Composting, Grow Your Own, Megan, Sustainable living, Vegetables

Live More Sustainably by Cultivating your Kitchen Waste – Start Growing Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps!

Composting is a great, sustainable way to reduce your kitchen waste – but did you know lots of kitchen scraps you toss into your compost can be used to grow a new crop of vegetables? Growing vegetables from kitchen scraps is easy, fun and will help you reach a new high of sustainability in your kitchen.

Spring Onions

Growing Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps - Spring Onions

This one is probably the most straightforward on this list! Simply place the root ends of the spring onions in a jar of water and let it do it’s thing, it should start to grow within a few days. Make sure you replace the water when it needs it. It’s as simple as that! The same technique applies to leeks and fennel. Spring onions are the perfect vegetable to begin with when delving into the world of growing vegetables from kitchen scraps.

Avocado

Growing Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps - Avocado

Want to make smashed avo on toast with you very own homegrown avocados? It’s easier than you think! After polishing an avo off, take the pit (which is actually the avocado seed) and give it a wash to rid it of any left over green flesh. Identify which end is the top and bottom. The top, where the sprout will grow out of, is slightly pointy and the bottom is flatter. Take three or four toothpicks and stick them around the circumference of the avocado at even intervals. Place in a cup of water with the toothpicks resting on the rim, so the bottom of the pit is immersed in water. Set on a windowsill where it will get some sunlight, and change the water every few days. Once the pit starts to grow roots, place in potting soil and you’ve got yourself an avocado plant!

Potatoes

Growing Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps - Potatoes

We’ve all left potatoes a little too long and opened the vegetable draw to find them sprouting. Once the potatoes are at this stage they are inedible, so instead of tossing in the compost why not try planting them and see what happens? Make sure you bury them deep into the soil and add a little compost. Water & mulch the potato plants well and cover the stems as they grow for the optimum crop turnout. Growing potatoes is very cost effective and one potato will give you 1kg+ of homegrown produce! If this isn’t proof that growing vegetables from kitchen scraps isn’t one of the most economical and sustainable things you can do in your kitchen, then what is?

Carrot Greens

Growing Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps - Carrot Tops

If you buy carrots with their tops, you can use the tops to grow carrot greens which can be used as a garnish for salad, added to smoothies or even made into pesto. Place the carrot top cut side down in a small bowl of water and place on a sunny windowsill. Change the water every day and wait for the tops to sprout shoots. Once sprouted, plant in soil. Harvest the greens early if you prefer baby greens or later if you prefer a more developed, deeper flavour.

Garlic

Growing Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps

Garlic is an essential ingredient for all food enthusiasts, and it is easy to grow – all you need is a single clove. Plant in potting soil with the roots facing down. Garlic likes lots of direct sunlight. Once the clove starts to develop shoots in the form of green stalks, cut them back. The clove will then start to grow into a full bulb. Garlic is a crop that keeps on giving – simple take one of the cloves from the newly grown bulb and plant again and you will never be short of garlic in the kitchen again!

Ginger & Turmeric Root

Growing Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps

As ginger and turmeric already come in root form, all you need to do to regrow them is place them in soil with the largest buds at the bottom. Soak the roots in water before planting to help the root retain moisture. Keep the soil moist but be careful not to over-water. Be patient with this one – they take a while to grow. After a few weeks you should see shoots develop and after a couple of months small pieces should be ready to harvest.

Overall, growing vegetables from kitchen scraps is a great contribution to living a more sustainable lifestyle, so why not get started today?

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Composting, Gardening, Gardening Year, Guest Posts, Pest Control, Watering

The garden is one of life’s little luxuries – a place for relaxing, socialising, sun-worshipping, and leisurely pursuits. A well-kept garden repays us exponentially in line with the effort we put into it, so it’s worth learning some tips that will keep your soil healthy and your garden thriving all year round.

feature soil

Depending on your local climate, there may be times of dormancy when we believe that our labour is done for the year – but often, these are the most important periods for maintaining the vitality of your garden when it springs back to life the following year.

