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How Do You Use a Rhubarb Forcer?

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How Do You Use a Rhubarb Forcer?

 

At this time of year there are a multitude of crops which can grow fantastically, providing us with tasty and nutritious food that keeps us sustained, however there are other crops that either don’t grow that well, or at the very least need a little bit of help to reach their potential.

Greenhouses and cold frames do a fine job of nurturing our plants and ensuring their growth during colder weather, but it’s not always possible to use these due to space limitations, that’s where a rhubarb forcer can be useful. Don’t let the name fool you however, rhubarb forcers can be used on a large variety of fruit and veg, and we’re here to show you exactly how, so read along to find out more!

 

How Does a Rhubarb Forcer Work?

 

A rhubarb forcer works by limiting the light that reaches a plant, in many cases, and especially in the case of rhubarb, the lack of light prevents the plant from producing chlorophyll (which normally is what causes leaves to turn green). Chlorophyll is associated with a bitter taste, so by producing less chlorophyll the rhubarb naturally tastes sweeter. A secondary effect of light deprivation is that the rhubarb will expend more of its energy trying to seek any light it can, this produces long, stretched out stems, which are far less tough than their regular variety.

 

 

How to Plant Rhubarb

 

Rhubarb is regularly grown from crowns, but can also be grown from seeds, although this will take much longer, and be prone to more variety. If you plan to sow, any time between March and April will be fine.


 

Using a Rhubarb Forcer

 

Rhubarb forcing can happen anytime between November and March, many gardeners tend to start forcing around January/December time, as there is usually a lull in the gardening calendar at this time of year.

Once your rhubarb crown is established in its planting location you will need to cover it with the rhubarb forcer. You can also add insulation to provide even more warmth to the plant, and accelerate its growth further, plant fleeces, bubble wrap, or a rug will do the job.

Luckily, by covering the crown with the forcer, it also helps to prevent pests from devouring your crop too, although this isn’t likely to deter them 100%. There are plenty of methods to deter pests from consuming your hard work, one of the best and most ecologically friendly methods is by using the natural wildlife present in your garden to do the work for you! Check out our guide on making your garden wildlife friendly to find out more.

The entire growth process should take around 7 to 8 weeks in total, at which point you can start harvesting. Your plants should become very pale, don’t worry this is just a result of the light deprivation, and is a sign that all has gone well.

 

Harvesting Rhubarb

 

Rhubarb will be ready once its leaves have spread, and the stems are at least 30cm in length. Simply remove the stem from the crown at the base, it’s best to only harvest half the stems at a time, this will keep the plant full of energy for future growth, however it is recommended to harvest the remaining stems before the end of summer.

 

Other Crops to Grow

 

In addition to rhubarb, rhubarb forcers are useful for growing other fruit and veg too! Nearly any plant which can grow with reduced light can be forced for an early harvest. These forced versions can look slightly different to their counterparts which are grown normally. 

 

 

 

Choosing a Rhubarb Forcer

 

Rhubarb forcers are traditionally made from terracotta clay, making them heavy and prone to chips and cracks (especially in cold weather). While their traditional style is a sight to behold, their weight can make it difficult to easily move them around and store them. For this reason, we prefer a more modern take on the rhubarb forcer.

Our plastic Rhubarb Forcers are the perfect replica of a traditional clay design, but with a fraction of the weight (saving your back in the process!), they are much more durable too, meaning that even the worst weather wont cause cracks or chips. Their lightweight design also makes storing them much more straightforward – stack multiples on top of each other with ease. The use of UV resistant plastic also means that they won’t fade in the sunlight.





Our rhubarb forcers also come in a grey marble effect, this rhubarb forcer can add a style and class to your garden with it striking yet practical design.

 

 

Tips

  • Rhubarb leaves are toxic, so be careful not to harvest these for food. You can always add them to your compost pile to make use of them.
  • Bacteria and fungi can infect rhubarb (known as crown rot), avoid having mulch and other bacteria rich materials too close to the crown as they can be a major cause of issues.
  • If you do see crown rot (identified by a red/yellow/brown decay on the leaves, and possibly black or brown holes appearing), simply remove the infected stems and monitor the rest of the plant.
  • You can grow rhubarb in pots too, just make sure that the pot is at least 20 inches wide and tall.
  • Avoid watering rhubarb too much, this can cause the onset of rot. However, it will need water the most when it is newly planted.
  • You can produce your own compost to supplement your plant growth by using a composter.

