Beans, beans…

At the beginning of the pandemic, the panic-buying highlighted issues in our food supply chain. In response, there were so many posts online about self-sufficieny.

Whilst I’m sure most of these were well-intentioned, I think it’s unrealistic to expect that people who’ve never attempted gardening before could support themselves completely. That said, there are lots of awesome things you can do to supplement your food shopping with delicious home-grown vegetables, even if you just have a windowsill.

Before I start, I just want to say – I’m not a gardener. This is the first year we’ve tried harvesting more than some herbs, perennial fruit,  and what we can forage. We built the raised beds last November – prior to the pandemic – and have tried to fill them as best we can this season, using what we had on hand (as seeds and seedlings were hard to come by).

So, without further ado, here are the things we grew from the store cupboard.

Garlic

By putting a bulb of garlic in the fridge for a few weeks, and then planting the individual segments, we managed to start 2 rows of healthy garlic plants. When the plants start to wilt a little, I’ll cut the leaves, chop them and freeze them for a milder garlic taste that I can add to stir-fry etc. Then I’ll let the bulbs dry and store them somewhere dark, and cool, and dry.

Corriander

I have a large stash of herbs and spices, and basically anything called ‘seeds’ are exactly that (which took me far too long to realise!). I’ve been growing corriander seeds on the window ledge in the kitchen for months now and they’re doing really well.

Peas

The peas that I grow are from a packet of dried store-cupboard peas, gifted to us in the early 2010s by Husband’s Norwegian colleauge when she moved back to Norway. I couldn’t think of a way to use dried peas that anyone would actually eat, and my eldest was going through a phase of planting things so I let nature take its course with that one…. and got the most wonderful, prolific pea plants I’ve ever come across. I’ve been growing from them ever since, and even though they’re now (at least) ten years old, they still reliably germinate. In short, don’t overlook dried legumes – they’re a wonderful way to plant from your kitchen.

Beans

This one was actually a little mind-blowing (to me, because I’m a numbers nerd)…

A pack of beansprouts at Tesco (correct at the time of writing) costs 70p for 300g, or £2.34 per kilo.

You can buy a bag of dried beans for £2.25 a kilo (already slightly cheaper than the sprouted counterpart).

To sprout beans yourself, all you need is a jar, some cloth, an elastic band, and some water (and some beans, obviously). To be honest, the cloth and the band aren’t 100% necessary either.

Cover the bottom of your jar in beans. What you can see above is around 25-50g, or between 7-11p worth of beans.

Soak them in water for around an hour…

Fix the cloth onto the top of the jar with the elastic band, use it as a seive to remove the excess water and place on the window ledge.

After 24 hours, I could see the start of germination. I added a little more water…

After 48 hours, they looked like this.

After a week, they looked like the picture above! It’s amazing how they can go from just covering the bottom of the jar to filling it.

At this point, just as the first leaves are forming, I normally put the jar in the fridge. This slows growth and make them keep for longer.

The finished sprouts weigh around 200g, which means that per kilo – if my maths is correct – they cost around 35-55p. That’s a lower price per kilo than for 300g of pre-sprouted beans.

If you can buy the beans from a refillery – which I’m lucky to be able to – this results in zero waste sprouts. I use them as a base for winter salads, as texture in summer salads, in stir-frys, and on sandwiches. If you’re meal-planning anyway, it’s very little extra effort to put some ‘beans on to sprout’, and potentially save yourself a few pennies and a plastic carrier.

Even if you can’t buy the dried beans free from plastic, you’re still saving a lot of packaging from landfill. Let’s say – for the sake of easy numbers – that you sprout 50g of beans a time. This means that the 1kg back of beans will give you 20 sproutings. Each sprouting will give you around 250g (I’m saying 250g for easy maths, plus I’ve used the large example of 50g so the resulting sprouts will be slightly heavier). So that’s 20×250=5000g, or 5kg. The equivalent 300g packs of pre-sprouted beans would come in 16.6 plastic bags.

That’s effectively 15-16 plastic bags that you’ve saved from landfill, depending on whether you bought the dried beans loose or packaged.

Hhmmm… I got excited about beans there…

Moving on.

Brocolli & spring onions

Something to bear in mind while storing brocolli and spring onions:

Putting the stem of brocolli in water whilst in the fridge will keep it fresh for far longer. It is the flower of the plant, and needs treating as you would any cut flower.

