Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar from Apple Scraps

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar from Apple Scraps

We are heading into apple season when you suddenly notice that there are apple trees everywhere. I personally already have them coming out of my ears and it’s not even autumn yet! Obviously, there are only so many apples a person can eat, so processing them is the way to use them up.

One of my favourites and easiest ways to use up excess apples is making your own ACV: apple cider vinegar.

You’ve all heard of the benefits of apple cider vinegar right? All the probiotics and enzymes  in there help balance your blood sugar, increase weight loss, reduces blood pressure…

Apple cider vinegar has been around for centuries and was traditionally made from pressed apple juice. Using apple juice is a great way to make ACV but if you don’t have bucket loads of apples to spare or a means to make juice, this isn’t the most cost-effective option.

Today I’m making apple cider vinegar using my apple scraps: peel, core, pips and all!


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A Beginners Guide to Growing Vegetables on a Budget

A Beginners Guide to Growing Vegetables on a Budget

‘Grow your own vegetables to save money.’

This is a common statement made and it does make sense. Growing your own cauliflowers is surely cheaper than buying them for $5.99 each at the supermarket. If you plan and do it correctly, home growing your produce is a definite money saver.

But how do you get started without having to first invest lots of $$ in setting up? Don’t worry, it is totally doable. With a little planning, initiative, and D.I.Y you can set up your own thriving vegetable plot.

Seed Starting 

Let’s start here. Starting your own vegetables from seed is a key part of saving money in the garden. It may seem cheap to buy a $1 or $2 punnet of 6 seedlings at the garden centre but trust me, it’s not. That works out to be around 20cents per seed. If you consider the fact that one tomato can produce about 40 seeds, it does seem a bit steep to pay 20 cents per seed.

What you are really paying for is the time it took for that little seedling to grow. This is where a little pre-planning on your part will pay off greatly.

Obtaining Seeds

So now that we have decided to sow our own seeds, where should we source them? You can buy seeds from garden centres and supermarkets but since the aim is to garden on a budget, let’s not do this. Let’s try these options instead:

  1. Asking around: Join a gardening group and ask if anyone has spare seeds. Social media is great for this. There are bound to be local gardening groups in your area on Facebook. Ask if anyone has any spare seeds to gift and you can pay it forward sometime in the future. I guarantee you, someone will give you some.
  2. Plant supermarket seeds: You can absolutely plant seeds from vegetables bought at the supermarket. You can’t, however, be sure that the variety that grows will be the same as the variety the seed came from. This is because the vegetables and fruits at supermarkets are usually hybrid varieties. (Read more about that here.)

    It’s also a possibility that the fruits and vegetables have been treated in such a way that the seeds won’t germinate. You can eliminate that potential problem by buying organic produce. Yes, you are initially spending some money, but if you were going to buy the pumpkin to eat for dinner anyway then it’s just a bonus to keep the seeds.

    Let some of your organic garlic, potatoes, kumara and yams sprout and plant away. You will hear that garden centre seed potatoes, seed garlic and seed yams are more disease resistant and hardier but I personally have also had great luck with planting my own organic supermarket-bought sprouted produce.

    Check out farmers markets too, especially for vendors selling heirloom produce. That way you can be sure that what you grow will be identical to the parent plant.

Seed Raising Mix

The seed raising mix found at garden centres is a perfectly balanced mix for growing seedlings in. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot make your own.

Don’t just go and dig up some garden soil though, this is too heavy and compacted for your seedlings to grow in and can cause dampening off and rotting. You can make a perfectly good seed raising mixture with homemade compost, leaf mould and sand.

Leaf mould is 100% dead leaves that have broken down. I did a post on making a leaf mould cage last year (check it out here). It does take a year to become leaf mould but don’t panic if you haven’t set up a leaf mould cage! You don’t need a huge amount to make a container of seedling mix. Look around in parks and walkways for a pile of fallen leaves. Dig under that and find the crumbling dark brown magic that will already be forming. 

