Amie, Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting

Recently, Alan Titchmarsh came out and stated home grown fruit and vegetables are far superior to those sold in a supermarket. The flavours, the varieties and the need to support local agriculture far outweigh the downsides of doing otherwise. To some extent, I fully agree with Alan, but I recognise the impracticality of doing this too, so I won’t judge those who don’t do this. If you have a garden, and the time and means to do so, then I fully encourage you to grow your own veg!

With a rather important seasonal holiday approaching, where roughly £175 is spent on food and drink per household, I wanted to apply this theory into growing your own Christmas dinner and research whether or not it would be possible for you at home to try this out yourselves.

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  1. Brussel Sprouts

Love them or hate them, these lookalike mini cabbages are as much a Christmas tradition as office party debauchery, Santa’s Grottos and god-awful jumpers (only kidding, I love them!). 4billion Brussel sprouts were brought in the week before Christmas last year, and the average person will consume 14 of these tasty vegetables over Christmas. Unbelievable right?

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Preparation for making sprouts begins in March, where you will need to sow them under a cloche, fleece or cold frame thinly to a depth of 1 cm, with roughly 15 cm separating them. The earlier you sow, the better the crops will turn out. You can purchase various varieties of sprouts such as ‘Evesham’ and ‘Maximum’.

Once they have reached roughly 15 cm in height, which should take roughly two to three months, it’s time to plant them out. You will need to allow 60-80 cm either side of the plants, and if you’re lucky enough to have some tall ones sneaking through, they will need support from say, a bamboo cane. Add some fertiliser and water throughout the planting process, and continue watering the plants every few weeks (especially if we’re lucky enough to see dry weather) until your plants have blossomed. Keep an eye on pests too such as birds or caterpillars.

Sprouts take roughly 35-40 weeks from initial sowing to, excuse the pun, sprout. You will have to start at the bottom of the stalk, when they are the size of cherry tomato, and firm like a walnut. The best way to remove them is to simply snap them off with a sharp, downward pull. Once frosted, the sprouts will offer a much improved flavouring. You will then need to store until December, and you have a lovely, traditional side!. If you have some spare sprouts, you could try out a new pizza topping or even Brussel sprout soup.

  1. Potatoes

The great potato, the world’s favourite root vegetable, a common addition to every roast throughout the UK. Did you know they initially originated in South America, and only reach Europe in the 16th century? Now you do.

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The best variety to use if you’re intending for a classic roast would be a King Edward or a Maris Piper; great for roasting, high on flavour and relatively easy to produce and store. Potato ‘seeds’ are commonly available online or from garden centres. You will need to sow roughly 35-40 cm apart, in rows 75 cm apart, in deep trenches roughly 15 cm underground. If you’re intending to use spuds around Christmas time, it best you plant April or early May at the latest. When you plant your potatoes, you need to try maintaining them upright, an egg box would probably be a good device to use.

Once you start to see shoots through the soil, it’s time to earth the spuds up. You will need to cover the shoots with soil, either side of the rows to form a ridge to protect them from wintry weather. If you’re worried your potatoes will be prone to frost, you can cover with a fleece for extra protection. Continue to water, especially in dry spells.

Once the leaves begin to show, and are open, it is time to harvest your potatoes. I’d advise using a fork, and going in at a 45 degree angle, so not to pierce through the pots underground.  Once dug up, they will need washing to remove the dirt, grime and any possible pesticide placed upon them, and then leave to dry for a few hours. Once dried, store in hessian sacks in a dark, frost free place until they are ready to eat in December! To add extra flavour to your potatoes, cover in salt, thyme, rosemary or garlic.

  1. Carrots

A favourite of Bug’s Bunny, and supposedly great for seeing in the dark (although this is definitely a myth!), the carrot has been a Christmas favourite for years. A member of the parsley family, carrots are low in fat and high in Vitamin A, so they’re very nutritious too.

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The best time to sow your carrots in time for Christmas is July, August at a push. Sow thinly at around 3 cm deep, allowing 30 cm between each row. The ideal soil conditions for carrots mean a nice, light, well-drained soiling, facing towards light. July and August should provide you with plenty of sunlight.  You will need to ensure the soil is stone free too, but there is the option of a raised bed if you don’t think your soil will be feasible.

If sowing in the summer time, you will need to ensure the carrots are well watered, and the soil kept moist, otherwise germination and growth will be halted. Other than that, carrots are a fairly care free plant, requiring little or no attention.

Once the frost hits, you will need to cover your carrots with straw or a fleece so not to ruin them. Your carrots should be ready to harvest in October but if you want to use them for Christmas, the later the better. You can check by lifting one or two carrots to give you an idea of their size. I suggest harvesting in the evening, to avoid attracting carrot fly, which can cause your crops to rot. You will need to store the carrots in boxes of sand, in a cool, frost free place until you are ready to cook them.

