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Grow Your Own

What food waste can I put in a composter?  

With the recent news of suspended garden and food waste collections across the country, more and more of us are becoming understandably frustrated due to increasing interruptions to our daily lives. From the 30th March, many local councils have suspended their weekly collections in order to prioritise the collection of refuse and recycling. Rather than getting frustrated, this can be seen as a great reason to begin home composting - the most environmentally-friendly way of attending to kitchen and garden waste. With the weather warming up and the need for us to stay in our gardens and homes growing day-by-day, there couldn’t be a better time to start producing your very own natural compost or organic fertiliser for your garden.   

So, with local councils urging us to begin home composting as a cheap and easy alternative to the disposing of garden and food waste, we have decided to answer the question: what food waste can I put in a home composter?  

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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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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

  2. Get rid of all the weeds that are invading

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

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

  5. 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.

We have a great range of automatic waterers and irrigation, if time is not on your side.

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

Top 5 Trends from Chelsea Flower Show for 2019

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been one of the most prestigious flower shows in the world since its inception in 1912. A trend setter known for some rather avant-garde displays, the show champions fashion and beauty in the horticultural world and this year was no exception.

Take a read through the top 5 themes and trends that ran through this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show:

Sustainability

One of the main themes in this year’s show was that of sustainability and finding eco-friendly ways of living. With our environment being the hot topic in the media, many of the displays were either made from eco-friendly resources or were built to raise awareness. Birmingham City Council’s garden named ‘Floella’s Future’ was designed in honour of Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE and touched upon five themes, community, waste reduction, sustainability, clean air and water conservation. It was punctuated by a large head sculpture made of tubes shown drinking from a straw, a take on one of the biggest issues surrounding the environment now. An electric truck from the fifties (something we didn’t realise was possible in the fifties!) and a greenhouse made from recycled plastic bottles was sown in to the display.

Want to make your first move into sustainable living? Why not grow your own veg and herbs? Explore our ‘Grow Your Own’ section

floella yourgreenaction

(picture @yourgreenaction)

Go Wild

Woodland areas and children getting out into the great outdoors was a theme in a few displays. The Duchess of Cambridge’s feature garden was one of the central stories in the news and at the show. Championing outdoor play for kids and creating childhood memories, this display featured a treehouse, rustic den, swing seat and a campfire and was built inside a wooded area.

@RE_DailyMail

(picture @RE_DailyMail)

The Resilience Garden by Sarah Eberle explored how forests and gardens can be made resilient to climate change. It was built to celebrate the Forestry Commission’s centenary and showcased different terrains and 140 different flowers. Nestled in amongst this display was a Ginko tree, a resilient tree that withstood the impact of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, a true testament to nature surviving despite human influences. This garden won two awards; a gold medal and a ‘Best Construction Award’.

@fungifrolics

(picture @fungifrolics)

Take a look at our wooden composters to carry on this woodland and resilience of nature theme and stay tuned as we will be introducing some amazing new items for children to our site soon.

Heavy Metal

As exhibitors moved away from using plastics this year, metals and products made from natural materials were part of most displays. The Silent Pool Gin garden was no exception. Not only did they create a display that create environmentally friendly electricity by using microbial fuel cells in the garden’s ‘flowerbed’ roof, but they used beautiful metal copper and rust coloured planters, chair, shelf and water feature. This garden won a ‘Silver Gilt’ medal.

Explore our on-trend and exquisite rust coloured items

@silentpoolgin

(picture @silentpoolgin)

Let It Grow

Gone are the days of perfectly trimmed shrubs and shaped bushes. This year was awash with meadow style displays and charming wild gardens. The Savills and David Harber Garden (Bronze Medal Winner) married the woodland, sustainable and wild growth trends together. The air purifying wetland area and serene design made for a refreshing take on the usual Chelsea exhibition of trimmed topiary and harsh lines. Gardens like these may be the way forward as we become more aware of the need for wild flowers for bees and other pollinating insects.

The encourage wild flowers to grow tall, you’ll need a good watering system, we have a comprehensive selection to help you

@savills

(picture @Savills)

Clashing

Encouraging wild flowers and loosening the reigns on design, some exhibitors clashed their colours with gusto. Doing away with conformity, displays such as the pictured from Montessori Centre International (Gold medal Winner) saw reds, purples, pinks and oranges all bustled together. Compositions were kept colourful and anarchic but somehow, it all fit together. With fashion favouring the bold, this uplifting display kept visitors on their toes.

We have some fantastically colourful water butts, to start your kaleidoscopic journey

@culturalcomms

(picture @Culturalcomms)

 

We have a great selection of solutions for sustainable living and gardening, explore our products on Original Organics

How To Grow Potatoes In A Potato Barrel, Bag Or Container

Growing potatoes in a potato barrel or bag is so easy because they are contained. When you grow them in the open ground there is little control over where they send their roots, and the constant need to earth up the new growth can be awkward, especially if your space is in the midst of other crops. Growing them in containers means you can simply add in new compost and easily place them away from your other plants.

Usually mid-March is about the best time to plant your earlies and you plant the maincrop a few weeks later.

You will need:-



  • A potato bag, pot or container - like ours here

  • Some seed potatoes - which you can buy with a planter or separately

  • A garden trowel

  • Some good purpose compost- which you can buy with a planter or separately

  • A watering can


Getting Started:-



  1.  Make sure there are drainage holes in your chosen container

  2. Line the bottom of the bag or container with some drainage material such as small stones, broken pots or even roughly broken pieces of expanded polystyrene.

  3. Put about 6 inches (15cm) of compost on top of your chosen drainage material.

  4. Sprinkle on some good general purpose organic vegetable fertiliser (as per product instructions).

  5. Depending on the size of your container place two or three seed potatoes, spaced out equally and about 6 inches (15cm) in from the edge of the container.

  6. Cover the potatoes with about 4 inches (10 cm) of good compost.

  7. Put another two or three potatoes on top of this layer and cover with another 4 inches of compost and water well.

  8. Place in a sheltered sunny location.


A bunch of potatoes covered in dirt


As the shoots sprout and poke up through the compost add a couple more inches of compost. Continue this process until your container is nearly full (always leave an inch (2.5cm) at the top to allow for watering). Remember potatoes are thirsty plants and the most common problem with container grown potatoes is to let the compost dry out by lack of watering.

Over the next few weeks and months the potato plants will grow and mature and it is often helpful to stake up the plants to give them a bit of support.

When the flowers have faded and the plant died back is the time to harvest. Although excellent if smaller potatoes can, of course, be harvested earlier if you prefer. Similarly if you want larger potatoes just leave them in for a couple more weeks.

Once you have harvested your potatoes use the compost to as an excellent top dressing for your vegetable patch or flower beds. It is not good to use the same compost for another crop of potatoes as this can lead to problems with potato diseases.

If you plant up several different bags in succession, moving them into a cool greenhouse before the first frost, you can harvest your potatoes for most of the year. In fact you can even have your own Christmas potatoes.

If you enjoy growing your own vegetables and making the most out of your garden, visit our Grow Your Own category, which has everything you require to get started!
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