Some helpful tips I have learnt or been told along the way
GARDEN / PLANTS
Water plants using leftover cooking water – from eggs, pasta, rice, potatoes & other veg. Fish tank water is also goods for plants.
Save the plastic fitted lids of cream / coleslaw as well as the pots for use as propagators.
Use cling film and elastic band over pot to make a propagator for seedlings. Keeps in warmth and moisture to help sprouting.
Use plastic cream / yoghurt pots (with holes cut in bottom for drainage), fruit / veg punnets, toilet rolls filled with compost to grow seedlings – reusing what would normally be thrown away. Toilet rolls (usually cut in half so not too tall) can be planted directly into soil / pots as they will disintegrate or can be thrown on compost once used.
Use pots with bottoms cut out to raise up tomato plants in grow bags, giving them more soil & root space.
Put a piece of plastic in bottom of hanging baskets to stop water running straight out.
Use multipurpose compost & feed so you can apply to whole of garden.
Compost everything but cooked food, bread and dairy products. Vegetable & fruit peelings, eggshells, coffee, tea are all great alongside plant / flower cuttings.
Regularly water compost to help process and use paper to aerate it as the oxygen helps the rotting process.
Always make sure seedlings are big enough to handle before separating and repotting.
Harden off plants by putting them outside in the daytime and bringing in at night before leaving out permanently.
When planting add wet newspapers in layers around cover with mulch and no weeds will get through.
COOKING / FOOD
When using spinach in cooking chop it up, so as it is easier to mix.
Any leftover roast can be used to make soups.
Gammon roast can be used in sandwiches if leftover after dinner.
Using a teaspoon of sugar in tomato sauces brings out sweetness. Carrot is also good for this and can be blended with a tin of tomatoes to create a sweet tasty sauce.
Add a teaspoon of water when frying mince. It will help separate the grease from the meat while cooking.
Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste of garlic and at the end if you want a stronger taste of garlic.
Leftover wine can be frozen in ice cube trays to add to sauces, just throw in a few cubes when heating the sauce up, so need to defrost.
Fresh herbs can be frozen in ice cube trays, pop the cut up herbs into trays, half fill with water / wine and once frozen top up liquid again. That way the herbs are frozen in the centre of cube rather than top. This can also be added to sauces when heating.
Double recipe ingredients when making meals, then half can be eaten for lunch the following day or frozen to be eaten another evening / lunchtime.
Use empty margarine tubs / boxes to freeze leftovers in, writing on lids helps identify potentially mystery dishes.
Small margarine boxes are ideal size to use as sandwich boxes for work / school.
Before pouring sticky substances into a measuring jug, fill it with hot water then empty, but don’t dry it out. Next, add your ingredient and see how easily it comes out.
Overripe fruit is perfect to blend and have as a smoothie mixed with fruit juice and ice, instead of throwing it away.
Pull bananas apart when you buy them. If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster.
Use a mop to clean walls of shower cubicle.
Freecycle is great yahoo group to use to offer or find unwanted items for the house, garden or otherwise. It’s usually on a first come basis so keep your eyes peeled, but you can also post a wanted message to ask for particular items. Reusing items rather then sending them to a landfill site is a great option and everyone loves a freebie!
Charity furniture shops selling pre-loved furniture is a cheap / retro / quirky way to furnish a house and give to charity – everyone’s a winner. Escape from ikea style with items that are well made and as affordable.
Pet rescue centres are great places to adopt pets. Cats and dogs in particular are neutered and micro-chipped as well as given jabs for a small fee, you are therefore giving to charity, adopting a lovely pet and helping reduce numbers of strays in your area.
If you seal an envelope and then realise you forgot to include something, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour then it unseals easily.
To get rid of fruit flies, half fill a small glass with Apple Cider Vinegar and two drops of washing up liquid, mix well. The flies will be drawn to the cup and gone!