I see along the Suffolk coast and I wanted to recreate the effect by painting my tiny 6ft x 4ft shed in coastal colours. I shared a step-by-step guide to painting sheds on my blog so be sure check that out if you’re planning to paint your own shed this summer.Covered-DeckChairsThis beautiful summerhouse is the ultimate beach hut shed, and is owned by my blogging buddy Lucy from – you can read more about her garden room here. It’s a beautiful sky blue hue, with contrasting white window frames. Size-wise it’s even more like a beach hut than my tiny shed, and there’s plenty of space inside to unfold a deckchair and take in the lovely garden views.Beach-Hut-Shed1 Beach-Hut-ShedI also spotted a painted shed at Latitude Festival earlier this summer. In fact, there were quite a few painted sheds dotted around the woods, all brightly decorated with images and patterns. Okay, these aren’t really traditional ‘beach hut’ designs, but they still definitely make the best use of the range of garden paints available these days. I would probably consider creating a piece of artwork on my own shed if I was more confident of my drawing ability!

This summer we painted the sheds in mum’s garden to look like a row of beach huts. She too has small 6ft x 4ft sheds (one for gardening tools, one for BBQ bits, one for the kids toys etc) and they were looking a little boring in their original ‘shed treatment’ colour. We popped to the DIY store and picked up some colourful paints, including a sunshiney yellow, a bubblegum pink and a pastel sky blue.summer holiday beach huts seaside garden design interior decorating backyard inspirationWe used three different brands of garden paint to get the best combination of colours, all of which took two coats of paint to get a strong enough colour. The first layer would have resulted in a seaside-style ‘washed’ finish, but we wanted a defined colour for each shed. In fact, the best paint we used was actually the B&Q own brand garden paint, which we used for the cream-coloured trims. This was thicker than the other paints so it went on much more easily, with fewer drips, and only really needed one coat to cover the treated wood.

What do you think of the trend for sheds decorated like beach huts? Have you gone for a bright or pastel shade in your garden? Perhaps you’ve gone all-out coastal with a striped design? Let me know by leaving me a comment below or by tagging me in your Instagram photos @Cassiefairy.

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Urban or rustic – what’s your garden style?

It’s that time of year again. Whether it’s the weather, having more time during longer days, or the summer break you’ve booked off work. Whatever the reason, July and August seem to be the months of the year that we spend the most amount of time in our gardens. So today I’m sharing a quick garden quiz to help you find out your own creative ‘garden style’, plus there’s a chance to enter a competition with Furniture Village to win a designer rattan garden chair worth £1395 so read on to find out more..!Garden Quiz - Copy (2)Even year-round allotment gardeners can be found putting even more effort into their veggie patch at this time of year – pruning, sowing, harvesting, fertilising and netting. And fair-weather gardeners like me finally find the time to step outside and do a little bit of weeding. The mowing needs to be done regularly – it seems like the grass grows at lightening speed during August, and returns to its original length only days after being cut. There’s so much maintenance that could be done in the garden but all we really want to do fire up the BBQ and lie back on a sunlounger with a Pimms. Or maybe that’s just me?? Continue reading “Urban or rustic – what’s your garden style?” »


Creating a cheap & simple eco pond – No matter what size your garden

Ponds are a fantastic addition to any garden, whether you’re looking to add a beautiful and relaxing focal point or to attract pond dwelling wildlife such as amphibians or insects, or a combination of both. While I have only a little knowledge of garden water features, thankfully the lovely experts at Swell know all about it. All those years of experience makes them extremely knowledgeable on the subject and they have very kindly offered to share this guest post to show us all how to make the most of our gardens with an eco pond . Enjoy!eco pond 2One of the most common stumbling blocks for those wishing to own a pond is a lack of adequate outside space. It’s no secret that housing even a small, traditional pond requires a reasonably large plot. For example, typical dimensions of a small pond are likely to be something in the region of L120 x W90 x H40cm which is no good at all if you’ve only got a small back yard. Of course, they also require a fair amount of time and/or money to set-up and maintain.

But never fear, although a traditional garden pond may be off the cards, a small outside space and limited budget does not mean that you have to do away with the idea of having a pond all together. By creating a mini eco pond you can have your very own pond, no matter what size your outside space, on a shoe string budget. Even better, you will be helping numerous species of amphibians and insects to flourish!

