Allotment, Dakota Murphey, Gardening, Grow Your Own, Planting

Growing your own food is not only the obvious answer to lowering food miles and a cheap way to produce tasty fruit and vegetables for your own kitchen, it’s also a growing (!) hobby for many people. In fact, having raised beds in your garden or taking on an allotment on the edge of town can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

Vegetable gardening
We’ve come up with 7 compelling benefit of growing your own – and no doubt you can probably add a few more of your own.

1. Improve your mental and physical health

According to the National Allotment Society (NAS), ½ hour’s allotment gardening burns around 150 calories. That’s about the same as low impact aerobics, but with the added benefits of fresh air and working with the land.

What’s more, a vegetable patch or allotment can be your haven, somewhere to escape to from the hassles of everyday life. Just spending a few hours pottering around in the garden is a great natural stress reliever.

2. Discover the community spirit

Whether you have an allotment or a few vegetable beds at home, you’re not alone! There’s a whole movement of people discovering the joys of Grow Your Own. Why not get to know your fellow gardeners, meet up at Seed and Plant Swaps, share your interests and trade handy tips and tricks – and make new friends.

Vegetable gardeners are a friendly folk, always willing to give advice to newcomers, which is invaluable for learning the ropes.

Vegetables from the garden

3. Learn something new

Learning about the different varieties of fruit and veg and how to grow them in your soil is a process that never ceases to be exciting. Read around the subject, share any problems with the rest of the gardening fraternity and ask the old guard for gardening advice, then use trial and error to see what you can achieve.

If you can involve your children or grandchildren and pass on your skills and enthusiasm for allotment gardening to them, so much the better. It’s a great way to help children understand where food comes from.

4. Reap bountiful rewards

There’s a huge sense of personal achievement in growing a fruit or vegetable from seed in your garden or allotment, knowing exactly where it’s come from, how it’s grown and what it’s been treated with.

But surely the real beauty of growing your own is that the fruits of your labour are tangible – and you can eat them! There can’t be many more directly rewarding activities than harvesting your home grown veg, then create and serve up delicious dishes in your kitchen.

Home growing

5. Wow your taste buds

It is a (sadly surprising) fact that most of us only come to realise how delicious fresh fruit and veg can taste when we compare our home grown produce with mass produced supermarket foods. Once you’ve tasted the difference, there’s no going back.

Harvested fresh from the ground, potatoes and carrots taste more earthy, tomatoes plucked straight from the vine have a richer flavour, while sweetcorn cooked straight after picking tastes incredibly sweet.

6. Save money

Not only are home grown fruit and veg much tastier than their shop bought equivalents, they’re better quality and cheaper too. With some careful planning and regular gardening exercise (which will make your gym membership redundant), you can feed the whole family with fresh produce for most of the year.

Also, rather than hunting down unusual ingredients in the supermarkets and pay through the nose for them, why not grow new and different varieties yourself? For the price of a packet of seeds (try Seed Parade), you can try delicious Japanese radishes or Chinese artichokes, Red Russian Kale or Purple French Beans or any of thousands of other fabulous varieties out there.

Home grown produce

7. Help the environment

According to the NAS, even 1 square metre of land is enough to support hundreds of different wildlife species. Your ‘grow your own’ efforts will help to create the right habitat for bees and other wildlife to thrive, without which our ecosystem will deteriorate, crop yields will decrease and our planet will suffer as a result.

If you have the space, why not incorporate a wildflower meadow into your garden, add a pond, a beehive or a chicken coop?

Dakota Murphey

Dakota Murphey is an independent content writer who regularly contributes to the horticulture industry. She enjoys nothing more than pottering around her gardening in the sunshine. Find out what else Dakota has been up to on Twitter, @Dakota_Murphey.

Flowers, Gardening, George, How To, Infographics, Planting, Plants

No plants will survive very long without good watering, and it’s even more crucial for potted plants. They may not have the same access to rainwater, drainage or natural water reserves depending on where they are placed. So here is our handy infographic to remind you how to water pot plants for great growing!

If you’re looking to give your potted plants a fabulous new home, then you’re in luck. At Primrose we have an incredible selection of all kinds of planters available.

How to water pot plants

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Catch up on the previous post in the series: How to Repot a Plant.

Next up is Part 4: How to Choose the Right Planter for Your Garden.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Alex Mungo, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting

Have you ever wondered why you can go in a shop and buy lovely potatoes and onions throughout a long and very cold winter that have been grown right here in the UK? Actually, it’s all in how they are grown, harvested and stored that makes a difference. You, too, can grow your own potatoes and onions with just a few tips so that you know when and how to plant them and, of course, when and how to harvest and store.

Growing your own potatoes
It isn’t as difficult as it may seem, but you will need to be aware of a few well-placed bits of advice from farming experts such as Carpenter’s Nursery and Farm Shop who make it their mission to provide the best products and information specific to UK growers.

Choosing and Planting Your Seed Potatoes

The first thing you need to know about growing potatoes is in how to choose your seed potatoes to ensure you have virus-free, certified seed and that you’ve prepared your soil approximately two weeks prior to planting. Of course, you also need to have previously placed your ‘seeds’ in trays that are well ventilated with the eyes facing upwards and outwards.

Allow them to grow to at least ½” to 1” in length, or if you prefer metric, 12 to 25 mm. This will take a few weeks, but when they have grown to a good length, you can now plant them in soil that was properly prepared and ready to accept your crop.

