Under-siege Brits facing a winter of discontent and long-term global recession are pulling up the drawbridges on their self-sufficient castles.
As well as increasing security by adding bars to windows and heavy-duty locks, savvy suburbanites from Surbiton to Stockport are converting their conservatories into greenhouses and patios into vegetable patches.
That’s according to wish-granting website eGenie.co.uk which has seen an increase in people wanting to turn their homes into family fortresses to protect themselves from financial, food and fuel foes.
“People are taking a leaf out of Tom and Barbara Good’s book and converting to a self-sufficient lifestyle. We think it’s unusual but a growing trend as people become fed up of rising prices for food and fuel, uncertain financial markets and more aware of their impact on the environment.
The housing market also means that rather than escaping to the country, people are converting their suburban houses into small holdings.”
eGenie.co.uk has had requests to take out decking and patios and turn lawns into vegetable patches. People are also building chicken coops and rabbit hutches, and converting expensive conservatories into practical greenhouses to grow their own meat and two veg.
Other popular job requests relating to the credit crunch include installing safes, turning garden sheds into home offices, and making rooms suitable for the rental market.
WAYS TO BEAT THE CREDIT CRUNCH
Make use of dead space such as cellars and lofts. These can be converted into living areas or storage areas for food, tools and supplies. Spare bedrooms can be rented out to lodgers.
Invest in a chest freezer to preserve the food you produce and buy cheaper frozen food. This also eliminates waste.
Plant your own vegetable patch.
Make full use of your conservatory by converting it into a greenhouse area. A compromise could be to plant window boxes of herbs and seasonal vegetables.
Build a chicken coop to keep your own chickens, to provide fresh eggs and meat. (You can now buy special fox proof coops designed for keeping chickens in small town gardens. Some people breed rabbits for the pot).
Sell any extra produce that you cannot keep and use that cash to buy essentials.
Fit a heat exchanger to the exhaust of your boiler – use the heat it expels, don’t waste it.
Fit solar panel heating to your roof or in the garden – local builders merchants and DIY stores stock the system. you can even sell the energy you generate back to the national grid.
Use rain harvesting systems to use rainwater for toilet flushing.
Have a grey water recycling system fitted – this will re-use washing up water and bath water for non drinking purposes.
Make the most of compost – use household waste on your own veg.
Buy a water butt – this will save you money when watering your garden – especially if you live in a metered area.