Monday, 23 July 2012

Some Summer Updates from Frugaldom

Life in Frugaldom

There has been so much happening in the garden that work indoors has ended up on the backburner again! End result is, we still don't have a kitchen but we have a whole host of critturs, beasties and birds visiting the wildlife garden and, in return, not an awful lot by way of homegrown vegetables.

The strawberries did incredibly well and we're now onto blackcurrants and raspberries. I think I've picked a sufficient quantity of blackcurrants to make enough jam to last us until next year, but have had to freeze the berries pending further work on what will, eventually, be reinstated as my kitchen.

Last week, I picked the first cabbage, but there are few surviving the constant slug attacks. The slugs are out of control at the moment, so I really need better defences and a clear division made between the vegetable plots and the rest of the garden. This permaculture lark is all fine and good, communing with nature and encouraging wildlife, but it's very time consuming and slow to cultivate.

The herb spiral, on the other hand, has come on in leaps and bounds, producing a profusion of herbs, strawberries and water cress in the tiny 'pondlet' at the bottom of it. Since building this one, I have now completed a second, circular bed adjacent to it, which has been planted with more herbs and flowers. The herb spiral is a garden feature that I can highly recommend, I'm really impressed by how well everything grows in it.

My next project was 'the logman'.

Late last year, a neighbour had a conifer felled and gave us all the wood, so it had been stacked at the bottom of the garden for some time. To be honest, it isn't the best type of wood for burning on an open fire, so this led me to thinking up a novel idea of what to do with the logs - I built a raised bed shaped roughly like a boat and have planted blueberry bushes and heather in it. At the 'helm', I used the final log to make a bird table and named him 'the logman'. He's very popular with the birds, I have to admit, and his lantern can be lit on summer nights, so he's become quite a feature in the Frugaldom garden. His face is made from bottle tops and a twig, with some more twigs secured around the edge of the slice of log that serves as the bird table. Again, I am really pleased at how this turned out and even more impressed by the number and variety of birds that frequent 'him' on a daily basis.

The good weather continued here despite tales of flash floods and high tides elsewhere, so it seemed like a good idea to make a start on creating the long awaited 'bug hotel'. Some readers may remember I was able to get a wrought iron hanging rail from someone on Freecycle a few years back and this was originally converted into a vegetable growing rack. This year, however, it became the basis for the new bug hotel. I was inspired to begin this project after reading about 'Bugingham Palace', so set about creating my own, frugal version.
The Frugaldom bug hotel was completed last week and even includes a homemade bee house, which was made using the hollow stems pruned from the Himalayan Honeysuckle at the bottom of the garden. Again, I am quite proud of the end result, finishing it all off with a butterfly house that I found for half price in Aldi. £3.49 seemed like a small price to pay when everything else used was free. I have now made a start on the bottle garden, but it's only in the early stages, so nothing much worth discussing just yet.

 But what about the whole homeworking/microholding/self-sustainability 'thing'?, I hear you ask. Well, while the weather has been good, we have taken the opportunity to invest some of the savings into renovating the old outbuilding, which will then provide us with safe, dry storage space and work-space by way of a garden room, otherwise known as our eco-arts studio.

This is what the building looked like when we first bought the property. It was a derelict disaster zone, to say the least. It took us months to clear away all the rubbish that completely filled it and surrounded it, then there were all those broken windows to sort out before they fell on anyone.

The serious work began on this project about three weeks ago, but it has proven to be a far bigger job than first anticipated. For a start, the roof and two full walls - those not shown in the photos - have had to be removed and replaced to make the building safe. In order to do this, we had to disconnect the electrics, (I could hardly believe there were live wires in there in the first place!)which will need to be fully replaced at some point.

We are now at the stage of needing to find a door and new windows to replace the old ones, so I've been busy scouring the area for anything that might fit. Hopefully, one of the glazing companies from the nearest town may have some old ones available at a cheap enough price to warrant moving them and making them fit the gaps. In the meantime, the old concrete blocks have had a coat of whitewash to brighten them up a bit and there's someone out there right now sorting out the floor and replacing all the wood. Exciting times ahead and everyones' fingers are crossed that the sunshine will return soon so we can complete the renovation. Only then will we tackle the completion of the kitchen.

For anyone interested in life in and around our area, I have set up a Facebook page that is now home to all the photographs of the surrounding area, along with progress photos taken of the wildlife garden, so please feel free to visit and 'like' the page, that way you can be kept bang up to date with garden progress in our tiny corner of southwest Scotland.

The Frugaldom forums are also still fairly busy for anyone who would like to take part in any of the frugal living challenges.

Hoping not to leave if for so long next time and looking forward to making the most of this summer's staycation. There's so much to see and do when you're trying not to spend, so wildlife, nature and the 'make do and mend' activities are all being well served, as are free events being attended.


  1. What amazing progress!

    Love the herb spiral and bug hotel (we have one at school).

    Glad to hear you have had some delicious berries. Our strawberries did very well this year. Yum!

    Hope the outbuilding plans go well for you too.

    Sft x

  2. Thanks, SFT, Hope you have a great holiday and will hear all about it when you get back home again. :)

  3. Good to catch up and find out a bit more about what you've been up to and what your plans are. It looks like you've been making steady progress. The studio conversion sounds very exciting - good luck.

    Growing veg has been almost a right off for us too this year as the slugs and voles have demolished pretty much everything and the potatoes all got blight! In theory permaculture shouldn't create more work because it's very essence is about minimum input for maximum output, but sometimes it feels as though it would be easier just to have a grass lawn and mow it every fortnight!


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