Sunday, 14 April 2013

My Garden

Two months ago, I moved house. I've not really written about this yet, because as it turns out moving house takes up a lot of your time. I don't mean physically moving all your stuff, but usually when you move into a new property, you have to buy a bunch of stuff and a bunch of stuff usually needs doing.

I have moved from a flat to a house with a garden, so finally have the garden I have always craved. It's not massive but big enough to do some growing, and already has some well-established trees and plants.

Here is our garden when we first moved in:

 It was bushy.


I decided to have some raised beds put in for vegetable-growing. And as both my husband and I are rubbish at DIY, we got someone in to make them for us, and to do some other general maintenance tasks while they were there. This is the result:


I also have a decent-sized patio, so plenty of space for some pots. I've been to the garden centre this weekend and managed to get out and do a couple of hours of gardening today, so things will soon be starting to grow!


Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Tips on reducing food waste

I recently wrote this article on reducing food waste for our Green Champions newsletter at work, and thought it would be appropriate for my blog too.

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Reducing your food waste is a good way not only to help the environment but also to save money in your own home. 

Some facts and figures about food waste:
·         We throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food and drink each year, at a cost of £12 billion a year. (Source: http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/)
·         Food waste costs the average household £480 per year (about £50 a month). (Source: http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/)
·         If everyone in the UK eliminated their food waste, the carbon dioxide saving would be the equivalent of taking one in five cars off the road. (Source: WRAP)

So, what can we do to help reduce food waste? Here are some hints and tips to give you some ideas.

Meal planning and shopping smartly
One way to try and eliminate food waste is not to buy too much food in the first place. This can often be easier said than done, but a bit of planning can really help. Try creating a meal plan for the week before you do your shopping and only buy what you need according to the plan. The Food Planner app is available online and on android phones - http://app.foodplannerapp.com/ - and is a useful tool to aid with meal planning.

Making use of your fridge and freezer
Storing fresh produce correctly will increase its shelf-life, e.g. carrots will last longer kept in the fridge, although potatoes are best kept in a cool, dark place (not the fridge). Many fruits and vegetables can also be frozen, so if you do find yourself having bought too much or with a glut from growing your own, making use of your freezer can be a great way to reduce food waste. This instructional video from BBC Good Food explains how: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/1011/freezing-fruit-and-vegetables

Making use of leftovers
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for longer. Go to http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/homehygiene/Pages/how-to-store-food-safely.aspx for advice on storing and reheating food safely.

Leftovers can also be used to create an entirely different meal, making the food you buy go further and reducing food waste. How about using leftover roast meats in a stir fry or even a stew? By combining leftovers with other ingredients, you can make a little go a long way! There are lots of websites that provide recipes using leftovers – here are a few you might want to try:

My new compost bin from getcomposting.com
Composting
Composting is a great way to make use of vegetable peelings, used teabags, coffee grounds, cardboard, garden waste and more! By using compost in your garden it will make your soil healthier and attract wildlife, including natural predators, to your garden. For more information on how to compost go here: http://www.recyclenow.com/home_composting/

For cheap compost bins go to www.getcomposting.com and see if you're eligible for a fantastic deal on composters via your local council.








These are just a few ideas on how to reduce food waste. If you have any more, I'd love to hear about them in the comments.