From turnips to chicory, find out exactly what veg to plant this winter with Original Organics.
We all love to garden, it’s one of the most rewarding pastimes, a true labour of love for all the green thumbed among us. While we like to make hay while the sun shines, there is also something to be said for when the sun isn’t shining, which (lets be honest) is all too often in the UK! Those colder winter months bring frost to our gardens, snow to our flower beds, and ice to our water features.
However, that doesn’t mean that we have to stop! On the contrary, winter can be one of the most productive times of year to grow certain vegetables, so to help you, we’ve put together a list of the best veg to grow in the coming months, read along with us below.
Turnips are incredibly hardy and can withstand some of the more adverse conditions that winter brings. Frost won’t deter these stalwart vegetables but it’s important to keep an eye on the ground, if it freezes it can spell trouble for your turnips. Stews and soups will benefit from the addition of turnips, a perfect combination for colder weather.
Chicory is a tough little plant, able to endure all the way through winter and into Spring, either in a greenhouse or directly outdoors. While we traditionally think of salads as a Summer-time cuisine, who’s to say you can’t have a delicious winter salad? In fact, there are some fantastic recipes out there for winter salads, many involving chicory. However, if you’re not in the mood for a salad, why not try adding chicory to your pasta dishes for a bit of extra flavour.
Cabbages fair well during the colder weather, but they still require a considerable amount of light, so try to make sure they aren’t planted in shade. There is a wide variety of cabbages to choose from, including Brunswick, Late Flat Dutch, Protovoy, and many more. If you stick to seeds labelled ‘winter’, ‘cold’, or similar, you can’t go wrong. Extremely cold weather (-5 degrees and below) can damage cabbages, so it is recommended that some sort of cold protection is used.
Considered by some to be better tasting than their summer variety, carrots grown in winter can flourish with minimal care. A cloche or fleece can help protect carrots from frost and snow, while raised beds can help prevent some of the worst effects of cold weather, as the distance from the ground helps to keep the soil warmer during winter.
Much like Chicory, Kale can survive all the way through winter and in to spring. However, like most vegetables in winter, the chance of survival is increased through use of a hoop tunnel or greenhouse. Unlike cabbage, kale does not mind being in the shade, opening more opportunities for planting. Kale is a great addition to any soup, and pairs well with sweet potatoes and chicken.
A staple of any good Christmas dinner (whether they’re eaten or not), brussels sprouts fare very well in winter, however it is best to first start them indoors before transplanting outdoors. As they grow they can become very top heavy due to their shallow roots, so some structural support may be needed in order to protect them. Long term snow can significantly damage brussels sprouts, so it’s wise to prepare in advance if snow is predicted.
Winter lettuce can grow throughout all of winter, with most varieties becoming ready to harvest in just over 4 weeks. Lettuce should be grown in rows spaced 30cm apart for the best results, all weeds should be removed so that the lettuce can absorb all the available nutrients, with no competition. Adding compost can ensure that the lettuce has an abundance of nutrients. An Aerobin or Wormery can be a great source of compost that you can produce yourself.
Perfect for salads and stir fries, pak choi does an exceedingly good job at growing in colder weather. It is recommended that the seeds are first grown in modules or cells to avoid slugs eating the seedlings, and then transferred to a moist soil patch. A fleece can be used to avoid the inevitable onset of airborne pests.
Onions require plenty of sunlight, take this in to account when choosing a location to grow them. A heavy layer of mulch on top of the onions allows the soil to retain moisture and keep them warmer during the coldest parts of winter. Winter onions take longer than regular onions to grow, so keep this in mind when planning your garden.
Leeks tend to grow best in open ground but can also be grown in raised beds. Snow cover will not affect these hardy vegetables, in fact the snow will act as an insulation for them during cold weather. Leeks also have the advantage of being able to be perennialized, also known as perpetual leeks, if left unharvested.
All your winter planting tools and requirements can be found here.