Spring onions, meanwhile, usually have their roots which means they can effectively be used as ‘cut-and-come-again’ vegetables. All you need to do is pop them in a glass with water on your window ledge, then when you need some, cut down to the leaves, stopping as the colour begins to change to white.

I’ve heard you can do the same thing with leeks, but I’ve never tried it. They don’t last that long in my house. I’m a big lover of leeks…

Regrow?

Finally, I thought I would touch on those videos that seem to be everywhere just now, implying that you can regrow all sorts of things from food scraps. I’ve heard that lots of the ideas don’t work, so I thought I’d test them by putting a lettuce nub in the ground… I’ll let you know how that pans out…

Don’t be discouraged, though. In the past, I’ve had great success as a result of Plants from Pips – specifically with avocado stones.

And that’s all, really.

Have you tried growing anything from kitchen scraps and seeds? I’d love to hear about any successes, either here or on Twitter.

Update on the carrots…

You might remember me planting carrots a few weeks ago? I used some snotty looking gel to try and speed up the process somewhat, so I thought I would report back on how that had worked out…

Well, both the kitchen-roll method and the gel method worked wonderfully and both patches of carrots sprouted at the same time! The big difference is that it took three weeks of patience for the kitchen-roll carrots, whilst the gel seeds took fewer than 7 days to germinate. The gel and soaking really does speed things up…

That said, I think that I possibly suspended too high a concentration of carrot seeds in the gel. The little seedlings poking up are still very tightly packed.

You can just about see the little green shoots amongst the onions in the picture above.

The point of the gel method was to speed up the rate of germination, and to avoid wasting the tiny, precious seeds by planting them all and then needing to thin them out. I think if I had used more gel/fewer seeds and planted over a larger area then I would have had a lot more success with the planting.

In contrast, the picture above is the little seedlings, happily spaced from having been carefully laid out on kitchen roll. A slower start, sure, but one which results in a lot less wastage.

The gel method did nothing for the root parsley, incidentally. It’s either not going to make an appearance, or it is taking far longer than anticipated.

Behind the kitchen-roll carrots, you can see some giant daikon radishes – something that a lot of our cookery books call for but which you can’t readily buy in rural Aberdeenshire (a region once described to me as, ‘the place good food goes to die slowly’.) Behind that, you can just about make out some wisps of fennel, whilst garlic and chives are hiding towards the back. To the right, you can see the ghost of a courgette plant, stunted by some mid-May snow!  We’d been gifted the seeds at Christmas as we had expected to have a greenhouse by now, but as we haven’t had any luck in sourcing one, the courgettes were a gamble for the cold, northern soil that doesn’t seem to have paid off.

The back garden is looking increasingly green, at long last. And true to form, the plants seem to have finally realised that we’ve entered spring and are merrily growing now. Lettuces and radishes make up the first half of the closest raised bed…

Onions and carrots are next in line, then potatoes and tentative celery…

And finally there are the peas and basiccas, asparagus and beetroot.

I don’t know how all of this will work out – whether we’ll get anything worth eating, but it has been an absolute joy to watch all of these things grow and flourish, despite the strange weather.

The mystery trees from Freecycle have all grown their seasonal foliage now – all are rowan, except for the beech and holly. The holly doesn’t seem to be doing particularly well, though, and will perhaps end up being replaced by a second rosemary bush, the first having been planted a little further back in the same row.

At the front of the property, we’ve let the grass grow long – better for pollinators and small children.

The enormous branch was gifted by the farm as firewood, but the children love playing on it so much that we haven’t cut it up yet. You can also see the den they made, and the log planter in the foreground.

The herbs and flowers in the planters are growing well. I know that I’ll have to move a lot of the plants as they grow and take up increasing aounts of space, but for now, they all fit in nicely.

This is the second planter – it contains parsley and chervil, and some edible flowers from a selection of seeds we got for Christmas.

I’m also trying to reduce the number of weeds that I can’t use, by introducing weeds that I can. In the pot with the rose above, I’ve scattered camomile seeds…

And though my tea plant didn’t make it through the winter, the rocket I scattered at the base seems to be doing well.

in the back garden, up by the apple tree, there is a stump from a sycamore which had succumb to the giant polypore fungus. Too large to move, we decided to make a feature of it. If all goes to plan, these little bean plants will climb up the sides to the netting and create a lovely little leafy den on top of the stump – a perfect spot for summer reading!

We tend to be a little late to the party in Scotland, but here are some of the beautiful flowers, finally making an appearance as we march towards June…

Did you plant anything this year? How are you getting on with it? I bet your veg is further along than mine!

