Composting, Garden Tools, Gardening, How To, Plants, Weeding, Zoe

There are mixed opinions about whether you should bother to sterilise your compost. Some gardeners choose not to, which is fine, but we believe there are many benefits to this very simple process:

  1. It kills off harmful bacteriaSome may argue that in turn you will be killing useful bacteria but this is not the case. The only way you will kill of beneficial bacteria is by baking your soil at a temperature that is too high; we talk about this in more detail later. Professional nurseries sterilise their compost, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t either.
  2. It’s proven to keep away pests such as thrips that are particularly annoying when using compost in your home and sterilisation can prevent such unwanted house guests.
  3. Prevention is the solution. Prevent disease in your compost before the problems arise, rather than skipping past the sterilisation stage and then making the situation a lot worse later on.
  4. Sterilised soil ensures that your plant will be happy and healthy, and this means the best optimal growth.
  5. Better safe than sorry. The methods outlined in this blog are super easy to do, and will make sure your compost is definitely safe for your plants. So why wouldn’t you want to give it a go?

    Making Compost

    Outlined here are three easy methods to sterilise your compost from your home:

     

    Oven

    Using your oven at home you can sterilise your compost easily; be warned that baking compost can create a smelly odour, so you may wish to open your windows whilst doing this.

    • Firstly, you need to use moist soil, do not over water the soil however you only want a slight dampness.
    • Use an oven safe tray and fill it with your soil until it is around 10 cm (4 inches) deep.
    • Cover the tray loosely with foil.
    • Put your tray in the middle of a pre-heated oven that’s around 80° For a more accurate result use a thermometer in the centre of the tray and bake between 80-90°c
    • Do not exceed the temperatures stated above, at temperatures above 90°c is when the good bacteria is killed and toxins are produced.
    • Bake for 30 minutes before taking out, make sure to take the foil off and leave it to cool for a while before handling the soil.

     

    Microwave

    The easiest and quickest way to sterilise your compost is with your microwave. We suggest using an old microwave in your garden shed or greenhouse to prevent bringing compost into your home, and this way you can get on with other gardening jobs whilst it’s baking.

    • As before you will need moist soil, but not too wet that it is slushy.
    • Find a microwave safe container and fill this with your soil.
    • Do not use foil in the microwave, instead cover with cling film with holes for the steam to escape or a plastic lid with air holes.
    • For every two pounds of soil will need 90 seconds in the microwave.
    • After it’s pinged, leave the soil to cool before handling.

     

Alternative method:

  • Place two pounds of moist soil in a polypropylene bag
  • Leave the bag slightly open for ventilation
  • Zap in the microwave for 2-2 ½ minutes on full power before removing and cooling

 

Pressure Cooker

  • Start by pouring a few cups of water into the cooker
  • Next add your pans of soil, be careful not to add more than 4 inches, and pop it on the top rack.
  • Make sure to cover these with foil to help insulate the soil.
  • Close the lid for your cooker but make sure you leave the steam valve

For every ten pounds of soil, leave it to steam for 15-20 minutes.

Voila! You now have sterilised soil that will be sure to sprout stunning plants in no time! If you prefer shop bought compost, read our Primrose Guide to Compost for further advice and information.

Sterilised Compost

Zoe at PrimroseZoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.

After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!

She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!

See all of Zoë’s posts.

Composting, Gardening, How To, Laura Bennett, Weeding

The constant gardening struggle: weeds. Weeds are a problem that casual and advanced gardeners have struggled with. You are not alone with this problem. The good news is, you no longer have to be in a constant battle with weeds in your garden.

how to win war against weeds

So, how are you supposed to stop them from growing and taking over your garden? Can I really get rid of weeds without using harmful chemicals? Yes, you really can!

Weeds cause your plants to become overcrowded. They deplete the soil of nutrients that the plants you are trying to grow need. They also compete with your plants for the much-needed water and sunlight your garden receives.

What You Will Need:

• Landscape Fabric
• Landscape Fabric Pins
Organic Mulch or Soil
• Boiling Water
• Natural Weed Killer
• Decorative Rocks
• Plants of Your Choice
• A Shovel

De-weed Your Garden

The first step in keeping your garden free from weeds is to remove them from the area you want to work with. Use a shovel to get rid of perennial weeds with their roots to prevent regrowth. If you do not remove the roots along with the weed, the weed will just regrow.

de-weed your garden

Lay Down the Landscape Fabric

The next step is to lay down and prepare your landscape fabric. Make sure the fuzzy part of the fabric is face down. This helps the fabric stick to the ground and not move. Use the landscape fabric pins to hold the landscape fabric in place.

