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Home and Garden

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 Speciessustainable 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.

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

How to Make Herb Infused Vinegar for Cleaning

Today let me show you how to make herb-infused vinegar for cleaning.

infused vinegar for cleaning

White vinegar is a pretty amazing household cleaner.  It’s incredibly cheap.  It cuts through dirt, grease, odours, and soap scum like nothing else.  Vinegar can be used in a myriad of different ways; and is kinder to the environment than many cleaning products you can buy.  It’s a bit of a miracle cleaning product really when you think about it.

Conventional cleaning products have also been found to be as bad for your lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.  Therefore swapping to infused vinegar for cleaning makes good health sense too.  

However, there is one downside to vinegar, and it’s quite a biggie.  Vinegar smells of, well, vinegar.  Which isn’t entirely ideal sometimes, and isn’t to everyone’s taste.  Particularly if you are using it in a small space.  

I quite often use a vinegar spray to clean my kitchen, but I don’t want it smell like I’ve been eating fish and chips. 

How To Make Herb Infused Vinegar for Cleaning

In this instance, I turn to essential oils to fragrance my vinegar.  Or, when I’m feeling super thrifty, I turn to kitchen scraps and herbs picked straight from my garden to make infused vinegar for cleaning.  You see, infusing the vinegar with citrus peelings and my favourite botanicals creates a fresh scent that’s light on the pocket.  

You Will Need

  • 500 ml white vinegar.  Never malt, white wine vinegar, rice vinegar or any other variety: just white.  Here’s where I buy my vinegar for cleaning in bulk, cheaply.
  • A large glass jar with a lid.
  • Orange, lemon, or lime peel (you can freeze fruit peelings as you go, to reduce food waste.  When you have enough to make the infused vinegar, there’s no need to defrost the peelings, simply use them frozen. 
  • A spray nozzle (re-use one from an old cleaning products bottle)
  • A handful of fresh herbs

Method

1. Take a 500 ml bottle of white vinegar and pour it into a clean glass jar.  Keep the glass bottle the vinegar came in – you’ll need it later.  If you’re using vinegar from a bulk jug then you’ll need a spare jar.  

2. Add a good handful of citrus peel to the jar (at least two orange’s worth of peel per 500 ml bottle of vinegar) and/or a large handful of fresh herbs, and pop the lid on.

3. Leave the jar in a dark spot to infuse for at least 14 day.  If you leave it longer the orange scent will be stronger.

4. After 14 days (or longer), sieve the vinegar, and pop the peels/herbs into your compost bin.  Decant half of the vinegar back into the jar for use later, and decant the other half of the vinegar into the original glass vinegar bottle.  Or into your spare jar if you used vinegar from a bulk jug. 

5. Top up the vinegar in the bottle with cooled boiled water – so the vinegar and water is a 50/50 solution, and add a spray nozzle.

To Use

Use as you would any other cleaning product.  However do not use on granite, marble or natural stone, as it will damage these surfaces.

How to Store Your Herb Infused Vinegar

Your diluted cleaner should keep for around 8 weeks.  Undiluted it will keep indefinitely.