Allotment, Composting, Gardening, Grow Your Own

Every garden can benefit from a compost heap. Good compost will help your flowers grow more vibrant and your veg produce more food   – its also a fantastic way to reduce your household waste. This guide will give you everything you need to be composting like a pro in no time. 

Step1 – Choose A Compost Bin

 

There are loads of different ones out there, so there will be something you’ll like. Just make sure you choose one that suits how you are going to use it.

Plastic – A good beginner option, most plastic compost bins come with lockable lids to keep pests out. However, they don’t get quite as good air circulation or heat distribution of other types. Great for the beginner or gardener who just wants to give their plants a boost.

Wooden – These open-topped bins give good air circulation and heat distribution which helps to kill pathogens. However, if not treated correctly, the wood will eventually rot and need to replace.

Compost tumblers – These bins speed the process up a bit and are a good choice for people who have reduced mobility. Put your materials in the bin and turn a few times a week. They won’t produce as much compost as other styles, but you will get it quicker.  

Wormeries – These are great for smaller or indoor spaces since the worms do all the work. The best option if you live in a flat or have limited space and still produce nutrient-rich compost. May not be the best option if you don’t like worms and they can give off a strong smell at times. 

Shop all compost bins.

 

Step 2 – Find the right place fo your compost bin.

You should put your compost bin in a dry, well-drained place that is easily accessible year-round. Put over bare soil rather than concrete or paving to let worms and other beneficial organisms into the pile. You should also remove any grass or plants and turn t 6 – 8 inches of soil below the bin with a fork. For a wormery, follow the manufacturer’s guidance on placement.  

Step 3 – Know what can and can’t be composted. 

Composting materials can be broken down into two types – Green and Brown. You need both to get good results.

Green  grass clippings, fresh manure, vegetable trimmings and most green plant cuttings

Brown – leaves, hay, straw and paper

We’ve put together an at-a-glance guide to what you can or can’t compost in your garden. Feel free to print it off and hang it up to give you a hand.  

Download here: Primrose Composting Guide

 

Step 4 – Start your compost.

Making compost is like layering a cake. Just make sure you moisten each layer with the mist setting of a garden hose or spray bottle. To get started: 

  1. Line your bin with around 4 inches of twigs, hay and straw (for smaller bins see the manufacturers instructions for guidance)
  2. Add the same sized layer of brown material and cover with a thin layer of soil. 
  3.  Add the same sized layer of green material and cover with a thin layer of soil.
  4. Keep adding alternating layers of green and brown material until the bin is full.
  5. Aerate your compost with a shovel or fork every three to four days.

Step 5 – Use your compost.

When your compost has turned dark with a crumbly texture and takes on an earthy aroma, it’s ready to use. Compost can take between three to six months to be ready, but the longer you leave it, the better it will be. 

Dig out your compost as you need it and give your plants and homegrown produce a good boost. 

 

We have everything you need to get started with a great compost heap, why not take a look now.

 

 

 

 

Allotment, Composting, Gardening, Gardening Year, Gardens, Grow Your Own, Planting

Autumn is a season of transition. As the warm bright days of summer begin to shorten and grow colder, your crops near their end and it’s time to start preparing for winter and planting for spring. There is a lot to do at this time of the year, but with our list of jobs to do this season, you will find yourself well prepared. 

General Maintainance 

raking leaves

  • Collect fallen leaves– keep your garden looking tidy and reduce the chances of pests and diseases in your garden
  • Create a compost heap –  fallen leaves and dead plant material can make great compost that will be good for plants in spring. Think about creating your heap in a quiet corner of your garden or in a compost bin
  • Repair or replace fencing – now that your plants are dormant and the ground is still warm enough to dig in it’s a great time to replace damaged or old fencing
  • Insulate outdoor taps – frozen taps can become damaged. Wrap in kitchen foil of fleece to protect it from the coldest weather
  • Prepare the lawn for winter – continue to mow the lawn if the frost is not too heavy, but raise the height of the mower blades; spike with a garden fork to improve drainage
  • Organise your shed-  take the time to clear out your garden shed, check security, and organise and clean your tools ready for spring. 
  • Prune the garden– prune fruit trees, dormant shrubs and hedges, roses, and Japanese maples in order to ensure a good start to spring
  • Cluster container plants together– as their roots are more exposed to the elements, move shrubs and bedding plants growing in containers to sheltered spots and cluster together for protection from the colder weather
  • Check tree ties– check any tree ties to make sure trees are protected from strong winds and the tree stems will not be damaged by ties that are too tight; 
  • Make Leaf Mould – bag up fallen leaves in a good quality bin bag. Poke holes in the bag and leave out of sight for two years. Leaf mould  can be used as seed-sowing compost or used to enrich the soil
  • Clear the remains of summer crops – to avoid them rotting and attracting pests and diseases
  • Clean Your Tools – taking good care of your tools now will prevent them from rusting over winter and needing to be replaced in the summer
  • Prune fruit bushes –  prune out any dead, dying or diseased wood whilst your fruit trees are dormant to encourage new and good growth in the spring
  • Net brassicas – to protect them from overwintering birds. Use a fine mesh or a frame that it lifts clear of the plant to stop birds pecking through. You could also consider a polytunnel or cold frame
  • Begin Digging Over – dig small sections of your garden over the month to get manure, air and compost into the soil. 

Plants 

 

  • Protect plants from the frost– standard terracotta planters often break in cold weather, so consider our frost-resistant fibrecotta. For plants in flower beds, a cold frame or cloche fleece provides instant protection
  • Raise plant containers– raise pots off the ground for the winter using bricks or pot feet to prevent them from becoming waterlogged
  • Prune rose bushes- prevent wind rock (swaying in the wind and the roots becoming loose) by pruning roses by one third to half their height
  • Cut back herbaceous perennials– cut back the yellowing foliage of any flowering plants, then life and divide any overcrowded clumps
  • Plant tulip bulbstulip bulbs to bloom in spring next year are best planted in late autumn to prevent the tulip fire disease
  • Move dormant plants– if you need to relocate any plants or fruit trees, now is the time to do so while they are dormant
  • Plant spring bulbs– plant bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, and fritillaries before the first frost to fill your garden with colour in th spring
  • Take hardwood cuttings– cut healthy shoots from suitable trees, shrubs, and climbers, including honeysuckle and blackcurrant shrubs. plant in the ground or in a pot to propagate new plants
  • Lift and store dahlia tubers– these tender perennials need protection from the colder weather, so lift the dormant roots and stems to store indoors and plant back outside next spring

Greenhouse 

 

  • Stock up on greenhouse accessories– now you’ll be spending more time in your greenhouse, make sure to stock up on accessories, including a heater to maintain the temperature and staging to hold your plants
  • Sow winter herbs– sow Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, sage, and parsley for a fresh supply during the winter
  • Clean your greenhouse– if you haven’t already done so, make sure to clean your greenhouse thoroughly; wash and disinfect capillary matting before storing away
  • Water plants sparingly– make sure plants are hydrated but keep the greenhouse as dry as possible to reduce the risk of disease
  • Combat pests– check overwintering plants for pests such as aphids and red spider mite, treat if necessary using a general insecticide
  • Maintain plants– pick faded leaves and dead flowers from plants that are being stored in the greenhouse over the winter
  • Check that all heaters are working properly –  You will need them in the coming months, so check them now so you don’t have to rush and buy new ones when they are needed. If any are broken replace them now
  • Remove snow– make sure to brush any snow off the top of greenhouses and cold frames to make sure the glass does not get damaged

 

 

Composting, George, How To, Mice & Rats, Pest Advice, Pest Control

Composting is a great way to reduce the waste you send to landfill and produce organic fertiliser for your plants. One of the biggest concerns around having a compost bin in the garden is whether it might attract pests or vermin. The short answer is yes, it can. But that’s why we’ve gathered advice to ensure you can build a pest-proof compost bin and enjoy all its benefits without the pain.

pest proof compost

Why are pests attracted to compost bins?

The most likely pests to seek out you compost are rats and mice. They are a common part of a residential ecosystem and look for two things: food and shelter. This is why rodents are particularly attracted to compost heaps, especially in winter. It provides them with food and a warm, sheltered spot to sleep in.

Insects, however, are generally nothing to worry about in compost heaps. Worms, slugs, millipedes, spiders, beetles and more are regular guests. They are a crucial part of the decomposition process, so embrace the bugs!

slug compost

Tips for deterring pests

  1. Avoid putting any meat or dairy products in your compost, including fatty oils or bones. This would smell like a feast to rats.
  2. Over autumn and winter keep your compost bin damp – this will help with the decomposition process and make it less attractive to rodents.
  3. They also don’t like disturbance, so be sure to turn your compost regularly or give the bin a kick when you walk past!
  4. Cover food scraps with dry leaves or soil in the bin to conceal the smell of decaying food.
  5. Rodents are reportedly put off by the aroma of mint, so try sprinkling peppermint oil on your compost or planting mint nearby.

mouse in garden

How to protect your compost bin

It’s very hard to completely protect a compost bin against vermin as mice can squeeze through holes as small as a penny, and rats can chew through almost anything. Compost bins are much easier to seal against invading pests than open heaps, so if you’re worried about rodents then they’re the better choice. Surrounding your bin with rocks and bricks can make it a bit more fortified.

If you have a plastic bin, this is easiest to seal. The best time is before you start using it as you’ll need to line the bottom with wire mesh. Ensure the holes are only small enough for bugs to get through, not burrowing mice.

If you have a wooden bin, again you’ll need to line the bottom and sides with wire mesh. Make sure this is sealed firmly round all the edges with no gaps.

compost

Last resorts

Hopefully these tips will make your compost bin as unattractive to pests as possible. While the best defense is prevention, if you’re still experiencing issues then it might be time to look into pest control, such as traps.

Happy composting!

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, Current Issues, Megan, Sustainable Living

Introduction

Reducing Plastic In The Garden - 'Earth' Spelt Out In Leaves

 

Reducing the use of plastic is all the rage at the moment, and for very good reasons. Making a commitment to reducing plastic in the garden has many benefits. It will not only help the wider environment, but will help you become a more self sufficient gardener. In the long run, it could even save you money.

There is a surprising amount of plastic used in gardening, from plastic plant trays to cable ties that keep bamboo canes together and even microplastics in some fertilisers. Every little helps and your contribution in the form of reducing plastic in the garden is just as important as any. Big corporations tend to try and avoid reducing plastic as it is cheaper than many more eco-friendly alternatives. So what you do counts!

Why Is Plastic bad?

Reducing Plastic In The Garden - Bird Flying Above Plastic Waste

 

Plastics are extremely damaging to the environment:

  • Plastic takes 450 years – 1000 years to decompose.
  • It is made from unsustainable products.
  • Animals are injured and even killed by plastic waste, especially sea life. Many unknowingly ingest it or get caught up in it and suffocate.

Did you know, every plastic toothbrush you have ever used is still on this earth? It’s pretty hard to swallow. The importance of reducing plastic waste in every area of our lives is vital if we want to live in a cleaner and more sustainable world, living happily alongside the wildlife that inhabits it.

Plastic really is everywhere. Reducing plastic in the garden may seem like a daunting task, but fear not! It is possible. We’ve highlighted some key sources of plastic waste in the garden and come up with some ways of reducing plastic in the garden.

Products Sold In Plastic Packaging

Plant Food

Reducing Plastic In The Gardeb - Seedlings In Pots

 

You may currently buy plant food in plastic bottles. Although these bottles are often recyclable, plastic can only be recycled a certain number of times. It is therefore best to find an alternative all together to plastic-packaged plant food. Look out for plant food in cardboard boxes which is 100% biodegradable.

An even better alternative is using an all-natural plant food that alleviates the need to buy plant food at all. There are a number of items that are probably already in your kitchen that can be used as plant fertilisers

  • Bananas – a great source of potassium for plants.
  • Blackstrap Molasses – rich in lots of nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and manganese.
  • Coffee Grounds – particularly useful on acidic plants such as evergreens and roses, containing nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. You can use these out of your coffee machine or pick them up for free at many local coffee shops.
  • Epsom Salts – popular for popping in your bath, epsom salts can also be dissolved in water and sprayed onto your plants to give them a shot of magnesium and sulphur.

Compost

Reducing Plastic In The Garden - Compost In Scoop

 

This one has a simple solution – make your own compost instead of buying it! Composting is a very rewarding experience for any gardener. It will also help you reduce food waste as well as plastic waste. Make sure you invest in a wooden compost bin rather than plastic, as this rather defeats the point. Check out our how to compost guide to find out more about how to get started.

Mulch

Reducing Plastic In The Garden - Mulch Wood Chippings

 

Similar to the above, you can reduce the waste from plastic packeted mulch by making your own. You can do this by collecting dried leaves over autumn and shredding them to use as mulch during spring. Grass clippings and pine needles are also good mulching materials.

The Biggie – Plastic Plant Pots

Plastic plant pots – they are everywhere at garden centres, and as a gardener it seems impossible to get away from them. Almost every plant in the garden centre comes in a plastic pot or tray.

Reduce

Reducing Plastic In The Garden - Plants In Plastic Trays

 

One way to alleviate the problem is to take some plant pots you already own to the garden centre, and leave the plastic pot it comes with there. Alternatively, you could stop buying plants in plastic pots altogether.  Opt to grow from seed or only buy plants sold in non-plastic containers.

Repurpose

Reducing Plastic In The Garden - Plants Growing In Yogurt Pots

 

If you simply can’t get away from plastic plant pots, reuse them. As mentioned above, use them when you pick up new plants from the garden centre. Or get creative. There are many different uses for plant pots other than holding plants. Some ideas are using pots to organise smaller items in your shed or garage, and using plastic trays to hold breakable Christmas decorations.

Recycle

Reducing Plastic In The Garden - Recycling Symbol On Scrunched Up Paper

 

Many nurseries have schemes where you can return your used empty pots and plant-carrying trays. Make sure to check your local nursery before carting a car-full there. If your council already recycle plastic pots, tubs and trays, they will also accept any non-black plant pots.

Recycling is a last resort. Although it is better than throwing it away, recycling uses energy and thus still contributes to the wider problem. It is much better to come up with a creative idea to re-purpose your pots or donate them than recycle.

Conclusion

Reducing plastic is an important step in securing a healthy future for our planet. You can do your bit and start reducing plastic in the garden by  making some small changes. You could make a big difference in making our planet a better place for us as humans, wildlife and nature as a whole.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegan feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.