0800 688 9823       |       Family Owned Business       |      0% Interest Free Finance   

Awareness

11 Garden Facts you didn't know

11 Garden Facts you didn't know

11 Interesting Facts About Your Garden

  1. 20'000 slugs live in your garden 

  2. Hydrangeas can change colour from PH levels in soil

  3. Vanilla Beans are from an orchid variant

  4. Apples and Strawberries are types of Roses...

  5. Baking soda can sweeten tomatoes

  6. Butterflies prefer weeds to flowers

  7. Music helps plants grow

  8. A sunflower is not just one flower

  9. A teaspoon of soil contains more organisms than people on the planet

  10. Pumpkins are fruits

  11. Peanuts are not nuts

 

1. 20'000 slugs per average UK garden.

Over 390 billion slugs live in UK gardens. There are on average up to 20'000 slugs per garden in the UK, 200 per square metre!

2. Hydrangeas can change colour from PH levels in soil

A more alkaline soil (PH 7+) will result in pinker blooms, while more acidity (<PH7) will produce blue blooms. Blue tones can be found by adding organic matter to your soil, like egg shells and coffee grounds. Overtime the balance will change. 

3. Vanilla Beans are from an orchid variant

The vanilla orchid (Vanilla planifolia) produces vanilla beans and is the only orchid that produces an edible fruit. The vanilla orchid is not the only interesting variety; oncidum hybrid (Sharry Baby) is said to smell like chocolate, the cymbidium Golden Elf smells lemony, and the phalaenopsis violacea has a cinnamon scent.

4. Apples and Strawberries are types of Roses...

Apples, strawberries, pears, peaches, cherries, raspberries and more of the rose family and cousins of the classic red rose.

5. Baking soda can sweeten tomatoes

By reducing the acidity of the soil, tomatoes sweeten their taste. However, it is a delicate balance where a high PH can produce a healthy plant with no tomatoes. The balance of acidity and sugar determines the sweetness and smaller varieties will prove to be sweeter on average. Genetics play a large role in natural sweetness but some say baking soda works. 

6. Butterflies prefer weeds to flowers

Trading beauty for scent, butterflies will navigate towards nectar regardless of how visually appealing your garden may be. Research by the Smithsonian Institute, discovered popular flowers have been bred for enhanced colour and size, but at the cost of fragrance in the process. Therefore, untouched and non-selectively bred weeds, like dandelions and clovers, are actually more interesting to butterflies. As a bonus a natural weed garden will not contain pesticides, even better for our pollinating friends. 

7. Music helps plants grow

As Prince Charles discussed, "I just come and talk to the plants, really. Very important to talk to them; they respond." As with most fables and tales of time, the story is based on some fact and adapted over the years. Studies have shown, vibration, like music, or a voice can affect plant growth. As shown on Myth Busters, the comparison of a silent greenhouse to one with a vocal soundtrack, found that plants with vibrations grew more. 

Studies from 1848, by Gustav Fechner in the book Nanna (Soul-life of Plants) stemmed the subsequent research into the matter. A 2007 paper from South Korea's National Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology proposed that two genes involved in a plant's response to light—known as rbcS and Ald—are activated by music played at 70 decibels (conversation level). The higher the frequency, the more active the genetic response. However, a Canadian research paper revealed seed germination was only influenced at 92 decibels. 

Marini of the Korean research states, "Plants exposed to wind produce a growth-retardant hormone called ethylene, which causes the plant to be shorter and to have thicker stems. So plants exposed to wind can better survive very windy conditions." Wind or vibrations could therefore be one and the same in their influence of plant growth adapting to potentially volatile environments and requiring a genetic growth response to survive. 

8. A sunflower is not just one flower

The classic brown center and even the yellow petals are actually 1,000 – 2,000 individual flowers. The large petals are individual ray flowers, which do not develop into seed. Pollination and seed development are contained to the brown area taking about 30 days from the time the last flower is pollinated to maturity.