From turnips to chicory, find out exactly what veg to plant this winter with Original Organics.
We can't wait for the 2021 gardening season to get going and, as days get longer, it no longer feels far away. So, with the help of Original Organics, how can we all become better (& greener) gardeners this year?
Take a Swing at Vegan Gardening
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. Salad leaves, herbs and tomatoes grow well on balconies and patios.
Have a Go at Upcycling
Reduce waste in your garden and get creative by reusing items that would otherwise be heading for landfill.
If you’re planning DIY projects, think about how you can use old pieces of furniture in the garden. Bathroom and kitchen renovations mean old baths and sinks can make striking statement pieces in the garden when filled with flowers and foliage.
Take a look in our Garden section for inspiration.
Make Your Own Compost
Start off your compost from kitchen and green waste in a quiet corner of your garden.
Making compost is all about layers. Regularly add 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.
The Aerobin (below) is a hot composter. Hot composting reduces the composting process to as little as 12 weeks!
Invite More Wildlife into Your Garden
Invite more wildlife into your garden by not mowing all of your lawn, planting some wildflowers and leaving an area of your garden to become wild and grow naturally. This will make an ideal habitat.
Pile leaves, wood and fallen branches to make a hedgehog habitat, plant pollinator-attracting plants and put food out for the birds. A healthy ecosystem will also mean fewer pests.
Collect & Save Rainwater
In dry spells, always prioritise water-use by which plants need it most, like young plants, greenhouses, hanging baskets and window boxes.
Buy a water butt to collect rainwater. We offer a range of high-quality equipment for the conservation of water, with speedy service at great value prices.
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.
Explore Original Organics and discover more sustainable solutions for 2021.
Become zero waste
Going zero-waste might be one of the toughest sustainable resolutions to commit to this new year. But don’t let that keep you from trying - slowly reduce your waste bit-by-bit, a little more week-by-week, and who knows what your lifestyle may look like by the end of 2021. If you don’t get down to a completely zero-waste lifestyle, you can be still proud that you have reduced your waste and environmental footprint. If each and every one of us did this, just imagine the impact it would have on our environment. So, how can you do it?
Do you know how to compost? If not, don’t worry. Learning this valuable skill will further reduce your waste and there’s a plethora of information on the internet to draw from. Nowadays, state-of-the-art composters make the process even easier! Adding your kitchen and garden waste to a compost bin will cause it to decompose and create amazing fertiliser for your garden. If you want to cut down the composting process to as little as 12 weeks, the Aerobin Hot Composter is the solution for you.
Grow your own food
If you have a garden or – if you’re really lucky – an allotment space, you have the opportunity to grow your own fruit, vegetable, and herbs. This is definitely something to commit to doing this year. Grow Your Own Kits make growing your own produce simpler than ever before, and with the possibility of further lockdowns and with food currently flying off the shelves, why not grow your own delicious fruit and vegetables? Not only will you be benefiting from eating healthy, organic food, you will also benefit from the countless mental benefits that gardening provides.
Teach the kids
Our range of Children’s Growing Kits let you and your little ones grow fruit and vegetables that the whole family can enjoy. With easy-to-follow instructions and advice, you can watch on safe in the knowledge that your kids will soon be master gardeners. Gardening really is fun and education for all the family!
More time in nature
Here’s a simple resolution that everyone can do. Find a local park or somewhere away from the noise – even if it’s just a garden or a balcony with your favourite plants. Being in nature has endless benefits for your physical and mental health. Dedicate to taking some time to read, to meditate, or just be in nature and watch as your well-being improves.
Invest in a water butt
One of the most useful and precious resources on the planet is water. Though we love to moan about the infamous British & Irish weather, we are incredibly fortunate that rainfall in the UK and Ireland is such a regular occurrence. Even so, we are all too familiar with hosepipe bans and often we experience droughts during particularly dry summers. Even so, 2020 also saw the driest May on record in East Anglia with less than 5% of the normal rainfall. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be an isolated incident.