You can use more than one sheet of landscape fabric for a larger area. Make sure the pieces of fabric overlap here and that the edges are secure and leave no spaces for weeds to grow through.

Pro-Tip: A common mistake is not using enough fabric pins. Make sure to use them frequently. There is no such thing as too many here.

landscape fabric

Mulching

After the landscape fabric is in place it’s time to place down your mulch. Make sure you use a layer of mulch that is between 1-2 inches. The mulch prevents sunlight getting to the dirt below. This also helps to stop weeds from growing.

Pro-Tip: Some mulch may accidentally contain weed seeds, so make sure your mulch is coming from a nursery you trust to be weed free.

mulching

Pour Boiling Water

The next step is to pour the boiling water on top of your mulch. This will help kill any weeds that might be in your mulch that you are unaware of. This is also a good time to use your natural weed killer.

boiling water
Using Natural Weed Killer

Most weed killers only require you use them at the beginning of the planting season (Spring) and again at the end (mid-Summer) if you plan to grow in fall as well. If not, there is no need to reapply your weed killer until the next time you plan to plant. You are now ready to start planting.

natural weed killer

More Tips and Tricks

• Pick one day a week for de-weeding if you find the occasional weed still growing from your mulch.
• You can make a mixture of vinegar and water (in equal amounts) to use on weeds. Be careful not to get this on your other plants though.
• Plant close together to not allow weeds any room to grow.
• You can suffocate weeds and decorate your garden by placing decorative rocks on top of them.
• Drip irrigation systems can be used to provide only your plants with water and eliminate the concern of the water evaporating.

Conclusion

The prevention of weeds is the best method of treating them. Anyone can have a beautiful garden free of weeds. It does take some time and effort but is worth it. There are a lot of ways to help keep your garden free of weeds, which can motivate you to garden even more. With nicer weather on the horizon, it is a perfect time to get ready and give gardening a try.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please share your thoughts about the article in the comments, and share it with your friends if you enjoyed this.

Laura BennettLaura is a graduate of Horticulture and loves nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. She has been a blogger for some years now at Humid Garden.

Awnings, Current Issues, Flowers, Gardening, Gardening Year, George, Greenhouses, Grow Your Own, Herbs, How To, Planting, Plants, Weeding

Gardening in the Rain

Why on earth would you want to try gardening in the rain? It’s a perfectly reasonable question. But, daft as it may seem, there are a surprising number of benefits if you’re prepared to brave the elements. And as our wet summer becomes an even wetter autumn, getting outside on drizzly days will enable you to get a huge amount more done in the garden. Plus, cloudy weather makes for cooler air, which is always a relief for hardworking gardeners. The damp keeps away most insects and, of course, the rain waters your plants for you. So grab your coat, and get outside!

What Can You Do in the Rain?

  • Planting. One common concern that puts people off gardening when it’s wet is whether you can really plant in the rain. In actual fact, it’s fine – as long as there’s no standing water. Just use a pot, or place in the garden, that has good drainage. For new seedlings, planting in the rain can be of great benefit since you don’t have to worry about watering them.
  • Feeding. As well as sitting back and making the most of the rain watering your plants for you, you can take the opportunity to feed them too. Get out there with your fertiliser and sprinkle around the base of each plant. The rain will then help it to run straight into the roots for maximum uptake.
  • Harvesting. Some fruiting plants and vegetables love wet weather, and will produce lots of great crops for you to harvest. So while the season is rainy, it’s the perfect time for picking salad plants like lettuce and watercress, or herbs like mint.

What Can You Do After the Rain?

  • Weeding. Just after a good downpour is the perfect time to get your weeding done. Heavy rainfall means damp soil, which loosens up the weeds’ roots, making them much easier to extract. This is particularly useful for weeds which are notoriously difficult to remove, such as dandelions and those with taproots. Taproots are the thick, original root stems of weeds like creeping buttercup and wood sorrel. It’s much better to get taproots out while the soil is wet so that all the offshoot roots also slide from the earth, since if they break off they can regrow into new plants.
  • Edging. If you’ve ever tried to neaten up the borders of your lawn, you’ll know it can be a challenge to dig a crisp edge in the turf. Garden edging – usually plastic or metal strips – are the best solution for maintaining a trim border, and just after a rainy day is the best time to install it. Just like with weeding, the damp soil is your friend here. It’s much easier to shape with a spade or trowel, and the edging pins will sink into the ground much more freely.
  • Tidying. Though rain is of course essential to a healthy garden, it can also leave a few problems in its wake. When you go outside after a downpour, look for anything that’s been washed out of place, particularly soil or fertiliser. Make sure you turn the compost heap too, if it’s an open one, to help with the air circulation and prevent it getting waterlogged.