9. A teaspoon of soil contains more organisms than people on the planet

If you ever wondered how organic material decomposes so quickly in the garden, especially in non-domestic areas, the level of organisms existing in that space may explain it. 

Table 1: Relative Numb​er and Biomass of Microbial Species at 0–6 Inches (0–15 cm) Depth of Soil
Microorganisms Number/g of soil Biomass (g/m2)
Bacteria 108–109 40–500
Actinomycetes 107–108 40–500
Fungi 105–106 100–1500
Algae 104–105 1–50
Protozoa 103–104 Varies
Nematodes 102–103 Varies

10. Pumpkins are fruits

Similar to avocados, pumpkins not vegetables but fruits, because they produce seeds. This also works the other way with Rhubarb, a vegetable.

11. Peanuts are not nuts

Peanuts are actually legumes like beans and lentils. This may explain why they have more protein, niacin, folate, and phytosterols than any nut... as they are not nuts. This demotion of nut status comes directly from the National Peanut Board.

Growing Wellness | How Gardening can Benefit Your Mental Health

Growing Wellness | How Gardening can Benefit Your Mental Health

Growing Wellness: How Gardening Can Benefit Your Mental Health

Gardening is a fantastic activity for your mental health. It has been proven to reduce stress, increase positive feelings, and improve overall well-being. Research by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) found that living with a regular view of a green space provides health benefits worth £300 per person per year.

This article explores the many ways in which gardening can benefit your mental health, as well as providing practical tips and advice to help you get the most out of your gardening experience. Whether you're just green or an experienced green thumb, we'll provide you with all the guidance you need to maximise your hobby and reap the mental health benefits.

 

The benefits of gardening on mental health

Research has shown spending time with plants and being in outdoor environments can have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing.

 

1. Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Firstly, plants themselves have the ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Simply being around greenery and natural elements has a calming effect on our minds. This can help to lower our heart rate and blood pressure, leading to a greater sense of relaxation and tranquillity.

 

2. Physical Calming of your Body

Gardening can be a low-intensity exercise and mindfulness practice. Digging, planting, and weeding all require physical effort, which can help to release endorphins and improve our mood. Focusing on the act of tending to plants and being present in the moment can serve as a meditative practice, towards mindfulness.

 

3. Boost your Mood to Fight Depression

Sometimes, the British weather can put a downer on your spirits. Being outdoors and connecting with the natural world can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve your self-esteem, and boost overall mood.

 

4. Gardening with Friends

Finally, gardening can also provide social benefits. Joining a gardening community or participating in group gardening activities can make you less lonely or feel isolated, especially if you live alone or away from family.

With so many benefits, no matter the weather, gardening could be your solution to a happier, healthier life. So why not grab your trowel and get gardening for the sake of your mental well-being?

BucketBarrow URBAN88 Wheelbarrow Kit

How plants can reduce stress and anxiety

The National Institute for Health Research found that people who spend time in the garden report better physical and mental health levels than those who do not [1]. More interestingly, the specific health benefits were similar to those of the wealthiest and poorest countries, suggesting a multitude of long-term benefits for life expectancy.

 

Green Neighbourhoods

Research has shown that plants have a remarkable ability to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Being in the presence of greenery and natural elements has a calming effect on our minds, helping to lower heart rate and blood pressure. Just imagine the feeling of sitting in a peaceful garden, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, feeling the weight of the world melt away. It's like a natural therapy for the soul.

The Natural Environment Survey shows a positive correlation of improved wellbeing based on people's reported contact with the natural world, including parks and fields.

But how do plants actually have this effect on our mental well-being? Well, studies have found that simply looking at plants can induce a relaxation response in our bodies, releasing endorphins and promoting a sense of tranquillity. The colour green is particularly soothing to the eye and is often associated with feelings of calmness and harmony. It's no wonder that so many meditation and relaxation apps use nature sounds and imagery to create a peaceful atmosphere.

