Garden, Home and Garden

Clever Sustainable Garden Ideas To Try

reclaimed garden seating

I’ll love to chat with you about my sustainable garden ideas today.

You might be thinking that the end of November is a bit of a funny time to be thinking about your garden.  However, I’m a staunch believer that winter is the very best time to plan your garden.  You want to be sowing seeds in around about March/April time.  Therefore, taking some time to really think about want you want to grow and where is, in my books, time never wasted.

Also, right now I am itching to overhaul our garden.  I had hoped to do it in the summer of this year.  Sadly the funds we’d saved up to do the garden had to be spent on other things that popped up unexpectedly.  We are now currently saving towards the garden improvement fund, and using this time to plan out our garden.

Sustainable Garden Ideas

It’s been quite fun.  I love doing stuff like this.  And I thought I’d share some of the sustainable garden ideas that I’m keen to incorporate into our future garden.

Reclaimed Materials

reclaimed garden seating

I’m keen to use as many reclaimed materials as possible in the garden for two reasons.  Firstly, to keep costs down and to make the garden greener.  I’d love to create some seating in the garden.  I came across this reclaimed seating made from glass bottles, building waste, rocks, and scaffold boards.  It was designed by Ben Chandler and is a thing of beauty!

Green Roofs

bike shed green roof

I’ve mentioned before that I’d love to install a green roof on top of our bike shed, like this one found here.  As well as being visually stunning, it adds a little bit more biodiversity into your garden in an otherwise unused area.

Water Conservation

sustainable garden ideas

Water is a precious resource, so conserving it is a priority.  We have bog-standard water butts on our allotment.  However, in your garden you might want something a little easier on the eye.  I came across this barrel-style water butt on Pumpkin Beth.  I think something like this might fit the bill better in our garden.

Wildlife Ponds

wildlife pond

Something my partner would absolutely love to do is to add a small wildlife pond to our garden.  Perhaps one like this beautiful example found here.  Given that our garden is tiny then something this size is out of the question. But in truth, even a small wildlife pond can be beneficial to local wildlife, providing a refuge and a home to freshwater creatures.

Over the last 100 years, it’s estimated that the UK has lost almost half a million ponds.  This threatens freshwater species, so adding even a small barrel pond specially designed with wildlife in mind is beneficial.  Here’s a handy guide on how to make one in a barrel or bucket if, like me, space is at a premium.

Planting Native Species sustainable garden design ideas

Another thing I’m to do is to plant as many native species as possible. This includes bee-friendly native plants to help support wildlife. I’m thinking alliums, bluebells, honeysuckle, foxgloves, comfrey, and hellebores.

Vegetable-wise, right now I’m avidly pouring over the Real Seeds seeds selection.  They sell heirloom and heritage vegetable seeds – with the promise of no F1 hybrids or genetically modified seeds.  This means you can even save your own vegetable seed for future years, meaning there’s no need to buy new seed every year, and your vegetables adapt to your local conditions.  Although we grow most of our vegetables on our allotment, we like to keep some herbs to hand in our garden for easy pickings.  We’ve also found that courgettes grow better in our garden than on the allotment bizarrely.

Although we endeavour to do much of the work ourselves to save money, if doing work on your garden yourself sounds a bit out of your skill level then any good gardener/landscaper will be able to incorporate sustainable garden ideas into your garden design.

Garden, Home and Garden

Is It Easy to Keep Chickens?

keeping chickens

I’ve got a great post for you today from Helen Redfern on the joy of keeping chickens. She discusses if it is easy to keep chickens, and why, if you can, then you should.

I’ve been following Helen’s chicken rearing adventures for some time now with more than a slight degree of chicken envy. When it came to post on poultry, I knew that Helen should be the person to write for Moral Fibres on how easy it is to keep chickens.  

In this article, Helen explains how keeping chickens has changed her life and how you can’t just ‘wing it” when it comes to keeping chickens.   

keeping chickens

Life Changing

Keeping chickens has changed my life.

This may seem like an extraordinary statement to make. However, they have changed my life in a similar way to when I had my first child.

See, prior to becoming a chicken keeper I didn’t have any interest in nature, the outdoors, the food I bought, or early mornings.  Or rather, I should say, especially early mornings.

Picking up a chicken for the very first time at an introduction to chicken keeping course, my shoulders relaxed, and I felt something.  A sense of peace. A sense I’d found what I’d been looking for for years. And also, my calling in life.  I understand if you think the latter is a bit naff and cliché: I’d have thought the same.  But I certainly felt like this was a place I belonged.

Is It Easy to Keep Chickens?

I was apprehensive, of course I was. I knew nothing about chicken-keeping.  I’d scoured the internet for others who had taken the plunge but I found it difficult to find someone like me.  Someone who had no experience of keeping any animals whatsoever. Someone who was used to a postage stamp of a garden they spent little time in or had little interest in, but had recently moved to the countryside and found space.  Along with someone who has spent the majority of adulthood chasing a career, having babies, and glued to the laptop.

keeping chickens

I didn’t know what sort of coop to keep them in. Whether to go for plastic or wooden.  I didn’t know what set up to have to keep them safe from predators.  And I didn’t know how to care for them on a daily basis. Or what to do if one became ill.

And I needed to know.  I couldn’t take on this sort of commitment without knowing.

Thankfully, after reading some books (I recommend this one*) and attending a course for a few hours, I felt more confident. It seemed relatively easy to keep chickens.

Learn The Basics

The course instructor, a man who had been keeping chickens since childhood and now bred them to sell, talked us through their day-to-day upkeep.  How to stop them flying over fences, how to keep them free from lice and red-mite, what to feed them, what to put in their houses as bedding.

I returned the next day and bought six chickens.  Then, together, over the next four years, the chickens have looked after me, as I’ve looked after them.

What Keeping Chickens Has Brought Me

They’ve encouraged me to get up early; to step outside on misty mornings, on warm, humid mornings, and on wet, miserable mornings, and to take in deep lungfuls of the early morning air.  They’ve encouraged me to look around, to notice the seasons, the first leaves on the trees and when they first blossom, along with the difference in the air when summer merges into autumn.

They’ve taught me the names of trees.  Ok, I admit, they didn’t teach me which tree was an ash, a sycamore, a horse chestnut, and so on.  But they made me want to find out myself.  They made me want to research what that bird song was, the names of wildflowers, the crops that make up the landscape, the tracks made over the fields.

And they’ve taught me to slow down.  To embrace a slower pace of life.  And provide me with entertainment on a daily basis and beautiful eggs, with deep orange yolks.

If you’re thinking about keeping chickens I say go for it.  What you gain is so much more than a pet or fresh, daily eggs.  What you get is a lifestyle.

Follow Helen’s blog, or catch up on Facebook or Instagram.

And if chickens aren’t your thing, but eggs are, here’s my simple tip on how to test if an egg is fresh.

chicken keeping

All photos copyright Helen Redfern.