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.

Animals, Bird Baths, How To, Wildlife, Zoe

The long awaited Big Garden Birdwatch has finally arrived this weekend – hooray! With this handy guide we will teach you how to make an irresistible bird feeder no sparrow could refuse!

Many of us may notice our little visitors in the garden, but do we really know what kind of bird it is? Luckily for you, our beautifully illustrated infographic may help you identify even the most exotic of species! Top marks if you manage to spot a Chabert Vanga…

The best way to entice any guests is of course with a free buffet, and in this blog we suggest a fantastic range of treats and scrummy dishes no bird could refuse.

Dangerous Food for Birds

However if you want to feed wild birds be careful that it is safe, the following cannot be used to feed wild birds:

  • Spoiled seed – make sure the seeds you put out have not started rot. It should be dry without any strong odour.
  • Large quantities of bread – although filling, bread does not contain any of the lovely goodness that wild birds need in their diet.
  • Milk – Avoid leaving out milk for your birds, many experts claim this will make them ill.
  • Cooking fat, margarine & vegetable oil – These are all unsuitable for birds.

Ingredients Needed for Your Bird Feeder

Now for the fun stuff!

It is SUPER easy to make your own bird feede, and it’s a fantastic activity to get the whole family involved and share in the joy when you spot a red breast in the garden.

Firstly, you will need to get your hands on some lard. This is a great glue that will bond all your ingredients. You want one part lard to two parts of your bird seed.

Next, you can pick and choose what treats you want to include for your birds. We suggest the following, with a brief description of what birds love this treat the most:

  • Millet – sparrows, dunnocks, finches, reed buntings and collared doves
  • Flaked maize – blackbirds
  • Peanuts & Sunflower seeds – Tits and greenfinches
  • Pinhead oatmeal – All birds love this!
  • Nyjer seeds – goldfinches and siskins.
  • Cooked rice – All birds lap this up
  • Mealworms – excellent protein source for many birds

You can also add some grated cheese, dried fruit and much other variation of seed in your unique mix!

Now you have binded the lard and your bird seed you will be able to mould this into a variety of different shapes to catch the eye of birds or as a interesting activity for your children. This is a great alternative to shop bought fat balls that often come in nylon bags that are very harmful to birds that get their beaks or feet trapped in them!

Coconut Shell Bird Feeder

Mould Ideas for Your Bird Feeder

  • You can use a halved coconut shell to fill with your bird food; make sure there is no traces of coconut milk left in this shell however.
  • Orange peel! Remove the fruit from the skin of the orange and, like the coconut, fill to the top with the food for a vibrant feeder.
  • Pine cone – roll the pine cone in your lard and seeds for a more decorative feeding treat.
  • Toilet roll – yes really! Once you’re left with the toilet paper roll you can roll this in the seeds for an innovative feeder for the birds. (Be careful in wet weather as the cardboard will begin to disintegrate)
  • Cooker cutters – fill your cookie cutters with the mix and leave them to harden in the fridge.
  • Or be creative and create a shape of your own!

Once you’ve made your treats place them in different areas around your garden to attract a range of birds, and remember to consider the little birds that will need low hanging treats.

Have fun this weekend, and be sure to send us your photographs to photos@primrose.co.uk, we’d love to see them!

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.

Animals, Gardening, Guest Posts, How To, Wildlife, Zoe

How To Look After Hedgehogs
As the leaves are changing from green to golden and autumn seems to be surrounding us everywhere we know,
Wildlife from every nook and cranny is searching for somewhere to go.
As frost becomes bitter, and food becomes scarce, animals need a new home.
This guide will help you transform your garden into a safe haven, meaning no animal will be alone.

1 – Food, Glorious Food

Help our furry friends in the winter months by providing some scrummy food,
bacon rind, cheese, peanuts, seeds or fruit,
fatty foods make their tummies nice and full
but give them a mix of food and they will be grateful.

Once you’ve started please don’t forget to provide each day,
or our poor little birdies will waste away!
Keep in mind not all our birds can reach so high,
Leave treats on the ground for Robin’s so they don’t have to fly.

Our spiky friends often need a helping hand,
so leave out some cat food on a saucer if you can,
a bowl of water can will be good for a drink
for all animals looking to have a sip

How To Welcome Wildlife

2 – Hide and seek

These sweet little visitors might act a little shy,
and take cover in piles of leaves nearby,
so try to resist sweeping these up in a hurry,
or you’ll find that your visitors leave in a scurry.

The same can be said for your compost heap,
where frogs and toads like to sleep.
Remember to check your pond where frogs may be snoozing,
don’t let it ice over or you will be losing,
vital oxygen in the water! Melt this slowly and make a hole,
with a pan of hot water left to glow.

Other hiding places that can be used as a bed:
butterflies will use the corner of a shed!
Leave dry plant stems to stand tall,
and insects will begin to crawl,
into this place and not want to leave
until the sun appears on a summer’s eve.

Frogs In Your Garden

3 – Autumn Clean

The last thing you need to do, is get cleaning!
Make sure that your bird feeders are gleaming.
Your pond could do with a clear away at this time of year,
when activity has dropped and it is mostly clear.

Get ahead of the game and make your bird box clean,
so when spring comes birds can nest with ease.
One last tip we would like to share,
don’t cut back your hedges, so birds can live there!

Winter Garden Shed

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, Heated Clothing, Primrose.co.uk

It’s the middle of October, the bitterness is starting to hit and I have decided to go camping for a couple of days. ‘You’re mad’ everyone is saying, but I enjoy the sense of adventure, and I’ve never been camping past summer before. Camping in the autumn makes for a delightful setting too, with the fallen, golden leaves and the crisp morning views (makes for wonderful walking scenery too).

One of the buying team recently went to Iceland, so I thought I would test a few new products on my trip. Alongside my normal camping gear, I decided to take some Warmawear heated clothing items with me, to keep me warm late into the night and provide extra warmth come the frosty morning.

My packing list:

all1small

The socks were great, and kept my toes warm throughout the night. Truth be told, I didn’t take them off again! In the morning, they kept my feet nice and warm when preparing breakfast. I took size M/L, which designed for size 7-13 fit my size 8 feet perfectly. They had a soft, fluffy lining, great for retaining heat and were quite stretchy too with their spandex/ acrylic material blend, so were great for wrapping around my trousers to keep the heat in. They also look pretty stylish too I am sure you will agree.

socks2small

The multipurpose muff was very useful for camping. Pop in 3 AA batteries and it warms up in no time. Acting as a warming tube, it was ideal for when sitting around the campsite, and at one point my friend was adamant she wasn’t going to give it back to me! The muff flattens into a warm, comfy pillow too, so I got a great night’s sleep. It was lightweight and compact so perfect for taking camping.

muff1small

The scarf was perfect for the morning cook, when I was waiting for the spaghetti hoops to boil, as well as the early morning walks in the bitter October cold. With handy pockets situated on the end of the scarf, it kept both my fingers and neck toasty when it felt rather breezy. Operated with 3 AA batteries, this 150cm long scarf wrapped around me perfectly, and being made from super soft polyester fleece material, it was more than snug.

socks1small

So whether it’s a camping trip in the middle of winter, or a cold bonfire night and you are looking to wrap up warm, I can not recommend Warmawear heated clothing enough.

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.

Amie also writes restaurant reviews on  Barnard’s Burger Blog.

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