Saturday, 22 August 2009

I know it's early but...

...I've been on the MSE website and there is a very useful thread on there called "Preparing for Winter". I know, I know, it's August. It's meant to be the hottest time of the year, but already we have felt a bit chilly in this house so I am starting to get sorted so come the cold weather we won't be landed with a ginormous heating bill!

We don't have gas heating here; our main heat source is a multi fuel stove and we also have an immersion heater but I don't want to use that too much as it is expensive to run!

Currently we have the immersion heater on for one hour a day in the morning. This gives us hot water for the day (our shower is electric so doesn't need water from the immersion heater) and as there is only the two of use and the fur babies, this is enough for us to do our washing up etc :)

We pay £35 a month DD for our electricity and we have got our quarterly bill this morning and are a little bit in credit. I know it will increase in the winter but I hope it will be no more than an additional £15 a month (fingers crossed!)

The stove in the living room can use either coal or wood so over the next few months we are going to find a good supplier and get a stock of logs and coal.

Other things that we plan to do are:
  • Fleecy blankets - we already have a few to snuggle up under when watching the telly. I'm going to get a few more of these as they can go on the beds to keeps us warm at night
  • Draft excluders - as this is an old house, I think it might get a bit drafty. I'm going to make some draft excluders so go in front of the doors etc to keep us toasty and warm
  • Thermal linings for the curtains - I've seen these on Ebay for about £30 per pair but I'ce also seen the thermal material a LOT cheaper in Dunelm Mill so I think I'll have a bash at at making my own
  • Hot water bottles - we have three of these so I will check to make sure they are still ok and maybe get a couple more so Mr P actually gets a look in with these ;)
  • Fleecy pjs - not sexy I know, but warm
  • Bed socks - see above!
  • A "proper" waterproof winter coat for me - I have a very nice winter coat but it's not particularly practical living in the country so I'm on the look out for a berghaus type jacket to keep me dry on our walks
  • Flannelette sheets - we bought some of these last year and they were so cosy. The ones we got were just cheapy ones and have gone a bit bobbly so I'll be looking out for some more good quality ones
  • Candles - we have had a few pwer cuts since living here. Most have only been for a few minutes but some of the neighbours have said that they are more frequent in the winter
  • Scarves / hats / gloves - dig out all our winter gear and put it in the utlity room so it is easy to get to when we need it
  • Foil behind the radiators - to reflect the heat back in

Mr P thinks I'm a bit mad (and you probably do too!) but I'm feeling a bit more organised now and have a plan of action!

Friday, 21 August 2009

An update on the garden

As I mentioned in my last post, this year, Mr P and myself have been determined to have a go at growing our own veggies :) Last year in the old house we grew herbs on the kitchen windowsill but as we didn't have a garden we weren't really able to do more.

Here are the veggies I told you we were growing and how they are doing so far:
  • spring onions - these have been great, really easy to grow and look after. We sowed them in quite deep pots and have just been pulling them up to use in salads etc. Really tasty :) I have some Winter Lisbon seeds so I am planning to sow some more of them this weekend
  • courgettes - we bought a courgette plant from Wilkos for about £2 and it has been really productive. So far we've had about 5 or 6 good sized courgettes that we've been eating in stir-fries. I just had a look on the plant and there are 3 courgettes well on their way to being ready to pick :)
  • tomatoes - we've had 8 plants but 3 of them were bashed to bits during the windy weather we had recently. The ones we have left seem to be doing ok. They all have tomatoes on, but they are still quite small and green yet. We're looking forward to seeing how these taste :)
  • peppers - we have 4 plants which all have lots of green peppers on. The biggest are about 3 inches so hopefully these aren't too far off being ready :)
  • coriander - this grew really well and we used it in curries etc. I have planted some more and am waiting for it to grow
  • mint - this grew well for a while but seems to have died off. I think I might have to bite the bullet and sow some more!
  • beetroot - these have grown really well and we've been eating this grated raw in salads. Yummy!
  • brussel sprouts - the caterpillars got these :(
  • kale - another veg lost to the caterpillars :( :(
  • purple sprouting brocolli - and another :( :( :( Mental note to self - NETS
  • strawberries - our little strawberry plant is in a large pot and looks like it has thrown out a runner. I'm going to keep my eye on this :)
  • rocket - this grew fantastically well and we have some more on the go
  • radish - again grew well and we have some more growing now
  • runner beans - not sure how, but I managed to kill this off :( I've sown some more seeds but think it might be a bit late now :(

We've also sown some swiss chard and it looks like it's coming along well. This has all been a bit of an expreiment for us this year and as you can see, we have made mistakes but it certainly hasn't diminished our enthusiasm for growing our own. I've sent off for some seed catalogues and am already planning next year's planting plans.If anyone has any suggestions for varieties / veggies to try, please let me know! :)