Increased demand for water puts intense pressure on our water network as well as the environment. The new National Framework for Water Resources has warned that Britain will run short on water between 2025 and 2050, stressing that the average person needs to reduce their water use from 143 to 110 litres per day.
It's important that we all stay mindful of our water use to save water where we can, especially as avid gardeners. This can be as simple as using a watering can rather than a hose. The most useful way to make sure you aren’t wasting this precious resource is to catch and collect your own water to be used in your garden using a water butt, attached to a downpipe, ready to catch rainwater.
Get a bamboo toothbrush
There are approximately 3.5 billion toothbrushes used annually across the world and the vast majority of them are plastic, meaning they hang around for centuries. Strange to think the first-ever plastic toothbrush is probably sat in a long-forgotten waste tip somewhere waiting for a future equivalent of the fictional rubbish robot, Wall-E to discover it again. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush this year which is biodegradable to replace those plastic toothbrushes which can’t break down.
Plant a tree
Plant a tree in your garden or somewhere else. It will only bring happiness to you and nature. It doesn’t even have to be a tree. Just plant something and get your hands dirty.
Trying to reduce our impact on the environment is incredibly important. As a community, we can try to reduce our use of single-use plastic items as well as our use of Earth’s precious resources such as fuel, food and water. In early 2020, the UK government’s waste advisory board reported that 4.5m tonnes of food a year is wasted, which amounts to a total worth of £14bn. This amounts to £700 for an average family with children. We can all make a difference by making small changes, we can try to not buy items we do not need. Making a shopping list for the week is a simple and easy way to reduce food waste. This same principle can be applied to single-use items such as plastic straws and drinks that are sold in plastic bottles. Try to buy items that will last a lifetime. Cleaning products are now available to buy that not only use completely natural ingredients but also feature containers which are completely reusable. If we all make these small changes, we can help curb the tonnes of waste mounting in landfill.
So, what will your sustainable new year's resolution be for 2021? Head over to our Instagram and let us know!
Go to the Original Organics homepage.
And the leaves that are green... turn to brown!
To make leafmould
Perhaps the best time to collect leaves is just after it has rained when they will be well soaked. Alternatively hose them down with water. Now you simply fill the Leafmould Maker with the leaves, compressing each layer as you go. Even if you fill your Leafmould Maker, the volume of leaves will gradually but significantly reduce over the coming months. If you fill your cage then place the 'lid' on top of the leaves to prevent any wind scattering. At its simplest that's it, all you have to do now is wait. We have two great value Leafmould Composters available on our Leafmould Composting page.
After about one year the leaves should be sufficiently rotted to use as a mulch or to dig into your soil. To achieve a finer product e.g .to use as a lawn dressing or in potting composts simply leave it for a further year and you'll have an excellent peat alternative with numerous gardening applications.
It is best not to mix up leaves from different years as this will result in a less even and consistent end product. After the first year the leafmould pile should be quite stable and sufficiently rotted that wind scattering won't be a problem. Better still, why not have two Leadmould Makers for a neat and tidy continuous process?
To Speed up the Process
There are several simple ways to quicken the process and achieve leafmould in about half the normal time.
Shred the leaves before filling the Leafmould Maker. This can be done using a garden shredder, or by spreading your leaves on the lawn and running a lawn mower over them. A cylinder mower with a grass box is ideal for this, as it will shred and collect in one operation. Any bits of grass (seed free) collected in this process will also help to speed up leafmould making.
As shredding is best done with dry leaves to avoid clogging up your shredder or mower - remember to wet them before filling your leafmould cage.
Unusual as it may sound; human urine is an excellent natural activator rich in nitrogen. If you care to, simply pour a few pints (diluted 50/50 with water) over the leaves. Any more direct application methods are entirely up to you and at your risk!
