Practical Eco-Friendly Stocking Fillers
Gift ideas for the eco-conscious loved ones in your life
Christmas is a time that brings joy to our hearts, a time where we can raise each other’s spirits, and reflect upon the year that has passed. Whether you know it or not, we all have the power to make this world a better, more eco-friendly place, and Christmas is a great time of year to start embracing that power.
If you want to encourage a friend or loved one to start their eco-friendly journey, there is no better time to start, so read along as we showcase some of our select stocking fillers, which we feel will help inspire a sustainable future.
Worm Card Voucher
Tiger Worms are the best worms you can use in your Wormery. They are supplied in breathable pouches and sent by secure delivery service to arrive in a healthy condition. If you’re looking to start a wormery or have already purchased one, this is the best option for you, as you can redeem your worms whenever you have your wormery setup and fully established at home.
Bokashi Bran is perfect for use in a Bokashi Bin, a soil improver or compost accelerator so you can get composting. The Bokashi Bran helps to speed up the fermentation process, ensuring that all your food waste breaks down correctly. This brown Bokashi Bran comes in a 2kg pack and is also a great addition to chicken feed and wormeries.
Lime mix is a useful item to have on hand if you have a wormery, as it helps to avoid your wormery becoming too acidic and killing off your worms. Plus, if you end up having lots of citric fruit waste it will safeguard the integrity of the wormery by reducing the overall PH, so you can keep adding your fruit waste with no issues.
Tiger Wormery Moisture Mats
If you find that your worms aren’t making their way up your wormery to the next tray, they may need some encouragement. Moisture mats can help attract worms upwards, and they also provide a barrier to the outside world, so if you have an abundance of flies, place a mat on top of your food waste. The mats are degradable too, so the worms will eventually break them down to make more vermicompost.
Pelletised Worm Treats
If you find that you have a week or two where you’re not putting as much food in your wormery as you usually would, you can always supplement it with pelletised worm treats. These treats will provide all the nutrients your worms need to keep healthy during quiet periods, they also soak up moisture.
If you’re composting in your garden, it’s not always possible to have an abundance of space available for the task. That’s why composting sacks are so useful, simply add your garden waste and leaves to the bag, and place amongst flower beds, vegetable patches, or borders, and soon worms will begin to break down the bag and its contents. What’s left will help to enrich your soil and increase your vegetable yields; the sacks will also help to deter weeds from propagating.
Compostable Caddy Liner Bags
Suitable for small kitchen bins, this 4 pack of 10Ltr 25 compost caddy liners are fully biodegradable and compostable. The liners which can each hold up to 10 litres, are supplied on one roll and are made from a plastic free natural vegetable starch-based material. Perfect for adding to your compost bins, with no mess.
Mini Tool Set
Christmas is a great time of year to introduce children into the world of sustainability and gardening. With our children’s mini tool set you can encourage your kids to become more active, and play a role in all your outdoor activities, a fun and educational way to garden.
Big Winter Vegetables Gardening Kit
While we’re on the top of gardening, we’d be amiss if we didn’t cover some aspects of growing your own veg! We’ve got an entire guide available to help you grow vegetables during winter, but if you’re looking for something on a smaller scale, our big winter vegetables kit is a fantastic way to start. The easy to use and guided directions and advice will mean that your kids can learn while also having fun and spending time with their family.
3D Puzzle Garden Windmill
Similar to our previous item, the 3D Puzzle Garden is great entry into growing your own vegetables for the little ones. With an eye catching and impressive design, this eco-friendly product is sure to inspire and fascinate the minds of children and adults alike.
Camouflage Fleece Jackets
Protecting your plants is always paramount, especially when the colder weather sets in. When we leave the house in winter, we tend to put our jackets on to stay warm, so why should it be any different for our plants? Camouflage fleece jackets can help keep your plants protected against frost, while also blending in with the rest of your garden surroundings, ideal for hanging baskets, beds, pots, containers, and more.