 

For all your growing needs shop Original Organics.

 

How to Start Growing Your Own Vegetables

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How to Start Growing Your Own Vegetables

 

February is a fantastic time to prepare your garden and greenhouse for spring, whether you’re sowing or planting there is a large variety of plants you can continue to grow, or newly introduce. Often being the coldest month of the year, growing in February can be touch and go depending on where you’re located in the country. As a result, it’s always best to leave the sowing of seeds to later in the year if the ground is particularly frozen or waterlogged. However, if you can start working on your garden, our handy little guide will help you on your way, read along to find out how!




If you’re looking to sow seeds, the very first thing you must do is ensure that the ground is suitable for the seeds you’re sowing. No matter what type of soil you have, one thing you can do that will benefit your plant growth is supplement the soil with compost. Compost will provide vital nutrients and minerals, which are essential to plant growth, while also helping to retain moisture and making the ground generally easier to work. There are numerous ways to produce your own compost, from using a hot composter, a wormery, and more. This ensures you can have a fresh supply, of perpetual compost all year round.

To prepare your ground for sowing there are a few small steps you can take to make the most of the soil in your garden or allotment:

 

  • Remove weeds from the site you intend to sow your seeds. At this time of year there may not be too many weeds taking root, but you may start to see a few sprouting. There are a few ways to make sure that weeds don’t return, the most effective being to remove the weed in its entirety, root, and all, if there is even a small part of the root left it can potentially grow back.
  • The site for sowing is also incredibly important, different plants will have varying needs in terms of shade/sunlight, so check this before sowing. Generally, you want to choose a spot which won’t be affected by strong winds, and that receives an adequate amount of light.
  • Break up the soil using a garden fork, this can help with moisture drainage, you can also remove any large stones or debris at the same time. You want to aim for the consistency of breadcrumbs for the most effective soil, take some of this soil from the ground and mix it together with your compost, reapply this mix to the top of your soil.  
  • Depending on how many varieties of plants you are sowing, you can arrange your seeds in what is known as drills, these are rows made in the soil which differ in depth (depending on the type of seed being planted), this can help to arrange your plants effectively and maximise the space available to you.

 

Once your seeds are in place, you’re going to want to keep a careful eye on them as often as possible, the re-emergence of weeds, frost, and insects, can and will cause issues. To repel pests, we recommend alternatives to harmful chemicals and pesticides. One of the most effective ways to keep your garden pest free is by embracing the biodiversity that is present in most gardens. Frogs, birds, and hedgehogs all love to feast on slugs, so they do a great job at keeping the most common pests at bay. Read our guide on increasing biodiversity in your garden to find out more.

Keep an eye out for any weeds that come back, if you see any hints of them simply remove them by hand, if possible, this will keep the root intact when you pull it out. Alternatively, you can also use a hoe to remove them.

Frost will potentially become an issue this time of year, one way to protect your seeds from the cold is to employ some cold protection, such as a cloche or hoop tunnel. Not only will this retain heat around the seeds, but it will also stop them getting buffeted by wind. Once the seeds have started to grow you can also use a layer of mulch to insulate them further.

You can also sow your seeds in containers, which in many ways is similar to planting in the ground. Simply fill your pot or seed tray with a mix of compost and soil, firming down the top layer, and then placing your seeds at their required depth, cover lightly with more compost (some seeds may need more coverage than others). When you’re watering your seeds, the best approach is to use a spray bottle, or a watering can with a rose head (if you’re not familiar with these, they look like shower heads), this helps to avoid dislodging the seeds by avoiding large quantities of water all at once. One benefit to sowing seeds in a container is that you can keep them indoors, or in a greenhouse, until the weather becomes warmer, or until the plant is big enough to brace the cold weather, and then transplant them outdoors.

Transplanting plants comes with it’s own set of problems too, you want to prepare the ground first by creating a hole at least as tall as the root of the plants, and twice as wide, this will ensure there is adequate space for it to grow. Water the plant once more before transplanting it to the hole, this will help the soil adhere to the roots much easier. Once you have added your layer of soil and compost back over the roots, you’re going to want to maintain the soil be keeping it moist, when you start to see any sign of growth from your plant, you will know that the transplant was successful.

No matter how your seeds are planted, you might run in to the issue of overcrowding. If too many plants are growing close together there may be too much competition for light and nutrients, this will have detrimental effect on all the plants, so it’s best to remove any seedlings which are looking weak and keep the healthiest ones.



