My Budget Greenhouse, Six Months On

Back at the beginning of the year I decided to run a little experiment. You see, I wanted to buy a greenhouse, but I had neither the means to afford a proper glass one or the means to transport it up to my plot, so I settled instead on a plastic model. The trouble with plastic greenhouses is that they aren’t nearly half as durable as their glass counterparts. One strong gust of wind, and the frames end up in a mess or the material covering the house is ripped up. You could even find your greenhouse caught up in a nearby tree.

After choosing the Wilko Greenhouse for around £30, I had to work out a way of ensuring that this wouldn’t happen to me. My plot is quite exposed and even if I could only keep the greenhouse up for a year, so long as the growing season was done I could at least take something away from it.

I decided that digging a trench for the base was one of my safest bets at keeping it secure. Once this was done, I filled the entire square with earth and woodchip to help anchor it down. Wilko do supply you with guide ropes, which I made as tight as I could. Yet, having a compost bin on one side and some fencing on the other guaranteed that the structure wasn’t going to blow off in a hurry.

I can safely say that, six months on from setting the greenhouse up, it has yielded some fantastic results. My tomato harvest has increased to triple the amount I had last year out on the exposed balcony. I’m picking countless hot chilli peppers too. However, the biggest achievement for me this year has been successfully growing aubergines.

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Just some of the delicious tomatoes I’ve picked this year.

It’s not just inside the greenhouse that I’ve reaped the rewards. Providing yourself with a growing space that’s warmer than the outside during the winter and gives plants shelter to grow at their own pace means that you can have several strong vegetable crops ready to plant a little earlier than those you’ve had to grow at home. They’re also cheaper than garden centre varieties, too.

In the five years that I’ve been growing my own food, I have attempted aubergines three times now. On only one of these occasions have I managed to get any fruit. Picking my two long fruits earlier in the year, they made a fantastic base for curries and veggie Bolognese.

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Whether the greenhouse survives some of the winter storms remains to be seen. But the overall picture is very promising indeed. In fact, I am so impressed by the results of my experiment that I will be erecting another greenhouse just a metre away from the original to house more of my seedlings next year.

So, if you’re hesitating about buying a plastic greenhouse over a glass one ready for next year, don’t overthink it. There are plenty of ways that you can keep your greenhouse secure, and the crops are worth it too.

Cost-cutting Curries: Sag Aloo

Don’t you just hate it when you’re craving an Indian but you only have £5 to your name?

Well, it may surprise you to know that you can make several of your Indian takeaway favourites with very little effort and without blowing the bank.

My sag aloo goes perfectly with this recipe.

Behold, my video recipe for sag aloo – one of our all-time favourite Indian sides. It takes no more than 20 minutes to make, is full of yummy flavours and will cost you barely anything. The potatoes here are dirt cheap, the spices can be used again and again and sag aloo is also a great way of using up that leftover spinach you have in your fridge that goes off tomorrow.

You can bulk make this dish eating it alongside a delicious curry tonight, storing it for a couple of days in the fridge and taking it to work with you instead of buying that meal deal.

Why not give my simple recipe a try and let me know how you get on?

Jazz Up Your Lunch – Quality Quiche

Sure, we’re in the middle of winter and you’re still trying to lose all of that weight from Christmas. Every now and again, however, we all deserve to indulge ourselves. Sometimes, the urge to buy a pie, pasty or anything else with fatty pastry overcomes us and we end up resenting it. There is a simple solution though: make your own quiche.

Quiches are the best. They combine delicious pastry with cheese and egg to make something that not only fills you up, but makes you feel good for a long time after too. Of course, by making your own quiche, you can also create something 100x healthier than one from the supermarket. Oh, don’t worry about making pastry if you don’t have the time – just pick up some ready-rolled shortcrust pastry instead like I’ve done below.

Here are some of the best vegetarian quiche combinations:

Pepper, tomato and goat’s cheese

Broccoli, garlic and Stilton

Onion, mushroom and cheddar

Mushroom, pepper and mozzarella

Quality Quiche

  • 1 roll of shortcrust pastry or savoury tart case.
  • 5 eggs
  • 150ml of double cream
  • 75ml of milk
  • 140g of Mature cheddar cheese
  • Vegetables of your choice, chopped
  • 100g of the topping cheese of your choice

Step One

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180C. Grease a tart case and roll out your shortcrust pastry or remove the packaging from your tart case.