Growing potatoes at home

How Long Before You Can Harvest?

This is a question most asked by those who are planting potatoes for the first time. There are actually various times you can harvest and the exciting thing to learn here is that you don’t need to harvest the entire crop at the very same time! You can scrape off a bit of soil to expose the upper potatoes and once they have grown about the size of an egg, you can safely harvest a few new potatoes.

This is approximately 12 weeks, or a bit longer, into the growing season. The rest of the crop will take 6 to 8 weeks longer and at that point you will need to learn how to ‘lift’ them from the soil so that you don’t damage the tubers.

Growing Onions at Home

Like potatoes, onions should be planted sometime between mid-March through mid-April but unlike potatoes, you need to be very careful not to have manured the ground too close to planting. While potatoes can go into ground which has been manured two weeks prior to planting, soil prepared for onions should be prepared a good bit earlier than that as freshly manured soil can easily lead to rot and you surely don’t want that!

Growing onions at home

A Few Closing Words

While potatoes are technically tubers and onions are a root variety plant like garlic and shallots, both will have the main ‘edible’ under the soil. What you have just read through is but a brief idea of just how easy it can be to grow your own potatoes and onions and since both are planted and harvested at about the same times of year, it helps to learn how to do both as it saves you unnecessary steps when preparing and planting your garden.

Both can be stored over a long winter and both are hardy if you start with certified seeds and bulbs. This year, why not plant your own potatoes and onions and enjoy home-grown, organic crops. It’s fun, easy and absolutely rewarding.

Alex MungoAlex is a professional writer with a keen interest in gardening. He currently contributes written articles to various gardening websites such as Carpenters Nursery & Farm Shop.

Chidinma Zee, Gardening, Gardening Year, How To, Planting, Plants

If you like plants as much as I do, you devote time and energy to your garden throughout the year. But then winter comes and you feel as if all your hard work was for nothing. I decided to do some experimentation and finally came up with a few ideas that can help you keep your garden and plants alive during the cold weather.

I even like to plant my own vegetables like basil, spinach and sometimes even things like garlic, but it can be hard to get started. I recommend potted plants and herbs to begin with, but be careful when you start your garden.

First, let me begin by saying winter is different in every place. Sometimes you may experience the coldest winds and no snow, while others you experience tons of snow and almost no wind. Nonetheless, you should always have a plan in mind, and I recommend having a year-long plan.

keep plants alive over winter

Here are my ideas for keeping your plants alive during winter:

1. Plant them in cloches or cold frames

Cloches are bell-shaped glass covers, also known as bell jars, that help your plants grow even in temperatures considered very low for seeds to germinate. However, you should know that these are very susceptible to wind, so you should always keep the soil leveled before putting the cloche down.

Keep in mind that cloches work better when they have some sort of wind protection, which is why you can try to put them near a wall or a hedge. Though watering plants is considered hard when using a cloche, the soil around it will not only keep it in place, but also keep the plants watered.

Cold frames are very easy to make and they resemble a small greenhouse. Usually, a cold frame is made up of four boards with a removable glass or plastic top. By using solar energy and insulation, your plants will thrive even during the cold months of January and February.

When you use a cold frame, you should keep in mind that though humidity is important to germinate seeds, excessive heat can harm them, even during the winter.

2. Protect Your Potted Plants

If you are planning to have your potted plants outside during winter, you have to make sure that they are plastic pots planted into the ground. There isn’t a clay or stone-like material that will last during winter when temperatures drop below freezing.

By planting the plant directly into the soil, the plastic pot will protect the most important part of the plant, the roots. Just make sure you water them directly and then dig them out when the weather is warmer–most likely in spring.

3. Apply Mulch

Mulch will act as an insulator, which holds heat and moisture for your plants. The easier way to do this is to use mulch made of wheat or pine straws, as it is easy to remove after winter and works well keeping in the heat. This is an easy and affordable way to keep large plants safe.

apply mulch

Beware of using too much mulch. With some plants, such as roses, or fruits like strawberries, if you leave them covered for too long, they will not cool down in time for spring.

4. Bring In Your Exotic Plants

There are some plants that will definitely survive the cold weather outside, whether in a cold frame or potted right into the ground, but your exotic plants will not make it outside. The solution is to bring them inside, even if it sounds crazy, tropical plants will thrive when you keep them warm inside, especially when you keep them somewhere moist, like the bathroom or laundry room and when they have a window nearby.

5. Grow Plants That Will Flower During Spring

If you want to have healthy and pretty plants, it might be better to plant bulbs such as daffodils, day lilies or tulips, during the early winter so that by the end of the end of winter, beginning of spring, they will flower.

There are many other tips for keeping your plants alive during the harsh cold season. Make sure you don’t leave potted plants unprotected, water your plants constantly even when they are inside – but be careful about the amount of water, create insulation for your plants, and if needed, even find another source of heat.

We all love to have our gardens looking good during spring, and winter may not be that terrible, but rather a great time to start working towards your perfect plants for the new season.

ChidinmaChidinma is the founder of Fruitful Kitchen, a blog that shares delicious recipes and lifestyle tips. Most of her recipes help women with fertility issues, especially fibroids, PCOS, and Endometriosis. Sometimes, however, you will find other interesting recipes, as well as cooking tips and tricks there.

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