Furthermore, plants have the incredible ability to purify the air, removing toxins and releasing oxygen. Breathing in clean air has a direct impact on our mental health, improving our mood and cognitive function. So, by filling your living space with plants, you're not only creating a beautiful environment but also promoting better mental wellbeing.

The Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey, reported trees and hedges reduced pollution by diverting, diluting or capturing pollutants. Small leaves, high foliage and either evergreen or semi-evergreen varieties were best.

Whether it's a small potted plant on your desk or a full-fledged garden in your backyard, surrounding yourself with plants is a simple yet effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. So, why not bring a little bit of nature into your life and let the plants work their magic on your mental well-being?

 

Maze 55 Litre Composting Cart

The perfect companion to the small and portable composting cart to follow around the garden with 55L of capacity for plants, soil, tools everything you need.

  • Stays low to the ground to make the collection of compost easier
  • Can sit under the composter to collect nutrient-rich liquid
  • Easily transports ready-to-use compost around your garden
  • Strong and sturdy design
  • Removable handle for storage

 

Gardening as a form of exercise and mindfulness practice

Gardening is not just a hobby; it's also a great way to incorporate exercise and mindfulness into your daily routine. When you're out in the garden, digging, planting, and weeding, you're engaging in physical activity that can help release endorphins and improve your mood. Plus, being active in the fresh air and sunlight is beneficial for both your physical and mental well-being. It's a win-win situation!

But gardening is more than just exercise. It can also serve as a form of mindfulness practice. When you're tending to your plants, you're fully present in the moment, focusing on the task at hand. This helps to quiet the mind and bring a sense of calm and tranquillity. As you engage with nature, you become more in tune with your surroundings, and the worries of the day seem to fade away.

So, the next time you're in the garden, take a moment to appreciate the physical effort you're putting in and the mental clarity it brings. Gardening is not only good for your plants, but it's also good for your body and mind. Embrace it as a form of exercise and mindfulness practice, and reap the numerous benefits it has to offer.

 

The positive effects of exposure to nature on mental wellbeing

Being exposed to nature has a multitude of positive effects on our mental well-being. Spending time in natural environments, whether it be a lush green forest or a peaceful garden, has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Being in nature allows us to disconnect from the demands of daily life and connect with the beauty and serenity of the natural world.

Exposure to nature has also been found to improve our self-esteem and boost our overall mood. It provides us with a sense of awe and wonder, reminding us of the vastness and beauty of the world beyond ourselves. This can help to put our own worries and problems into perspective, leading to a greater sense of contentment and happiness.

Furthermore, being in nature encourages physical activity and promotes a healthy lifestyle. Whether it's going for a walk in the park or tending to plants in the garden, being outdoors encourages movement and can improve our physical fitness. This, in turn, has a positive impact on our mental health, as regular exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

 

The social benefits of gardening

Gardening isn't just a solitary activity – it can also provide numerous social benefits that contribute to better mental health. Joining a gardening community or participating in group gardening activities allows you to connect with like-minded individuals who share your love for plants and nature. By engaging with others who have similar interests, you can form meaningful connections and combat feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Being part of a gardening community provides opportunities for social interaction, whether it's attending workshops, joining gardening clubs, or volunteering at community gardens. These activities not only allow you to learn from experienced gardeners and exchange knowledge and tips, but they also create a sense of belonging and camaraderie. The shared experience of nurturing plants and working together towards a common goal fosters a supportive and uplifting environment.

In addition, gardening can also provide a platform for social activism and community engagement. Many urban gardens focus on sustainable practices, organic gardening, and food security. By participating in such initiatives, you contribute to creating a greener and more sustainable community while engaging in meaningful social interactions.

So, don't underestimate the social benefits that gardening can offer. It's not just about plants; it's about connecting with others, building relationships, and being part of something greater than yourself. Get involved in the gardening community and reap the social rewards for your mental well-being.