National Trust Bee Log & Insect House
During the winter months, bees need more help than ever, if you want to provide refuge for bees you can use a bee log & insect house, solitary bees will soon take up residence after placing it. Unlike worker bees, solitary bees don’t swarm, so you don’t have to worry about them taking over your garden. Solitary bees can suffer heavily when it rains, so if you do choose to provide a home for them, it’s best to situate it somewhere where rainfall is minimal.
Vanilla Blanc Fragrance Collection
Our Vanilla Blanc collection uses all natural ingredients, so you can be sure that the fragrances and scents that fill your house won’t have any undesired side effects or cause a detrimental impact on your health. Our range of candles and diffusers are available in a variety of scents, including lemongrass, eucalyptus, and sweet orange, and can help establish a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy every time you walk into a room.
Betty Hula & Green Angel
If you’re looking for sustainable and organic health and beauty products, look no further. Our Betty Hula range is ideal for the vegan in your life, produced using traditional techniques and the finest quality ingredients, with Hawaiian inspired scents. Our Green Angel range provides a unique seaweed skin care solution, harvested from four types of organic Irish seaweed, these fantastic products make an ideal gift for the more eco-conscious amongst us.
Practical Eco-Friendly Stocking Fillers
Top Ways to Have A Sustainable Christmas
From Nut Roasts to Nutmeg, There Are Plenty of Ways To Have Your Greenest Christmas Yet
This year is the perfect opportunity to start living an eco-friendly lifestyle, with Christmas coming up there has never been a better time to focus your efforts on all things sustainable. There are many ways in which you can make your Christmas the greenest one yet, whether big changes or small, you can make a difference.
Sustainable Wrapping Paper (or fabric)
Christmas wrapping paper is one of the more prominent items amongst the store shelves leading up to Christmas, but it seems awful wasteful to spend money on an item that is designed to be discarded. What’s worse is that some wrapping paper can’t be recycled, and those that can be aren’t always produced using sustainable paper sources. So, whenever you can, always try to purchase an FSC certified wrapping paper, or alternatively you can utilise reusable wrapping materials such as fabric (and save them again for next year!). Sellotape can’t be recycled, so using a fabric wrapping makes even more sense.
Gifts That Last
Similar to wrapping paper, gifts have become disposable in nature to so many people. When purchasing a gift, it’s always worth considering how long the item will last, or if it serves a long-term function.
If you can’t find any gifts which are long lasting you can always consider pre-loved items. Many charity stores will have treasure troves of used and unused items on display, so you’re sure to find a bargain or two, plus you have the benefits of saving a bit of money and helping a charitable cause. You can also re-gift previous ones you have received, there’s always going to be someone who can make use of those unwanted gifts!
Why not turn your hand to making something homemade? Nothing says thoughtful more than going through the effort of creating something yourself, plus you can reuse and recycle old items lying about the house for fresh new purposes.
Alternatively, you can opt for an eco-friendly gift, or a product which will enable a friend or family to start living a sustainable lifestyle.
There are plenty of eco-friendly gifts available, with many being beneficial in everyday life. Wormeries are a great project to start if you love gardening, they can be a prime source of vermicompost (the most effective type of compost), and they’re educational for the young ones too.
A water butt will help supply your garden with water, so you can save money on water bills all the while helping to save the planet! Water butts don’t have to be plain either, there are many types which will find themselves perfectly at home within your garden, from clay effect water butts, to water butt planters, there’s ample choice to fit your style.
Our range of VegTrug products make gardening much more accessible, with easy to reach planters for any size garden, you can start providing your own home with fruit and veg in no time. These natural looking yet stylish products are sure to make a great gift.
LED lights require less power than traditional bulbs, so if you’re looking to decorate your tree consider using them for an eco-friendly alternative. For many decorations you can go the DIY route, if you’ve got children this is a fantastic chance to get them involved too! Compostable decorations are becoming more and more popular, with dried oranges, bay leaves, and more working together to create an aesthetically pleasing garland, which smells nice too! A wreath is also easy to construct, with almost everything you need to make it being found amongst nature.
You might be wondering just how eco-friendly a Christmas tree can really be? This is a reasonable concern to have, with the answer not being as clear cut as you might think. We all like to try and live as sustainably as we can, so even a small change such as swapping out one Christmas tree for another, can make a big difference. We have an entire guide about choosing a sustainable Christmas tree here.
