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.

Amie, Animals, Bird Baths, Celebrations And Holidays, Gardening, Grow Your Own, Herbs, How To, Mothers' Day, Planters, Plants, Primrose.co.uk

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to show off your eternal gratitude to the one woman in your life who will always be there for you. Thanks to Primrose, there’s more to this day than just flowers and chocolates. We’ve compiled a list of gifts for the special woman in your life, to suit a range of budgets. With next day delivery available too, you can even afford to leave it until the last minute.

Carbon steel Weed Fork
Does your mother enjoy gardening? Is she eager to get out into the garden once the sun breaks through? If so, we’ve a great low cost solution with our weed fork. With an ergonomic grip, carbon material (lightweight yet strong) and a 5 year warranty, you can’t go wrong. She’ll be back out in the garden in no time at all, and it’ll be thanks to you.

LED Candles
Whilst the clocks are set to turn back at the end of March, there is still plenty of darkening evenings ahead of us. Considered a safe alternative (great if there are children in the household), with up to 48 hours runtime, LED candles are great for setting a mood, using as a table centerpiece or placed in the bathroom whilst enjoying an evening bath.

Herb Garden Windowsill Planter
Considered the perfect gift for a loved one (one of our best sellers), this beautiful herb planter will sit happily upon any windowsill or shelf. This planter contains three seed herb sachets and a dash of compost too, so this gift is ready to go as soon as it’s unwrapped. Or if you want to place your own message on one, we have a personalised option available also.

Bird Bath
The perfect gift for those who have a delightful presence of wildlife in their gardens, bird baths not only look great in your garden, but they actually keep birds hydrated.  With minimal effort to set up (you just need to fill with water), you can sit back and watch the birds flock to your garden, surrounding with the cheeky chipmunks on the bird bath body.

Planter
Add a stylish touch to your garden with our 4 tier solar water feature / planter.  Powered by the Great British sunlight, this requires minimum maintenance, and is both environmentally friendly and safe to use. The water cascades down the tiers, and your mum is free to personalise it with her own flower choice. Being self-contained, there is also minimal set up effort and easily  moved around.

Statue
Why not push the boat out, and treat your mum to this extravagant ‘Mother and Child’ statue. It would be a great addition to any garden, and can symbolise your love for one another. Consisting of mostly bronze, this statue will be the envy of your neighbours, and your mum won’t hesitate to show it off, especially with this generous price tag..

So there you have it. Plenty of options to choose from if you wish to break away from the tradition of flowers and chocolates. Don’t forget the date – Sunday 6th March.

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.

Allotment, Gardening, Grow Your Own, Kaitlin Krull

Thanks to the development of science and technology over the last few decades, most of us understand the importance of sustainability and environmental consciousness in the 21st century. However, it can sometimes seem impossible to bring this understanding into our day to day lives beyond the basics of recycling, eating organic foods, and using natural products. One of the best ways to bridge this gap is by growing your own edible garden at home. If this sounds like something you’d like to try but you’re not quite sure how, here are five reasons to help you make up your mind.

Grow Your Own Edible Garden

1. Learn how to live sustainably

One of the timeliest and more important reasons to grow and consume your own produce is in order to increase sustainability at home and decrease reliance on shop bought products. In addition to saving money, growing your own food also gives you control over what exactly you harvest and how often you harvest it. At Modernize, we know that sustainable living is about providing for yourself exactly what you need; no more, no less. Grow your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and you will be one step closer to a sustainable home life.

2. Encourage healthy eating

Plant and consume your own fruits and vegetables and you will be able to say without a doubt exactly what you are putting into your body. Choose your own produce and cultivate your edible garden without the use of herbicides or pesticides in order to achieve the best, healthiest result.

Home Grown Produce

3. It’s super simple

If you think that cultivating your own edible garden is difficult, you couldn’t be more wrong. While the process will take time, patience, and care, companies like Primrose take all the stress out of gardening with their Grow Your Own products. Simply choose from their wide variety of herb, tomato, strawberry, and other planters and grow kits, add in gardening basics such as raised beds, mini greenhouses, pots, trays, tools and watering equipment, and you are ready to begin your gardening adventure.

Indoor Herb Growing Planter

4. Save money

Sustainable living is just as much about saving money as it is about providing for yourself. By growing, harvesting, and consuming your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, you will decrease your food bills, full stop. If you think that the initial financial outlay for a sustainable garden will be too high, think again. Shopping at affordable garden centres such as Primrose will give you high quality products for the lowest possible prices and help you on your way to self sufficiency.

5. Get the whole family involved

The best part about gardening is that absolutely anyone can do it. If you have young children, encourage them to get involved in your edible garden process. Kids love getting dirty, so let them help and they will learn about sustainability, accountability, and environmental responsibility without even opening a book. On top of all that, involving your children in the development of your edible garden will instill in them a love for nature and the environment that will last for years to come.

Kaitlin KrullKaitlin Krull is a writer and mom of two girls living the expat life in the UK. Her writing is featured on Modernize.com and a number of home decor sites around the web. She can also be found blogging from time to time on her personal blog, A Vicar’s Wife.

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.

blog1

  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?

brussels-sprouts-22009_960_720

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.

traditional xmas tree

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.

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