So where to begin? To start you will need to choose your container. One of the many great things about eco ponds is that the choice of what to use as your pond container is entirely up to you. It could be anything from a washing up bowl to an old Belfast sink. Feel free to be as creative as you like!


Your container will need to be buried in the ground (ideally about a third of the way) to ensure that it isn’t knocked over and also that it is not too high for wildlife to crawl into. Alternatively, say if you have no grass area at all and consequently cannot bury your container, you will need to secure it perhaps by placing heavy rocks in the bottom of it. Then you will need to build a pathway leading into for wildlife. Pebbles, bark or wood logs are ideal for this. Regardless of whether or not your container is buried in the ground, it’s a good idea to add bark and pebbles inside it so as to provide a platform for wildlife to climb on.


It’s more than likely that you will use tap water to fill your pond. If this is the case then be sure to use pond dechlorinator, which is something that you will find in the pond products section of any leading pond and aquatics supplier and is very good value for money. Dechlorinator helps to remove harmful chlorine and chloramines found in tap water and thus makes it safe for aquatic life.


Live plants such as Elodea (or pond weed) help to ensure that your pond is well oxygenated through the process of photosynthesis. This is vital for ensuring the breakdown of decaying waste as well as the survival of plants and pond dwelling wildlife. Additional ideas for plants that flourish in ponds or wet soil and will also enhance the aesthetics of your pond include; Waterlilies, Marsh Marigold,  Common Skullcap, Common Valerian, Willow herb, Creeping Jenny, Water Mint and Watercress.


Adding a little food to your eco pond such as pond tadpole and frog food will help to encourage wildlife into pond 3

When it comes to your eco pond, you really can create a pond that is as individual as you are. You can hand-pick every component of it from a container, which can essentially be anything that holds water, right through to the type of pebbles that you use. So why not let your creativity run wild! Also know that you will be helping to provide a home for many of Britain’s pond-dwelling creatures that sadly are constantly under threat from a reduction in their natural habitat.

For more information about pond keeping as well as a wide variety of pond products and equipment please visit Swell UK. And if you have any ideas of your own to share please do leave me a comment below or tweet me a photo of your own water feature to @Cassiefairy.


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Tend your garden in Spring to create a healthier, low-cost Summer

It’s a common misconception that fruit can only be grown in ‘warmer’ climates. Okay for some fruits this is true but there are so many fruits that you can actually grow yourself in your own garden, even in the British weather! With Spring finally upon us, now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting the most out of your garden. How exciting would it be if you could use your own home grown fruits or vegetables for baking, drinks and other concoctions all summer long? You’ll be able to enjoy the gardening aspect (and therefore get more exercise and fresh air!) as well as the delicious taste of your home grown fruit or veg.DIY plant markers for garden-4Growing your own fruit and veg is not only satisfying, but very healthy. Having constant access to all kinds of fruit and veg will encourage you to be more adventurous with your meal planning and have healthier snacks throughout the day. Try and focus on growing fruit and vegetables that you and your family like, and eat a lot of. This way you’ll be sure everyone is happy and you’ll all be able to enjoy freshly grown seasonal produce. Along with the health benefits you’ll also be saving yourself some money, as it costs little to grow your own in comparison to the prices you pay at the local supermarket.spring garden veggit patchBefore you start buying seeds and raking over the soil, think about what types of fruit and veg would work well for you this summer, that way you’ll enjoy lots of fresh produce with minimal wastage. You could grow yourself some strawberries, apples, blackberries or grapes to use in homemade crumbles or pies. You could even use your fruit to create some exciting summery cocktails or fruity drinks to enjoy in the glorious sunshine. There are also so many different types of veg you could grow, from tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, carrots or even artichokes! Think of all the dishes you’ll want to make with your home-grown veggies; homemade pies, fresh salads and even home-grown pesto..! You can save so much money on family meals by growing your own produce at home and it’s really fun to do with the kids too.

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Weekend DIY project – Welly boot plant pots

Everybody knows wellington boots are an amazing accessory for any wet day, but unfortunately we tend to find ourselves only wearing them a handful of times throughout the year. As a result of this, especially with the little ones, the next time you go to pop them on they’re too small. Well, if you find this to be the case then don’t worry, you can make yourself some welly planters! What better way to not only add a little fun to your garden, but to recycle too! Here’s a guide on how you can make your wellies into fun little plant pots and add a little extra colour to your garden.welly boot DIY project_-9

Make your own DIY planter from recycled wellies!

