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Celebrate Recycle Week From 23th To 29th September

Recycle Week was set up 17 years ago and founded by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) and has, possibly partly due to its success in 2018, been split with Recycle Now. Compared to previous years, the campaign saw a surge in people taking part and sharing their recycling and composting efforts on social media last year so 2019 can only be bigger and better! This progress could possibly be due to more people becoming aware and familiar with environmental issues and wanting to help and the more ‘normal’ eco issues become, the more we try to take our efforts further. Recycling is widely accessible with most kerbside pick-ups offering a wide range of options, but as local councils expand their efforts and companies make more recyclable products, the general public can become more confused as to what can be picked up and what needs to be taken to a specialist site.

Look through our guide of what can and cannot be easily recycled and what you may need to do to make some items recyclable.

image of carton tetrapak

TetraPak® Recycling


There is a myth surrounding TetraPak® (juice/milk cartons and chopped tomato cartons) that they cannot be recycled due to the plastic outer layer. Luckily, this is not true. Many districts allow this packaging to be recycled kerbside (to be sure check the Local Authority map on the Tetra website to find where you can take items if this hasn’t been rolled out in your area), so if you’re lucky enough to have this facility then you can pop it in your bin safe in the knowledge that it is being looked after.

The sad thing about these cartons is whilst they protect us from harmful bacteria, they are not easy to recycle. In fact, they go through a process of ‘downcycling’ whereby the products that make the cartons are reused as something of a lower quality. The paper used is turned into office paper and the rest is passed down into the cement industry as ‘polymer’. Unfortunately, due to their protective nature, TetraPak®s need to be made from virgin products every time they are produced. Where possible, it is best to buy products contained in glass or cans as they can be recycled back into the same products as before.

Pet Food Sachet & Bag Recycling


These sachets are complex in their materials and can cause confusion when it comes to recycling them. Luckily, Terracycle have launched a scheme in the UK to recycle these. The scheme is in association with Whiskas and James Wellbeloved and has raised over 13k for charity since its inception. The success of this scheme has meant that people can no longer post these items due to high demand but there are hundreds of drop-off points in the UK which can be found on the Terracycle site.

These sachets are recycled and used to make products such as park benches and fence posts which can take a lot of energy to create. Where possible, feed animals with canned food (or home cooked meat) to cut down on your usage of this complex packaging.

image of slatted wooden composters

Composting


Whilst most of us either put our food waste out for kerbside pick-up or use for compost in our gardens but there are a few items that can go on your compost heap that may surprise you.

  • Liquid from canned fruits and veg

  • Hair and nail clippings

  • Feathers and per fur

  • Small scraps of materials made from natural fibres

  • Natural cork from wine bottles

  • Potting soil

  • Hamster bedding

  • Christmas trees (break them down first)

  • Some Cellophane can be composted as it made from plants, check the labels though

  • Wood ash


Composting rule of thumb is that if it’s biodegradable, you can compost it. As more people start composting, more information becomes available and more inventive ways of creating a rich soil for your garden are thought up. Using products such as Bokashi can really speed up your compost creation and can make a really luscious fertiliser.

Terracycle Scheme


The Terracycle scheme in general makes recycling difficult products that are not widely looked after, easy to properly dispose of. Items such as crisp packets and tubes, coffee pods, used pens, air fresheners and toothpaste tubes are all accepted in this scheme.

In 2019 is it easy to recycle most things if you know how and as more information becomes readily available, anyone can make the extra effort especially during Recycle Week. Have you found a scheme near you or have an interesting recycling fact or hack? Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

Explore our garden, composting and rainwater harvesting product range on Original Organics.

What to do in the garden in September

After the hive of garden activity during August , you might think that you can take it a little easy when managing your flora and fauna in September. But sadly, a gardener’s work is never done. As summer winds down and autumn starts gearing up, you’re heading into an entirely new season in which to consider what to do in the garden. While some outdoor heating will help you spend more time outside in comfort, the same can’t be said for your plantlife. September is the time to reap what you’ve sown earlier in the year, and start preparing for the colder months. Here’s what we recommend to get you started.