As for compost, that’s another one to home make. Anyone can (and I believe, everyone should) make some sort of compost/bin/heap/pile to reduce waste. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Layers of green plant waste alternated with layers of brown (dead) plant waste. Compost can be achieved in a couple of months, even if all of it hasn’t broken down yet, dig under the pile and get the stuff closest to the ground.

If you haven’t gotten round to making a compost pile yet, ask around. Someone will surely give you a bucket of theirs.

Lastly sand. This is added to provide better drainage for the mix. This seed raising mix is made of 40% compost. 40% leaf mould and 20% sand.

Seed raising containers

Loads of things can be used for these. Empty yoghurt pottles, toilet paper rolls, ice cream containers, egg cartons. As long as water can drain out from the bottom it’ll work.

So now you have your seeds, seed raising mix and seed containers it’s time to plant. Here is my guide to starting seedlings from seed.

Building a vege garden

Now that your seedlings are growing, where will you plant them once they are ready for transplanting?

A cost-free, fuss-free no dig garden bed is a great option.

Choose a sunny spot in your garden and pile on layers of newspaper, homemade compost and free mulch (such as leaves, hay, straw etc). This is a perfect garden bed for your seedlings without the need to spend any money or the back-breaking work of digging and building a raised bed. For more details and instructions check out this post on no-dig garden beds.

Fertilising and feeding

Seedlings? Check. Garden bed? Check.

To keep your garden thriving, I have compiled a list of 5 home-made liquid fertilisers you can easily D.I.Y to nourish your plants.

Seed Saving

Once your vegetables have come to the end of their life, if you planted any heirloom or heritage varieties you can now save their seed for next year. Save the strongest and biggest plant of each variety and either let it go to seed (if it’s brassica or a leek for example) or save the seed from the largest ‘fruit’ or stalk of a plant (A pumpkin or an ear of corn for example.)

So now…

So now we have come full circle without spending much, if any, money.

The key is to use and reuse as much as you can of nature’s ‘waste.’ All leaves, all vegetable scraps, all harvested plants are vital for a healthy and thriving eco-system in your garden. Throw in a handful of free wildflower and sunflower seeds for the bees and you’re all set!

If you are a beginner gardener, growing only a select few vegetables and learning to grow them well is a great and easy starting point.

Do you have any budget friendly gardening tips to add? Leave them in the comments below!

Happy gardening!

Christmas in a Jar: Homemade Bath Salts

Christmas in a Jar: Homemade Bath Salts

Is it too early to start talking about Christmas? Maybe but I’m going to do so anyway.

This year I want to make some homemade Christmas presents. We live in such a consumerism orientated world. We have everything we need and then come Christmas we buy each other all sorts of junk that often ends up in the rubbish pile. A few years ago I bought my father in law novelty skull ice cube moulds, because of course, everyone needs those.

To do my bit to step out of this cycle of buying and throwing away, I am making my own presents. I’ve decided to write down a few and share what I am making, starting with this post: Homemade bath salts.

Homemade bath salts

Who doesn’t love a relaxing bath with deliciously scented, soothing water.

Bath salts are ridiculously easy to make and you can make them unique with your own choices of colours and scents. Since it’s Christmas I did a batch of minty candy cane salts, as well as a classic lavender.

Homemade bath salts

It’s a blend of muscle relaxing Epsom salts, cleansing salt, nourishing coconut oil and delicious scents. . Presented in a recycled jam jar, a strip of ribbon and a cute name tag. Voila! A perfect wee gift for your loved ones to enjoy.

Homemade Bath Salts


  • 1 1/2 cups Epsom salts
  • 1 cup rock salt or 3/4 cup sea salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1-2 tsp of food colouring (optional)
  • 10-15 drops pure essential oil of your choice


  1. In a metal or glass bowl, combine the Epsom salts, salt and baking soda and coconut oil. Stir well to combine.
  2. Add in the food colouring, slowly, mixing after each drop until it is your desired colour.
  3. Add in the essential oil and mix in well, taking care not to spill any pure oil on your skin.
  4. Pour into jars. I layered different colours for a visual effect.

I’m going to be posting more homemade gifts in the next couple of days. Are you making gifts this year? If so, what are you making?

Happy crafting!