Recyclable Christmas Cards
Similar to decorations, you can also make your own Christmas cards from scratch, all you need is some eco-friendly card to get started. If you want to make it even more festive you can use some eco-friendly glitter, as the normal type isn’t recyclable. If you’re not that crafty you can also get hold FSC certified cards much easier than you used to be able to.
It’s no secret that Christmas day is notorious for producing vast amounts of food waste, but there are solutions to this all to common problem. The first and most obvious one is to simply reduce the amount of food you purchase in the first place; however, this isn’t always easy to do. So, if you do find yourself with more food than you realised there are several options available to you.
Adding your food waste to a compost pile is one way to dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner, and if you don’t have space in your garden for a large composter you could always use a kitchen-based composter such as a Bokashi Bin or Junior Wormery. For those with a bit more space in the garden there is the Aerobin, a hot composter which can produce usable compost within 12 weeks!
One of the best ways you can help the environment is by switching to a meat-free diet. While there are no strictly defined practices of veganism, the core tenets of the belief include living in a way which avoids exploitation and cruelty to animals, this can be through food, clothing, entertainment, or any other purpose which requires animals. There are plenty of vegan options available these days, it doesn’t all have to be tofu and nut roast! The UN states that meat and dairy livestock account for 14.5% of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions. This is roughly the same amount as all transport (car, ship, plane) emissions across the planet. Switching to a plant-based diet can cut emissions massively.
Christmas is a time to get together with family and friends, celebrate the year behind us, and to look forward to the future. Another staple of Christmas is the food, and for all the wonderful roasts that are cooked over the festive period, there is unfortunately an excessive amount of food waste.
We're here to show you that there is another way! Read along to find out how!
Plan Your Christmas
Most households tend to overbuy the amount of food they really need. Plan as much as you can in advance: how many people you need to feed, what their dietary requirements are, how much they typically tend to eat, etc. Once you have a good idea of this, you can calculate roughly how many of each food item you will likely need.
Reorganise your fridge and freezer in advance to make the most of the space available.
Don't Buy in Bulk Unless Necessary
Supermarkets will sell vegetables in bulk bags to make you feel as if you're saving money, the same applies for discounts or multi-buys. A lot of this bulk food ends up getting thrown away as it will rot before being used. Buying loose vegetables will encourage you to only buy what you need, plus you will save money too!
Communicate with relatives before the big day, so you can ensure they don't bring unneeded extra food.
If You Do Buy Too Much
If you do end up buying too much, you can always donate any excess food to a food bank or local charity. Food bank reliance is becoming more and more necessary, so donations are always welcome.
Christmas dinner leftovers can be reused for the days following Christmas: make bubble and squeak, turkey sandwiches, and so much more! If it's suitable, you can also freeze certain foods for use at a later date.
Be aware of what your local council can take in terms of recycling, some ideas aren't as recyclable as you might think. Planning in advance will allow you to recycle correctly and make sure that items don't have to go to landfill unnecessarily.
- Fridge too full? Take advantage of the cold weather and store food items outside. Just make sure they can' be reached by rodents!
- Take photos of the inside of your fridge and freezer, that way you will always know exactly what you have in there, and won't end up overbuying.
- Allow guests to choose how much they want to eat, serving a standard plate for every guest can cause food to go to waste as not everyone will eat the same amount.
Top Tips to Make Your Garden A Wildlife Friendly Place
From birds to badgers, here are some great ways to make your garden the place to be this winter.
Cultivating a garden, allotment, or orchard where wildlife can thrive is key to a harmonious relationship where everyone and everything can reap the benefits. There are a multitude of ways to encourage biodiversity in your garden, to help you we have several suggestions which can enable you to live in harmony with nature.
Winter is one of the most important times of year for birds, especially when it comes to feeding. Food sources tend to be scarce in winter, so birds rely on external food sources such as bird feeders even more.