If you want to start sowing right now, or even next month these are some great choices of vegetables that will grow well this time of year:

Parsnips – 14 weeks to harvest


Parsnip seeds only last for a year, so be sure to use them if you’ve got them! If you want to increase the likelihood of successful growth you can pre-germinate the seeds prior to sowing them, this is achieved by mixing the seeds with compost and leaving in a small bag for a few days somewhere warm and dark. When you go back to the bag after a few days you’ll start to see evidence of growth. It’s then just a case of transplanting these to the outdoors.

Broad Beans – 15 weeks to harvest



Broad beans can grow very well with full sun coverage, being placed around 5cm deep and 25cm apart from each other. Due to their weight, it’s wise to provide some sort of support for the plants once they start to get larger. A pair of sticks and a suspended string is more than adequate to provide the support needed.

Salad Onions – 10 weeks to harvest



Salad onions are best harvested before they grow too large, when they are smaller they are much sweeter and easy to eat, once they get to a certain size the flavour becomes too strong to eat raw.

Garlic – 39 weeks to harvest



Keeping garlic well-watered is key to ensuring they reach a decent size, you will want to stop watering as soon as they become large, as any more water can instigate the onset of rot.

Shallots – 20 weeks to harvest



Shallots are prone to flowering, so the moment you see any starting to form it’s best to remove the flower entirely. This will prevent the shallot from expending energy into the flower and preserve it for the bulb.




Sometimes it’s not always practical or advisable to sow certain plants in February, instead there is always the option of planting, normally from a container or pot, as previously mentioned. There are several advantages to planting, rather than sowing, one benefit is that it makes it much easier to allocate space for plants, as you already have a good idea of the space they will take up, they will also grow quicker than starting from seed, so if the weather is particularly poor you can still make some headway. Conversely, plants will be more expensive than seeds, and you’re normally more limited with the range that is available.

Some vegetables which grow well when planted this time of year include:

Kale – 30 days to harvest



Kale is a particularly hardy vegetable, able to grow in almost any type of soil and soil conditions. However, soil should generally be more alkaline than acidic, if this isn’t the case you can always add lime to the soil to bring the pH level in line with what you need.

Tomatoes – 40 days to harvest



Tomatoes need a lot of sunlight so take care when choosing where to plant them, if light levels are waning you can always start the tomatoes indoors and use LED light strips to supplement their needs.

Chillies – 70 days to harvest



Chillies are best suited to being kept under cold protection if being planted outdoors and supported with a stake and string, so they don’t buckle under their own weight. Harvest them when green for a milder flavour, harvest when they are red for some bite.

Aubergines – 6 months to harvest



Spider mites are a common pest for Aubergines, one way to prevent this is to give the leaves a light misting a few times a day with a spray bottle. Remove any flowers that appear to ensure that energy is conserved.

Basil – 21 days to harvest



Once basil has fully grown, simply clip off the amount of leaves you need to use for food and more, this will allow more to grow, giving you a long-term supply for up to two years. Regularly harvest the leaves in order to encourage growth.





Whilst it is possible to grow the following vegetables outdoors this time of year, it’s advisable to keep them under cover, on a windowsill, in a cold frame, or in a greenhouse for the most part. One of the many advantages of growing in a greenhouse is that you can have a large degree of control over the temperature throughout the year.

Lettuce – 30 days to harvest



Lettuce needs at least six hours of sunlight per day, and adequate watering, try to maintain a gap of 8 – 16 inches between each plant to ensure maximum growth.

Carrots - 14 weeks to harvest



If growing in a greenhouse, it’s vital to make sure that any container used is deep enough for it. Any container that has a depth of between 6 and 15 inches is ideal for carrots.

Radish – 4 weeks to harvest



Radish’s quick maturing time makes them the perfect vegetable to grow in between other, more time intensive crops. Unlike carrots, they do not need a great depth to grow, 1cm is more than enough.  

Rocket – 4 weeks



Much like basil, rocket can be harvested as needed, simply cut off the leaves to the desired amount, and then wait for them to grow back. Taking too much off of the leaves can cause the growth to be weakened, so it’s best to allow time for leaves to grow back.