Before you begin making your welly planters, there’s a few things you’ll need:

  • Wellington Boots
  • A Drill
  • Compost
  • Seeds
  • Watering Can
  • Stones or Pebbles
  • Waterproof labels (if you wish to label your plants)

Now you have everything you need, you can get started. Make sure you wash your wellington boots with warm water and a little soap, just to give them a freshen up. Dry them off with an old tea towel and then you’re good to go. You can use new wellington boots if your current ones still fit, that’s up to you, but I’d recommend going rummaging at the carboot sale to pick up a used pair for pennies! Next, remove any insoles or liners that are inside the wellington boots, as we need as much space as we can get.

Hold the wellington from the bottom, sole facing upwards (and use a clamp on a workbench to hold it in place!) while you drill a few small holes around the edges of the boot and a couple on the sole. This will make sure that when you water your plants, the water drains out evenly and the compost will be able to breathe. Fill the bottom of the wellington with some stones or pebbles, this is to weigh the welly down so that if there are any blustery days, your new planter will be less likely to fall over. Also, having stones at the bottom will make it that little bit easier for the water to drain out, as there will be room between the compost and the holes.

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Top 5 easy to grow vegetables for your home veggie patch

The attraction of growing your own vegetables appeals to many people. Whether you’re a trendy hipster with a passion for subsistence living or you have a family allotment that the kids enjoy, there is a gardener in all of us.  Just starting out? Don’t worry – you don’t need to be a green-thumbed garden wizard to grow these tasty vegetables. spring garden veggit patch-31. Peas are exceptionally easy to grow as they require little maintenance – they are also perfectly happy in cold weather. All you need to do is build a support for the stems to grow around, this can be as simple as a few sticks or some chicken wire. Plant in March and expect to be enjoying fresh peas from June until August. The more you pick, the more will grow. using vegetales from our garden for chicken and veg pasta recipe2. Salad Leaves Another fast-growing favourite for your garden is the humble salad leaf. Sow your seeds at any point during the summer and you’ll be harvesting your sandwich filling every few weeks. Sachets of mixed seeds will give you good variety of leaves.harvesting our first courgettes from our DIY veggie patch3. Courgettes are one of the most exciting vegetables to grow in your allotment, From a tiny seedling, the plant grows big very quickly, eventually producing sweet and juicy courgette, each topped with a pretty flower. Try thinly slicing and cooking with some garlic and olive oil – you can eat the flowers too!DIY plant markers for growing courgettes in garden_

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Spruce up your garden in time for Easter

Believe it or not, winter is almost over! It’s nearly time for those lighter evenings and sunny mornings and I actually cannot wait. This does mean that the long awaited (by children mainly) Easter holidays are creeping up on us, and we can almost hear the cry of ‘I’m bored’ in the background. There are so many ways in which you can utilise your home and garden to get the best from it without having to spend a fortune. Here are a few ways in which you can make the most out of your garden for both yourselves and your little painting and installing small shed - duck egg blue beach hut in garden-20Garden TLC

First things first, your garden will probably need some tender loving care. We’re all guilty of neglecting our gardens when those blistery winter days set in and the rain doesn’t stop for weeks, however now that the days are getting brighter there’s no better time to get outside and have a little tidy. Decide what you want to get from your garden, how much space you need, things you might want to add etc. My husband and I actually dug over the veggie patch last weekend, so it’s already ready for the seeds to be sown. If you have decking or patio space and want to host a few ‘get togethers’ over the summer then give it a quick clean, get rid of any little weeds that have settled in over the winter and then you’re good to go!summer party - garden table and chairs in wild flower meadow-9

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Pieday Friday recipe – Homemade pesto from our herb garden