Smaller birds tend to eat up to a third of their own body weight in food each day, this helps them to build up their fat stores for those cold winter nights. Providing bird food via a bird feeder is a great way to sustain bird populations throughout the year. You can even make your own fat cakes for birds:
- Mix unsalted peanuts, currants, sultanas, oats, breadcrumbs, and grated cheese together with lard or suet. Mix well until everything binds together
- Place the mix in a yoghurt pot with a hole in the bottom. Thread a piece of twin all the way through and out the bottom. Place in your fridge overnight then hang it outside!
It’s important to make sure you provide the right foods for birds too, as many birds have varying dietary requirements. Seeds, berries, and fat balls are common options for birds, but it’s always best to check what is suitable for the species of birds visiting your garden. In the peak of winter it’s advisable to supply birds with food twice a day. A sturdy bird box or nest will help any chicks survive the coldest of conditions.
Bats are natural hunters, being particularly good at getting rid of unwanted pests which may disrupt your plants (moths, mosquitoes, and more). Plants such as Hickory will attract moths and other pests, so if you do want to attract bats this is one way to do it.
Nocturnal by nature, bats will opt for dark and isolated places to sleep during the day: inside of trees, in roofing, and under any dark structure. It is somewhat easy to construct your own bat box for them to sleep in but be sure to situate it high off the ground. Bat boxes also require a degree of maintenance, other insects such as wasps can take advantage of vacant boxes and create nests.
Younger hedgehogs will need particular care in winter, as they might not have the right body mass to survive the colder weather. Hedgehog houses are a great way to provide shelter, make sure to situate them near where hedgehogs have been previously nesting, as this will encourage them to take up residence in their new home. Provide water and snacks to make the hedgehog more likely to return in future, crushed cat biscuits are particularly appealing to hedgehogs. Very small hedgehogs may need help beyond a hedgehog house, if they are smaller than 300 grams, they should ideally be taken to a wildlife rescue service.
Hedgehogs tend to nest in compost heaps, so be careful anytime you are adding to the pile or turning it. Similarly, hedgehogs will see bonfires as an invitation to nest, so if you do plan to start a bonfire it’s always advised to check for any that may be lurking within.
If you happen to have a pond in your garden, the biggest threat to anything living in it will be ice. Keeping the surface moving is key to stopping a full freeze of the surface, by placing a floating ball in the water you can keep the area around the ball in liquid form. Frogs breathe through their skin, with oxygen being supplied by plants that are growing in the pond, if the plants aren’t getting enough light, they won’t be able to supply oxygen to any frogs living within, so make sure your pond is not too shady.
Winter flowering plants are key to an insect’s survival: asters, ivy, sedums and more will provide a steady food supply of nectar and pollen throughout the colder months. If you want to provide refuge for bees you can also use a bee barrel or hotel, solitary bees will soon take up residence. Unlike worker bees, solitary bees don’t swarm, so you don’t have to worry about them taking over your garden. Solitary bees can suffer heavily when it rains, so if you do choose to provide a home for them, it’s best to situate it somewhere where rainfall is minimal.
Badgers will make a beeline for any compost piles or containers you have laying around, as these will be a potential source of food for them. Ensure any compost is covered to stop badgers getting in. It’s important for badgers not to become too reliant on external food sources, but if it is particularly cold you can always provide wet cat or dog food, just be sure to clean up any food that is leftover or untouched the next day, as it will begin to rot and attract vermin.
If you have a persistent rat problem this can attract foxes to your garden, as they tend to eat small rodents, as well as fruit. There aren’t many things you can do to attract them to your garden, they usually just go wherever food is available, woodlands with winter berries are a great source of food for foxes. However, much like badgers, foxes will be attracted to compost piles, so if you have a persistent problem its always best to make sure your compost is fully covered. If you do want to help provide some food, you can leave out cheese, bread, and meat. The best time to leave out food is around dusk; this is when foxes are actively searching for food.
For all your wildlife needs shop here.
Top Ten Product Picks for November
Read our picks for November’s hottest items, useful and seasonal products to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle
As November is coming into view, we’re still anticipating the colder months ahead, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make the most of our gardens and enjoy some cosy evenings indoors too. With the leaves well and truly falling, composting is a big topic of the conversation, and so too are garden heating options.