 

Gardening for those with mental health challenges

For those who are dealing with mental health challenges, gardening can be a powerful tool for healing and finding solace. The act of nurturing plants and watching them grow can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, boosting self-esteem and overall well-being. Gardening offers a peaceful and therapeutic environment where individuals can escape the stress and pressures of daily life, allowing them to focus on the present moment and find a sense of peace.

Gardening can also serve as a form of self-care, providing a healthy and constructive outlet for managing emotions and reducing anxiety. The physical activity involved in gardening can release endorphins, improving mood and promoting a sense of calm. Taking care of plants and witnessing their growth can also create a sense of hope and optimism, offering a tangible reminder that even in the face of challenges, growth and renewal are possible.

Additionally, gardening can provide a sense of connection to the natural world, offering a sense of grounding and perspective. Spending time outdoors and connecting with nature can be incredibly grounding and soothing for individuals with mental health challenges, offering a sense of peace and tranquillity.

In summary, gardening can be a powerful tool for those with mental health challenges, providing a safe and therapeutic space for healing and growth. By engaging with nature, nurturing plants, and finding solace in the act of gardening, individuals can find comfort, resilience, and renewed hope. So, whether you're struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health challenge, consider giving gardening a try and experience the healing benefits for yourself.

 

 

[1] Thompson, R. (2018). Gardening for health: A regular dose of gardening. Clinical Medicine, 18(3), 201-205. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.18-3-201

10 Sustainable New Years Resolutions

10 Sustainable New Years Resolutions header Image

Blog – New Year’s Resolutions

The new year has always been a time of renewal and rebirth, a time for new beginnings, that’s why new year’s resolutions have been so popular. You have the power to make changes in your life for the better, and what better way to start than by making a sustainable new year’s resolution. Help to make a positive impact on the environment, as well as in your own life, read along to find out how!

Christmas Tree



Start your new year with the right foot forward, by disposing of your Christmas tree in a sustainable way. Of course, this only works for real trees, artificial trees are generally made of PVC which isn’t recyclable. Many real trees unfortunately end up in landfill, where they release methane, a substance that is worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Many local councils have a tree disposal system, where they will collect and compost your tree for free. You can also compost your tree at home, provided you can break it down small enough, a woodchipper is ideal but if you want to put in the effort you can also break it down with a saw.

The best option however is to replant your tree, provided it still has the roots intact, this is the most sustainable option of all.

Go Meat Free



January also coincides with Veganuary, a movement in the UK that challenges people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the whole month of January. For those that don’t know the core tenets of veganism are:

  • 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

The UN states that meat and dairy livestock accounts 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.

A plant-based diet may have the ability to lower your blood pressure. In a study of 89,000 people, those eating meat-free diets appeared to cut their risk of high blood pressure by 55 per cent but those eating a vegan diet had a whopping 75 per cent lower risk.

Research shows that we could feed an additional 4 billion humans if we grew our crops directly for human consumption, rather than feeding the crops to farm animals, and then consuming them.

Grow Your Own



There’s nothing more sustainable than growing your own food, even in winter there are so many fruits and vegetables that can be grown successfully. We’ve already posted our guide to growing winter vegetables, so if you missed that, you can check it out here.  One thing to keep in mind when growing plants in winter is that some plants do need more care and maintenance to protect them from the adverse weather. Plant fleeces, bell cloches, and hoop tunnels can provide the protection needed to survive through winter. If you have the space you can also invest in a greenhouse for all your growing needs.    

Avoid Disposables



Start your year with a pledge to avoid all single use plastics, the majority of which can be replaced with reusable alternatives. Many businesses have already phased out, or at the very least severely reduced their reliance on single use plastics such as shopping bags and straws. You can already start making these changes at home:

  • If you use straws often, try replacing plastic ones with metal straws. These can be cleaned and reused every time.
  • If you’re a coffee addict, try bringing your own reusable coffee container next time you head to Starbucks or Costa, most stores are more than happy to encourage customers to use their own cups (it saves them money in the long run too!).
  • Going shopping? Take as many reusable bags as you need with you, you can even get collapsible and easy to store bags that fit right in your pocket! So no need to worry about bags taking up space in your cupboard or car boot.