Runner Beans



One useful technique to help your runner beans grow to their full potential is a bean trench. A bean trench consists of a trench around 50 cm front to back, and as wide as needed for your seeds. You want to dig to a depth of around 30 cm’s and then start lining your trench with newspaper, this will help the trench to maintain moisture. The trench then effectively acts as a composter, with garden and food waste being added, if you’re not sure what type of items to add you can check out our composting guide here. Alternatively, you can remove some of your half broken down compost from any composters you have and add that to the trench. Simply cover the trench with soil once full, and then start sowing your bean seeds, not only will the compost provide the much-needed nutrients to your seeds, but the decomposition process will also produce heat, which is essential for this colder time of year.

The lack of light is one of the biggest problems this time of year, especially in areas of the garden with shade. One handy trick is to use mirrors or other reflective materials such as foil, to direct sunlight to those areas which are starved of sunlight, while this may not seem like it would make a big difference, it can be very effective.

Handy Tips:

  • Label your plants so that you know which section is which
  • Use a raised bed to keep your plants organised, and insulated from the cold earth
  • Use garden wildlife to your advantage, bees help polinate plants, and hedgehogs eat slugs
  • Mulch not only insulates but also helps to deter weeds from growing

Maintaining Your Plants in January

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January is more often that not the coldest month of the year, and while we are able to wrap up warm and keep ourselves cosy indoors, the same isn’t quite as easy for the plants in our gardens. We also deal with vastly different weather across the UK, with some regions experiencing snow, while others only have frost.

We’ve got some handy tips to keep your plants going through this cold period of the year, no matter what weather you’re experiencing!

 

Protection

 

Cloches are a great way to keep your plants protected from the elements, whilst also being able to absorb sunlight. You can also use different sized cloches, depending on the size of plant you’re trying to protect. Cloches are usually fairly lightweight, so may need weighing down to avoid being blown away in strong winds, there are a couple of solutions to this problem. If your close has a lip around the edge you can weigh it down with your soil or rocks, another alternative is to use tent pegs to keep it anchored in the ground, as long as the ground doesn’t become too hard you shouldn’t have any problems removing these when the time to water your plants comes.

You can also use a cold frame to keep your plants protected, think of a cold frame as essentially a mini greenhouse, you can get various types to go straight on the ground, or over plants, or you can even build your own one!  

 

Insulation

 

In addition to cloches and cold frames, you want to try to protect your plants as much as possible, one such way you can do this is by placing your plants directly into the ground, but with their plastic pot still attached – this will help to insulate and protect the roots. When the warmer weather comes around you can always remove the pots to allow the roots to spread.

Mulch is another method of insulating your plants, simply place your mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture and heat. Using your own homemade compost is a cost-effective way of insulating your plants, as compost can be used as an effective mulch.

One way to insulate against frost is to utilise a fleece jacket for your plants, not only will this keep your plants warm, it also acts as a barrier to stop pests from destroying them. An ideal way to keep the cold at bay is through the use of a greenhouse, you can even set up regulated heaters to ensure a steady temperature, or use bubble wrap as insulation for a low cost alternative.

If you’re looking to grow rhubarb you can also use a rhubarb forcer, this will allow you to simulate the warmer conditions in which rhubarb thrives, even in the coldest conditions you’ll still be able to ensure a bountiful harvest, so you can enjoy a warming rhubarb crumble!

 

Indoors

 

Another method for ensuring your plants survival is by eliminating the outdoors entirely and bringing them inside. However, this process isn’t quite as simple as it sounds, temperatures can fluctuate wildly inside, depending on how your heating is set up, and how insulated your home is in general.  If you do decide to bring your plants indoors it’s best to try and set them up in a place where they can get enough sunlight, and where the temperature will stay fairly steady, nowhere near radiators or drafts.

Dust tends to accumulate indoors, and this can very noticeable as soon as you start bringing plants inside, as the dust can stick to their leaves. Depending on the type of plant this can start to inhibit their ability to photosynthesise, so it’s best to keep the leaves clean by using a damp cloth. It’s best to remember that plants will lose less moisture when their inside, in comparison to being outside, so the amount that you need to water them also decreases.

If you’re not sure what type of plants you can continue to grow or plant over winter, check out our guides to ‘Which Flowers to Plant in Winter’ and ‘The Best Veg to Grow in Winter’.

Say Goodbye to Christmas

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Now that Christmas is a distant memory, we can start looking forward to the new year ahead. What better way to start than to dispose of your Christmas waste in style!