 

 

Dandelion Cake

We have an abundance of dandelions in our garden. I love that they bring some much-needed colour after winter bleaches the Scottish landscape, and that they feed the bees which seem to happily inhabit our garden… but they really do take over huge swathes of ground.

I play a game of chicken with them every year – how long dare I let them flower? Too long and they release clouds of seed across the ground, but no long enough and my polinators go hungry.

And I really don’t like just (compost) binning them. The dandelion is a versatile food source – roots and leafs and flower are all edible. What a waste of food to simply pull it up and throw it away.

Lots of people make salads, dandelion wine, vegan ‘honey’*,  root ‘coffee’, or Greek radikia, from various parts of the plant, but I wanted something quick and child-friendly so I settled on a 2-egg Victoria sponge with petals in it, baked in a loaf tin.

Some notes: I don’t actually use a recipe when I’m making Victoria sponge. I weigh my eggs, add the same weight of self-raising flour, the same again of sugar, then half that weight of vegetable oil and half of milk. I use the veg oil/milk combination  because it’s cheaper than the equivalent quantity of butter, and because I don’t need to buy an extra ingredient i.e. margarine. If you go down this route, vegetable oil and sunflower oil work beautifully. Extra virgin rapeseed oil is awesome for nutty cakes like carrot, or coffee and walnut, but not so much for fluffy sweet things. Whatever you do, don’t use olive oil or sesame oil – trust me. Just don’t.

In case you’re not an egg-weighing person, I roughly used 120g sf flour, 120g sugar, 60mls milk, 60mls oil and 2 eggs for this cake – plus the 2 eggs and the dandelion petals.

To get your petals, all you need to do is pick some flowers – or have small, helping hands do that for you – and chop the green bits off.

It doesn’t matter if you leave a few stray greens in – it’s all edible – but too many will leave a bitter taste.

In total, you need around a cup of dandelion petals, but you can add more or less depending on your personal preference. I’m not a precise cook so I would absolutely encourage experimentation.

Bake the cake for around 40 minutes at 160C, or until a skewer comes out clean. Once you’ve done that, leave it to cool and slice when ready. If you can bring yourself to, though, I would recommend leaving it for 24 hours for the flavours to mature a little. You’ll get more of the sweet, honey undertones that way. The texture is also much more stable, and therefore willing to carry more butter. Just saying.

And there you have it. A tasty way to reduce the spread of weeds in your garden.

Have you tried eating dandelions? What are you favourite recipes? I would love to try them out! Contact me here, or on Twitter.

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*Which I’m sure my 90+ yr old friend said was what most people would have used during WW2 if honey wasn’t available, though I could be wrong.

Carrots

I’m trying to grow some carrots this year, which I’ve been told can be difficult. I thought that as I have two different varieties (because a. I got excited, and b. I don’t know what I’m doing), that I would try growing them in different ways. This isn’t going to help me determine which method works best, or which variety suits our climate best, because there are too many variables for this to be a proper experiment, but it will let me try out a load of different things – which is excellent (see points a & b, above).

So, method one… The lady at the seed library advised wetting a sheet of kitchen roll, spacing the seeds on it and then covering the sheet of kitchen roll with a very fine layer of compost (just enough to hold it down). I have tried this with some yellow carrot seeds which I got from the seed library but there’s no signs of life yet.

But I still have some left, so I thought I would also try….

Method two… Which is a lot more involved, but oddly, seems far simpler. I basically watched this turorial and decided to try pre-soaking the seeds, then suspending them in a cornflour gel for easy distribution in the raised bed. This method was extra-welcome, because it meant I could make excess cornflour gel and let my small tag-along play with this while I did garden work.

And just because ‘why not’, I thought I would try sowing my root parsley seeds in the same way too.

First of all, you soak the seeds in water until you see the tiniest tip of a root showing, then you drain the water off and suspend the lot in the cornflour gel (see tutorial link above for gel recipe).

As to where I’m planting – I decided to plant my carrots in the same bed as my onions because I’d read that planting the two together works really well, and I decided to put the root parsley with the chives and garlic. I read somewhere once (specific, I know!) that carrots and parsnips should be kept seperate and whilst I know root parsley isn’t parsnips, I didn’t want to risk it. Root parsley is one of the husband’s favourite vegetables and as we haven’t been able to buy it anywhere, growing it is the only option. I usually get the seeds from Real Seeds, but due to the Covid 19 outbreak, the daily buying window for the site is too short and I had to buy on eBay instead.