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What to do in the garden in August

What To Do In The Garden In August

August is probably the most your garden will get used all year—the kids are off from school, it’s perfect BBQ weather, and your fruits and veggies will likely be thriving. The scarce rainfall partnered with the hot weather makes it a little more difficult to care for your plants, and you need to carefully time when and how you water your yard. There are little jobs you need to stay on top of to keep your garden looking its best.

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What to make from your allotment harvest

National Allotments Week was founded in 2016 to coincide with a time of the year that many fruit and vegetables come into bloom and are ready to be harvested. This can sometimes mean that people end up with a surplus, so gardeners share their spoils with others. Although you may end up with a diverse selection, you could also end up with punnets and punnets of tomatoes or strawberries. Some allotments in the UK make large boxes of fruit and veg to give to local religious groups or food banks so that those in need benefit, too. Most of us know some basic recipes for our harvests but if you’re wanting to try something new, look through our list of ideas for some of the fruit and veg that may reside in your allotment or garden.

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The Community In Allotments

The Community In Allotments

Allotments or organised community growing patches have been in existence in the UK since Anglo-Saxon times where villagers would cultivate fruit and vegetables for their families. As time went on into the nineteenth century, small parts of land were given to the labouring poor to produce food when areas previously used for cultivation were turned into factories and houses.

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A Guide To Starting A Wormery

Avid gardeners and organic produce experts have waxed lyrical for many years about making compost in the garden and how it is the best way of disposing of food waste and feeding plants. Many of us have tried to compost but may have found it to be hard to keep on top of or, alternatively, have succeeded in making an amazing feed for plants and grasses. Either way, you may have noticed that worms and maggots end up getting involved and infiltrating your waste heap. Whilst maggots and worms are usually a bad sign, in this case it’s a good thing. Maggots and worms will consume food waste quite quickly and will produce the right kind of compost that is required for feeding plants and soil. So why not use worms to your advantage and have them do what comes naturally to them?

picture of worms in soil

Choosing The Right Wormery


You may have browsed through our Wormery section and feel overwhelmed by choice, the selection on offer is vast. Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself to help you make the decision:


    • How many people are in your household?



It seems obvious but the more people in your household, the more food waste you create. Although, some smaller households can create vast amounts of organic food waste for many reasons. Maybe they have a plant-based diet and do not use a lot of food packaging or they entertain frequently. Alternatively, a large family that eats out a lot would not produce much food waste as they do not cook habitually. The best way to tell is to monitor how much you change the food waste your local council collects. For example, a family could be filling their caddy up every week for pick up. In this situation, a larger or four tray Wormery would suit them best. If you’re not quite filling a food waste bin up every week but still produce a fair bit of food waste, is may be good to try the three tray Wormeries. We also have spare trays that you can add if three trays turn out to not be enough. Each tray holds 15.5 litres (around 2 stone) of waste.

One or two people living together would usually benefit from a small wormery such as the Midi Wormery  or the Junior Wormery. Or those living in a flat may find the Stainless Steel Indoor Wormery beneficial as it fits well on a kitchen worktop, so there is no need to store outside. This could also be a great option for those who do not cook a lot or are not at home often.


    • Have you owned a Wormery or composted successfully before?



Essentially, this is the difference between getting a deluxe or a standard Wormery. Our deluxe Wormeries have a Composting With Worms book (along with other helpful extra items), which explains a lot of what someone may need to know about worm composting. This is perfect for beginners or those getting back into it.

Also, make sure you read through our Wormery Guide. It will come in a delivery of the 3/4 Tray Tiger Wormeries, but it is worth reading through before starting your journey with any size Wormery.


    • Do you have any pets?



Without going into too much detail, pets produce poo, worms can eat this poo. Our Pet & Dog Poo Wormeries have Bokashi Bran supplied which is a rich bran that helps worms break down the waste, so it is best to add Bokashi as you add the waste. In addition, any cat litter that is organic (wood or paper based NOT clay or silica gel) can be added to these Wormeries. Just do not over fill it.