Disease is the most common cause of failing garden patches, so identifying, treating, and eradicating is one of the essential skill sets of any gardener. Taking that into account, our seven tips for keeping your garden healthy will help you avoid disease, and ensure that your soil is brimming with life, nutrition, and potential so that your garden will look at its absolute best.

1. Examine new plants before you buy them

One of the most common causes of disease is contamination from the outside. So, the simplest way to limit infection is to prevent introducing it in the first place.

When you’ve chosen your plant at the garden center, loosen it from the pot so that you can inspect its roots – before you buy it. You don’t see this happening very often, but it should be common-place behavior.

Healthy roots appear as a network of white tendrils which are reaching through the soil and will probably have molded themselves into the shape of the pot. Unhealthy roots look dry and withered – if you can see more soil than root, then chances are you’ve got yourself an unhealthy plant. However, it might just be a young plant in a large pot, so loosen a little soil around the roots to get a better look. If the root network looks healthy, then buy. If they look papery and brown, then put the plant back, and do not plant it in your garden.

The more immediately visible signs of illness can be seen directly on the leaves, of course. Make sure there are no yellowing or dying leaves, and that the leaves have a consistent colour, without dots of brown.

2. Make sure that your compost is completely rotted

We all love to compost, I’m sure. It’s so much better than throwing your uneaten raw food in the garbage. But not all materials decompose at the same speed. Thorough composting requires high temperatures for extended periods to kill pathogens in the rotting matter, so infected plant debris could re-contaminate your soil if it hasn’t rotted down.

If in doubt, leave it a little longer. Make sure that there’s enough moisture in the pile, and wait until later in the season, when your compost is uniform, crumbly, and earth-like before you use it.

compost

3. Recognize bug damage

Although bug damage is often more of an aesthetic problem, nibbled leaves can provide a portal for viruses and bacteria to enter the plant. Some insects act as a conduit for viruses, spreading them from plant to plant. Aphids are the most common carriers.

As soon as you spot any insect damage, it’s time to act – spray with an approved insecticide immediately and treat the neighboring plants to ensure that you scupper the critters before they cause any permanent damage.

bug damage

4. Clean up during the autumn

Even if you live in a moderate climate, you should still tidy the garden in the autumn when leaves begin to die and drop to the ground. Diseases can gestate over the winter on dead leaves and garden debris and in return attack new leaves in the spring. Iris leaf spot, black spot on roses, and daylily leaf streak are diseases that could be significantly contained if dead leaves are cleared away over the dormant period.

Stems and foliage left over winter to maintain shape and interest during the cold months should be removed before new growth appears in the spring.

fall image

5. Fertilise your soil – with the correct fertiliser

Over-fertilising the earth can burn the roots of your plants and impair their ability to absorb moisture, making your plants susceptible to stress from drought, or from extremes of temperature. Plants that live in well-fertilised soil have stronger resistance to disease and will thrive.

Soil test kits are available at your local garden center, or through online retailers. Gauging the existing nutrient level of your soil will help you to ascertain the precise level of fertiliser required to keep your soil healthy and your plants in tip-top shape.

fertilize soil

6. Choose disease-resistant plant varieties

If you grow your plants from seed, look out for indications that they produce disease-resistant plants. You’re more likely to see resistance indications on fruit or veg seeds than on flowers, but wherever possible, aim for plants with biological resistance. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the plant won’t become infected, but they won’t succumb to disease like non-resistant varieties.

7. Water appropriately

Watering is one of the easiest things to get wrong. Underwatering causes bolting in root veg plants, and over-watering can cause mold and disease. Warm and moist is the most welcoming environment for pathogens, so be careful with your watering.

Your soil should never be arid, but neither should it be soggy and claggy. Your soil type will determine how often you need to water. Heavy clay soil retains moisture, while light, sandy soil dries out very quickly.