Taking a large jug, beat your 5 eggs together. Add the cream and the milk, as well as some seasoning and any herbs or spices (cayenne pepper, paprika and chopped chillies work fantastically as spices and basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary for herbs.)

Step Two

Add your grated cheddar to the base of the quiche and then layer over the vegetables of your choice. Finish by pouring over the egg mixture, grating a little more cheese over the top and then placing into the oven. Test every so often to make sure that the egg is solid but wobbles slightly when you shake it.

Step Three

The quiche should keep for three lunchtimes. Alternatively, keep it as a dinnertime treat. Either way, you’ll save some money on the meal deals and canteen food, as well as keeping things a little healthier as well.

The Grow Your Own Food Challenge

I’ve spent quite a lot of the last four years working out how I can stop buying supermarket vegetables altogether. However, in truth, the food revolution starts with just one plant.

It doesn’t matter if you choose to grow a huge courgette plant or you sprout a few pea shoots for salads: the end result is still the same. When you come to harvest your crop, you will see just how great tasting real, fresh food is.

How do I convince you that growing your own food is actually cool?

You see, I could use this blog to talk about growing your own food until the cows quite literally come home. The best way that I can show you about growing your own food is by doing it myself. I’m not talking about long videos and blog posts about how big my pumpkins were this year.

No, the Grow Your Own Food Challenge will guide you through growing easy, fun crops like tomatoes, chillies, micro-salad plots and windowsill peashoots. Everything will be achievable with just an hour or two to spare in the week and myself and my blogging friends will be presenting everything in clear, short bites.

I split my time up between working in a supermarket, writing for a newspaper and creating content for a garden centre. My weeks are full of work – and, although I’d love to live on my allotment, I can’t. Through this lack of time, I’ve learnt to garden and grow food easily, efficiently and without much effort at all.

If I can do it, you can too.

Like what you see? Check out the Facebook group where all the action will be happening and keep following the blog. Don’t settle for second-best – this year, set yourself the challenge of growing your own food. Re-energise your food, live healthily and take care of your very own food factories.

 

Beat the January Blues: My Easy Veggie Tikka Masala

How do you make the poor month after Christmas more exciting? The weather is still cold and there’s not much money in the pot so eating out is not an option.

Well, there is one way that you can celebrate: make your own easy, delicious curry by following this ridiculously easy guide. Oh, and by the way, it’s both veggie and vegan friendly!

TOTAL APPROXIMATE COST: £4.64

DAYS IT’LL LAST: 3

Go on, treat yourself this evening and have a tasty curry, you won’t regret it and you’ll save money as well!

Like what you see? Why not check out some of my other tasty, cheap and exciting recipes here.

I’d love to see your results, why not share them over on @youngground or on facebook and we can celebrate a foody January together!

Jazz Up Your Lunch: Save On Slaw

Sure, it’s winter and coleslaw is a summer bbq kind of thing, but how many of you buy takeaway burgers, or sit down to tuck into a jacket potato during these cold, dark months.

That’s where this delicious slaw comes in:

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There are two really good reasons to make your own coleslaw:

It takes no more than 5 minutes to make.

and:

You can keep it in a tub for 2-3 days and use it as and when.

Continue reading Jazz Up Your Lunch: Save On Slaw

How to Grow Salads Without a Lot of Space

Want to grow your own food but you haven’t got a garden? You don’t need one.

Behold the windowsill garden plan:

Continue reading How to Grow Salads Without a Lot of Space

Jazz Up Your Lunch: The Perfect Omelette

Check out my previous tips on how to create awesome cheese on toast, here.

How many times have you come home from a tough day at work, looked at your cupboard and remembered all of those money-saving meals you were going to make, only to opt for takeaway instead?

Continue reading Jazz Up Your Lunch: The Perfect Omelette

Easy Sunday Comforts: Apple and Lavender Tart

Sundays are great. Although Sundays signify the last part of the lazy period – the wholesome feasts of food you’re likely to have at the end of the weekend are the best. This week, why not have a go at something a little different with my recipe for apple and lavender tart? The lavender gives this dessert a little more fragrance, making it even better alongside custard!

Continue reading Easy Sunday Comforts: Apple and Lavender Tart

Pumpkin Muffins

Halloween is here, and I’m sure you’ve all been busy carving out your pumpkins.

But what exactly do we do with the rest of the pumpkin once it’s been carved out?

Well, you can take both the delicious orange flesh and seeds and make this delicious pumpkin muffin recipe:

Continue reading Pumpkin Muffins