Nordmann Premium Real Christmas Tree 6-7ft - UK Grown!
Our Normann Fir Christmas Trees are individually-selected from expert growers around the UK who have a passion to provide you the best quality Christmas trees available. From the moment it's cut, your tree will be carefully netted and packaged in a specially designed box for safe delivery during your chosen date period.
Christmas Limited Time Offer
Did you know you can compost your Christmas tree once the festive period is over? As a bonus for ordering, you will receive a 10% discount voucher via email to use on a selected range of composters. Valid until Feb 28th 2022. Excluding Tumblers.
Build A Barrel by VegTrug
The VegTrug Small Build a Barrel is a lovely addition to any garden or patio area. This product is great for adding colour and providing the perfect home for plants. The base of this attractive planter is made from plastic to prevent it from rotting and allows maximum aeration and drainage for the roots, providing optimum conditions for plant growth. This feature also allows you to have the option to move the planter in the future if required.
400L Aerobin Hot Composter - Brunswick Green
The 400L Aerobin Hot Composter is a device that provides an ideal environment for highly efficient, healthy aerobic composting in most climates. This hot composter can accelerate the composting process, even for tough waste. Efficiently turns food and green waste into rich compost. Exclusive to Original Organics, one of our most popular products!
600 Blackdown Range Single Standard Wooden Composter with Lid
Our 600 Blackdown Range Single Standard Wooden Composter with Lid is made from pressure treated FSC accredited wood with a natural timber finish. One if the great features of our Blackdown range is that it is modular, so if you want to extend your composting ability it is very easy to do so.
Maze 245 Litre Compost Tumbler + 55 Litre Composting Cart Set
A key feature of the Maze 245 is the two separate compartments, which means you never have to stop composting. When the first compartment is full, you start on the second compartment. Once this side is full the first side is ready to empty, and the cycle continues. The strong reinforced barrel has been UV protected and contains multiple air vents to promote aerobic decomposition. The large opening and sliding doors allow for the easy addition of waste and collection of ready compost. Due to the process of tumbling, you can accelerate the composting process.
Asteria Extra-large Grazed Purple Chimenea made of Chimalin AFC
This Extra-large chimenea with a large opening mouth, for full view of the fire and easy re-fuelling, can be located on any patio, and comes with a metal stand and matching clay lid. The finish on this chimenea is mottled purple. CHIMALIN AFC is a new and unique fire clay, offering exceptional resistance to fire cracking. This chimenea is guaranteed 5 years against cracking due to thermal shock. Perfect for keeping warm in your garden this winter. Partner with our Homefire Kindling Pack to make the process of starting your fire much easier.
Medium Dakota Steel Fire Pit
A compact steel fire pit which is easily assembled and suitable for use with any solid fuel such as wood, charcoal, or coal. Ideal to keep you and your family warm and cosy during those chilly evenings and a great addition for any camping trip. Has handles which allow for easy handling and transportation. Use Ecoal 50 Smokeless Coal to avoid watery eyes and smoky gardens.
Relay Classic Natural Rug - 140 x 200cm
With excellent eco-credentials, the Classic Relay rugs and runners are produced from excess carpet materials therefore helping the save the planet. Relay makes a stand against carpets going into landfill or incineration, by buying up pre-consumer surplus and turning into stylish and practical rugs. Made from carefully selected material, cut by state-of-the-art machinery, and finished by a skilled team of machinists ensures as little as possible goes to waste and the rugs are built to last. A great alternative to traditional household rugs.
A beautifully designed wooden hedgehog house made from naturally durable FSC-certified timber. The unique design of the Hedgehog Barn features an innovative extending porch which helps prevent access by predators and makes it easier to clean and store. This product has been carefully designed to suit the needs of hedgehogs and help encourage them into your garden. Hedgehogs need all the help they can get in winter, check out our blog on making your garden hedgehog friendly for more info.
Black Metal Cat in Window Silhouette Mirror
An attractive looking window style mirror that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use that will make a great addition to any garden or outside area. It has a glass mirror section that is covered by a black metal frame that covers part of the glass whilst featuring the silhouette of a cat. The appearance is bound to catch the eyes of friends and family members whilst they visit and become a real talking point. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
Can You Compost Pasta?