Wrapping Paper



It's important to know that not all recycling paper can be recycled, especially those with glitter. This is one of main reasons to avoid non-recyclable wrapping paper, luckily if you have used recyclable, paper-based wrapping paper, you can add it to your recycling bin, composter, or wormery. If you compost it, just make sure to add some green materials (grass clippings, food waste, etc.) to balance it out.

Christmas Cards



Much like wrapping paper, Christmas cards are commonly produced using unrecyclable materials, although manufacturers are becoming much better at addressing this issue. Always check on the card whether or not it can be recycled before adding it to your recycling box or composter.

Christmas Lights



Some councils offer services for collecting Christmas lights, alternatively some charity shops will accept electrical goods, always contact them before as some stores have a strict set of policies regarding electrical items.

If all else fails you can always see if friends or family can make use of them.

Decorations



Since 2019, 65% of wreathes produced in the UK are now made with sustainable materials. Unfortunately there are still plenty of decorations made from unrecyclable plastics, for these sort of items it's best to try and make use of them for as long as possible before disposing of them. Tinsel is notorious due to it's unrecyclable nature.

Of course, it's best to use sustainable Christmas decorations wherever possible.

Baubles



Commonly produced using glass or plastic, baubles will have varying degrees of recyclability. Some councils will offer glass recycling, but again this will depend on what else has been mixed with the glass that the bauble has been produced with.

Most plastic baubles will be made from polystyrene, which isn't widely recycled, however there may still be options for them, so if you are unsure always check your local recycling website.

Christmas Trees



Your ability to recycle your Christmas tree will be entirely dependent on what type of tree you have. Most artificial trees are made from PVC, which is unrecyclable, so the only option is to keep making use of it as long as you can, or to donate it. If you have a tree with roots, you can plant it for next year. If you have a real tree without the roots you can break it down for composting, some councils will offer a tree collection service, so make use of this if you are unable to compost it at home.

Food Wrapping



Many people don't realise that there are different grades and types of plastic. When it comes to food packaging, these materials (as well as certain types of cardboard) are not always as widely recycled as you might think. Always check your councils recycling guide for clear instructions on which items can be recycled, and how to prepare them too! Some items won't get recycled if they are contaminated by food waste.

Food



If you've bought way too much Christmas food, 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! However, there are limits to what types of food you can add to your composter. For most composters, putting meat and dairy products in is not a good idea, as it is the perfect recipe to attract pests and vermin. Using a hot composter is one way to avoid this problem, their accelerated aerobic decomposition process allows these type of foods to break down quickly, before problems can arise.

We also have a guide to help you avoid Christmas food waste here.

Christmas can make us realise just how many items are and aren't recyclable. It's always great to try and improve our efforts to become more sustainable. If you want some ideas about how to make your next Christmas more sustainable, check out our guide here.

 

 

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!

Top Essentials to Keep You Going this Winter

Top Essentials to Keep You Going this Winter Header Image

As the days get colder and colder, it can sometimes be difficult to feel motivated, especially when it comes to maintaining your home and garden. Winter can also be one of the busiest times of year for gardening, with various tasks requiring your attention. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can make life easier for yourself, and to help you feel relaxed at home, after a hard day gardening!

Blackdown Range Composter

blackdown composter

When you have an abundance of garden waste such as grass clippings, dead leaves, and more, one of the best solutions is to compost it. Not only does composting your garden waste help to keep your garden clean and tidy, it will also supply you with nutrient rich compost that you can use to maintain and keep your plants healthy and flourishing. Compost is generally high in nitrogen, which is an essential component for helping plants to fight diseases. Composting sacks can help keep your composting material together if you’ve got an open top composter, they can also be placed amongst plant beds once full and will naturally breakdown to provide a great mulch.

If you’re growing fruit and vegetables, compost can also help to increase the yield of any crops, a wormery (which works much in the same way as a traditional composter, with worms) will provide vermicompost, which is the most nutrient rich of all compost.

Our Blackdown range of composters are a fantastic way to start composting in your garden, and their modular design makes it easy to add additional modules if you feel the need to expand your composting capacity, or if you need a slightly different design.

Aerobin

Aerobin

If you’re looking to add all types of kitchen waste to your composter, you can’t go wrong with an Aerobin. Aerobin’s can take all your usual garden waste, in addition to being able to take food scraps such as meat and eggs. In a traditional composter these sorts of items will struggle to break down and can attract the likes of rats and other vermin, due to the Aerobin’s hot composting design, food waste will break down at an accelerated rate before it has the chance to attract pests.

