Christmas, Gardening, Gardens, Grow Your Own, Megan, mental health, Wildlife

tree branches in snow

Christmas is officially almost here. Although it is an enjoyable time of year for most, for some it can be a struggle. It is a challenging time for our stress levels with changes of routine and lots of pressure. This can be made even worse by an existing mental health problem. 1 in 4 people in the UK experience some kind of mental health problem in their lives. That’s a massive 16.41 million people. Venture into garden therapy and you’ll hopefully see lots of benefits.

Spending time outdoors can relieve stress and improve your mental health. If you’re feeling down, anxious, or struggling with something else, getting out into your garden might help. I myself suffer from depression.  From experience, spending time in nature improves my mental outlook, helps me relax and boosts my mood, even on the downest of days. We’ve compiled a list of things you can do in your garden at this time of year. Try one or more of them out if you want to see what garden therapy can do for you.

Meditate

garden therapy zen stones

Yes it may be chilly, but wrap up warm and find a nice quiet corner of your garden to sit down and meditate. Mindfulness is now a recommended treatment for people who struggle with their mental health. It it also used by people who want to improve their overall mental wellbeing. To get started with meditation, download an app such as Stop, Breathe & Think or HeadSpace. Both have simple, easy to follow meditations for beginners.

Feed The Birds

garden bird on feeding dish

Research has shown that watching garden birds is good for your mental health. Invest in some wild bird care and enjoy the wonders of the many species of bird it’ll attract to your garden. The most common garden birds in the UK are house sparrows, starlings, blackbirds and blue tits so keep an eye out for those. A good place to start is by buying a ready-to-use bird feeder and hanging it on a tree branch in your garden. Alternatively, there are a wide range of bird seed mixes, from general mixes to mixes that will attract certain species such as robins.

Grow Something

hands planting a cactus

Although this may seem daunting to someone who has never gardened before, growing something from seed doesn’t have to be stress central. In fact, you’ll be sure to feel a sense of achievement, nurturing something that started in your hand as a packet of seeds and is now something you can serve on your plate, or admire the beauty of. Invest in a grow kit and see where the world of growing plants will take you. You never know – this time next year you might be harvesting your own veg patch!

Mental wellbeing is boosted by being outdoors so don’t neglect your garden because it’s cold! Using garden therapy can reap great benefits. So get outside, get relaxed, and get happy.

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.

Allotment, Greenhouses, Grow Your Own, How To, Megan, Planting, Plants, Vegetables

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Proteins

Vegetarianism and veganism is on the rise, with stats showing a massive 360% increase in 10 years. Even reducetarianism is a thing now. Cutting or reducing meat in your diet doesn’t mean your food will be boring – it’ll just be more rainbow! As Primrose’s resident vegan, I have decided to address the age-old question ‘where do you get your protein from?’ by compiling a list of plant based proteins and how to grow them. In no time, your garden will be flourishing with nutrient rich rainbow veggies that would be a welcome addition to any plate.

Green Peas

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - green peas

Green peas are a great source of plant based protein, with 5g of protein per 100g. Peas also contain many essential vitamins and minerals and a good amount of fibre. If choosing the meteor variety of peas, sow in November and the peas will be ready to harvest between May and July. We suggest sowing the seeds in old guttering and drilling holes at regular intervals for drainage. Store in a cold frame or in your greenhouse to protect the seedlings from pests. After the seedlings are well established, they can be transferred into your garden. The use of cloches would be beneficial for growth here. When harvesting, be sure to pick regularly for ultimate freshness.

Quinoa

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - red quinoa

Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wah’, is an ancient grain that is packed full of protein, 13g per 100g to be precise. It contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete plant based protein. As exotic as it sounds it is actually relatively easy to grow quinoa in the UK. The best time to sow quinoa is in April, and you should be able to enjoy your quinoa from early autumn. Early growth can look a lot like weeds so ensure you mark your plants carefully to prevent treating them like weeds by accident. Harvesting is the trickiest part – remove the seed heads when the leaves start to turn yellow and leave them to dry for a couple of weeks. To remove the seeds, rub the seed heads with your hands. Ensure you rinse quinoa well before cooking, as un-rinsed quinoa tends to be quite bitter.

Pumpkins

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - pumpkins

Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween – the seeds inside are packed full of nutrients and have a mighty 19g protein per 100g, making them a great plant based protein. They are also very high in magnesium and omega 3. Pumpkin plants take up a lot of ground; each plant requires around 3 foot of ground around it, making a single plot more than 6 foot each side. Sow seeds directly into the ground from late May to early June. Use mulch coupled with tomato food to feed your pumpkins, ensuring you water the seedlings regularly in order to keep them in optimum health. It is important not to harvest too early, so ensure the skin is tough and the stems have started to crack before picking. You can use the pumpkin to make a hearty soup and the seeds as a healthy on-the-go plant based snack.