But I digress…

The gel was really easy to make, though I feel like I should reiterate that you need it to cool before using it. If you don’t, you risk cooking your seeds before you get them in the mud. And obviously, this method uses a plastic bag as a dispenser, but there’s nothing to say that you need to use a brand new freezer bag for this – reused packagaing works just as well, it transpires.

Above is a picture of the seeds supsended in the gel. It looks… snotty…

Out in the raised beds, I lay a bamboo cane on the soil and pushed it in so I would get a line to squish the gel into. As you can see, I’m planting the carrots with the onions. The onion on the bottom right is a shop-bought one that started sprouting in the cupboard so I thought I would put it in the mud to see what happened… technical stuff…

Over in the other bed, I did the same thing with the root parsley seeds.

The next few days have rain forecast, so hopefully I won’t have to do too much watering to keep these guys from drying out.

I will send an update when I have one! Cross fingers for me!

More garden adventures

Whilst out on one of his lockdown walks, Husband found some hollow logs.

We felt they were too unique to chop up and burn so Husband decided to turn them into planters. The plan is to fill them with herbs and keep them along the front wall of the house so that they’re close by when we need them.

I’m not going to do a tutorial because it’s unlikely many people have random hollow logs sitting around (and because it’s fairly self-evident how they’re made), but I did want to mention them because they’re beautiful, free(ish), and totally sustainable.

For this one, Husband basically sank two elbow-shaped logs in the gravel, then lay the hollow log on top, before screwing slices of a different trunk to each end.

Because of the odd shape of the second hollow log, instead of screwing a disk on, he opted to cut a slice of wood and place it in the gap at the end of the chanel. This was simply a matter of measuring the circumference, finding a log that matched and then rotating it in place until it nestled snuggly.

I’m told that there are a few more potential log-planters, waiting to be had. If we build them, I think I’m going to fill those with salad leafs.

This has been a really nice exercise in using what’s on hand in the world around us. No wood was purchased for this – in fact, the only man-made materials used were the screws (though one could argue that the gravel counts too, given that it was used to level the logs on which the planters rest).

We have other ideas for how to utilise various wood we’ve found – everything from frames for climbing plants to the edging on yet more planting beds.

I will keep you updated as to how we get on!

Do you have planters in your garden? What are they made from, and what are you growing in them? I would love to hear about them – here, or on Twitter.

Seed Library

THE EVENTS DETAILED IN THIS POST HAPPENED BEFORE THE CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS. THE MARKET IN QUESTION OCCURRED ON MARCH 7TH 2020, PRIOR TO MORE STRINGENT MEASURES TO CONTAIN THE COVID 19 VIRUS. PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND.

Once a month, our little town hosts a market in the square.

I would love it if it could be weekly so I could do the bulk of my shopping there – stalls include local cheese makers, fish mongers, apiarists, pasta-makers, game butchers, vegetable growers and bakers. It’s everything a shopping experience should be – meeting neighbours and friends for a chat amongst the stalls, fresh air, local produce…

The absolutely incredible people from Deveron Projects were there too, on this occasion. And they were setting up a community seed library! The basic premise is thus; if you take seeds from the library, you have a go at growing them and then nom all the lovely food. And you return the same number of seed packets as you put in. It doesn’t have to be the same seeds – so, for example, if your crop of peas failed spectacularly because you got over excited and planted them out too early, you would be fine to send back an envelope of something else. Like rocket… just as an example…

Anyway, deeply enthused, I took home some ‘Dazzling Blue’ Kale and some ‘Jaune Obtuse De Doubs’ yellow carrots – both by Real Seeds – as well as some fine curled chervil, donated by a local.

In addition to the seed library, the group also run a community orchard and have operatd a swap shop for the past few years. But Deveron Projects isn’t the only wonderful initiative running in the town. There is also a community owned bookshop which is manned entirely by volunteers. And I could talk for hours about the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) project that is Tap O’ Noth farm, so don’t even get me started on the amazing work by Ellie and Martyn at the Ethical Gift Shop.

When I look at the amazing work that’s going on around me, I can’t help but feel hope for what’s coming next. If all of this is happening in the tiny town of Huntly, the thought of what’s afoot in the rest of the country helps to remind me that there are good people doing good work in spite of a system designed to favour consumerism.

Do you know of any amazing community centred ideas in your area? Are you a part of any? I would absolutely love to hear about your adventures! As ever, get in touch here, or on Twitter.