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With these three key components of any Christmas dinner ready to go, all that is required for your plate is a turkey! For this, I would recommend your local supermarket or butchers though. If you need advice on how much to serve each guest, then BBC Good Food have a simple guide on portions, but don’t let this stop you!

 

AmieAmie is a marketing enthusiast, having worked at Primrose since graduating from Reading University in 2014.

She enjoys all things sport. A keen football fan, Amie follows Tottenham Hotspur FC, and regularly plays for her local 5 a side football team.

To see the rest of Amie’s posts, click here.

Amie, Barbecues, Chimeneas, Chimineas, Events, Fireplaces, Gardening Year, Heated Clothing, How To, Outdoor Heating, Patio Heaters, Primrose.co.uk

We hate to admit it to ourselves, but the chill is slowly creeping upon us, and before we know it, winter will have reared its bitter head. The summer month of August wasn’t even that great, with lower than average temperatures. It was also the wettest August across south-east England since 1977! What ever happened to the great British summers? Thankfully we’ve the warm wintery months right? Oh..

Worried about throwing a party and leaving your guests to shiver in the cold? Concerned about getting frostbite when you walk the dogs? Fear not though people, for Primrose have the solution to all your troubles.

1. Patio Heaters
Although I definitely do not advocate smoking, outdoor heating has certainly grown and developed since the indoor ban in 2008, especially in pubs, clubs and bars.

Ideal for gardens, patios or even inside a gazebo, there is a huge range of gas and electric heaters to choose from; freestanding and hanging to wall mounted and tabletop. I’d personally recommend a freestanding patio heater. Not only do they look stunning in any garden setting, they are very versatile, with adjustable height settings, offering light and heat, can be used indoor and outdoor, and heat a large area, up to 15sqm.

They aren’t very expensive either; an ideal low cost way to maintain heat if you plan on being outside. Great for congregating round and having a chit chat over the latest episode of the Apprentice. Even better if you plan on keeping the grandparents warm whilst you let off fireworks this week.

2. Chimineas
Described as a freestanding fireplace or oven, usually with a vertical smoke vent or chimney, these great inventions originated from Mexico over 500 years ago. Another interesting fact for you; the Mexicans (and incidentally the US) refer to them as ‘chimeneas’. Us English folk like to be different don’t we?

Their original purpose was to keep families warm by burning bits of wood and sticks, with the chimney chute designed to keep the rain at bay. They were also typically made out of clay, a material which still remains very popular with a lot of chimineas you can buy today but the evolution of the design process has allowed for other materials such as cast iron (strong, durable, sturdy and a great conductor of heat) and steel (lighter than cast iron, but often very modern in design).

Primrose has over 100 chimineas to choose from, and they are a perfect solution for keeping guests warm and cosy during the long evenings of storytelling and wine drinking. What’s better is that they even look superb in any garden setting and you could even cook a burger on one if you fancy!

3. BBQs
Ok so this might be a tad ambitious given the time of year, but what better way to keep warm than to congregate around a warm fire, with the smell of freshly cooked food whiffing in the air. You can’t beat a proper, British BBQ, and with bonfire night nearing, they’re ideal for parties. Just grab your marshmallows for some delightful bonfire night s’mores.

You have a whole host of shapes, styles and sizes to choose from, the possibilities are endless. Charcoal BBQs are perhaps the most traditional style, and one of the most popular too. You get the authentic smoky taste that only a charcoal BBQ can provide and if you choose one with a lid, you maximise the smoky flavour by trapping the scents and flavours, giving you the extra oomph and zing.

Next time you find a cold, crisp, dry evening to spare and you’re looking for inspiration, why not choose a good old British BBQ and invite the friends and family round. Just make sure you bring the beer and buns.

4. Heated Clothing
Finally, we arrived at heated clothing. This is something which I cannot advocate enough. It was last winter and a group of friends wanted to go watch a firework display. Great I thought, I love fireworks. But oh no, standing around in the cold for an hour got the better of me. I wasn’t able to hold a sparkler as my fingers were turning blue. At that point, my friend leant me his heated gloves. This magical invention (which I had never actually heard of up until this point) was superb! My hands were very toasty, without the need to sit by a fire.

Gloves, insoles, scarves, jackets, gilets, socks, there are so many options. They’re really easy to use too. Simply insert a battery (in most cases) and voila, you’ll feel the instant warmth. Primrose have brand new heated insoles this year, which are controlled via Bluetooth through your smart phone. Clever eh?

Heated clothing is also great if you do any cold weather sports or activities such as skiing, motorcycling, walking or you just fancy a trip to Antarctica to see the polar bears (now who wouldn’t?!).


Never go cold again!

What measures do you take to keep warm over the winter months?

AmieAmie is a marketing enthusiast, having worked at Primrose since graduating from Reading University in 2014.