If you wish to use a pet poo wormery, do not forget that this compost cannot be used on fruit and vegetables, only plants. Also, take care when handling the waste.

Read through our How To Build A Dog & Pet Poo Wormery Guide to find out more and see whether this would fit your household.

Where Does A Wormery Go?


Due to a Wormery being enclosed, it is best to keep it in a shed or garage out of the sunlight and rainfall. This will stop the compost over heating or rain flooding the Wormery and killing the worms. Worms work best at 18-25 degrees Celsius they are slower at 10 Celsius or lower and temperatures over 30 are to be avoided.

If you do not have a shed or garage, you are able to keep it out of direct sunlight and rainfall in a bush or under suspended tarpaulin if you need to keep it outside. Anywhere that is not in direct sunlight and there is nothing tight covering the Wormery (they get oxygen from the little holes and gaps built in) is perfect.

picture of seedling in ground

Organic Living


Many of us have started being more cautious about the plastic we use and how to save water and electricity, some may have started composting too. The more we do to become eco-friendly, the more we think about what we can do next. You may even already compost, or at least send food waste with your bins, but composting does have another level. Wormeries create liquid feed for plants and a rich vermicompost that is perfect for helping plants grow. It is really is the most natural way to grow in your garden.

Have you started a Wormery and want to share your story with us? Why not inbox us on Facebook or tag us in your photos on Instagram and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you.

Browse through our garden and homeware products on Original Organics



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Put The Love Back Into Weeding

Weeding, especially in hotter months, can feel like an endless chore which can cause joints and back to ache. It also feels like it takes you away from the more exciting things in summer. So for those who hate getting the garden tools out to weed, recent research says that over doing it can be harmful to your garden and the eco-system that surrounds it. Keeping most weeds or ‘rewilding’ so that your garden looks like a meadow, helps wildlife such as bees as they love weeds. Weeds such as ‘Wild Vetch’ and ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ can be downright beautiful and gorgeous weeds like these featured heavily at garden shows such as Hampton Court Garden Festival, so you may not want to get rid of them! Striking the balance between weeding enough so that your lawn and plants get enough sunlight and water with also keeping the bees happy can seem complex. So, weed through (sorry) the information to find a happy medium that suits you and your joints!

image of young thistles in meadow

Brambles

Common and persistent weeds (ivy, suckers and brambles) can cause annoyance to many gardeners as they can hog sunlight and water to the detriment of trees and bushes. If you have spotted these growing in their early stages, now is the time to get rid of them. These sorts of weed are hard to fully eradicate once they are established so acting early can save a whole lot of bother later. However, if you have moved into a property that already has this problem or you have noticed ivy creeping in, there are ways of taming it to save your greenery.

Many of us do not like using weed killer anymore due to the high saturation of chemicals, so it is always best to try a non-harmful based approach at first. Using a scarifier to remove the stems in flowering season will starve the roots of any plant. When doing this to brambles and ivy, the seed bank for the next year is reduced and therefore the plant cannot grow as far. Also, when cutting the growth back, you will end up leaving the stump exposed. You are then able dig the stump out with ease, just ensure that all roots are taken out too. Anything taken out can be cut up and used to create mulch or compost.

Salt and boiling water straight onto the root will kill any weed off, though do be careful as this may affect the PH of your soil. If you are unable to avoid chemicals, do so after trimming the main trailing stems and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Stinging Nettles

Whilst ‘rewilding’ is a pursuit with amazing benefits and can bring some beautiful, wild colours to your garden for free, most of us draw the line at allowing stinging nettles grow. They do hurt when you brush past them so most of us are not keen on this particular weed and try our hardest to get rid of it. Sadly, like the bramble, these can be hard to get rid of. So, if the nettles in your garden are becoming like a Hydra (the Greek mythical creature that grew two heads after one was cut off) you may need some extra help!