Turn and add grass clippings
In the first spring after filling, empty out the leaves, mix with fresh grass clippings (in the proportion of 4 parts leaves to 1 part grass - ie 25% grass) and refill the leafmould maker compressing the leaf/grass mixture as you go.
Any or all of these simple actions will significantly speed up the whole process.
Why not just compost leaves with other garden waste?
Leaves have a fibrous structure and are slow to rot down. Mixing with conventional compost material will slow down your compost heap and reduce its heat generation. Leafmould making is a slow cool process performed by fungi (hence mould) naturally present in leaves. On the other hand composting is a faster, heat generating process utilising naturally occurring microbes and bacteria.
What leaves can I use?
Virtually any tree or shrub leaves will make a good leafmould. Oak and beech leaves are perhaps a bit quicker to rot and plane, chestnut and sycamore leaves a bit slower.
The typical ph (acidity/alkalinity) of leafmould is between 6.5 and 7.5 ie about neutral. A preponderance of conifer an evergreen leaves or needles will tend to produce a more acidic leafmould. Such acidic leafmould would be excellent for acid loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
What if I don't have enough leaves in my garden?
Friends and neighbours will probably be only too keen to let you have their autumn leaf fall. Additionally local authorities collect thousands of tons of leaves each year. So a word with the council, or your local parks department could easily generate a serious quantity of leaves.
To make the best use of your leafmould
Leafmould is one of the longest lasting of all organic soil conditioners. By significantly improving both the organic content and physical structure of soil it results in a considerable increase in fertility wherever applied - all round the garden.
Leafmould can be used to great benefit on vegetable and ornamental beds, for annuals and perennials, and around fruit trees, bushes and shrubs.
Used on any soil type it can be dug in or spread as a surface mulch.
Use just like peat or bark as a quality surface mulch. For water retention purposes spread a layer of 1-1.5 inches. For water retention and weed suppression a layer of 2-2.5 inches.
Fine well rotted leafmould makes an excellent top dressing for a lawn or seed bed. It is useful, although not essential, to sieve the leafmould prior to using it as a top dressing. For top dressing a lawn the best time is in the main growing season. Apply a thin layer of fine leafmould after spiking the lawn, then simply brush it in. If required this can be repeated several times during the grass growing season.
Mix 1 part of well rotted and sieved leafmould with 1 part of sharp sand. This will produce an excellent free rotting medium with sufficient nutrients for seedlings up to pricking off stage.
Making a potting compost
Being similar to sedge peat, leafmould is a useful constituent of a potting compost. Two typical formulas are outlined below:-
1 part well rotted leafmould
1 part garden loam
2 parts compost
1 part well rotted leafmould
1 part worm worked compost
1 part garden loam
1 part perlite
Click here to view our selection of great value Leafmould Composting products.
Who is the Aerobin for?
For those passionate about reducing the food and garden waste their household or business sends to landfill, the Aerobin utilises a method of heating up organic waste to break it down in as little as 12 weeks. Reaching between 40°C-60°C - with highs of 70°C in the right conditions - hot composting not only speeds up the process of breaking down waste but also provides a nutrient-rich fertiliser for your plants.
The benefits of hot composting compared to cold composting
Operating at less than 20°C, traditional methods of composting are unlikely to reach a sufficient temperature to break down difficult waste such as bones, fly eggs, weed seeds and larvae. The Arrhenius equation, otherwise known as the Q10 formula, is a temperature dependency model for reaction speeds. This equation relates to the temperature variation of thermally induced reactions, meaning the reaction speed of breaking down waste significantly rises with every 10°C increase in temperature.
In other words, an outdoor cold compost heap can typically take 12-24 months in the UK, which has an average temperature of 10°C. However, when the Aerobin operates at its most efficient this process can take as little as 12 weeks!
How it works
The aerobic composting (hot composting) process is based on providing the decomposition cycle with plenty of oxygen to foster the required bacterial activity needed for breaking down waste into compost.
In order to stimulate the required bacterial activity for aerobic composting to work, plenty of oxygen is needed to encourage the decomposition cycle.