Recognizing your soil type is easy – take a handful of moist soil and squeeze it in your palm. If, when you release your palm, the soil has stuck together in a large, single clump which resembles clay, you have a heavy, clay soil. Heavy soils are rich in nutrition, but you shouldn’t over-water it. If, when you release your palm, the soil remains crumbly and falls apart, you have a light, sandy soil which will need additional fertilising and more frequent watering.

It’s generally best to avoid watering directly onto the leaves of the plant if at all possible, as leaf diseases can be exacerbated if left wet.

watering

So, there you have it. Seven tips that will help maintain the healthiest possible environment for your plants to thrive and to make your garden a place that you’ll enjoy for years to come. Happy gardening!

Andrea BoffoAndrea Boffo is CEO of PlusVoucherCode, a website that provides discount codes to save money on online purchases.

Composting, Gardening, Gardens, Grow Your Own, Megan, Organic, Plants, Vegetables

What Is Organic Gardening?

The most basic interpretation of organic gardening is  ‘gardening without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals’. But organic gardening is about much more than simply avoiding pesticides and fertilisers. It is about working as one with nature and viewing your garden as part of the wider, balanced ecosystem. Organic gardening is fabulously rewarding for the environment, wildlife, plants and the gardener!

Organic Gardening - Rainbow Chard

What Are The Benefits Of Organic Gardening?

There are numerous benefits to organic gardening. Not only will the quality of your crop intensify, you will save money, improve the health of your soil (and yourself) and help contribute to a more sustainable way of living.

  • Quality of your crop – it is well known that organically grown food is significantly higher in vitamins and minerals than its non-organic counterparts, not to mention you won’t be ingesting chemicals that may be harmful to the body.
  • It’s money saving – by gardening organically, you will alleviate the need to buy expensive fertilisers and pesticides. You may think that because the prices of organic fruit and veg at the supermarket are inflated, that organic gardening will cost you a buck. In fact it is quite the opposite!
  • Soil health – adding organic matter to your soil adds vital nutrients to your soil and helps create a good soil structure. Further information about how composting improves soil health can be found below.
  • Sustainability – organic gardening contributes to sustainability by conserving resources, causing no harm to the earth and gardening in a way that is sensitive to the environment. In addition, growing your own fruit and veg means you will have to buy less in the supermarket.

How can I start organic gardening?

Compost, compost, compost!

Organic Gardening - Hands Holding Compost

Compost is a great, all natural, organic soil amendment. Work it into the soil, or spread it on top to allow weather and worms to do the job for you. Compost will improve the quality of your soil in a number of ways; it will add valuable nutrients, help soil retain moisture, contributes to balancing the soil’s pH and improves the soil’s overall structure. Composting also saves money you would be spending on chemical fertilisers that could be causing harm to you and the environment.

Plant in perfect pairs (companion planting)

Organic Gardening - Hand Holding Plant

Companion planting and organic gardening go hand in hand. It is a great way to reduce pests and naturally block weed growth. Additionally it supports plant diversity thus benefiting the soil and the ecosystem. With companion planting, you really can let nature do a lot of the work for you. To find out more, check out our post here.

Choose the right plants

Organic Gardening - Seedlings

Plan and assess what plants will flourish best in your garden. Choosing plants that are native to your area will allow for easier growth. It is also more sustainable than trying to change your environment to suit a plant that is destined for another land. Look for plants that will be sure to thrive in each spot you plant it. Take into consideration light, drainage, moisture and the quality of the soil.

Control pests naturally

Organic Gardening - Ladybirds On Plant

Prevention is the best and first step to discouraging pests from devouring your precious plants. Composting, mulching and the use of natural fertiliser will develop strong, vigorous plants that are less susceptible to pests. Using seaweed spray also enhances growth and helps repel slugs. Another great way to prevent pests is attract beneficial insects to your garden. These prey on the insects you’re not so keen to welcome.