Nettles regrow even with the smallest amount of root left. To help see roots more clearly when weeding nettles, turn the soil around it to make sure that it is clear. This waste can be shredded and used as mulch or compost. Mulch is also used to stop other weeds from growing and will your keep soil damp, although do keep mulch away from your lawn as it may damage it. Also, covering the area where they are growing with newspaper will block sunlight and kill any weed growing underneath.

image of lone daisy surrounded by purple flowers in meadow

Fight Nature, With Nature

There are plants and flowers that grow in such a way that they take over the space that nettles are growing in. Allowing these to grow freely would be perfect for those who want to take the natural approach to getting rid of nettles whilst also having that ‘wild’ look in their garden. ‘Ice Plant’ is a stunning succulent that can grow without a lot of watering and in dry soils. Whilst it can thrive in the heat, it copes rather well in the winter, too. This plant covers like a carpet, grows quite quickly and creates a barrier against weeds. This gorgeous plant flowers in May time. To follow on from May time flowering, the ‘Leadwort’ grows best in the late spring/mid-summer and flowers until Autumn. This hardy plant also counters the dry soil loving ‘Ice Plant’ which flourishes in a contrasting colour and it grows best in shade. Lastly, the ‘Creeping Jenny’ thrives in wetter areas like near ponds and carpets the floor with a thick, green and yellow leafy foliage. This groundcover does not put down deep roots, which is perfect if you’re feeling non-committal about planting this.

A simple rockery or putting gravel down can also stop or deter weeds, especially if a paired with weed guards. An area in your garden with stones and rocks paired with a ground covering succulent could look impressive and can deter unwanted weeds for a long time.

Preparing areas that allow for weeds such as ‘Wild Vetch’ and ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ to get that ‘re-wild’/meadow look without having weeds that either strangle other plants or service no pollination needs for bees can mean you have the best of both worlds. Planting ground covering succulents that ‘take over’ space usually taken by weeds can give that lush and natural look that so many of us found stunning at Hampton Court Garden Festival. Letting certain flowering weeds grow is also very good for the environment so it may be worth having some stand tall before clearing them.

Explore our full gardening range at Original Organics

Keep your garden flourishing while you’re on holiday

Whether you’re getting ready to make the most of the August bank holiday or you’re ready to jet off somewhere, the welfare of your garden is probably niggling in the back of your mind. This is the time of year when a lot of plants, fruits and vegetables start to flourish and spring to life. For example, tomatoes are at their ripest in the summer months and strawberries are coming into their own, so it’s no surprise that going away for 7-10 days could feel stressful at such a vital time for your garden. You may be lucky and have a good friend that can come over and tend to your plants whilst you’re away, but fruit and veg doesn’t tend to last off the stalk for more than 4 days and although you may have given them an extensive guide as to how to maintain your garden, they are not you and one can feel slightly anxious when leaving something so precious with someone else. Luckily, we have a few top tips to help you get the well-earned break you need without worrying about your garden.


watering pink flowers from white watering can

Watering

Even if you have a dedicated friend that swears to water your plants every day, things can happen so, it can be tough to rely on someone fully. Bearing this in mind, there are a few things you can do to ensure any watering efforts are made the most of whilst you’re away.

Here are some steps to protecting soil for a few days:

    1. Mow your lawn

 

    1. Get rid of all the weeds that are invading

 

    1. Put lawn clippings and weeds together and mix them up, creating a mulch

 

    1. Water plants, vegetables and fruit as late to you leaving as possible

 

    1. Spread the mulch (or any compost you have) amongst the plants so that the soil underneath does not dry out.



Also, you could fill a used plastic bottle up with water, attach an irrigation spike to the opening and adjust the water flow for your planting area. Just insert the spike into the ground and let the system keep your plants watered while you’re away. What a great way to recycle plastic!

Move hanging baskets and planting tubs to a shaded area or put tarpaulin above them to protect them from drying out in the sunshine. It may also be beneficial to add any leftover mulch to the soil in these to make sure your watering efforts last longer.

Harvesting

Plants such as tomatoes can grow very quickly so staking them before you leave can stop them drooping when their yield becomes heavy. If you are not going away for long, picking anything that looks close to being ripe before you leave will mean the harvest can ripen in the fridge. It will take a few days for a fresh batch to come in and by that time, you’ll be home.

