We are all told, “live your life to the fullest”; we are here to do just that.

We are three siblings, with a passion for living as naturally and as sustainably as possible. 

The Diary of a New Gardener [DOANG] serves as a vessel for you to follow our journey into building a more sustainable life, project our passions, alternative views and clue in our loyal readers as to what inspires us in this amazing world.

So, sit back, relax, and read on.

Where to source free things to upcycle anywhere in the world

‘The world generates 2.01 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste annually, with at least 33 percent of that—extremely conservatively—not managed in an environmentally safe manner.’

Worldwide, waste generated per person per day averages 0.74 kilogram but ranges widely, from 0.11 to 4.54 kilograms. Though they only account for 16 percent of the world’s population, high-income countries generate about 34 percent, or 683 million tonnes, of the world’s waste.

When looking forward, global waste is expected to grow to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050, more than double population growth over the same period.

Its so important that we are able to re-use and upcycle the things that already exist – as the saying goes:

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

We have complied a beginners list of useful places/ people you can contact (hopefully wherever you are in the world) to find free things to use in your upcycling projects – whether they be in the garden, home or to make gifts for family and friends. Hope they come in useful.

Local tree cutters for chippings and wood (they always want to get rid of their chippings and are usually happy to give them away for free

Builders merchants / companies– usually have some old scraps lying around that they will allow you to take for free

Neighbours– if you have a neighbour carrying out renovation work – they may have a skip full of goodies you could use for a possible up-cycling project.

Your home– as mentioned, we throw so much away without second guessing or thinking what else we could possibly do with the ‘waste’ – try and repurpose as much as possible- wash bottles, containers and jars to use to store homemade chutneys/ sauces. Re-use pots from older plants. Broken terracotta pots? Break them up some more and use at the bottom of new pots to help with drainage etc. We even repurposed a coconut shell to make some bird feeders for the allotment – we got our newly turned 3 year old niece involved who loved it and the birds are definitely enjoying!

There is so much we can re-purpose when we put our minds to it and consciously think ‘what else can I do with this’ before it goes in the bin.

We would love to see your up-cycled creations and hear your ideas for up-cycling/reusing and less wasting, so please do write to us or tag us in your creations.

Happy upcycling!


U.K. Wild Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms have always been fascinating. They are somewhat whimsical and conjure up a whirlwind of thoughts and nostalgic memories when I come across any. From Alice and Wonderland, fairy houses and my mother telling us not to touch the wild mushrooms because they could be poisonous and deadly.

The past few years I’ve always wanted to go on a true mushroom forage but have never had the opportunity to go with an actual mushroom forager- going to pick mushrooms alone and do a tasting session without properly identifying the ‘shrooms doesn’t seem like such a good idea…

BUT, this year, I thought I’d take myself on a journey through ‘magical mushroom terrain’ just to see what I could find in the woodlands near to where I live. I promised myself I wouldn’t eat anything, but did want to try and identify as much as I could and really start to get an understanding of what mushrooms are growing nearby / whether I could possibly eat any of them in the coming years…

The end of October is a great time for mushrooms here in the U.K..

One beautiful morning, late October I took myself out into the woodlands and began my search. I wanted to share the findings with you- who doesn’t like a bit of mushroom photography?! I want to encourage you to also do the same- explore, feel and smell. It’s one of the richest things for our bodies and minds to get out into nature, discover new things, feel the earth, connect with the trees and breathe that fresh oxygen into our lungs.

If anyone knows of a mushroom forager in London or Kent, I’d love a recommendation. Otherwise – please enjoy the photos. I’ve decided not to name any of the images (in case I get the identification wrong) but as an overview- I came across some fly agaric, butter bolete, amethyst deceiver and birch polypore.



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Building a shed

We needed a safe space to hold our gardening tools and store our seeds, a shed was undoubtably on the cards. After shopping around online we mentioned we were looking for one to our dad and to our suprise he said he had an old one that he had flat packed and kept down the end of our garden [what are the odds?!]. So, to our delight a wonderful bit of upcycling was about to go underway!

First step [probably the hardest part] was transporting the shed to the allotment itself…we managed to get hold of a friend who owns a large van so we loaded that up and off we went to the allotment. Through the small wire padlocked gate, four of us managed to get all the pieces safely to its designated spot at the very top of the plot and so, the building commenced!

The first adventure we had to undertake was to prepare the area to build the shed. We removed any old rubbish, dead leaves and branches to get it as clear as we could. If you are thinking you need a shed you can upcycle, re-model or even create one from scratch if you are feeling adventurous! There are lot of sites that you can find used sheds such as Ebay, Preloved or Gumtree [https://www.gumtree.com/garden-sheds] – all you need to do is type ‘used shed’ in the search bar and select the area you live in and hopefully a load will pop up near you!

We have listed out the below steps we took to create our shed, we hope you find it useful too;

Step 1: Get a straight base

Create a level area or base. You shed should be suspended to allow airflow under the floor of the shed to keep the shed dry. Do not place sheds directly onto the floor as moisture will rise and it will simply rot. 

Use paving slabs or bricks/blocks to create small platforms in which to place your base. Ensure that these supports are level between each other using a spirit level. 

Step 2: Lift up those walls

After the base or bottom frame has been completed, next step is to raise the walls. If you are using a pack or have a pre-built wall panels use a friend to hold one side whilst you create the first corner. If you are creating from scratch, around each side input uprights onto the base floor and fix these in place – use a spirit level to ensure these are flat. 

Step 3: Lets get those next walls

After creating one corner, follow the steps around until all four walls have been erected. Ensure if using pre-built walls that these are fixed tightly together in order for the structure to remain square/rectangle in shape. If you are building from scratch, after erecting your posts in each corner and a supporting cross beam, you can add some panelling to the sides using feather boards.

Step 4: Roof it!

After the walls are up, attach the roof sections one side at a time fixing these to the walls. Ensure any wall panels are screwed to the floor by securing each section with at least one screw. If building from scratch, use a system of two cross beams running along the shed length to attach boards to – or if you want to be super fancy with a super secure pitched roof – create a simple template to cut each beam at the same 45 degree angle (or what ever angle you think is best) to attach running down the roof – ensure that the beams each overhang the sides to create enough gap for rain run-off and not allow any water to run down the walls.

Step 5: Door and Rain-proofing

Final steps are to hang the provided door or put one together using simple cross bar and frame, you can use felt to waterproof the roof – try not to crease the felt and leave enough to overhang the edges. Any loose felt in which wind can get into will be torn and will not last to ensure that you secure this. Start with the lowest part of the roof working your way up to the Apex ensuring each section has ample covering and nail down with some nice lead based nails. Hang the door and insert a lock to keep all your tools safe at night. 

Step 6: Final Additions

To finish off your shed, cover the excess felt with panels and add a simple guttering system to capture the excess rainwater into a water tank or even ‘rain chains’ – these are really simple to install and are super effective:

Its also a good idea [depending on how organised you are / want to be], to create places designated for your tools and a simple work area or shelving unit. We created really simple shovel and fork ‘hanging unit’ which was a piece of off-cut wood that we screwed in a V-shape into the wall which allows us to slot in the handles of the tools so they just hang freely. We will take some more photos of the internal area of the shed to show you but for now here’s a few photos of the building action for you to enjoy [with the majority of photos showing our dad – the chief builder!]:

Hope you enjoyed reading this and we wish you luck in the building of your own sheds!



If you’d like to see our frequent updates on how the garden and allotments are coming along, please feel free to follow our Facebook / Instagram pages in the links below:

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