The rate of bacterial release from heat depends on the specific digestibility of the waste. This is influenced by the type of waste added as well as the amount of waste added at one time. For example, digestion and heat release can be rapid from plant material or steadier for lignin.
The production of methane - 2-4 times more potent than green-house gasses - would occur without oxygen and compost would not be generated efficiently. The most effective way to ensure adequate oxygenation for waste is through the formation of free air spaces.
What is free air space (FAS)?
Free air space (FAS) is a physical parameter that can play a significant role in composting processes to preserve optimal aerobic conditions. One study in particular demonstrated that a mixture design methodology can be a valuable tool to predict the initial FAS of composting mixtures, specifically in making adjustments to improve composting processes.
In other words, the Aerobin relies on buoyancy air flow aeration, which, in effect, is based on the preservation of about 20-30% 'free air space' (FAS). Turning the compost heap will allow bacterial growth for brief amounts of time because there are no self-supporting particles in the turned waste, so the heap would collapse rapidly and again hinder airflow.
The Aerobin is made from 100% virgin polymer
Conversely, if the heap has self-supporting particles, no turning is needed, the Aerobin utilises a bulking agent (composted wood chip) to retain free air space to accomplish this. Any time waste is added to the Aerobin, this bulking agent should be added to maintain a buoyant air movement through the waste, which in turn helps the bacteria to easily digest the waste without the need to turn the compost.
Our Aerobins are made from 100% virgin polymer, a robust material selected for its unparalleled insulation properties, which, while the bin is operating at its optimal temperature, retains heat and provides an ideal environment for bacteria to function efficiently.
Which Aerobin is right for you?
200 Litre Aerobin
The 200L Aerobin is ideal for home use as it easily converts your household food and garden waste into compost, and the liquid created from the waste is great for plants. It has a useful pump too.
400 Litre Aerobin
For households containing a lot of food or garden waste, small to medium businesses – especially food stores – the 400L Aerobin is best for the job.
600 Litre Aerobin
For restaurants and bars, large businesses and food sites with greater volumes of food waste, the 600L Aerobin is the perfect solution. A significant volume of food waste can be composted by this hot composter with an extra-large capacity.
From the week commencing Monday 27th April, the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual National Gardening Week will see thousands of people around the country sharing their passion for gardening. As the nation’s biggest celebration of gardening, the RHS strives to raise awareness of the overwhelming benefits our beloved green spaces have on our lives while seeking to inspire more people, particularly the next generation of gardeners, to cultivate their very own passion for plants. The RHS’s message this year calls upon the UK to ‘keep gardening’ to look after their physical health and wellbeing.
More and more people are on the lookout for ways to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, and there’s nowhere easier to start than at home. Every year, Brits waste around £9.7 billion of food, with each household throwing away an average of £356 in unwanted goods, to say nothing of the staggering amounts of single-use plastic and emissions from food transportation. Consequently, striving for a waste-free kitchen is arguably the best place to start, so read on for our handy tips to help you reduce the waste your kitchen generates.
Indoor plants are a great way to introduce a touch of nature into your home and create an attractive and soothing atmosphere. As well as looking lovely, indoor plants can have a number of benefits according to the Royal Horticultural Society, including improved air quality, lower stress levels, and even reduced blood pressure and fatigue.
While there are plenty of reasons to bring the great outdoors inside, becoming a new plant parent may feel daunting, especially if you’re not green-fingered. Luckily, taking care of them doesn’t have to be hard. Here are our top tips for keeping your indoor plants alive and thriving.
Coming into 2020, many of us made resolutions to be more eco-aware and make environmentally friendly choices. If this was you, you may have started to make better choices by cutting out single use plastics, not creating as much food waste and installing a smart meter. You may now be ready for the next step and are looking for ways to up your eco game!
We have put together our top 5 products (in no particular order) that will help you live a more sustainable life this year and beyond: