Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Decoration, Indoor

Your choice of tree is one of the most important decisions you will make at Christmas, It will be the centrepiece of your home for the festive season so getting the right one is important. This guide will help you choose the perfect tree for you and your home.

Artificial or Real?

A real tree is a traditional choice for many, but they may not be practical for all homes and lifestyles. A good quality artificial tree is a good alternative to a real tree in some homes. When making this choice consider:  

Real trees: 

  • Traditional smell and look 
  • Use less plastic 
  • Are grown in environmentally friendly ways 
  • Can be recycled after use 
  • Drop needles so may not be suitable for small children and pets
  • Can carry allergens
  • Can be difficult to transport

You can shop our full range of real Christmas trees here

Artificial trees

  • Reusable – saving money in the long term 
  • Easy to assemble and store 
  • No dropped needles
  • Carry no allergens
  • Take up space
  • Made of plastic
  • Can become damaged if not stored correctly 

You can shop our full range of artificial Christmas trees here

Environmental impact

Artificial Christmas trees are often seen as the environmentally-friendly option. However, this is not always the case. Most artificial trees are made of plastic, not all of them can be recycled and most will end up in a landfill. You can find trees made from recycled plastic, and if you maintain the tree well it may last for years, which will have a net benefit.  Real trees can be easily recycled and provide a boost to local ecology when grown. They can also be grown in soil that is unsuitable for other crops and for each acre, provide enough oxygen for 18 people every day. Each tree will also absorb around 1 tonne of carbon in its life. 

Species of Christmas Tree

Like all plants, there are a few species of Christmas tree. Each one brings something different and plays a different role in your home

Nordmann Fir

The most popular Christmas tree. Has a pyramid shape made of defined layers of straight twig-like branches. The glossy dark needles have a thick, waxy coating which makes them softer to the touch; better for households with children or pets. These trees don’t shed needles as often as other varieties, making them a great lower-maintenance option.

View Our Range Of Nordman Fir Trees

Norway Spruce

More commonly used in eastern Europe, the Norway spruce has a rounder shape with a pointed top. The foliage is a bit thicker and the branches point at a slight upward angle which makes them better for decorating with heavier decorations.  The short green needles can be spiky, so it may not be the best option for families with young children or pets. They may also shed more if your home is particularly warm.

View Our Full Range Of Norway Spruce Trees

 

Other Considerations

Before buying a Christmas tree, there are other things you should consider:

  • Allergens: according to Haymax, one-third of the UK population suffers from an increase in itchy skin and cold-like symptoms, known as “Christmas Tree Syndrome”. If someone in your household is allergic to Christmas trees, an artificial tree could be a better option.
  • Size: make sure to measure the height of the room of the tree is going to be based in before you buy, and factor in the size of the tree stand to make sure it fits!
  • Fire safety: if you choose a real Christmas tree, keep it away from direct contact with a heat source, such as a fireplace or heat vent. If you are using fairy lights, make sure to switch them off when you are not at home or buy lights with a timer so they are off when you are asleep. 
  • Buy online: sometimes buying your tree online is the best opinion. If you don’t live near or have access to a farm and want a good quality tree delivered to your door within 24 hours then it might be perfect for you. We have an extensive range of real Christmas trees this year, all cut and wrapped in order, to ensure they reach you in the best quality.

Alice at PrimroseAlice works in the Primrose copywriting team. She spends her days here writing gardening product descriptions and cracking blog posts.

Outside work, Alice is writing a fiction novel and runs her own blog. She also enjoys travel, good food, and tarot reading.

See all of Alice’s posts.

 

Allotment, Gardening, Grow Your Own

Many of your plants will start dying back and loosing there leaves this month, but there are still a few crops to plant and harvest. Collecting these fallen leaves to make leaf mould to get even more use out of your crops.

Vegetable gardening

General

 

  • “Cure” pumpkins and squashes – this hardens their skins, the harder the skins get the longer you can keep them
  • Break up heavy soil – dig over beds where the soil has become hard and compacted. Pull out any weeds as you go
  • Cover beds with polythene – spreading sheets over the soil keeps off the worst of the rain and suppresses weeds, as well as allowing you to sow earlier next spring. 
  • Cover late crops with cloches – when temperatures drop, especially at night, protect autumn salads and Oriental leaves with cloches or fleece
  • Cut down asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes – chop down to the ground yellowing asparagus foliage and the stems and foliage of Jerusalem artichokes, and compost
  • Dry out beans for storage – if the weather is dry, leave bean pods on the plants to dry. If it’s wet, cut them down and hang them up indoors or somewhere dry and sheltered. When they are completely dried, pod them and store the beans in airtight containers.
  • Earth up Brussels sprouts – keep earthing up the stems of Brussels sprouts, cabbages, and other brassicas to give them support as they become increasingly top-heavy. cut off any yellow leaves.
  • Order new fruit trees and bushes – Next month is a good time for planting many new, bare-rooted trees and bushes, so order plants from nurseries now if you didn’t do so last month.

Harvesting 

  • Aubergine
  • Beetroot 
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage 
  • Carrot 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Celeriac 
  • Chicory
  • French beans
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi 
  • Leeks 
  • Lettuce
  • Marrow
  • Mustard Leaves
  • Parsnip 
  • Pear
  • Pumpkin
  • Raddish
  • Spinach
  • Swede 
  • Sweet potato
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomato 
  • Turnip

Sowing & planting

  • Blackcurrants
  • Broad beans
  • Cabbages (spring)
  • Cauliflowers (early summer)
  • Cranberries
  • Garlic
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapevines
  • Nectarines
  • Onion sets
  • Peaches
  • Peas
  • Redcurrants
  • Rhubarb sets
  • Strawberries
  • Whitecurrants

 

Gardening Year

We are now in the depths of Autumn, by now tress would have started to drop their leaves, and temperatures are starting to drop fast. This month is all about starting to get your final prep for winter started. 

Garden Weeds

General

  •  Rake fallen leaves –  clear lawns, borders, driveways and paths, and store in  bin bags to rot down into leafmould
  • Do a final check on your shed –  check that it’s secure and waterproof, so you can safely store tools and patio furniture over the  winter
  • Apply an autumn lawn feed –   revive grass after summer and harden it for winter
  • Empty ceramic and glazed pots –  these aren’t frost-proof so empty and store in a shed over winter
  • Spike compacted lawns – brush grit into the holes to improve drainage
  • Pack up hoses and drip-feed systems  –  and store indoors over winter, so they don’t freeze and split
  • Gather up canes and plant supports that are no longer in use –  store indoors over winter ready for use in the spring

Plants 

  • Plant drifts of spring bulbs – informally plant  crocuses, daffodils and snake-head fritillaries to get a good early start once spring comes
  • Lift tender plants – protect them from any early frosts 
  • Plant winter container plants – heathers, cyclamen, winter pansies and skimmia should be planted now for a full growing season 
  • Lift and pot up tender perennials –  chocolate cosmos, gazanias and coleus in particular  benefit this  to protect them over winter
  • Plant evergreen shrubs and conifer hedges – this may be the last chance to do so whilst the soil is still warm 
  • Put plant pots on feet – remove any pot saucers and raise pots up onto feet to prevent waterlogging over winter
  • Wrap fleece around tree ferns – it will soon become too cold for them so get this done as soon as you can 
  • Empty summer pots and hanging baskets – compost and have some good growing medium in spring

Wildlife

  • Build a log pile – put near the borders of your garden to give  wildlife shelter for the winter
  • Clean out and disinfect bird boxes – to keep them clean and ready for winter guests
  • Keep an eye out for snail nests – they like to overwinter in damp spaces so keep an eye out for them

 

Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants

How-To-Grow-Your-Own-Tomatoes

Easy to grow yet producing abundant yields, it is unsurprising why tomatoes are often the first crop a gardener has in their allotment. In return for a sunny spot and the odd dose of feed, they will reward you with numerous fruits that can be used for a range of recipes. Primed for beginners and experts alike, read on for a practical guide on growing your own tomatoes.

Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes

A tomato plant can either be indeterminate or determinate, and depending on which type they fall into, they will need their own unique care. For example, indeterminate varieties should have their side shoots pruned, while determinate varieties should not. Below we detail key differences that will help you decide which type is best for you: 

Indeterminate Varieties…
  • Have a vining habit. 
  • Grow indefinitely.
  • Crop until the first frost.  
  • Require more support. 
Determinate Varieties…
  • Have a compact habit. 
  • Are good for small gardens. 
  • Bear fruits that ripen concurrently. 
  • Need less support. 
Do I Need to Support my Tomato Plant?

Typically, determinate tomato plants do not require support. However, once fruits appear, they can become weighed down and this can make them vulnerable to pests and disease. It is hence not a bad idea to tie them to a sturdy stake or enclose them in a tomato cage.

With indeterminate tomatoes, it is important that you provide a good amount of support. This is because their stems can grow considerably longer than a determinate variety’s. We therefore recommend that you drive two stakes into the ground and carefully attach your plant with soft ties.

Growing your Tomatoes

How-To-Grow-Your-Own-Tomatoes

You can either grow tomatoes from seed or start them from young plug plants. Although growing tomatoes from seed requires a little more time, it is best if you wish to grow rarer varieties. Young plants, on the other hand, can be more convenient to grow as they allow you to stagger your growing schedule. This will spare you more time, space, and attention to focus on crops that are growing before spring.

Growing from Seed
  • Fill 7.5cm pots with moist compost. 
  • Apply a layer of vermiculite and provide a watering.
  • Cover each pot with cling film, and place in a propagator or sunny windowsill.  (Cling film will help retain moisture and heat, which are both important for allowing germination).
  • When two small leaves appear, it is safe to assume that germination has occurred. 
  • Transplant into 9cm pots that have been filled with all-purpose compost. 
  • Move to a windowsill that receives plenty of sunlight. 
  • Using increasingly larger pots, repeat these steps  as your tomato plants continue to grow. 
Growing from Young Plants

Once a truss begins to open, your tomato plants can be planted in your garden. A truss is the stem of a plant in which flowers, and later tomatoes, grow from. 

  • Plant your seedings out in 23cm pots (approximately), or in your garden’s borders, distanced 45cm to 60cm apart.
  • If you are planting in a border, make sure that the site is rich in organic matter. 

 

Caring for your Tomatoes

How-To-Grow-Your-Own-Tomatoes

Watering and Feeding 

We advise that you water your tomato plants once a day; making sure that the soil is evenly moist. If you are growing your tomatoes in a container, you can water them twice a day (this rule can be applied to tomatoes growing in borders if the weather is particularly warm). Signs to keep in mind are if the leaves are drooping, you have been under-watering, and if the leaves are yellowing, you have been over-watering.

Once every two weeks, feed your tomato plants with a balanced liquid fertiliser. This will keep the soil’s pH optimal for growing flourishing plants. When the first fruits have appeared, you can then change to a high potash feed. 

Sun Requirements

Your tomato plant will relish warm and sunny conditions, so they should ideally receive between six and eight hours of sun per day. As the season comes to an end, you can remove old leaves to allow more sun to reach your plant. 

Pruning Tips

If you are growing determinate varieties, it is best to pinch out any side shoots that become visible. Unlike the lateral trusses of a tomato plant, these shoots are more vigorous, and as such, will compromise the plant’s energy. By keeping these side shoots at bay, they can put greater energy into fruiting. 

Another pruning tip is to remove foliage beneath the lowest truss of fruits. This enables more light to travel through, but also helps ventilation and speeds up ripening. As more trusses develop, you can continue to remove more and more leaves. An added benefit of this approach is that blight or mosaic virus can successfully be treated; simply rescind all of your plant’s leaves. 

Harvesting your Tomatoes

How-To-Grow-Your-Own-Tomatoes

When the tomatoes turn fully red, they are ripe enough to be picked. Depending on the conditions outside, you may prefer to harvest your fruits when they are green. To speed up their ripening, we recommend that you store them next to a banana. Bananas release a gas called ethene, and this encourages nearby fruits to soften and have their starches be converted to sugars.