I spent most of yesterday working in the garden. After a week away, followed by a week of poor weather (when I didn’t really fancy working outdoors) the veggie patch had started to look quite neglected. Weeds were sprouting, the runner beans were looking a little too long, and three courgettes had turned into marrows! When the bright sunshine finally burst through the clouds yesterday we decided to take the opportunity to get out into the garden and start tidying up our veggie patch. pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-9We began by pruning back the leafy branches of the tomato plants in the greenhouse (along with some rogue tomato bushes that had popped up in the herb border and the courgette bed) so that the last of the tomatoes could ripen in the September sun. A large bowlful were ready to pick, and it looks like more will be ready to harvest this weekend, so I’m thinking about ways of preserving them. I saw a recipe for smoked garlic tomato relish in the current issue of The Simple Things so I’d like to give that a go over the coming week – I think it would be a delicious accompaniment to my cheeseboard at Christmas.pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-2 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-5After all the weeding, my eye settled upon the basil plant that I’d grown from seed as a ‘companion’ plant for the tomatoes in the greenhouse. I don’t know when it had become such a huge bush, but it now looked massive in comparison to the neatly trimmed tomato plants. It was even blooming into flower so Hubby and I started cutting it back to make space in the greenhouse so that more sunlight would reach the tomatoes. We ended up with a huge pile of basil prunings, and I was just saying to my husband that it would be a waste to throw it on compost heap when I remembered that one of my all-time favourite pasta dishes is made with basil. pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-3pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-4 Why didn’t I think of it before? Why had I gone a whole summer without blitzing up some basil? I love pesto. I’m one of those people who would actually eat it out of the jar with a spoon. It’s so obvious now, but I’d never considered it before. I planted the basil seeds so that I could throw a few fresh leaves into a Bolognese or layer them with mozzarella when using up my tomato harvest. At no point did I ever imagine that I’d make pesto, nor that I would grow such a huge plant that would provide enough basil to whizz up into a sauce. So I was pretty chuffed when this thought pinged into my mind yesterday and I set to work immediately.pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-6 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-8I googled pesto recipes and each one I read suggested throwing a handful of this and a sprinkling that into the mix so I came to the conclusion that, as long as you have plenty of basil to start with, you’ll end up with something like pesto at the end, whatever you choose to add for taste. So here’s how I made it:pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-10 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-13I plucked the best leaves from my massive bunch and washed them thoroughly before putting into a blender cup and pulsing for a few seconds. The basil whizzed down to practically nothing but blimey the smell was gorgeous! I threw in a couple of handfuls of lightly toasted pine nuts and the same amount of grated parmesan. I also added about a clove-and-a-half of garlic and whizzed the whole lot together.pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-12 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-15The paste was pretty thick by now so I stirred in some extra virgin olive oil, bit by bit, until it turned into the consistency of pesto pastes that I’ve bought in the past. I added a splash of lemon juice and a crunch of salt and pepper to taste (tasting was the fun part, and I had to check it a few times to get it right, mmm!). When it looked right and tasted right I popped it into a jar and poured a little extra olive oil over the top to ‘seal’ it.pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-14 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-17Of course I couldn’t wait long before trying it out, so last night’s dinner was spaghetti with a huge blob of pesto stirred in. Oh my goodness. It was divine. I’m not being overly smug, but it was better than any other jar of pesto I’d eaten before. I think it was the fact that it was so fresh that made it so zingy and flavoursome. I’m going to add little dollops of my pesto on top of our homemade pizzas this weekend and I can’t wait to eat it again! Honestly, have a go at making your own fresh pesto, you won’t regret it. And you don’t need to grow-your-own to do this; if a basil plant has been marked down in the supermarket, grab it and blitz it up for dinner!


How does your garden grow? Veggie patch & outdoor fun

Oh what a lovely weekend this is proving to be. The weather has been glorious and yesterday I spent the whole day in the garden with my husband. We listened to the radio as we tended to our plants and had a thorough weeding session to bring the veggie patch back up to scratch, followed by a well deserved drink and lunch in the garden.summer party - garden table and chairs in wild flower meadow-10 allotment summer garden veggie patch runner beans-2I gave you an update on how our strawberries were getting on in their DIY makeshift planter earlier this week and today I’m happy to report a little bit of growth in the raised beds too. All of a sudden the carrot seeds that we planted along the front of the bed are finally sprouting up and the runner beans are running up the canes. Even the gooseberry bush that we planted last year is getting bigger and bushier!

You may have spotted two excellent runner bean plants in the photos and two that are still really small. That’s because we originally planted some peas on the left which, although they produced a few decent pods, didn’t climb very high and eventually withered and died. Our first semi-fail of the year.summer garden veggie patch runner beans-2 allotment summer garden veggie patch runner beans-3 Continue reading “How does your garden grow? Veggie patch & outdoor fun” »

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