Every tree is a forest

Recently, I posted about replacing my evergreen hedge with native trees. 

I had been planning to purchase some saplings from The Woodland Trust,* but something last week stopped me, and I decided to put a post out on Freecycle instead. What I discovered was something inspiring.

My notice read something to the effect of;
WANTED: Tree weeds. Do you have saplings growing where there should be no saplings? I would be very happy to come and remove them, and give them a good home.

An amazing couple responded to my ad, and so I set off – armed with my shovel and some empty dog-food sacks in which to transport the roots.

As my sat nav brought me towards the house, I passed a plantation of young trees and wondered if this was where my saplings would be coming from – the response had said, ‘We have some trees to spare’ so I thought that perhaps the couple had bought a large quantity to fill the field and hadn’t been able to fit them all in.

When I arrived, however, the lovely people donating the plants took me round to the back of their house where they presented the biggest monkey puzzle tree I have ever seen. It looked to be around six storeys high and was apparently planted when the house was built. As the cottage looked to be around 200 years old, I could well believe it. It was absolutely magical – an enormous ladder of spiney branches, reaching into the sky.

And all around it, at waist height, were bare saplings. The homeowners explained that birds came to sit on the tree, pooped as they set off again, and spread a variety of mystery seeds all around the monkey puzzle tree. Most were obviously raspberry canes, but others looked more robust and it was these we settled on.

I mentioned the plantation as I began to dig, saying that I’d thought the saplings might be coming from there, and they explained that the entire thing had been filled with self-seeded examples from beneath the monkey puzzle tree.

I was absolutely taken aback. Here was the making of a forest, stemming from the planting of one single tree. The huge field full of saplings had been laid in the last ten years – how many generations had been in that house before this point and had pulled up all those potential trees? How many trees had been lost through being in the ‘wrong place’?

As humans, we have both the power to destroy and to protect, and never have I seen it as starkly as I did here. The residents of this cottage had the option to do as all their predecessors did – to rip out the self-seeded trees which threatened to take over their garden. But they didn’t. They chose to save literally hundreds of saplings and create native woodland instead. And now that they’ve filled their own land, they’ve chosen to help others plant trees too.

And each tree – as evidenced by that incredible, giant beanstalk-esque monkey puzzle tree – has the potential to create not just one, but a multitude of forests over the course of its life. And all those forests need in order to become are humans willing to work with the natural world, and not against it.

I took home and planted a beech, a holly bush, an-almost-certain-rowan, and three mystery trees. Whilst our slip of garden won’t ever be big enough to plant a forest in, I am now determined that I will pass on whatever saplings come form these plants. I might not be able to plant a forest here, but I can make sure that while I am custodian of these trees, that I give their forest every chance I possibly can – even if that’s dispersed throughout the region.

Have you planted any trees this year? Do you think it’s something you have space for in your garden? What would you plant if you did? As ever, I would love to hear your thoughts – here, or on Twitter.

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*I just wanted to touch on why I did things this way. Firstly – fewer transport miles. There were a total of six miles between where I am and where the trees were. This means that – secondly – I know that whatever I plant can survive here and will be hardy enough to tolerate the weather. Third, there’s no packaging – I reused the sacks my dog’s food came in, and now that my saplings are in the ground, I’ll be able to use them again. Fourth – and it’s a big one – time. According to everything I’ve read, it’s actually pretty late in the season for me to be planting trees. Apparently, they need to be moved during their winter dormant phase so as we move into spring, the window for getting them in the ground grows ever shorter. I didn’t know how long postal delivery would be, so this seemed like an instantaneous alternative.

And finally, even though I didn’t get the trees from the Woodland Trust, I put in a donation to the same value as I would have spent. The charity does absolutely amazing work, and I want to support them – it’s why I chose them to buy trees from rather than my local garden centre. I feel like this way, everybody wins.

 

Peter Piper plants a pot of peas in paper…

Work on the garden continues, and this week I dug out one of the gifts we’d been given for Christmas so I could set to work making some biodegradable plant pots.

This little gizmo is great for so many resons.

a. It doesn’t come in plastic.
b. It isn’t made of plastic.
c. It prevents the use of plastic pots.
d. It offers a use for scrap paper (rather than it being resigned to recycling).
e. The pots it makes are biodegradable so when you’re ready to plant out, you don’t disturb the roots of what you’re planting – just pop the whole lot in the ground.