There are many food items you can add to your composter, but is pasta one of them?
Today is World Pasta Day, a day to celebrate, promote, and most importantly: eat pasta! Established in 1995, World Pasta Day is now commemorated the world over, with some people choosing to set up and attend events, while others just choose to participate by cooking their favourite pasta dishes!
Food is a topic that we like to explore, whether it's growing your own food, or composting food, we've got a large variety of items to help you on your way. Today we want to explore the topic of pasta, and specifically it's use in compost.
Both cooked and uncooked pasta is perfectly fine to be composted. However, there are a few caveats to this which need to be explained.
If you are adding cooked pasta to a regular composter you need to be aware that without certain precautions it will attract pests and vermin. Pests can make your compost ineffectual, and all your hard work will go to waste.
Make sure that your compost container is sealed tightly with no way for pests to get inside. You can also make sure that any pasta added is buried under a pile of carbon rich materials such as leaves or cardboard, this will make it harder for pests to access, and more difficult for them to detect in the first place. Use an aeration tool to mix the pasta deeper in to the pile.
Pasta tends to be cooked with meats and dairy products, you also need to be careful when adding these to your compost. Usually it is better to add these sort of food items in moderation, as they are very prone to attracting pests. Hot composters such as the Aerobin use a process which speeds up compost production, so this becomes less of an issue.
One of the most common bases for pasta sauce is tomato, tomatoes are acidic by nature, and acidic foods can cause issues when it comes to composting. Small quantities are usually okay, but anything more substantial will need an alkaline agent such as lime mix to counteract the PH level of the sauce.
Uncooked pasta is ideal for composting, as it won't having any extra ingredients added to it, making pests uninterested. Due to the size of some pasta varieties such as spaghetti, it is advisable to break them down as small as you can before composting, this will speed up the decomposition process.
Maybe you don't have the space for composter in your garden, but that shouldn't stop you from composting. There are a few options available to you, with most being able to be placed right next to your kitchen bin, making it all the more easier to dispose of your leftover pasta!
A Bokashi Bin is one of the most popular choices when it comes to household composters. With a sleek and ergonomic design, it's sure to fit in to your kitchen cupboard, shelf, or counter-top with little fuss, with no smells and zero insects.
Sustainable Tips for World Food Day
Adopt an Eco-Friendly Attitude Towards Food with Our Handy Tips on World Food Day
Today is World Food Day, an important day in the calendar of all who seek to live sustainably! Across the globe, events will be taking place to highlight the importance of food growth and sustainability, especially when it comes to nations with food scarcity.
We can all do our own part to ensure that we adopt a sustainable and eco-friendly attitude when it comes to food. Here are just a few of the ways you can start.
Growing your own vegetables will save you money, time in the supermarket, and slash your carbon footprint. Portable containers, crates or pots are a perfect place to start if you don't have enough space for a dedicated vegetable patch.
Invest in a greenhouse to increase your yield of fresh fruit and vegetables and to save space, you can grow legumes (runner beans, broad beans, French beans, and peas), squashes and pumpkins vertically. Use a smaller planter to grow salad leaves, herbs and tomatoes grow well on balconies and patios.
Buy a water butt to collect rainwater. There are many good reasons to install a water butt, particularly if you’re looking to save money on your water bills if your home is run by a water meter.
Filling your buckets and watering cans with naturally collected rainwater also means that you will avoid the use of chlorinated tap water, which can be toxic to plants. You'll also have a consistent supply of water to keep all your fruit and veg fed through any dry spells!
Making compost is all about layers. Regularly adding alternating layers of green (nitrogen-rich) materials like grass cuttings, weeds, and uncooked vegetable peelings and brown (carbon-rich) materials like leaves, wood chippings, shredded paper and cardboard, and sticks allows the compost to truly thrive. Some hot composters such as the Aerobin can make compost in as little as 12 weeks.
Using nutrient rich compost can increase the quality and yield of any fruit and veg you grow.
