Green gardening

We had a cold snap early in October and the demand for bubble wrap has escalated on Freecycle. Why? Because bubble wrap is great for insulating plants. Last year I wintered big houseplants outdoors by positioning them against the walls of the house, the pots and the sides of the plants swaddled in bubble wrap.

This year I'm low on bubble wrap because of our house move, so I had to find alternative solutions. We recently bought some appliances and I am using the polisterine packaging to insulate the trunk of a few house plants (I have a few cylindrical bits) and the flat sheets to insulate the bottoms of the pots or to shelter the sides of potted, non hardy plants.

Still, it was not enough so I built a greenhouse out of scrap materials (pictured here open and closed). I used a metal shelving unit somebody had dumped in the street, then wrapped around a broken PVC vacuum bag (usually sold as underbed storage, mine had a broken zip so the top couldn't close anymore) and fixed a torn pram raincover on the front with brown tape and pegs (so it can be opened for watering plants). I left a free shelf on the top of the unit to insert trays of seedlings early next year).

I know you can buy a plastic greenhouse from Argos for little more than £10 but this one costed nothing and used recycled materials that could have ended up in a landfill. I created an extra shelf on the ground by placing a polisterine sheet under the front row of pots. The bulky raincover stretches to accommodate the two rows of pots at the bottom.

There are other ways to be green in the garden. Used coffee grounds can be scattered around tender plants to keep slugs at bay (free from coffee shops); you can make cloches out of plastic bottles; you can use urine (yes, don't be squeamish) and nettles to activate your compost heap (no need to buy chemicals)... If you need more suggestions, just google green gardening, there are so many sites offering free advice!
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Abundance of apples

The wind, birds and squirrels keep knocking apples down. Some are rotten or diseased because our two trees were neglected, but it is still a bumper crop and I'm wondering what we'll do with them at harvest time, we are already struggling to dispose of the windfall ones! So far we have made jams and chutneys, given them away through Freecycle and to friends... If you have any suggestions, please let leave a comment.

We left London, at last!

We are in the Midlands now and it's not as dreary as our London friends said it would be, it's actually topping our expectations (and they weren't low to start with). We are in a pretty town with great schools (one has to think of the sprog) and plenty of things going on. The Midlands are not a cultural desert and they are not dreary nor grey; I was pleased to notice it rains less than in London and we get more sunny spells. We have exchanged our landscaped, urban garden for a family-friendly big plot. We have two apple trees (the pic on the side shows our eating apples) and plenty of space for my pots, plants and garden paraphernalia.