Crops such as lettuce and cress will need to be shaded to slow their growth down as they do not repeat yields the way tomato plants do, shading lettuce and applying the mulch you have made can avoid ‘lettuce bolting’ and spoiling, too. Bear in mind that leafy vegetables also break down quicker after growing to full size, so it may be worth cutting a few leaves off before you leave to encourage new growth.

Young beans, courgette and peas can be removed at a younger stage. When the plant hits full maturity, it will stop blooming so it is better to encourage your plant to grow regularly by harvesting regularly.

Woman writing notes with coffee and phone

Notes For Friends

If you’ve worked hard on your garden, you can feel rather protective of it. To avoid writing a list of do’s and don’ts that resembles War & Peace, here are the things you should do to help your garden sitter without confusing them!

    • Let them know the regularity that plants need watering so there is no guess work.

 

    • Label plants just in case they do not know what it is you are growing or what you are growing is beneath the soil.

 

    • Group pots together so your friend isn’t traipsing around trying to find certain plants.

 

    • Leave watering cans near your water butt or outdoor tap for ease.

 

    • Show them around before you go away (if time allows).

 

    • Let them take harvests home, this helps your plant grow more and gives your friend an incentive.

 

    • Don’t forget to bring them something back from holiday, they have babysat for you after all!



Going on holiday can be stressful but being prepared can help with the anxiety of leaving your garden babies without your watchful eye and care. By leaving detailed and simple instructions for anyone who helps will ensure your plants are looked after to your standards. If you are not lucky enough to have a garden sitter, or your friend cannot visit every day, making a mulch to protect soil and harvesting before you leave can make sure that your crops are protected and do not dry out.

Explore our range of gardening products, water butts and composters.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR GARDEN SUSTAINABLE

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Topics surrounding the environment have become popular in social conversations in recent years and people have started to notice the levels of their waste and consumption. Globally, we have seen huge differences to the way companies use resources (compostable wrapping on magazines, banning plastic straws etc) and how much information the media give to the public on this subject. Although with all this information, we can find ourselves sifting through a lot of advice and not knowing what to do with it. The bombardment of messages showing us the state of our eco-system can leave us feeling helpless and upset. So, what if you could make a few simple changes in your home today?

The Kitchen

We are all aware of plastic bag charges and most of us have ‘bag for life’s’ stacked up somewhere in the kitchen. One of the issues with these is that they are still made from plastic and they don’t fold nicely into handbags or rucksacks, so we often forget them. Investing in cotton bag that will bio-degrade, are easily washed and do not put fibrous materials into our water system is crucial. They can also be used instead of thin plastic bags used for produce, which often get tossed away.

It can feel frustrating to know that you are throwing food or plastic away, but we can find our way back to living more naturally. Many of us in the UK have a compost pick-up service from our local council. This is a fantastic initiative that has revolutionised most people’s thoughts on waste. So, instead of throwing away vegetables, egg shells and tea bags, we now put it in our compost bin and send it away. But composting at home could be the start to what you can do. By creating compost from your own food waste, you could make growing vegetables easier and more efficient.

Look through our vast range of composters and wormeries to start this today. We even have wooden composters that give you double eco-points! Unsure how to compost? Here are our hints and tips on composting, and our updated wormery guide and read through our how to build a pet poo wormery guide in case you wish to set one up.

The Garden

The garden is one of the most natural places to take your sustainability project further. Compost is great for fruit and vegetable plants and could be a fuss-free way of becoming eco-friendlier. Organic produce can be better for your wallet and your health so put your compost to good use and reap the benefits. Also, if you end up with a large harvest that you’re unable to get through, you can share it with friends and family.

garden picture

Creating wild patches of grass and weeds is very good for pollinating insects and can encourage them to pollinate fruits like strawberries. You could use the wilder parts of your garden to encourage creepy crawlies to live, hopefully this may discourage them from invading your fruit and veg patches. You can also take another step and use non-harmful and non-polluting ways of discouraging insects. We have a veg patch protector that does not kill bees, slugs or any other unwanted visitors. We also have this handy bundle that only repels creepy crawlies away from certain areas of your garden.

