Gardening, Gardens, Megan

garden organisation - garden

It’s the start of a new year, and the perfect time to get outside and get organised in your garden. People tend to neglect their garden in January as on the surface there may not be a lot to be done. However it’s the perfect time to have a tidy up and make sure you’re ready for the year of gardening ahead! Kick start your garden organisation today!

Tidy Up Your Garden Shed

garden organisation - garden shed

We’re all guilty of it – shoving stuff into the shed, shutting the door and leaving tidying it up to another day. Well today is that day! Start by sorting through your tools, trinkets and whatever else has found its way into your shed. Make two piles: one for essentials to keep, and another to donate or recycle. Donate your unwanted tools to the Conservation Foundation with Tools Shed, who will  give your tools a new lease of life before donating them to community projects. Alternatively, drop them off at your local recycling centre.  

Once you’re sorted, trial some storage solutions. Here are some ideas:

  • Install shelving higher up for things you don’t use as much
  • Hang things up – knock hooks into your shed wall
  • Use knife magnets for smaller tools such as paintbrushes
  • Upcycle things from your kitchen – old jars and tins can be great storage solutions for smaller instruments

Sort Out Your Seeds

garden organisation - jars of seeds

As there’s less going on in your garden during January, considering sorting through your seed collection. Consider throwing old seeds – 3 to 5 years old – into the compost because even though they may grow you will get a very low germination rate.

Now it’s time to organise the seeds that have survived your compost purge! If you prefer to keep seeds in their original packaging, grab an old shoe box. Use old cardboard to create dividers and write categories on each one. Alternatively, fill old glass jars or glass food storage containers with seeds and add labels to them. This provides a more visual storage solution.

Plan For The Year Ahead

Step outside into your garden and have a good look around. Is there corner empty for a potential raised bed? A space for a tree to be planted? Whatever you’re hoping for this year, write it down and start planning! January is the perfect time to come up with ideas, however crazy, to transform and improve your garden. Have a look at our post on redesigning your garden for some more inspiration.

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, Birds, Megan, Wildlife

Buying bird food for the first time can be daunting with so many types available. We’ve put together an easy-to-use guide to ensure you know what bird food to buy for garden birds in terms of season and species.

Why Feed Garden Birds?

Providing food for garden birds can attract a variety of beautiful and colourful species to your garden that will be sure to fascinate adults and children alike. It also helps out birds by supplementing their diet. This is especially important in the colder winter months when natural food can be scarce.

Ready To Use Feeders & Kits

The easiest way to start feeding your garden birds is to go for a ready to use feeder or a bird care kit. These come ready assembled, with suitable bird food for the feeder supplied.

Bird Seed Mixes

garden birds - bird on feeder dish

A variety of bird seed mixes are available for ground feedersbird tables and hanging feeders. They are an important food supply for many birds such as blue titsrobins and greenfinches, depending on which mix you choose. It is best to buy high quality bird seed mix, that do not contain fillers such as lentils and rice. Only a small group of species can eat these dry, so investing in quality, such as brand Red Barn, will attract a wider range of birds to your garden.

Straights

Straight bird seeds are great sources of fat for many birds. They are a great choice for the more experienced bird feeders that know which species nestle in their garden. Straight food is also suitable if you want to venture into making your own bird feeders.

Peanuts

garden birds - peanuts

Peanuts are a great source of protein and unsaturated fat for birds. Leaving peanuts out for the birds will bring in a variety of new species to your garden including jays, house finches, chickadees and woodpeckers. Smaller birds like robins struggle to eat peanuts and prefer for them to be ground or grated up. Donut feeders are suitable for peanuts, or alternatively go for a squirrel-proof feeder as our furry friends also enjoy peanuts and may scare birds off.

Sunflower Seeds & Hearts

garden birds - sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds, both in and out of their shells, deserve one of the top spots for bird seed to feed garden birds. Many species are attracted to eating sunflower seeds making them a very versatile bird seed. Leaving out sunflower seeds will attract species such as nuthatches, cardinals and grosbeaks. Sunflower seed hearts are also a good choice if you’re looking for a no mess bird seed. Sunflower seeds are suitable for use in most garden bird seed feeders.

Nyjer Seeds

garden birds - bird on nyjer seed feeder

Nyjer seeds are an excellent energy source for garden birds and are favoured by finches. They are an oily seed as they are rich in oil content. Note that once the seeds have dried up garden birds won’t eat them. Ensure you buy the correct quantity that you will use to prevent waste. As nyjer seeds are so small it is a good idea to buy a feeder specifically designed to hold them.

Mealworms

garden birds: robin eating mealworm

Offering mealworms to your garden birds will attract a wide variety of wild bird species. They are a great source of protein for garden birds and attract insect-eating birds such as bluebirds, sparrows and wrens.

Suet Treats

Suet treats are packed full of fat and are an excellent food to provide for garden birds in the winter, but are also suitable for all year round feeding. Many contain essential energy and fats provided by ingredients such as lard, suet and nuts. Suet can come in pellets, in blocks, in coconut shells or formed into fat balls. Each is suitable for a different type of feeder. Pellets are suitable for use in feeders and blocks are great for placing on bird tables or in ground feeders. Fat balls are suitable for use in fat ball feeders and coconut shell feeders come ready to hang up. Be sure to remove the mesh bag that fat balls come in before putting them out in your garden for birds to feast on.

Overall, feeding garden birds can be a really rewarding experience. With so many types of food available, you’ll never know what exotic species could be flying into your garden for a treat or two.

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.

Christmas, Gardening, Gardens, Grow Your Own, Megan, 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.

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