Shop Pre-Loved


Charity shops are a great source of several different items, whether it is clothing, toys, furniture, electricals, media, bric-a-brac, and more! With charity shops having to evolve with the state of the world, you would be surprised just how many high quality and brand-new items people donate to stores. Some stores also class themselves as ‘premium’ stores, and it’s much easier to find vintage and designer items than you would imagine.

Pre-loved items also works both ways, so instead of throwing away any items you no longer use, try asking yourself: could someone else make use of this? If the answer is yes, then it’s always worth contacting your local charity shop to see if it’s something they can sell.

Buy Local



If you’re in position to do so, try shopping locally. The carbon footprint of delivering items can be larger than you would think, and while it may not seem much on its own, the cumulative effect of items being delivered across the country (and globally) creates a larger environmental issue. You can also have double-whammy impact by walking or cycling to get your shopping and essentials.

Make Your Garden Eco-Friendly



There are a plethora of ways you can make your garden eco-friendlier, here are just a few ideas:

  • Use a garden composter to dispose of household food waste, as well as garden clippings, leaves, etc. You can then use this compost to provide nutrients to your plants
  • Utilise a water butt to harvest rainwater and create a sustainable source of water for your plants.
  • When buying furniture and tools for your garden, make sure to buy FSC certified products
  • Use sustainable alternatives to pesticides, not only will this benefit any garden critters in your garden, your plants and soil will benefit from avoiding harmful chemicals.
  • Make your garden wildlife friendly, bird boxes, bee hotels, hedgehog houses, and more can help maintain the ecological balance of your garden. Hedgehogs love to eat slugs, bees can pollinate your plants, and birds are known to pick at and eat unwanted weeds.


Conserve Water



Water butts and water tanks aren’t just for your garden; you can also use them to provide water for your home! Depending on the capacity of your tank or butt, you can potentially replace your entire household water supply with rainwater. On the lower side of the scale, you can start using rainwater for toilet water, dishwashers, and washing machines. Depending on your setup you may need alterations to your rain harvesting system, some tanks may not be directly suitable for supplying water to certain appliances or needs.

Shop Sustainably



When you’re doing your weekly food shop, plan ahead and stick to a shopping list. If you know exactly what you need before you enter the store, you can make sure you don’t waste money on food you don’t need. Supermarkets deliberately offer multibuy discounts and bulk food knowing that food will go unused, it is important not to buy in to this wherever possible, as most food will end up in landfill.

On the off chance you do end up buying more than you can use, you can always donate the food to a local foodbank or homeless charity.

Don’t Let Food Waste Go to…Waste



The majority of unused food waste and kitchen scraps end up going to landfill, whereby they contribute to pollution. There are a number of alternatives to this situation however, like the aforementioned garden composter. Kitchen top composters, bokashi bins, and wormeries are becoming more and more popular, with many being small enough to fit under your kitchen counter or cupboard. Simply place your food waste within and let nature do its thing.

Quick Tips for Christmas Jumper Day

Quick Tips for Christmas Jumper Day Header Image

Today, up and down the UK are people are preparing to wear their fantastic festive jumpers for Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day event, with many helping to raise money with fundraisers and events. 

Christmas jumpers have become big business the last few years, but unfortunately it's not all positive. In fact, many Christmas jumpers which are sold in the UK contain large amounts of plastic, many of which are unrecyclable, with so many choosing to purchase a new jumper each year, you can see how this might become a problem.

Here are a few ways to tackle the issue!

Make Your Own!


With so many of us having old clothes laying around, what better use than to turn them in to a brand new Christmas jumper? Simply select as many or as little elements that you want and start cutting! One of the benefits of this method is that it doesn't matter how refined your final jumper looks, in fact, the worse it looks the funnier it will be!

