Garden Watering Tips & Advice | Rainwater Solutions

Tips to Get Your Garden Project Done in the New Year

Tips to Get Your Garden Project Done in the New Year

Sorting out the shed or greenhouse?

Grey days are perfect for sorting, tidying and cleaning in anticipation of the new gardening year.

It's January, so now is the time to get your garden sorted.
January is typically one of the coldest and windiest months of the year. It's a great time to tidy up your garden shed, greenhouse, or even start on any projects you have planned for this year.

Storage Boxes
Garden Sheds
Log Stores
Decorative Aggregates

There are some common tasks you need to complete before it gets too cold outside; things such as sorting through your shed or greenhouse if you haven't done so yet, checking any plants that are currently in a cold frame or pots, removing dead flowers or leaves which could cause grey mould and making sure you have frost protection fleece and coverings in place.

Whatever your level of gardening skill - from novice to expert

We have everything you need to start off your New Year with a bit of gardening therapy.

Your Ultimate Guide to Compost

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begin your journey

Compost is one of the most important elements of gardening, a special ingredient that can completely change your gardening landscape. With some special attention, and proper application of compost, your garden can thrive, your plants will grow tall and vibrant, and your fruit and veg yields will increase!

Not only is compost easy to get started with, it’s also a free commodity with numerous benefits. You might be wondering just how to start composting at home, and why you should in the first place? Read along to find out more about composting!

The Benefits of Compost


  • Compost is a fantastic alternative to chemical plant feed, some of which can have long term detrimental effects on your soil, and the environment.
  • Compost contains all kinds of materials, one of which are microorganisms. These microorganisms are great at breaking down organic matter within soil, and thus help to feed plants. In addition to supplying plants with nutrients, these microorganisms also help to ward off diseases which can damage your plants.
  • Compost can help balance the PH level of your soil, aiding plant growth.
  • Compost can be produced using kitchen and garden waste, meaning that you can start making your own compost at home. Not only is this a great cost-free way of improving your garden, but it also ensures that less waste goes to landfill.



Now that you know why compost is beneficial, you might be wondering how to get started? The first thing to know is exactly what materials you can or can’t use for composting. Various composters will be able to break down different materials, so it’s important to know what type of composter you have.

One of the key ingredients to whether a compost bin will succeed, or fail, is the ratio of green and brown materials. Green materials are defined as materials which contain large quantities of nitrogen, including grass clippings, weeds, and kitchen scraps. Brown materials are defined as materials which are low in nitrogen and high in carbon, such as leaves, wood, and paper.

Where you place your composter depends entirely on your garden/home setup, generally it’s better to have your composter located on bare soil/ground, this will allow organisms such as insects and microbes easier access (which will help accelerate compost production). However, if you do place your composter on decking or concrete it will still function correctly. One of the great things about composting is that you can do it all year round, so there’s no better time to start than now!

Brown and green

Generally, you want your compost pile to have more brown materials than green, therefore autumn and winter can be very productive for composting, as there is an abundance of fallen leaves. A good rule to apply is that there should be two thirds of brown material, and one third of green material. Too much green material is normally accompanied by an unpleasant smell, so this is one way to know if you have the right balance of materials.

  • Meat, bones, fish, and dairy products are difficult to break down, so for most composters it’s not recommended to add them. Hot composters are much more capable of breaking this sort of food down, due to their aerobic decomposition process.
  • Adding too many acidic foods to your composter can also cause complications, especially if you are using a worm composter or ‘wormery’.
  • Pet poo is another material that shouldn’t ordinarily be added to composters, however you can use bokashi bran to break down animal waste, if you’re using a pet poo wormery.
  • Any time you add garden waste to your composter, there is the potential that seeds can start to germinate inside the composter. This isn’t usually a problem, as it is easy enough to identify and remove the shoots of any plants that start to grow.

Now, to actually start your compost, the process is fairly similar whether you have a compost container/bin or if you are starting to compost with an open top composter.


  1. Start by placing a layer of brown material at the bottom of your container.
  2. Alternate between brown and green layers.
  3. If your compost gets too dry you can always add water to it, similarly if your compost gets too wet you can add some more brown materials to absorb moisture. You want to aim for a moist but not wet compost.
  4. If your composter doesn’t have a lid, you’re going to want to cover it with something to protect it from the elements, and to keep the warm air in, such as a compost duvet.
  5. Most composters will require turning every couple of weeks, this will help the materials to degrade, and introduce air to the pile. Aeration and heat are key to breaking down materials quickly. If you’re using a hot composter or compost tumbler, this step is taken care of for you.
  6. Depending on your type of composter, your compost will take between 12 weeks to a whole year to be usable.
  7. You will know that your compost is ready for use by the feel and smell of it. It should be crumbly in the hand and have a rich earthy smell. If in doubt leave for a few more weeks before using.



Once your compost is ready you can either mix it in with your soil, or you can sprinkle it on top of the soil this can improve insulation during winter and help to maintain moisture. Mixing it in with soil is an effective way to make sure that plants get the nutrients they need, either way the compost will likely end up being mixed to some degree due to worms. Raised beds are an easy way to keep your ratio of compost and soil balanced, and your plants organised.

You can also use your compost for potted plants, simply mix it in with your potting soil. The use of compost with fruit and vegetables will greatly increase the yield of your plants, but if you are using pet poo compost it is best not to use this as you could contaminate your food.

Trees can also benefit from the use of compost, by adding compost to the roots of your trees you can ensure they grow faster and taller and will be more protected against disease. You can also add compost to your lawn to give it an extra boost, you’ll want to separate some of the larger pieces of compost from the mix first. This can be an effective way to boost your soil when mixed with traditional lawn care products.



