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.

Composting, Grow Your Own, Megan, Sustainable Living, Vegetables

Live More Sustainably by Cultivating your Kitchen Waste – Start Growing Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps!

Composting is a great, sustainable way to reduce your kitchen waste – but did you know lots of kitchen scraps you toss into your compost can be used to grow a new crop of vegetables? Growing vegetables from kitchen scraps is easy, fun and will help you reach a new high of sustainability in your kitchen.

Spring Onions

Growing Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps - Spring Onions

This one is probably the most straightforward on this list! Simply place the root ends of the spring onions in a jar of water and let it do it’s thing, it should start to grow within a few days. Make sure you replace the water when it needs it. It’s as simple as that! The same technique applies to leeks and fennel. Spring onions are the perfect vegetable to begin with when delving into the world of growing vegetables from kitchen scraps.

Avocado

Growing Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps - Avocado

Want to make smashed avo on toast with your very own homegrown avocados? It’s easier than you think! After polishing an avo off, take the pit (which is actually the avocado seed) and give it a wash to rid it of any left over green flesh. Identify which end is the top and bottom. The top, where the sprout will grow out of, is slightly pointy and the bottom is flatter. Take three or four toothpicks and stick them around the circumference of the avocado at even intervals. Place in a cup of water with the toothpicks resting on the rim, so the bottom of the pit is immersed in water. Set on a windowsill where it will get some sunlight, and change the water every few days. Once the pit starts to grow roots, place in potting soil and you’ve got yourself an avocado plant!

Potatoes

Growing Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps - Potatoes

We’ve all left potatoes a little too long and opened the vegetable draw to find them sprouting. Once the potatoes are at this stage they are inedible, so instead of tossing in the compost why not try planting them and see what happens? Make sure you bury them deep into the soil and add a little compost. Water & mulch the potato plants well and cover the stems as they grow for the optimum crop turnout. Growing potatoes is very cost effective and one potato will give you 1kg+ of homegrown produce! If this isn’t proof that growing vegetables from kitchen scraps isn’t one of the most economical and sustainable things you can do in your kitchen, then what is?

Carrot Greens

Growing Vegetables From Kitchen Scraps - Carrot Tops

If you buy carrots with their tops, you can use the tops to grow carrot greens which can be used as a garnish for salad, added to smoothies or even made into pesto. Place the carrot top cut side down in a small bowl of water and place on a sunny windowsill. Change the water every day and wait for the tops to sprout shoots. Once sprouted, plant in soil. Harvest the greens early if you prefer baby greens or later if you prefer a more developed, deeper flavour.

Garlic

Growing Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps

Garlic is an essential ingredient for all food enthusiasts, and it is easy to grow – all you need is a single clove. Plant in potting soil with the roots facing down. Garlic likes lots of direct sunlight. Once the clove starts to develop shoots in the form of green stalks, cut them back. The clove will then start to grow into a full bulb. Garlic is a crop that keeps on giving – simple take one of the cloves from the newly grown bulb and plant again and you will never be short of garlic in the kitchen again!

Ginger & Turmeric Root

Growing Vegetables from Kitchen Scraps

As ginger and turmeric already come in root form, all you need to do to regrow them is place them in soil with the largest buds at the bottom. Soak the roots in water before planting to help the root retain moisture. Keep the soil moist but be careful not to over-water. Be patient with this one – they take a while to grow. After a few weeks you should see shoots develop and after a couple of months small pieces should be ready to harvest.

Overall, growing vegetables from kitchen scraps is a great contribution to living a more sustainable lifestyle, so why not get started today?

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 vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.