Because of its unique design an Aerobin breaks down waste through aerobic decomposition, something that is normally done by turning and mixing a compost pile, with an Aerobin this is no longer necessary. You can have usable compost within 12 weeks, without turning the contents, much quicker than most other composters, with the added benefit of being odour free.

Garden Fleece

Fleece


We spend all year cultivating our gardens, with plants becoming the pride and joy of our displays, of course there is nothing worse than all that hard work going to waste when adverse weather sets in. There are a number of ways to protect your plants, but one of the most effective ways is by using a garden fleece. Made from a variety of different materials, a garden fleece will normally provide you with years of use, protecting your plants from frost, wind, snow, and more. Garden fleeces are even more imperative if don’t have a greenhouse to keep your plants in over winter.

For smaller plants there is also the possibility of using a garden cloche for protection. These durable items can help shield your plants from the worst weather, while still allowing your plants to get the valuable sunlight they need to sustain them. Keep check on any plants which have any sort of cold protection, slugs and other pests can sometimes proliferate without notice and damage your plants.

Rhubarb Forcer

Rhubarb forcer

Cold weather limits the range of fruit and veg that we can grow during the period, but one plant that can absolutely thrive during this season is rhubarb. Rhubarb naturally grows during spring, but ever since it became popular during the 1800s, people have found ways to force rhubarb to grow out of season. Rhubarb forcing should ideally be done to an already established rhubarb crop, forcing a newly established rhubarb plant to grow in winter may be possible, but it will likely not have the energy to grown and may actually damage itself in the process.

By placing a rhubarb forcer over the roots during winter, the rhubarb will be insulated and will continue to grow as it would during spring. Due to the lack of sunlight, the rhubarb that is produced will look slightly different to rhubarb that is grown the rest of the year.

Bird Feeders and Nests

bird nest

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.

Storage

190l storage

In winter you’re not always going to need access to all the tools you would use the rest of the year, plus you’re also going to want to store your garden cushions and summer accessories, so why not use an affordable yet durable storage solution? With a generous 190L capacity, wheels for easy movement, and a padlock loop to keep any dangerous items away from children, this heavy-duty storage box is ideal for use in the garden or at home. With it’s watertight design, you can even keep the storage box outside all year round, it's also available in 175 and 145 litre capacities.Don’t just take our word for it, here are just a few of our customer reviews:

reviews

Keeping Warm

fire bowl

Gardens can be a communal, and a productive space, but no matter how you choose to use your garden, there are ways in which you can ensure that you, and your friends and family can stay warm. There are a variety of products on the market which can keep you garden nice and toasty, but we prefer the more traditional methods, something a bit more elemental, something that can make a statement.

A traditional method for keeping warm, as well as for cooking, a chimenea is a historical design that has been used for several centuries. Distinctive due to their unique shape and design, chiminea’s are most often produced in clay, but can also be made from Iron and other metals, both are exceptionally good at retaining heat and very durable. You can even cover your chimenea when it’s not in use to stop it becoming weathered in adverse weather.

Fire bowls and pits create a unique ambience, being much more open to the elements than other sources of warmth. For this reason, there is an extra element of safety involved, embers and ashes can be spread around much easier, so this is something to consider when looking at fire bowls and pits. Like chimeneas, some fire bowls and pits come with grills to cook food.

Keeping Comfortable

Rattan furniture

One of the biggest problems with garden furniture is that is completely exposed to the elements, the last thing you want to happen to your garden furniture is for it to degrade over time. This Rownlinson Bunbury Sofa Set does not have this problem, in fact it is specifically designed to be completely weatherproof, so you can be safe in the knowledge that you won’t have to put your furniture away during the worst of weather. The set comes with a sofa, two armchairs, a glass topped coffee table, and cushions, luxurious yet affordable. Relax in your garden no matter what the weather brings!


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 Ways To Have A Sustainable Christmas

Top Ways To Have A Sustainable Christmas Header Image

Top Ways to Have A Sustainable Christmas

From Nut Roasts to Nutmeg, There Are Plenty of Ways To Have Your Greenest Christmas Yet

This year is the perfect opportunity to start living an eco-friendly lifestyle, with Christmas coming up there has never been a better time to focus your efforts on all things sustainable. There are many ways in which you can make your Christmas the greenest one yet, whether big changes or small, you can make a difference.