While the process for composting is relatively similar no matter how you decide to do it, there are different types of composter available which require some slight differences in the way you approach them. Here are just a few of the different types of composters, this is by no means an extensive list, but there should be enough info here for you to make an informed decision as to which one is right for you. 

Hot composters are unique in the fact that very few of them require turning of the pile, instead hot composters rely primarily on aerobic decomposition, that is when organic material is exposed to oxygen.

Different hot composters employ this technique in a multitude of different ways, varying between manufacturers. One such hot composter is the Aerobin, which relies on a patented central aeration lung, this allows oxygen to become present throughout the composter, rather than at the top, or edges. Hot composters are much more efficient at breaking down certain types of organic waste than other composters, for example the Aerobin can break down meat and dairy.  

Compost production in a hot composter can be as quick as 12 weeks, so if you’re looking for a fast and efficient composting solution, you can’t go wrong with a hot compost bin.


Wormeries, or vermicomposters, are a different type of composting system which relies on the use of worms, specifically tiger worms (Eisenia fetida), to break down organic matter. Tiger worms, unlike earthworms, spend most of their life inhabiting topsoil, and don’t tend to burrow deep into the ground. This makes them ideal for composting in trays, as the shallow environment mimics the earth in which they dwell.

A wormery is normally organised via trays, with the bottom tray housing the worms and any organic matter added to it. The worms eat their way through the organic matter (preferring rotting matter over fresh!) and produce worm castings in the process (worm poo). These castings are known as vermicompost, one of the richest and most efficient types of compost available. Once the worms have finished in one tray, they will seek food in the tray above their current one, working their way through small holes in the bottom of the tray. This process ensures that the worms are always working in an upward direction, allowing you to harvest the rich vermicompost once they have left the bottom tray, this means that no worms are removed from the wormery in the process! There are also pet poo wormeries available, meaning you can turn your pets nasty brown mess into black gold.

One thing to keep in mind about wormeries is that they require more maintenance than a standard composter, without regular organic matter being added, the worms will look for food elsewhere and start to leave the wormery. As worms are living creatures, they also don’t tend to do too well in weather that is too cold or too wet, while this seems to be the climate of the UK, it is recommended that a Wormery is kept under cover during wet weather and insulated or kept inside during cold weather.

A bokashi composter
is a great solution for homes with small or non-existent gardens. An easy, no-smell and less messy method of home composting, bokashi composting is a quick fermentation process, originating in Japan. Unlike most other forms of composting, you can add anything to your bokashi bin—including meat and dairy, and you won’t need to turn its contents.

Most bokashi composters are small enough to fit on your kitchen counter, or cupboard, meaning that you can make it part of your kitchen routine when clearing food waste. Simply add your food waste to the bokashi bin with a handful of bokashi bran (a substance filled with beneficial microorganisms) and push down the material. Over time the mix will ferment and start to grow white mould, this whole process is generally odourless, with a slightly sweet smell being a possibility.

In opposition to hot composting, bokashi composting relies on the absence of air to work, therefore it is essential to keep the lid tightly closed whenever it is not being used. The pushing down of material is another element in forcing out air from the mix. Another difference is that once fermented (which takes around 30 days), it is not recommended to be added straight to soil for planting, instead it is best to bury it under a layer of soil for two weeks for a further breakdown of the material, which can then be used for planting.

One way to prepare your bokashi compost for planting is to start a soil factory, a separate area or container where you mix your bokashi compost with soil, leave for a few weeks, and then add to your garden for planting once it’s done. Using a bokashi bin can be a worthwhile investment!

A compost tumbler
is a barrel that can be rotated with a crank, or simply by rolling the barrel to aid the mixing up of your organic compostable materials. Using a tumbler for composting will lead to higher temperatures that encourage bacteria within the tumbler to break down your organic materials for compost which you can use within a few weeks.

Some composters come with multiple compartments so that you can store your ready to use compost, while still breaking down garden/food waste.


  • If your compost starts to smell very unpleasant it may be that there are certain foods being added which aren’t breaking down, or that there isn’t the right ratio of green and brown material.
  • Hedgehogs love to make their homes in compost piles, so be careful whenever you’re turning the compost. Encourage hedgehogs to nest elsewhere by utilising a hedgehog barn or house.
  • Worms will inevitably find their way into your composter, no matter what kind you have (provided it’s outside). This is no cause for concern, in fact it’s the opposite, worms will help to break down organic material and create worm castings (worm poo!), this is known as vermicompost, the richest type!
  • You can add accelerators to your compost to help speed up the decomposition process, some accelerators can also take the place of garden/kitchen waste in case you have a period where you have less of these.
  • If you start to see flies being attracted to your compost, check to see if there is any food waste which is uncovered. Simply add some brown garden waste on top of the food, this should stop flies noticing your compost.
  • Many composters will produce a substance known as leachate; this is a liquid which is essentially the runoff of moisture from the compost. Leachate can be used as a liquid fertiliser for your plants, but must be diluted first (a one to ten ratio with water is a good start, one part leachate, ten parts water).
  • Compost can last indefinitely but will start to lose nutrients after around four to five months, so it’s best to make the most of it once it’s ready to be used. If you’ve produced more than you need, you can always give it away to friends or family if they have a garden too, always encourage as many people as you can to garden naturally!



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.




  • 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

Maintaining Your Plants in January Banner Image

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!




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!  




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!




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

Say Goodbye to Christmas With Your New Recycling Guide Header Image

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.


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.


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.


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.



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


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.


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:


Keeping Warm

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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