Plastic plant pots are a real bugbear of mine. Firstly, they’re prone to cracking. Secondly, they blow over in the wind or – as in the past few storms – blow away completely with your apple tree-babies in! Finally, unless you want an especially large pot which needs to be light, they’re not essential. You can plant seedlings in pretty much anything – I love a syrup can, personally, but toy stacking cups, mugs without handles, and plastic trays from supermarket meat are all completely servicable ‘pots’ too. In short, if it’ll hold water, you’re golden.

Anyway, I digress.

All you do to make the paper pots, is wrap a strip of your scrap around the thing that looks like a pestle. You then fold the overhang of paper over the bottom of the pestle and mash it into the ‘mortar’. Then you remove the resulting paper container and you’re done.

Of course, you don’t need to buy a fancy gadget to make free paper pots. If you want to use a similar method to the one detailed above, you can simply wrap your paper around a jam jar and push the base into the upturned jar’s lid (presuming the base of the jar is slightly smaller than the lid). Alternatively, you can snip at four points at the base of a toilet roll to around a third of the way up, then fold these ‘flaps’ in on themselves to create a pot base.

Whilst I do plan to plant carrots in paper pots, these particular ones are destined for peas. We have a tree-stump in our garden and I have ambitious plans for it involving peas… watch this space…

Gardens are a fantastic place to use up resources which we might not use inside. Whether that’s via compost, seeds from our food, or paper (as above), all of these actions help to minimise our impact directly and indirectly. Directly; as a way to dispose of our waste which isn’t landfill. Indirectly; by providing us with (potentially) plastic-free food with zero food miles, habitat for wildlife, habitat for pollinators, and as a way to process carbon in the atmosphere. What are your favourite things about gardening, and do you have any tips for things to reuse outside? As ever, I would love to hear them – here, or on Twitter.

The Garden

I touched on our plans for the garden a long while back, whilst chatting about my kitchen. Since then, we’ve been busy scheming, and now that the new year is on us, it’s time to get to work.

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Using Allotment Month by Month, by Alan Buckingham as our main source of information, I sat down one night and tried to make a month by month plan of what we could realistically achieve within a year as total novices.

Hardback cover of Allotment Month by Month

Then yesterday, with help from our absolutely amazing neighbours at the farm, work began.

Firstly, the conifer hedge at the back of the property came out. I’m not normally one for removing trees, but I’m going to call this one a win – the maintainence of this border was getting increasingly difficult given the trees’ height, it was interfering with the farm’s electric fencing, and now it’s gone, I can plant a variety of native trees and bushes which will flower and provide food for us and various wildlife.

The plan so far is to purchase a ‘Scottish Mix’ of trees from the Woodland Trust.  This includes a holly, a rowan, a silver birch and a juniper. I had also hopes to plant a yew, however it’s potentially unsafe for grazing animals on account of the apparently toxic alkaloids in the foliage and seed-coats (if anyone knows more about this, I would love to hear from you – I’m just reading things online!) so for now, the yew will have to go on hold.

Without the constant maintainence of the hedge to worry about, we can devote our time outdoors to raised beds, which is precisely what we intend to do. Husband planned and built the containers from a mixture of scrap wood and new, treated timber, and we have – so far – filled them with a mixture of shredded branches and rotted manure from the farm up the track.

The next stage – roll on pay day! – will be buying some (peat free) compost as the top layer and planting all manner of exciting things. Because of the chippings and the manure, I shouldn’t need to bring in an awful lot of compost. Eventually, I hope we’ll be able to keep topping this up with our own from the compost bins we’ve managed to source but for now, I’ll be prioritising large sacks and recyclable plastic.

In addition to the compost bins, I hope to purchase a wormery so that the cooked food waste and dog poop can also be processed here – less to transport off site on bin-day. Obviously, you can’t use the resulting soil on food beds (because dog poop), but I’m sure this new earth would be welcome beneath the little bee-buffet I’m trying to cultivate around our deck.

At some point, we absolutely want to get a greenhouse, but as with so many other things, money is a (huge) factor. I think, to begin with, we’ll see how we go with the raised beds and assess the greenhouse situation after that, but given the climate in the north east of Scotland, in all liklihood, we’ll need glass to grow anything beyond potatoes…

I will keep you updated on our progress over the coming months. I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that what I’m doing here is far from a tutorial – we have absolutely no idea what we are doing! – so please don’t copy me! In fact, feel free to comment with ways we can up our gardening game to avoid complete failure!

As ever, please feel free to get in touch below, or on Twitter, with ANY suggestions!