5 Home Made Liquid Fertilisers Your Plants Will Love 

5 Home Made Liquid Fertilisers Your Plants Will Love 

As spring gets going, your vegetables will amp up their growth. A dose of liquid fertiliser can do wonders to ensure healthy growth. Unlike granular fertilisers, liquid fertilisers get the nutrients to your plants quickly, so you can feed them when they need it most.

When using a solid fertiliser in the garden it can be easy to add too much, which in turn can be detrimental to your plants. Too much nitrogen added to beetroot, for example, will lead to big green tops and not much root.  A liquid fertiliser, on the other hand, makes it easy to give plants the boost they need, in a controlled dose.

You don’t have to spend money to get a nutrient-packed drink for your vegetables, I bet you have what you need at home for at least one of these recipes below.

5 Liquid Fertilisers your plants will love

Manure tea, compost tea, seaweed tea… if you add the word tea at the end it almost sounds appealing….

Manure Tea

An excellent source of nitrogen. You’ll need 1 part well-aged manure and 5 parts, a large bucket (with a lid) and a sack/pillowcase.

Chicken, horse, sheep, it doesn’t really matter what manure you use for this tea as long as it is well-aged. Shovel the manure into the sack or pillow case and place in the bucket. Top with water and cover (it’s like a giant tea bag!) Let it sit for 1-2 weeks. When you’re ready to use it, dilute it to the ratio of 1:16.

You can empty the manure filled sack into your compost afterwards.

Garlic fattens up during September and October. A liquid fertiliser high in nitrogen, such as manure tea will ensure nice fat bulbs.
Compost Tea

Same ratio as above, 1 parts organic matter to 5 parts water. This time you’ll be using some homemade compost instead of manure.

Homemade compost is known as black gold in the gardening world and compost tea is the golden liquid!

In a bucket, shovel 1 part homemade compost and top with 5 parts water. Stir and let it sit for 4 days. When ready to use, strain it through some sort of cloth (e.g an old t-shirt).  Use it immediately and dilute to the ratio of 1:10.

Hungry potatoes love a drink of compost tea.
Seaweed Liquid Fertiliser

Living in New Zealand means this one is an easy one to make- there’s nearly always a beach close by! Seaweed is packed full of goodies for your plants including potassium, nitrogen, phosphate and magnesium. It also helps combat transplant shock when moving plants and seedlings.

We are sticking with the 1/5 part ratio again. Scour your local beach for the seaweed, you won’t need a huge amount. Rinse the seaweed well first to remove excess salt, then place in bucket, cover with water and let it sit. The seaweed needs to decompose for this fertiliser so you can let it sit for about 8 weeks in a dark place, away from your house. This one can get a bit stinky! Dilute to a ratio of 1:2.

Banana Peel Liquid Fertiliser(s)

Banana peel is such a treat for plants, especially roses. They’re packed with potassium, phosphorus and calcium. You can make a banana peel fertiliser in a few different ways.

  1. Banana peel tea: Soak 2-3 banana peels in 600ml water for a few days, the minerals will leach into the water and you can use the water as it is for your plants, no need to dilute. Give the soaked peels to your worms or put in the compost
  2. Banana peel smoothie: Blitz your peels up with a cup of water to make a banana peel slurry! Pour this on the base of your roses, they’ll love you for it.
  3. Banana smoothie: Spoiled, old bananas can be blitzed up too into liquid and poured around your plants. Try it in your vegetable garden!
Weedy Tea

This has to be the easiest one to source and make!

You can use all sorts of weeds from around your garden for this, especially those with tap roots such as dock. comfrey, dandelions or wild fennel. The long tap roots means the plant can absorb more nutrients which are passed into the leaves. These leaves can be put in the weed tea and all the nutrients will leach out into the water, ready to be poured back into the garden!

Stick with the 1/5 ratio (1 part weeds, 5 parts water) and fill a bucket with all your sourced weeds. Cover with water and put a lid on it. Let it steep for about two weeks. Dilute it to a ratio of 1:10 and use it anywhere in the garden! Once the weeds have decomposed in the bucket, chuck them in your compost and start again.

Photo credit: Kris Coppieters from Flickr

Happy gardening!

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