She enjoys all things sport. A keen football fan, Amie follows Tottenham Hotspur FC, and regularly plays for her local 5 a side football team.

To see the rest of Amie’s posts, click here.

Amie, Animals, Events, Gardening, Heated Clothing, How To, LED Candles, Lighting, Media, Moles, News, Pest Control, Primrose.co.uk

Film fans will have noticed that arguably the most prolific, admired secret agent Britain has ever known will descend back onto our screens today. That’s right, James Bond is back, or perhaps more importantly, Daniel Craig is back, in what is rumoured to be his last appearance!

The new film, Spectre, will see James Bond travel through Mexico City and Rome, and infiltrate the existence of the sinister organisation, incidentally named SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion in case you were wondering).

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No doubt it will be one of the biggest films of the year, but James Bond will need some gadgetry to assist him. From the high spec Aston Martin DB series to the Quantum Earpiece, he has been gifted with some of the most inventive creations over his time, but I think he could use some extra help from Primrose.

  1. Warmawear Bluetooth Controlled Heated Insoles

James Bond has to venture through the cold environment of Austria, specifically Sölden, Obertilliach (a great location if Bond fancies his hand at skiing) and Lake Altaussee, where temperatures can easily drop below freezing. Thankfully, there is an ideal solution in the form of heated insoles.

Controlled through a smartphone app (which will be no issue for James Bond on his super high tech Sony Xperia), he can warm his toes up to 35-55°C, so he needn’t worry about a little frostbite when escaping from nasty villains.  Available in four sizes, they will fit in any shoe, as they are easily adjustable to your shoe size. They are also waterproof, perfect for Bond.

  1.  Pestbye Mole Spring Trap

James Bond has encountered numerous animals throughout his time, from sharks and snakes to elephants and komodo dragons; he has seen more animals than a visitor at London Zoo. Often used by villains, as a form of weaponry or tool in their attempt to override Bond, they are far from the cute, cuddly creatures we’d expect to see. Did anyone see how big the komodo dragons were in Skyfall?

(source)

Although Primrose can’t assist with repelling komodos (although that could be in the pipeline), there is a very handy gadget which will not only protect Bond from deadly moles, but can double up as a weapon against humans (and moles, acting as spies).  Poison free, fast and effective, and double ended for maximum efficiency, this all-weather trap will bring pain and misery to any enemies that try to defeat Bond.

  1. Flicker Flame Drip Effect Wax Candles

James Bond has had a hard day hasn’t he? Fighting off killer moles, trekking through sub-zero temperatures, you’d think he would like a nice quiet evening to himself. Wait, who am I kidding, Bond would not be by himself. He is the epitome of the word lothario, from Sylvia Trench in Dr No (the very first “bond girl”) to the seductive Severine (the only “Bond girl” who is a villain).

So to set up this romantic scene, yet avoid the risk of fire (because you never know when James Bond might come under attack or have to rush off), LED candles are a superb choice. Resembling a dancing candle flame, with a realistic wax drip effect, Bond’s next lady will never suspect a thing.

If you think you will be called up by MI6 for the next death-defying mission (and I do hear James Bond will need a new lead for the next film), remember Primrose have plenty of ideas to name but a few, to help you along the way.

AmieAmie is a marketing enthusiast, having worked at Primrose since graduating from Reading University in 2014.

She enjoys all things sport. A keen football fan, Amie follows Tottenham Hotspur FC, and regularly plays for her local 5 a side football team.

To see the rest of Amie’s posts, click here.

Amie, Garden Edging, New Products, News, Press Releases, Promotions

Creating the perfect crisp, neat lawn edge is a dream for keen gardeners all over the country, and with summer fast approaching it is the perfect time to get outside and make that dream a reality. Unveiling two exclusive new colours of Smartedge’s Easy Lawn Edging, we are making the range even more versatile than before. In addition to the classic black already stocked, the edging will now be available in green and brown – natural tones to suit a variety of garden projects.

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Many are put off working on their lawn edges, however, by experiences with edging made of flimsy materials which rot away over time, or thin and feeble edging which snaps or bends no sooner than it is in the ground. Why spend hours struggling with these tricky to install products when they aren’t even going to last?

Smartedge provides an innovative solution to all these problems. Made from tough polypropylene it is UV and frost proof, and its unique patented A-frame system actually binds the pins to the roots of the grass, making a permanent boundary. Not only that but it is flexible and easy to use to create any type of line you want. The new brown edging could be used to create a curved garden path, or the green for a sharp cornered flower bed. The possibilities are endless.

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With the new colour range there is now triple the amount of choice with all the same durability you can expect from all of Smartedge’s products, giving you a solution for your edging as unique as your own garden without compromising on dependability. These edges still won’t crack, rot, or fade, and will stay neat and tidy without crumbling or allowing grass to grow through the sides. You won’t find these colours anywhere else, so visit primrose.co.uk to be one of the first to try them out in your garden.

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