Friday, 18 August 2017

My plastic free lunch box.

I love my plastic free lunch boxes!  They're long lasting, don't leech horrible plastic chemicals into my food and won't end up as plastic landfill waste when I've finished with them*.

My plastic free lunch box. Stainless steel lunch boxes and containers.  From UK eco blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #plasticfree #stainlesssteel #plasticfreelunchbox #plasticfreelunchkit #ecofriendly #ecolunchbox

* I will never have finished with them, they'll last forever! 

I have two Klean Kanteen stainless steel containers in my lunch kit.  The bottle is really handy and I use the insulated canister for rice, curries, pasta, salads and that kind of thing for work.  I picked them both up from Ebay for about £20 each, the bottle is the Reflect 18oz and the canister is the 16oz Insulated Food Canister.

For sandwiches and wraps I have a stainless streel Elephant box.  It's really sturdy and nice (and soo shiny!).  I bought it direct from the Elephant box website, it's the square salad tin and it cost £11.99.

I also have a couple of little tins that I take dried fruit and nuts in.  I think one was from paperchase and the other used to have mints in.  I have a couple more somewhere, they're really useful for little portions of dry things.

I take my lunch in a second hand Skipping Girl basket.  I ALWAYS wanted a Skipping Girl bag in the 90's, and I found one recently on Ebay for a few pounds so I pounced on it!  They're hand made using re-purposed fishing twine.  This one is big enough for everything to fit in, and a magazine and book for lunchtime, and a pack-a-mack for when it rains on the walk home!

As you can see, all these nice stainless steel lunch boxes and bottles aren't cheap.  But I've bought cheaper versions of everything before and they just haven't lasted.  I've budgeted and bought my plastic free lunch kit bit by bit over a few months.  I'm glad I did too, because these have stood up to loads of wear and I'm looking forward to many more years of happy plastic free lunches!


Don't forget to check out my other small changes to help you live a greener life!


 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.

Its been a long hot summer (mostly!) and I've barely had my the hose pipe out in the garden!  How, you may ask?  By using a combination of clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers and mulch I've saved loads of water and loads of time.

Ollas, or clay pot irrigation.

Unglazed clay pots buried under ground let water out when the ground is dry and plants need it.  You can use ollas, which are round clay jars with a narrow neck, but they're fairly expensive.  Clay pot irrigation does the same job using terracotta plant pots, which are loads cheaper. 

Here's how I made my own really simple clay pot waterers.  There are loads of instructions online that involve gluing two pots together, I didn't go down that route because I don't want glue or silicone sealant buried underground where I grow my plants. 

You will need

unglazed terracotta pots
champagne or wine corks
plates or something to cover the top of the pots

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture

Dig a hole where you want the clay pot irrigation system to be.  The clay pot should stick up an inch or so above the surface of the soil.

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture

Fit a cork into the hole in the bottom of the pot (to stop the water running out of it too fast!), then pop the clay pot into the hole and fill around it.  Make sure it's level using a spirit level (or guesstimate!). 

Fill up the pot with water and cover with a plate or saucer. 

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture

These cost under £5 each (£4 for the plant pots, chipped plates from the kitchen and champage corks from Ebay) but I've made smaller versions for free using smaller plant pots. 

My raised beds have produced so well this year, and I'm sure the clay pot irrigation system has something to do with it.  I've filled up the pots 1 to 3 times per week, depending on the weather, and my plants have been so big and healthy.  And added bonus, slugs love hanging out in the damp pots, so I can remove and dispose of them easily and save my plants from slugageddon.  

Wine bottle waterers.

This is another really simple DIY to make your own plant waterer.  Just drink your wine, wash the bottle, fill with water, make a hole where you want to put it with a dibber, then quickly turn the bottle over and put the neck in the hole.  

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture

I tend to use these as emergency care for wilty plants, or for anything I know is particularly thirsty (my courgettes have a wine bottle waterer each!).  Because they're not permanent they're really handy for moving around the garden to where they're most needed.   

I also use glass bottle waterers in the conservatory, to stop my tomato and pepper plants from drying out too quickly.

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture

Mulch. 

I use three main types of mulch to protect the soil's surface, smother weeds, prevent moisture evaporation and reduce the amount I have to water my plants. 

Snapped twigs are quite a pretty mulch if you have some twiggy bits you'd like to reuse in the garden rather than chuck in the green bin.  Waste not want not.

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture

I'm always scooping up a bit of gravel from the driveway to mulch the top of my pots too. 

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture
  
A very Permaculture method of mulching is called 'chop and drop'.  As the name suggests you chop (ie. prune or dead head or weed) then drop the clippings directly onto the garden.  This returns the nutrients the plants have taken from the soil directly back where they came from, and the organic matter on top of the soil encourages soil life, from fungus and bacteria to worms and other creepy crawlies.  

I only chop and drop at very specific times.  In autumn I chop and drop then cover the droppings with a layer of compost so it can all decompose together to make happy soil in the spring.  

The only other time I use the chop and drop technique is to cover bare soil in very very hot weather.  I have clay-y soil which will bake, set solid and crack in the sun.  This year slugs ate all my summer seedlings so there've been bare patches of soil where I've been waiting for new plantlets to grow.  To temporarily cover and protect these bare patches I've chopped and dropped weed leaves and leaves from shrubs I've pruned.  Because it's been so hot these prunings have gone dry and crispy really fast, and decomposed quickly.  

I can't chop and drop during any kind of damp weather, because my garden is slug HQ and it just gives them more hiding places!

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture

3 ways to water your garden without the hose pipe, ollas, wine bottle waterers and mulches.  Info and DIY instructions to make your own ollas, clay pot irrigation, wine bottle waterers, and mulch with twigs, pebbles and chop and drop techniques.  From UK suburban permaculture gardening blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #ollas #claypotirrigation #winebottlewaterer #mulch #chopanddrop #permaculture #suburbanpermaculture
  
The combination of these three methods means I've only had the hose pipe out twice this year.  Of course I've had the watering can out a few times a week, but I've used loads less water and saved lots of time buy using water saving watering techniques. 

Don't forget to check out the rest of my gardening posts!




 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

What I ate in a day, a day of yummy vegan meals.

This is what I ate on a lazy day at home,

Breakfast was a toasted sesame seed bagel, filled with a Linda McCartney sausage and ketchup - and it was really yummy!  Orange juice and strawberries on the side for fruity healthiness too.

What I ate in a day, a day of yummy vegan meals. By UK vegan blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #vegan #veganblog #whatIateinaday #ukveganblog

For lunch I had a Brazilian inspired meal.  Herby kidney beans with left over brown rice and a little salad.  I dry fried some sesame seeds to sprinkle over the rice and added a few crisps to my plate.   My friend is married to a Brazilian guy and they lived in Rio for years.  When I visited them I learned that Brazilians sprinkle special little crisps over their rice and beans (and pretty much everything else!).

What I ate in a day, a day of yummy vegan meals. By UK vegan blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #vegan #veganblog #whatIateinaday #ukveganblog

Tea was Thai noodle stir fry with loads of veg - including a home grown courgette!

What I ate in a day, a day of yummy vegan meals. By UK vegan blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #vegan #veganblog #whatIateinaday #ukveganblog

I love a crispy snack when I'm watching TV in the evening, so I made my own vegan cheese and onion crisps with a packet of Pom Bears, some nooch and onion powder.

What I ate in a day, a day of yummy vegan meals. By UK vegan blogger secondhandsusie.blogspot.com #vegan #veganblog #whatIateinaday #ukveganblog


Don't forget to check out my other vegan blog posts for more vegan meal inspiration!