The sun is out (let’s ignore the brief drizzle) and Euro 2016 is in full swing, which means plenty of BBQs and gatherings for people throughout the UK. There will be impending celebrations for when England win the competition (we can live in hope) so we’ve compiled a handful of the best BBQ food (and some extra party essentials) to get you started.
Ribs With a vintage, smoky flavour, ribs make a great treat for any BBQ. Cover in sauce or keep dry; either way they make an excellent handheld treat.
Burgers Perhap the ultimate classic when it comes to a BBQ, burgers come in a host of varieties, accompanied with any possibility, inside a range of buns. Brioche or seedless buns work well, and beef burgers larger than the palm of your hand make for a textbook combination.
Kebabs You should stick to kebabs on a skewer, as these are much more convenient at a BBQ. Mix up your kebab with chicken, lamb and vegetables. The possibilities are endless.
Another classic addition to any BBQ, sausages in a hotdog bun make a perfect BBQ snack. A Bratwurst sausage can give your BBQ a German feel, but my personal favourite is a traditional pork sausage, dolloped with some ketchup.
To finish off the list, wings/ drumsticks make a great choice. Similar to ribs, when placed on a BBQ they produce a tantalising smoky flavour and can easily be held (although sometimes your fingers can get sticky).
So you have done the shopping, but you need some additional items to help you throw your superb summer party. Primrose have a great selection to choose from, and with next day delivery, these can be here in time for the game against Wales if you order before 2pm tomorrow!
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.
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 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.
It’s nearly June, and spring flowers are coming to the end of their time. This is the month where all your hard work in the early spring could come undone, but do not fret for we are here to help. Here is our list of the top 5 summer blooms that aren’t fussy, can handle the weather and will keep your garden looking spectacular until well into autumn.
Aster flowers, in their many variations love full to partial sun exposure. This makes them excellent flowers to add to your summer garden. These stunning perennials were named by the Geeks for their star like bloom. They can be planted from early to late spring and have been known to last right through till first frost, meaning you can keep your garden blooming for longer. One of the reasons we love this little plant is that it is so easy to cultivate. Many Asters are drought resistant making them hard for even the most forgetful of gardeners to kill. They can even survive and thrive on one inch of rain water a week, not that this will be a problem for us in the UK, with our average rainfall these flowers practically look after themselves.
TIP: Add Mulch as a top layer that to keep soil cool and help prevent weeds.
These flowers like a heathy dose of 8-10 hours of sunlight a day, so not only can they handle the heat but they flourish in it. Similar to the Aster, the Verbena can live off of one inch of water a week, making them one of the sturdier and more resilient buds of the flowering world. Verbena need to be trimmed regularly to encourage them to bloom into late summer. A simple deheading before the season turns will do.
TIP: Adding a handful of fertilizer to soil surrounding Verbena will encourage growth and keep your plants happy, although do remember that they are not heavy eaters so don’t overdo it.
No garden is complete without some form of Dahlia; they come in a range of exquisite colours and will flower right through until November. These flowers prefer full to partial sun they enjoy hot climates and warm soil. They will thrive better if planted in late spring in a location sheltered from the wind. Although Dahlias are not fussy plants they will need some T.L.C after heavy rain fall, a simple check of the open blooms to make sure they have emptied of all remaining water will suffice. Hearty and resilient flowers, they can be cut back and left in the ground over winter.
TIP: Don’t be too hasty to water your bulbs when first planted; wait until they start to sprout as this will eliminate any chance of the bulb rotting.
Native to the Mediterranean region this Lavender loves full sun but can survive almost anywhere in your garden even shaded areas. As the leaves are evergreen it is well suited to being used as low-lying hedging and can give garden structure throughout the year. This particular lavender blooms later than most, starting in July and leaving in September. Although it is a relatively short bloom the, plant itself will create interest within the garden throughout the rest of the year.
TIP: Prune the flowers no later than the end of August to encourage re-growth.
This beautiful little flower is a striking addition to any perennial border or container. They bloom wonderful blue and purple colours around mid-summer. Penstemon start to die down at the end of the growing season but rest assured that new growth will re-appear from spring onwards. They enjoy full sun but prefer to stay sheltered from the wind.
TIP: Prune any winter damaged stems at the start of spring to encourage new growth
Sally works in the Marketing team here at Primrose.
She spends most of her spare time looking into the latest developments in social media. Sally loves travel and wants to step foot in every continent in the world. When not travelling the Globe or working, she likes to relax with a bit of DIY.
She is a novice gardener and doesn?t claim to be an expert, anything she learns she will happily pass on.
I don’t think it really matters. The still air, silvered light, some might think thin especially when it takes all day for the sun to appear over the trees, October is that cool evening at the end of the day, a time of rest and peace. And the best seat in the house is in the garden.