Tips To Have A Sustainable Halloween
Halloween seems to become more popular each year, with increasing numbers of families joining in on the festivities, it’s a time to get creative and showcase your spooky side.
Pumpkins are a natural and iconic part of Halloween, but there are also many elements of Halloween celebrations which highlight ecologically unfriendly practices. To help you have a more sustainable Halloween, we’ve put together some useful tips!
Carving a pumpkin for Halloween has become a time-honoured tradition, starting in Ireland, and moving to the United States via Irish immigrants, it is nearly impossible to not see one adorning a doorstep on a late October evening.
However, the use of pumpkins during Halloween has become a large source for food waste, with an average of 18,000 tonnes being sent to landfill each year, but there are ways to prevent this.
It’s all too easy to forget that Pumpkins are food, with a large variety of dishes being able to be made:
• Roasted pumpkin seeds are one of the easiest quick snacks to make and taste delicious! Simply use the seeds from the pumpkin and place on a baking tray in the oven. Cook with salt or sugar depending on your preference.
• Pumpkin Pie is another popular dish, utilising the flesh of the pumpkin as a pulp to make the pie filling.
• Pumpkin pie leather (also known as pumpkin fruit leather) is made by dehydrating the pureed pumpkin, a great snack while on the go!
• Pumpkin soup is a nice and simple dish to make, and perfect for the colder months.
Pumpkins make ideal compost fodder, just make sure to reduce the pumpkin into smaller pieces before composting, this will speed up the decomposition process. This is even more important when placing pumpkin waste in to a wormery, as too much food at once can cause problems for the worms. It is imperative to remove any traces of candle wax from the pumpkin before composting. You can even organise a pumpkin smash, turning a laborious chore in to a fun filled activity for the kids!
Most Halloween treats and sweets can also be composted but it is ideal to always use them if you can, pass them on to friends, or donate them if you can’t eat them in your own household.
Pumpkins are filled to the brim with seeds, and if you’re not looking to compost or eat them, why not grow them?
• Take the biggest seeds you can find and aim to keep around three times the number of pumpkins you are looking to grow, this will give the plants a better chance to grow.
• Dry out the seeds for roughly one week, before storing them in a cool, dry place. Pumpkin seeds are typically sewn in the latter half of April, starting with indoor growth, and then planting outdoors later.
Utilising the benefits of Pumpkins isn’t the only way to have a sustainable Halloween, you can also adopt an eco-friendly attitude to Halloween costumes and decorations.
The Benefits of a Sustainable Christmas Tree
Each and every day we are drawing closer to Christmas, and of course no Christmas is complete without a Christmas tree. You might be wondering just how eco-friendly a Christmas tree can really be? This is a reasonable concern to have, and it’s one that we are going to address, and hopefully give you a better insight in to Christmas trees, and what type is right for you. After all, we all like to try and live as sustainably as we can, so even a small change such as swapping out one Christmas tree for another, can make a big difference.
Artificial trees are the biggest point of contention; can they really be sustainable? The answer isn’t quite as black and white as you might imagine. Most artificial Christmas trees are made a combination of plastic and metal components, with a large proportion being produced using PVC (a type of plastic which has a very negative effect on the environment).
Not only is PVC unable to be recycled, with 100% of it being sent to landfill in the UK, it also means the majority of artificial tress are made in China (where most PVC products are produced). This results in a massive carbon footprint to ship them to the UK, a footprint which gets bigger every year as the population increases.
In order to offset the impact to the environment, you would have to re-use the same tree each year for up to 20 years, which seems unlikely for most people, but not impossible. The other alternative is to buy a pre-loved artificial tree, which would be less damaging than buying a new one.
Some people may be concerned that buying a real tree may promote deforestation or unsustainable logging practices, however there are ways to ensure this isn’t the case. First, if you are looking to buy a real tree for Christmas, look for an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved tree, this means that it is from a sustainable source.
One extra benefit of buying a real tree is that during the growing period, the tree will absorb carbon dioxide, while the soil will also trap ten times the amount of C02 as the tree.
If you buy a tree with the roots intact you can also keep it growing for future Christmases, just make sure to keep it well watered and cared for while it is indoors during the Christmas period.
