Sunday, 23 June 2013

Progress in the garden

A year back, I decided to get rid of the "lawn" at the front of the house.  The word "lawn" is well deserving of its inverted commas as it was hardly a bowling green and more an annoying piece of scrubby grass into which next door's thistles and dandelions took great delight in seeding themselves.  It looked a total mess, and is thankfully no more.

The driveway is laid, now to wait 3 weeks before the car can go on it!
The decision was taken to turn part of the area into a drive for housemate's car, with the remainder being converted into a bed for growing veggies.  Now that the drive has finally been completed, I have made some headway with the rest.  Having been inspired by Mel Bartholomew and his Square Foot (or Square Meter) Gardening, I've decided against one large bed in the centre, and have opted to turn it into several smaller beds with a pathway of sorts in between.  That way, I can probably plant just as much but won't have to step onto the soil to reach anything.

Mount rubble and broken slabs has been shifted around somewhat and I have at least finished one of the (roughly) square metre beds.  This has now been planted with some cauliflower plants that a neighbour kindly donated to me, so I suppose the next task will be to put a net of some sort over them to keep the pigeons (and the cat from 4 doors down) off the bed.

Cauliflower plants, a bit bedraggled as the snails had a munch last night

"New" to me path to the front door, with grobags of potatoes
As the old kerb-edge path was decidedly unsafe, I have invested in some ridiculously cheap block pavers which I won on eBay.  They had the added bonus of coming with several bags of sand, which was perfect for laying them onto.  The garden may a bit of a hotch-potch, but I'm all in favour of saving money by re-using what I have (what I can buy for nix or can scrounge), and some of the old path has been recycled as bed edging.  If it does the job, that's all that matters.  I'm in this to save money not spend it unnecessarily, and certainly not to win any beauty contests!

Elsewhere, the swedes and spinach are doing well, along with the red onions ...
Red onion, swede, hidden lettuce, spinach
and the spuds in the border bed are also doing well.

Sharpe's Express and Maris Piper potatoes
The forecast is for rain tonight, so slug and snail patrol will have to be vigilant in the front garden as well as the back, otherwise the caulis will probably disappear!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Low carb, low fat lunch

I've been reading up on various diets to try and help out my disabled housemate who's rather overweight due to not being able to do much exercise.  Frankly it's all rather confusing!  Atkins?  Hunter/Farmer?  Low fat?  Low carb?

One thing that crops up time and time again is the fact that in the years since the Second World War, people - particularly those eating a "Western diet" - have got fatter, despite being told to eat less fat.

Part, or maybe all, of the problem is actually down to the consumption of far too much sugar rather than consumption of fats.  Indeed many of the "new" fats created in the last 50 or so years have actually proved to be bad for us, with the use of trans-fats being banned or drastically scaled back.

The corresponding escalation in sugar/high fructose syrup/glucose syrup consumption has led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, and other diet-related diseases.  We've been brainwashed into believing that a low-fat, high-carb diet is what's good for us, when the reverse could actually be true.  What's certainly true is that years of eating low-fat foods (which are also high in sugar) has done nothing for the Western waistline.

Even when we don't add sugar to anything, it's mind boggling just how much "hidden" sugar there is in foods, and we probably don't even realise we're eating it.  Yet another reason to prepare, and where possible grow, our own food.  So we've decided to cut the carbs.

Lunch today consisted of a health, and very low-carb, low fat meal, and it's easy to prepare enough for a few days so there's enough to take to work or elsewhere.

Ingredients:

1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 sweet pepper, finely chopped
baby leaves (I used lettuce and spinach from the garden), roughly chopped
a few slices of double Gloucester with chives and onions, cut into small cubes
grapes, chopped
flaked tuna, half a can
2 hard boiled free-range eggs, mashed
1 tbs mayo (can be light if you prefer)

Over to you!  Have you found a diet that actually works?  I'd love to hear about it.

Until next time.