If you want to live 'The Good Life' in your urban garden - keeping chickens, growing crops, making your own compost and using rainwater and solar energy - expert James Strawbridge has some tips.

The sustainable living expert and co-author of Practical Self Sufficiency, written with his father Dick - says with some easy adaptations, you can make your city plot much more eco-friendly.

"In urban environments, you have to combine a practical approach to growing your own food with encouraging biodiversity. If you can strike a balance where you are getting a productive but also a pretty, wildlife-friendly plot, that's a great way of approaching it," says Strawbridge.

Here, he offers tips towards a more sustainable lifestyle...

1. Eat your peel

"Question what you are going to put in the compost bin before you do it," he advises. "Consider if your peelings are good enough to cook and eat. Take the peelings of root vegetables, such as parsnips, drizzle them with oil, roast them in the oven, season with sea salt and suddenly you have a waste snack. Broccoli stalks are fantastic if you chop them up and pickle them.

"In urban gardens, most of your waste is going to be from food. Start looking at that more ambitious zero waste approach. If you start being more creative with skins, peelings, stems and roots before they are relegated to the compost bin, you can bring a fresh angle to cookery."

2. Keep chickens

Urban gardeners can keep chickens, Strawbridge insists, for a constant supply of fresh eggs.

"Give them as much space as you can dedicate, so they can have a nice little dust bath, a bit of cover from rain. If you compare with caged bird environments, you can give them a much better home than that. You can buy off-the-shelf coops.

"They are the perfect animals for young couples who want to learn more about living off the land in an urban environment. You give them good feed and water, clean them out regularly, and then you have chickens who have character and are quite sweet animals.

3. Create a wormery

Composting prevents waste going to landfill and produces a great soil improver for raised beds and containers. In a small garden, the most compact option is a wormery, which will produce great compost.

"Wormeries are like turbo-charged composting," says Strawbridge. Buy them in stackable units that come with a tub of worms. As you fill each unit with waste, you simply add another on top.

The worms also produce a liquid nutrient that filters down through the wormery, known as worm tea, which is high in nitrogen and phosphates, a rocket fuel for growing plants, he enthuses

4. Grow vertically

Think about your footprint in terms of, not just the space you have on the patio or in your back garden, but any walls suitable for wall-mounted growing, window boxes and interplanting on a small patch of land, Strawbridge advises.

"For example, you could have squashes and pumpkins at the base, sweetcorn growing up in the middle and beans climbing the sweetcorn as a trellis. You are creating a cityscape of different crops in one small area."

5. Use solar energy to pump water

You can buy solar powered water pump kits to provide the energy needed to pump water from a water butt, and even heat your greenhouse with small solar PV panels. Solar dryers can also use the sun's energy to preserve foods, such as tomatoes and apple slices, by drying out all the moisture.

Practical Self-Sufficiency by Dick and James Strawbridge is published by DK