Overall, organic gardening reaps more benefits than you can initially imagine, and today is the perfect time to start. In no time your garden will be flourishing into an organic and chemical-free oasis of nature at its very best.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Composting, Flowers, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting, Plants, Primrose.co.uk, Watering, Wildlife

Rose

There is no doubt that roses are one of the most popular flowers to grow in Britain. In fact, so many are planted each year that if you set them out as a single row these plants would circle the equator! With the proper care and maintenance you can expect your rose to last for at least 20 years. However, many roses fail to thrive and a lot of that is due to improper planting and care. There are several elements to consider before attempting to plant a rose in your garden and this step-by-step guide should help you to navigate the pitfalls ensuring your rose is a success!

Planting

Planting Position 

Choosing the correct position for planting your rose is crucial. If it is not in a suitable spot it will not thrive. Plenty of sun is needed for your rose to grow, slight shade in the afternoon is good but not continuous shade. Your rose needs shelter from the cold winds. A nearby hedge or fence is good but should not be too close that it shades the bush. Your rose will need good drainage as it will not grow in waterlogged soil.

 Soil Conditions 

When planting your rose it is important that the soil is suitable. Ideally the soil should be medium loam, slightly acid with a PH of 6.0-6.5 and reasonably rich in plant foods and humus. Roses cannot thrive if the soil conditions are poor. Roses should be planted from Late October to March and the ground should not be waterlogged or frozen.

Preparing the Rose 

Cut off any leaves, hips or buds that may still be present. If the stems are shrivelled place all of the bush in water for several hours. Cut off any decayed or thin shoots before planting. Plunge roots into a bucket of water if they seem dry. It is crucial that the roots do not dry out before planting and make sure they remain covered until you are ready to set the bush in the planting hole. Cut back any long or damaged roots to about 30cm.

Planting the Rose 

Mark out planting stations to make sure your rose bush has enough space. There should be a distance of about a metre between each plant. When planting make sure that the bud union is about 2-3cm below the surface.

Caring and Maintenance

Mulching 

Roses benefit from having a layer of mulch on the soil surface around the plants as it reduces weeds, keeps soil moist in summer, improves soil structure, reduces black spots and some mulching material provides plant foods. Some suitable materials used for mulching include moist peat, shredded bark, well rotted manure, good garden compost and leaf mould. Prepare the soil surface for mulching by clearing away debris, dead leaves and weeds. Water the soil surface if it is dry. Spread a 5-7cm layer around the rose. Mulching reduces the need for watering and hoeing but does not replace the need for good feeding.

Watering 

Roses have a deep-rooting habit meaning that the watering of established plants is not crucial in some seasons. However, some roses need watering after a few days of dry weather. For example, newly planted roses, climbers growing against walls and roses planted in sandy soils. All roses will need plenty of water in a period of drought in spring and summer. When watering, use about 5 litres of water for each bush or standard rose and 15 litres for a climber.

Hoeing 

The main purpose of hoeing is to keep down weeds that are not smothered by mulching. Hoeing needs to be done frequently to make sure that the underground parts of the weeds are starved. Do not hoe any deeper than 2-3cm below the surface or the roots could be damaged.

Cutting 

Roses are perhaps the most popular flower for cutting and using as decoration. To make sure you don’t weaken the rose bush, do not take more than one third of the flowering stem with the flower. Cut just above an outward facing bud. Do not cut struggling or newly planted roses.  

Feeding 

Roses make heavy demands on plant food reserves in soil. If one or more vital elements run short your rose will not thrive. Feed your rose every year using a proprietary compound fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphates and potash. You can use powder or granular fertiliser, liquid fertilisers or foliar feeding.

Deadheading 

It is important to regularly remove dead blooms. Remove the whole truss when the flowers have faded. Cut the stem just above the second or third leaf down. This will help the rose conserve energy.

 Pruning 

Roses do not produce shoots that increase in size steadily each year. Therefore, if they are not pruned the rose becomes a mass of live and dead wood. The purpose of pruning is to get rid of the dead wood each year and encourage the regular development of strong and healthy stems. For more details click here.

 

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