If you don’t want to keep the tree, or can’t, one of the distinct advantages of buying a real tree is that it can easily be recycled in a variety of ways, with mulch or compost being an effective way to dispose of it.
Christmas trees require more attention than most people think, dependant on whether you have it indoors or outdoors a Christmas tree will also have different needs. Some people are unaware that when a tree is cut at the trunk, within twelve hours a strong resin will form where it was cut. As most trees will be pre-cut it's important to cut the trunk again before placing it in it's pot. This will enable the tree to absorb any water you feed it with.
Contrary to what some may believe, plain water will be the best option for your tree. If you have a water butt available, this can give you a constant supply for watering your tree.
If you're looking to plant a Christmas tree in your garden there are a few steps for watering it:
• 1-2 weeks after planting, water daily.
• 3-12 weeks after planting, water every 2 to 3 days.
• After 12 weeks, water weekly until roots are established.
Prior to planting, the tree should be kept in a pot with adequate drainage to ensure it does not become waterlogged.
Gardening is a passion that is near and dear to our hearts, it is such a satisfying art, where the rewards commonly justify the effort. Of course, the Great British Summertime is a time of year for which we usually associate gardening, where the flowers are in full bloom, and the bees are out in droves.
We don’t necessarily equate gardening with the colder months, but that doesn’t mean that we have to stop gardening as soon as we see the first sign of frost, the very opposite in fact. The winter months can be a very productive time for flowers, so read through our list of flowers to plant in winter, and you too can make the most of those colder months!
Flowers To Plant
Tulips have a tendency to grow fast, so avoid planting them too early as they may rise up too soon and freeze during winter. The time for planting tulips is quite broad, from mid-autumn until December is usually a good time, but sometimes even later will also work.
September is a great time to plant daffodils, but similar to tulips, anytime before December will usually yield results. Try to plant in groups or clumps, as they will look much more natural as opposed to being solitary flowers.
When planting the bulbs, make sure that the hole is roughly twice as deep as the length of the bulb, to ensure full growth. Alliums are fairly durable, so don’t require watering, the regular rainfall throughout winter will provide more than enough.
If you want your hyacinths to bloom around Christmas time, its best to plant bulbs around September time. They’re a great addition to any garden, especially near to paths or doorways due to their particularly impressive scent. Due to the size of the flower heads, it’s recommended that they are supported by a small structure or stake, this will prevent collapse.
Honeysuckle requires a lot of sunlight to produce full flowers, it will also need plenty of watering during the drier days, at least until it has had a chance to grow. Afterwards it is very easy to tend to, and only needs pruning if it is growing too large.
It is important to note that foxgloves are poisonous, so it’s imperative to keep pets away, especially if they are prone to eating plants. Some varieties of foxglove can grow in complete shade, which makes them ideal for the darker winter months, where sunlight is scarce. Foxgloves require very little care, which makes them a very low-maintenance option. The effects of the coldest weather on the plant can be prevented by using a fleece jacket.
Delphiniums will benefit from a layer of mulch to keep them warm through the winter period. It is best to plant them in a place with minimal wind, as they are prone to collapsing if over-stressed. Soil must not be too dry, as the delphiniums will suffer.
Bluebells are very resistant to being planted at the wrong time of year, however it is still best to plant in late autumn and winter, and they fare well in shade. Bluebells can even be planted in clay soil, provided that it has been enhanced with compost.
Crocuses need full sunlight during the winter months, with close spacing between bulbs allowing them to grow as a group. Well drained soil is best for crocuses, with cold temperatures being ideal for their growth, due to their natural resistance. Of course the cold weather can make the ground much more unpleasant to be kneeled on for long periods, use of a kneeler or garden board can alleviate some of the worst effects of cold and wet ground.
Camassia are very tolerant to all soil types and acidities, perfect if you have diverse garden conditions. During winter they will need a layer of mulch to keep them insulated, at least for their first year, afterwards they can adapt to the cold. They are even tolerant of damp conditions, due to their origins of growing near to streams.
All your winter planting tools and requirements can be found here.