Sustainable Wrapping Paper (or fabric)

wrapping paper

Christmas wrapping paper is one of the more prominent items amongst the store shelves leading up to Christmas, but it seems awful wasteful to spend money on an item that is designed to be discarded. What’s worse is that some wrapping paper can’t be recycled, and those that can be aren’t always produced using sustainable paper sources.  So, whenever you can, always try to purchase an FSC certified wrapping paper, or alternatively you can utilise reusable wrapping materials such as fabric (and save them again for next year!). Sellotape can’t be recycled, so using a fabric wrapping makes even more sense.

Gifts That Last

gift

Similar to wrapping paper, gifts have become disposable in nature to so many people. When purchasing a gift, it’s always worth considering how long the item will last, or if it serves a long-term function.

If you can’t find any gifts which are long lasting you can always consider pre-loved items. Many charity stores will have treasure troves of used and unused items on display, so you’re sure to find a bargain or two, plus you have the benefits of saving a bit of money and helping a charitable cause. You can also re-gift previous ones you have received, there’s always going to be someone who can make use of those unwanted gifts!

Why not turn your hand to making something homemade? Nothing says thoughtful more than going through the effort of creating something yourself, plus you can reuse and recycle old items lying about the house for fresh new purposes.

Alternatively, you can opt for an eco-friendly gift, or a product which will enable a friend or family to start living a sustainable lifestyle.

Eco-Friendly Gifts

barrel water butt

There are plenty of eco-friendly gifts available, with many being beneficial in everyday life. Wormeries are a great project to start if you love gardening, they can be a prime source of vermicompost (the most effective type of compost), and they’re educational for the young ones too.  

A water butt will help supply your garden with water, so you can save money on water bills all the while helping to save the planet! Water butts don’t have to be plain either, there are many types which will find themselves perfectly at home within your garden, from clay effect water butts, to water butt planters, there’s ample choice to fit your style.

Our range of VegTrug products make gardening much more accessible, with easy to reach planters for any size garden, you can start providing your own home with fruit and veg in no time. These natural looking yet stylish products are sure to make a great gift.

Decorations

decorations

LED lights require less power than traditional bulbs, so if you’re looking to decorate your tree consider using them for an eco-friendly alternative. For many decorations you can go the DIY route, if you’ve got children this is a fantastic chance to get them involved too! Compostable decorations are becoming more and more popular, with dried oranges, bay leaves, and more working together to create an aesthetically pleasing garland, which smells nice too! A wreath is also easy to construct, with almost everything you need to make it being found amongst nature.

Sustainable Tree



You might be wondering just how eco-friendly a Christmas tree can really be? This is a reasonable concern to have, with the answer not being as clear cut as you might think. We all like to try and live as sustainably as we can, so even a small change such as swapping out one Christmas tree for another, can make a big difference. We have an entire guide about choosing a sustainable Christmas tree here.

Recyclable Christmas Cards

christmas card

Similar to decorations, you can also make your own Christmas cards from scratch, all you need is some eco-friendly card to get started. If you want to make it even more festive you can use some eco-friendly glitter, as the normal type isn’t recyclable. If you’re not that crafty you can also get hold FSC certified cards much easier than you used to be able to.

Food Waste

food

It’s no secret that Christmas day is notorious for producing vast amounts of food waste, but there are solutions to this all to common problem. The first and most obvious one is to simply reduce the amount of food you purchase in the first place; however, this isn’t always easy to do. So, if you do find yourself with more food than you realised there are several options available to you.

Adding your food waste to a compost pile is one way to dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner, and if you don’t have space in your garden for a large composter you could always use a kitchen-based composter such as a Bokashi Bin or Junior Wormery. For those with a bit more space in the garden there is the Aerobin, a hot composter which can produce usable compost within 12 weeks!

Vegan Christmas

vegan

One of the best ways you can help the environment is by switching to a meat-free diet. While there are no strictly defined practices of veganism, the core tenets of the belief include living in a way which avoids exploitation and cruelty to animals, this can be through food, clothing, entertainment, or any other purpose which requires animals. There are plenty of vegan options available these days, it doesn’t all have to be tofu and nut roast! The UN states that meat and dairy livestock account for 14.5% of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions. This is roughly the same amount as all transport (car, ship, plane) emissions across the planet. Switching to a plant-based diet can cut emissions massively.


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