You can get the kids involved with crafts too, try gluing and sewing different cut-outs to different garments to create interesting and wacky designs! Or if you want to you can put some love and attention in to a hand knitted Christmas jumper.

If you've got some spare Christmas decorations, why not add them to your jumper to give a 3D element? Nothing says Christmas more than a shiny pair of baubles glued to a wool jumper!

Organise a Jumper Swap



Instead of buying a new jumper, try swapping with some friends, it's a great opportunity to try a new design, and if it doesn't fit right, that just adds to the wackiness!

One fun thing to do is to agree a budget with friends, and see who can buy the most hideous looking Christmas jumper from a charity shop. Agree to all swap at the end, you might be surprised with what you end up with! You get a fun surprise whilst also helping a good cause!

If All Else Fails...


Keep hold of your current Christmas jumper, and keep re-using it until it's worn out. The longer you can keep it away from landfill the better. Even better still, if your Christmas jumper is made from an organic material such as wool or cotton, you can compost it! It's as easy as breaking it down as small as you can, and adding it to your compost pile.

For all your Christmas needs, check out our Christmas section!

How to Set Up Your Garden for Hedgehogs

How to Set Up Your Garden for Hedgehogs This Winter Header Image

How to Set Up Your Garden for Hedgehogs This Winter

Ten Tips to Help Your Garden Become A Haven for Hedgehogs During the Cold Winter Months

Local wildlife can be a natural part of your garden, without becoming pests, bees and insects play a large role in keeping biodiversity in a state of balance, with bees being particularly important for the cultivation of plants. Then we have the humble hedgehog, a staple of the British garden, while you might not realise it, they too have a part to play in keeping your garden maintained. Hedgehogs love to eat slugs and snails, this is ideal for keeping the slimy pests at bay, as they are prone to eat their way through your plants.

Encouraging hedgehogs into your garden is one issue that has several solutions, but the issue doesn’t stop there, what do you need to do once the hedgehog is in your garden? That’s where we hope to help, with our ten top tips you can be sure that your garden will be the place to be, for all local hedgehogs, read along below.

Create an Entrance

entrance

The first thing you will want to do is to make sure that hedgehogs can actually enter your garden. This can present various challenges, depending on your garden setup and location. If you live in a terraced garden there may be numerous fences and walls preventing hedgehogs from accessing your garden. If you can, try to create an opening or hole in the fence or wall that is nearest to any open areas, if you are surrounded by other gardens you can always try to get the neighbours on board, making gaps in each subsequent garden, creating a hedgehog highway!

Make your Garden Accessible

pond

While hedgehogs are known to be fairly good at climbing, they struggle to scale slippery or sheer surfaces, and they also struggle climbing down. If there are any deep recesses or ditches, make sure to provide ways for hedgehogs to get out from them, and if you have any garden ponds be sure to cover them, or again, provide a way for hedgehogs to get out.

Create Nesting Spaces

logs

Hedgehogs love dark shady places to nest in, so you have a few options available to keep them nesting in your garden. One of the easiest ways to encourage nesting is by keeping an area of your garden thick with plants and vegetation, less pruned than you might normally, hedgehogs will benefit from the overgrowth and the plentiful insects that are sure to make their homes here too.

The other option is to create or buy a hedgehog home, if you have some solid logs or branches available you can use these to create a small structure for the hedgehog to take up residence in. There are a number of hedgehog houses available to suit the aesthetic of your garden, this makes it a much easier option for encouraging nesting, plus they are going to be more robust than what the hedgehogs might make themselves.

Clear Hazards

rubbish

Litter, plastic, and garden twine/wire are the enemy of the common hedgehog, try to clear out any detritus from your garden before inviting hedgehogs in. Similarly, if you know that there are areas just outside of your garden where there is an abundance of rubbish, get these cleared too.

Provide Sustenance

cat food

Like many other small creatures in winter, hedgehogs benefit greatly from additional food and water sources. In the coldest parts of winter, try to provide food and water every night, and remove any leftover food the next morning as it is likely to attract pests. Dry cat food works particularly well for keeping hedgehogs fed, break it in to smaller pieces to make it more digestible. Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so avoid dairy products, especially milk.