Snail in Rain

How Can You Prepare Your Garden for the Rain?

Not all parts of your garden are going to appreciate a real British deluge, so it’s best to be prepared. If you’ve just planted seeds they may be vulnerable, but simply covering them with a plastic cloche or sheeting should shelter them from the worst of the weather. If you have fragile plants in pots, an easy alternative is just to bring them inside while the weather is bad.

What to Wear for Gardening When It Rains

Gardening can be mucky, and never more so than when it’s pouring outside. But don’t let that put you off – with the right clothing you can easily stay warm and dry. Obviously a raincoat is a must. But it’s also worth investing in a pair of waterproof trousers if you’re going to be outdoors for a while, as normal materials will quickly become soaked through and weigh you down. You’ll want something to cover your head, but a waterproof hat is actually better than a hood for gardening since it allows for more flexible neck movement as you’re working outside. For your feet, walking boots are generally more practical than wellies. They’re lighter and don’t restrict your ankles, which makes it much easier for trampling through undergrowth and flowerbeds. Just make sure to check if your boots need spraying with a waterproofing agent first.

Useful Kit to Cope with the Showers

  • Greenhouse. Although more of an investment, a greenhouse will offer a permanent sheltered spot for gardening in a downpour. You’ll be able to get on with repotting and planting seeds whenever the weather decides to turn. It can also be a useful area to have for unexpected rainfall, as you can shift delicate plants undercover in an instant without having to worry about causing a mess indoors.
  • Garden track. One of the best ways to deal with the muddy ground rainfall causes is some garden track. This is a plastic roll out path that provides a solid surface to ensure you don’t slip over on the wet lawn, and is especially useful for stopping wheelbarrows sinking into sodden earth.
  • Garden shade. Sometimes you may just want to relax in your garden without the risk of sudden rain spoiling your day. Having an awning or shade sail installed is a great way to cover your furniture or guests when you’re entertaining outside. No more events ruined by bad weather!

So I hope some of these ideas have inspired you to not be downcast the next time the clouds appear on your gardening day. As we’ve seen, there are always a few bits and pieces you can crack on with in the wet weather, and even some benefits that the rain brings. It’s a garden essential. And if all else fails, stay inside, put your feet up and enjoy a nice cup of tea. After all, you were out working hard in the garden all summer…

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.

Composting, Decoration, Gardening, Weeding

Tidying up the Garden

Well it’s already February! The time has gone quickly and the snow from December is just a memory now. It’s also starting to get warmer down our way, we’re creeping towards Spring, so now it’s time to think spring cleaning for the garden!

I expect that after a few months of abandoning the garden and hiding inside away from the weather, your garden is looking like it needs a little TLC… So here are a few tips on how to get it back into shape! Weed Wand from Primrose Gardens

You can keep your garden looking neat and tidy by mark the boundaries of your flower beds with some stylish, affordable border edging. Border edging comes in a range of styles and looks great running along the edge between your lawn and flower beds. It’s flexible and can fit any length edge and is also a great way to prevent loose soil etc from spilling over from your flower beds onto your lawn.

Weeds can be the bane of a gardener’s life, and I’m sure a few will have popped up over the winter. It’s important to take special care when removing weeds that have grown up around your plants, but weeds growing on your driveway and patio can be dealt with very quickly and easily with a number of weed-killers such as sprays or an eco Weed Wand – instantly creating a much tidier area.

There are a great number of products to make it easier and quicker to clear up your garden. For example, if there are a lot of leaves and detritus clogging up your garden, a handy way to deal with this are leaf grabs which can scoop up the leaves in large volumes. And what do you do with all these leaves and other garden waste? Make compost! Composting is fantastic as it is not only great for the environment, but also provides a neat and free way to dispose of a lot of your garden waste (though don’t compost weeds!). Take a look at one of our earlier posts for how to make great compost.

Finally, where do you put all your garden tools, pots, planters and everything else when they’re not in use?

Storage is vital in any garden and will keep your tools and other items safe and protected while at the same time neatening up your garden. Greenhouses are useful storage areas as well as ideal environments for plants that require more warmth and shelter than our British weather can provide. Sheds are the traditional garden stores, though you may like to consider plastic garden stores instead since they are fully weatherproof and not liable to rot or succumb to damp. Many can also be opened by the roof as well as the doors, allowing easy use.

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