The Gutters


Every summer we live in threat of a hose-pipe ban which is a real testament to the low rainfall in some areas of the world. What can seem even more frustrating is that we do have days and days of rain in other months, so it can leave one wondering how we run out of water! If you find it hard to manage through hose pipe bans make sure you have a store of water by installing a water butt. You will be able to water plants regularly in any month with this one simple change. Also, if you collect excess water, you can use this to flush toilets! A water butt will help you cut down on water waste and usage. To minimise the risk of having foreign bodies such as leaves enter your water butt (especially if you’re using the water for flushing toilets or washing fruit and veg), you may want to invest in Hedgehog Brush to protect your harvested water (and cut back on cleaning guttering!).

gutters image

To create a sustainable garden and to live in an eco-friendlier way is a lot easier than you may think. Just making a few changes can completely overhaul not just your garden but your way of life. Composting waste, growing organic food and harvesting rainwater are some of the more accessible ways of starting, naturally you will use less single use products and cut down on plastic consumption because of making these changes.

Interested in other ways you can make sustainable changes? Explore our website for more

Gardening for World Wellbeing Week

World Wellbeing Week is from 24th until 28th June 2019 and highlights how we focus on ourselves and how we look after out mental and physical health. The awareness week was created to encourage large companies and governments to look at how they promote wellbeing at work and in society. It also attempts to promote efforts from charitable organisations. Gardening and growing plants has recently been heralded as a fantastic way of staying mindful and helping with mental health issues and so, could benefit mental and physical wellbeing.

zen

Urban Gardening

With people in inner cities finding it hard to make ends meet and spaces being cemented over, community groups have taken to gardening to help residents grow their own fruit and veg and create green spaces. Councils in London have given communities the tools to make areas dedicated to working together and providing food. These initiatives not only bring people together but also help the air quality, reduce flooding and support biodiversity. They have seen great successes in area such as Lambeth and Brixton.

vegetables

Adding green spaces to urbanised areas can also help with depression and anxiety. Many of us now live in rather built-up areas and can find it hard to grow our own fruit and veg, let alone plants and trees. If you live in accommodation with no garden and limited space, size and practicality are key. Window planters for herbs and succulents will add a hint of green and will break your view up. If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony, you could invest in a balcony planter. With both window and balcony planters, you could grow your own fruit and vegetables, which could help your purse strings, too. Many of us live near allotments and they can be inexpensive to rent. These spaces are perfect for growing food, if you’re just getting started or need extra tools to expand your project, we have a large area dedicated to growing your own fruit and veg that could help you.

Gardening and the NHS

A garden can be like a sanctuary for the mind. The NHS have taken advantage of this and have started gardening initiatives centered at aiming to help with certain mental health issues such as stress around the country. Working hard on a plot can be rather therapeutic and the results are easy to see. Fruit, vegetables and beautiful flowers can bloom quickly if a project is started properly and with the right guidance. The blend of physical and mental activity that gardening commands can be the best therapy for some. The transformation of bare patch to working garden could be perfect for anyone needing to employ some mindfulness to their lives.

balance

As we are entering the month of July, plants and food plants can grow quicker than in other months which can feel more rewarding. In addition, the physical aspect to digging and planting could center the mind and improve physical health. Try to plant flowers that attract butterflies and bees, knowing that you’re helping the environment around you will give you a great sense of purpose and watching these insects is extremely pleasing. Gardening in summer months is great way of bonding with family and friends, as well. See if you can connect with others on a project and make it fun.

Even if you do not suffer from mental health issues, gardening can help with overall wellbeing and when you love your environment, you feel better. With the NHS rolling out ‘prescription gardening’, it is little wonder that there is attention towards gardening over Wellbeing Week. Although, it’s not just mental health that is benefitted from gardening, physical health from the labour involved in gardening and digestive health from consuming organic vegetables and fruit are also impacted. Creating green spaces in urbanised areas can also help reduce flooding, bio emissions and air quality. Issues that affect all of us.

To find out more about starting a gardening project, explore our website https://www.originalorganics.co.uk/

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