I love the October garden.
Yes, there are plenty of jobs to do, hedges and lawns to trim and cut, beds to clear, fruit to gather, but to sit amongst the insects sipping the very last drop of nectar from the nearly spent flowers, wings caught in the ethereal light is the nearest we get to a transport to another world.
The smell of far away burning fires reminds you that someone, somewhere, is doing some gardening.
The compost heap is a great place to start, largely because we have so much plant material about. Herbaceous borders we are clearing, cabbage roots, carrot tops, a million vegetables that have been pulled, preserved, stored or eaten.
I don’t compost potato vines or tomato vines because I might just infect the heap with fungal blight. I know the heap is supposed to be hot and this kills diseases, but you cannot always guarantee it’s uniformly hot etc. Besides, I worry about it. So I don’t compost it. What I do is burn it, and then the ashes go onto the compost heap.
Any really herbaceous material gets mixed with newspaper. This soaks up the liquid, particularly from material like grass clippings, that gets terribly wet. It’s good also to intersperse some woody material, anything that bulks out the material, and maintains a few air pockets.
Then, of course, it’s raining leaves! The paths, lawn, pavements and roads are increasingly covered with falling leaves. I sweep them into piles and give them a day to allow any wildlife to escape before popping them into a wire basket for a year to rot down. You get really wonderful seed compost from leaf mould.
The wire basket is important, being mostly wood, their rotting takes a great amount of air, even though it gets cold, it’s the air that does the job.
More than anything, October is garlic time. I am amazed how hardy garlic actually can get.
Planted in the teeth of the first gales of the year usually around the middle of the month, they sprout nicely and grow into pencil-sized plants that resist the worst of frosts, indeed they thrive on it, their best flavour coming from a good frosting.
Do buy good quality corms for planting in the UK. Avoid supermarket ones, which only work in very special circumstances. There are two types, hard-neck and soft-neck. Hard-neck garlic has a central stalk from which all the corms come. They are usually bigger, more robust in flavour, but there are fewer of them than soft-neck garlic which has no central stalk and smaller corms, but with more of them.
It is remarkable how summer bedding continues to do well deep into the month, and it is worth deadheading these plants, even if it is too late for replacement flowers. Something like a nicotiana throws out white and pink flowers, and looks lovely, so long as you remove the dead flowers. When there is a mixture of dead and new on the same plant, the garden looks as though the end of the year has come with neglect.
Do you need a low maintenance garden?
The very idea had always seemed to me to be spoiling my fun. After all, I like digging and weeding. But whereas age might not weary nor the years condemn, a heart attack certainly messes with your gardening plans. So for me, like so many, it’s time to make the garden easier to work with.
This has started with raised beds. We pulled out, well I started but my son finished, a huge hypericum, and the spare land this triffid was taking we installed some raised beds.
We made them from decking plants, treated wood, cheap and easy to use, but if I didn’t have a son-in-law who was not only handy with wood, but strong enough to carry the beds into position, I would have bought them. They will make life so much easier.
My next purchase is about 50 sq metres of ground cover material. Not just the flimsy stuff, but the really heavy duty material. It will cover a significant part of the garden so I can cover with more beds, and then for making paths between the beds, which will then be covered with gravel.
Where I live there isn’t a lot of garden theft, but I do like to cover the paths with something that makes a noise to deter anyone walking on them, so they might just give up and go somewhere else if they are up to no good.
With this in mind, the bottom of the garden needs a little attention. Fortunately for us it runs into a farm where two of the nastiest dogs you could imaging are constantly on guard, but I am a little worried about these gorgons getting through into ours, and now we have become grandparents, we would feel a little safer with a good hedge. So we are planting a mixture of blackthorn (not just for the sloes but the two inch thorns!) some Mahonia japonica and various other nasties that will keep man and beast at bay.
It is remarkable how fast and stock proof this combination goes, and you can eat the fruits of both plants – actually, ask me for the recipe for mahonia lemonade sometime!
So, how long will it last, this balmy early Autumn? So long as there is a garden to look at, to potter about in, or simply to sit in the shed with a warm mug, peeping through the door, gardening’s a great life!
Paul Peacock studied botany at Leeds University, has been the editor of Home Farmer magazine, and now hosts the City Cottage online magazine. An experienced gardener himself, his expertise lies in the world of the edible garden. If it clucks, quacks or buzzes, Paul is keenly interested.
He is perhaps best known as Mr Digwell, the cartoon gardener featured in The Daily Mirror since the 1950s. As Mr Digwell he has just published his book, A Year in The Garden. You can also see more about him on our Mr Digwell information page.