If you are worried about other animals accessing the food, you can leave it in a place only the hedgehog is likely to get in to, such as the hedgehog house, rather than a larger animal like a fox.

Stay Organic

organic

Harmful chemical pesticides, slug pellets, and lawn treatment can reduce the number of insects available for hedgehogs to eat, not to mention the negative environmental impact they can cause. There is also a chance that these chemicals can directly affect the hedgehog, and potentially kill it.

Be Careful When Cutting Grass

strimmer

Being nocturnal creatures, hedgehogs will likely be asleep during the day, apart from the odd bit of stirring, this means they are unlikely to realise when grass is being cut. If you are using a lawnmower or strimmer to cut your lawn it is easy to miss something as small as a hedgehog, but with some care and due attention, you can avoid hurting our spined friends.

Check Bonfires

bonfire

Due to the natural structure of bonfires, dark, damp, with plenty of shelter, hedgehogs will be drawn to them. If you do intend on lighting a bonfire, check for hedgehogs before lighting, and whenever possible, build the bonfire just prior to lighting it. When looking for a hedgehog, try looking at night, as this will be when they are most active, shining a bright torch into the bonfire may startle the hedgehog and cause it to hiss, while this will cause the hedgehog some stress, it may make it easier to locate it and save it from a much worse fate.

Start A Compost Pile

compost

Composting
has its own benefits, regardless of a hedgehog’s interactions, so it’s always advisable to start composting whenever you can. If you do have an exposed compost pile, it can be a veritable smorgasbord of food for a hedgehog, decomposing garden waste will attract worms, slugs, and insects. Hedgehogs are also fond of hibernating amongst compost heaps, so due care is needed if you are turning the pile or removing any contents.

Grow Specific Plants

foxglove

Attract moths and caterpillars to your garden by growing native plants such as foxglove, primrose, sea lavender, and buddleias. Hedgehogs will love to feast upon any caterpillars they come across, and any moth eggs that have been deposited. Not only does this get rid of pests that are likely to eat your plants, but it also keeps the hedgehogs sustained.

For all your garden needs, shop Original Organics

Practical Eco-Friendly Stocking Fillers

Practical Eco-Friendly Stocking Fillers Header Image

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

worms

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

Bokashi Bran

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

lime mix

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

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


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.

Composting Sacks

compost sacks

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

caddy liners

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

Mini tools

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

winter vegetable 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

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

fleece jacket

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

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

vanilla blanc

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

betty hula

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.

Top Tips to Avoid Christmas Food Waste

Top Tips to Avoid Christmas Food Waste Header Image

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.

Recycle


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.

You can also recycle your food waste by using a composter or wormery. Not only does this stop waste going to landfill, it also provides usable compost for your garden!

Quick Tips


  • 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.



Make Your Garden Wildlife Friendly In Winter

Top Tips to Make Your Garden A Wildlife Friendly Place Header Image

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.



Birds

birds

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

bats

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.

Hedgehogs

hedgehog

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.

Pond Life

frogs

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.

Insects

bee

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

badgers

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.

Foxes

fox

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.

Can You Compost Pasta

Can You Compost Pasta Header Image

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.



Composting Pasta

pasta

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.

Pasta Sauce

pasta sauce

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

uncooked pasta

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!

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.

 

The Benefits of a Sustainable Christmas Tree

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

artificial trees


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.

Real Trees

real trees


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.

 

©Copyright 2024 - Original Organics is a trading name of GM8 Group Ltd. A company registered in England & Wales (company number 04414980) Interest free credit agreements provided by Zopa Embedded Finance Limited trading as DivideBuy are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Zopa Embedded Finance Limited (14602085) is incorporated in England & Wales and has its registered office at: First Floor, Brunswick Court, Brunswick Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 1HH. VAT Number 439973733. Zopa Embedded Finance