Broad Beans

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - broad beans

Broad beans contain around 6g of protein per 100g and are high in vitamin K, vitamin B6 and zinc. The best time to sow them is between February and April. If sowing earlier, ensure you put cloches in place to warm the soil ahead of time. Alternatively you can sow them in small pots in the greenhouse where it is easier to protect them from pests. Broad bean plants tend to flop which can cause the stems to bend and break so help keep them upright by investing in some cane and string. To keep your broad beans as fresh as possible, store them in the freezer or dry them out.

Broccoli

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - broccoli

Broccoli is a very nutritionally-rich food, boasting a variety of vitamins and minerals and 2.8g of protein per 100g. This plant based protein is part of the cabbage family and there are lots of varieties including sprouting broccoli and purple cauliflower. Sow broccoli seeds from late March to early June. It is preferable to sow in a seedling tray and place in a greenhouse, poly tunnel or cold frame. After the seeds have germinated let them acclimatise to outdoor temperatures by using cloches or storing in a mini greenhouse. The amount of space you give each seedling in your plot will determine how large the broccoli head will grow. Ensure you harvest the broccoli before it turn yellow, as by then the florets are starting to bloom.

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.

Animals, Bird Baths, Composting, How To, Megan, Ponds, Wildlife

How To Care For Wildlife in Winter

As we approach the winter months, it is time for a lot of wildlife to find a cosy spot somewhere to hibernate. Species that do not hibernate prepare for harsh weather and a lot struggle to find food. This is where your garden can come in. By learning how to care for wildlife in winter you can save the lives of some wildlife that otherwise wouldn’t make it through the harsher winter months.

Hedgehogs

how to care for wildlife in winter - hedgehog

In order for hedgehogs to survive their winter hibernation, they need to have a substantial amount of fat stored. You can help boost their fat reserves by leaving out small plates of meaty pet food, along with crunchy pet biscuits, which will help take care of their teeth. Once hedgehogs are ready to hibernate they like warm spots under piles of leaves and in logs. We suggest when collecting leaves, instead of composting all of them, place some underneath hedges at the edge of the garden. This creates welcome places hedgehogs can make a home for the winter. Talking of compost heaps, hedgehogs often like to nest in them so ensure you check your compost for hedgehogs before turning it over. Alternatively you could buy a ready-built hedgehog home for hedgehogs to settle in to.

Birds

how to care for wildlife in winter - bird on a branch

As birds do not hibernate, it is important to provide them lots of food and a water source over winter. Food in the wild can be scarce over the colder months. To help prevent starvation, have a variety of foods available to them over a number of feeding stations. Feeding stations range from bird tables to hanging feeders to ground feeding stations. The more variety of bird food you put out, the more diverse a species of bird you will find in your garden. Peanuts, bird seed mix, fat balls as well as any leftover dried fruit are all good choices and will attract blue tits to robins to goldfinches. To find out more about what bird food to put out check out our article here. It is also important to make sure birds have access to fresh water. Keep your birdbath topped up and ensure it doesn’t freeze over by placing a table tennis ball at the surface of the water.

Pond life

how to care for wildlife in winter - frog in a pond

Many of your fish will hibernate at the bottom of your pond during the winter months. It is vital that your pond does not freeze over during extra cold spells. This can trap poisonous gases, as well as suffocate frogs and the like. Help prevent this by placing a tennis ball at the surface or installing a pond heater. If it does freeze over, place a pan of boiling water on its surface to allow the ice to melt. Ensure you remove any fallen leaves and dead plant matter from your pond. If you leave this it can release harmful gases as it decomposes.

Insects

how to care for wildlife in winter - butterfly on leaf

Insects are often long forgotten when it comes to garden wildlife, but they are an important part of your garden’s ecosystem. Many play the vital role of pollination in your garden. Others are great predator control. One way you can help insects in the winter is by letting the grass on your lawn grow wildly. Try and resist mowing it until spring. This allows a place for butterflies and other insects to shelter from the harsh weather. Another way to provide shelter, as well as food for some creatures, is to create a log pile. You can also drill holes in the logs to create housing for solitary bees. Alternatively, buy a solitary bee pollinator house. Once you’ve built your log pile, be sure not to disturb it as not to interfere with the wildlife community inside.

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.

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