Alice, Gardening Year

An exciting start to a new season, December is all about the run-up to Christmas and the possibility of snow this winter! Although braving the outdoors could be the last thing on your mind this month, getting outside in your garden could be exactly what you need to beat the winter blues. Gardening connects us with nature and gives us a sense of responsibility, which is great for boosting your mental health. Many plants will be dormant this month, so the key themes are protecting your garden from the colder weather, preparing for spring next year and taking the time to clear up and organise. Read on for the main December gardening jobs.

december gardening jobs

General

  • Protect ponds and outdoor taps from freezing- try floating balls or plastic bottles in the water to prevent freezing, or (unless you have koi karp) switch off your pond’s pump, and make sure outdoor taps are insulated
  • Prepare soil for next year’s crops- dig over empty borders, remove weeds and large stones, and dig in soil amendments such as manure, compost, kept, bone meal, or rock phosphate to get the soil in good condition for spring planting
  • Take care of the lawn- 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
  • Continue to clear fallen leaves- fallen leaves could be harbouring slugs and other pests so make sure to clear them from plants, plus the lawn to allow in light and prevent dead patches
  • Organise your garden shed- take the time to clear out your garden shed, check security, and organise and clean your tools ready for spring. At Primrose, we stock an extensive range of garden tools; make sure to add any you need to your Christmas list!

Plants

  • Get pruning– prune fruit trees, dormant shrubs and hedges, roses, and Japanese maples
  • Plant spring bulbs– plant bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, grape hyacinths, and fritillaries before the first frost to fill your garden with glorious colour next spring
  • Take hardwood cuttings– cut healthy shoots from suitable trees, shrubs, and climbers, including honeysuckle, blackcurrant shrubs, and popular trees, and 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
  • 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
  • Propagate oriental poppies– these plants can reproduce from any scrap of root so are perfect for propagation; trim off sections of the roots then plant into a seed tray to grow new plants
  • 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; replace any ties that have frayed or broken
  • Collect Christmas decorations– collect seasonal foliage such as ivy, yew, and fir, along with brightly coloured stems and berries to decorate your home for the festive season

Flowers to sow this month: sweet peas, geraniums, thunbergia, hardy cyclamens, snapdragons

Produce

  • Harvest root crops– harvest leeks, winter cabbage, parsnips, sprouts, and any other remaining root crops for a fantastic harvest this Christmas
  • Protect from the frost– now the weather is getting colder and we may be getting frost, it’s important to make sure your plants are protected. Shop our frost protection range for fleeces, cloches, and other equipment to weather-proof your garden
  • Protect winter cabbages– keep an eye out for yellowing leaves and remove them as they appear as they may be harbouring diseases such as grey mould and downy mildew, and cover with netting to protect from pigeons
  • Divide rhubarb clumps– division will provide a plant identical to the parent so it’s a great way of propagation and renewing the vigour of weak or overcrowded plants; divide the crown into sections with a spade and replant
  • Protect fruit trees from moths– apply glue bands or grease bands to the trunks to prevent wingless winter moths from laying their eggs in the tree
  • Clear the vegetable plot– as most vegetables are now dormant, take the opportunity to finish clearing old crops and debris to prepare for spring; you can also use this time to install paths and paving
  • Plan next year’s vegetable garden– now is the time to reflect on what worked this year, and plan what to grow next year. It’s also a great time to order seeds ready for planting in spring; our new range of seeds from Mr Fothergill’s provide a range of high-quality flowers, vegetables, and herbs. You could also purchase one of our Raised Beds for the perfect space to grow them in

Produce to sow this month: onions, garlic, broad beans, gooseberries, currants, blackberries, strawberries, mustard

Greenhouse

  • 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
  • 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

Plants to sow in the greenhouse this month: basil, dill, chives, parsley, winter lettuces

Animals

  • Provide fat-rich food– birds expend a lot of energy in the winter just keeping warm, so make sure to provide fat-rich food such as suet, peanuts, and sunflower hearts to help them stock up. Our Whole Suet-Filled Co-Co Feeder provides the perfect high-energy feast, and you can shop our full Wild Bird Care range to take care of our feathered friends this winter
  • Top up the bird bath– birds need fresh water to drink and bathe in, so make sure to keep your bird bath replenished
  • Avoid turning compost– critters such as hedgehogs may be hibernating in your compost heap, so avoid turning your compost this month, or proceed with caution
  • Provide a bee refuge– bees also hibernate during the winter, so make sure to provide a safe space with one of our bee hotels. Our Seasonal Bee Nesting House is the perfect haven for bees that will help your garden thrive next summer
  • Create a log shelter– make a pile of logs in a corner of your garden to provide shelter for toads and other wildlife

Let us know what’s happening in your garden this month by getting in touch on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Scott

Eco-friendly christmas

‘Tis the season to be wasteful. Or so it can seem, with millions of rolls of gift wrap thrown away every year. But change is upon us all and it begins with people like you. The little changes you make inspire us at Primrose to do better; did you know that we’ve started introducing more eco-friendly and recyclable packaging solutions, beginning with our new houseplant range? Growing awareness and some great television from David Attenborough has made us all realise a need to do better. We all need to reduce, reuse and recycle wherever we can and the Christmas season is no exception to that. Simple changes can help reduce Christmas waste and our guide below will give you all you need to start. 

Re-gift (wrap)

reduce reuse recycle

We tend to buy gift wrap throughout the year for every birthday that comes up. And what happens? We end up with scraps of leftovers that don’t quite make it around the oddly shaped vase we’ve bought for the newlyweds. Don’t throw those scraps away – save them! And any gifts you receive yourself, be sure to save the paper. Collect it all together and by the time Christmas rolls around you’ll have a collection of gift wrap that can be reused in a variety of ways. You can either wrap an entire gift or add decorative strips to plain paper. Gift bags are also perfect for holding onto as they rarely get spoilt and can be used again and again. 

Make it special

There are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to standard paper gift wrap; material wraps are a great way of creating something special. Wrapping up a gift in a beautiful material such as linen, gives it an extra special touch and the wrapping becomes a gift in of itself! It’s also something that can be used again and again. Be sure to source material that’s 100% natural and plastic-free where possible. An alternative to this is using materials you already have – you can easily add a Christmassy flare to any gift by wrapping it in a Christmas tablecloth, teatowel – even a Christmas stocking could double up as the perfect wrap for a wine bottle! 

Get creative

eco-friendly gift wrap

You can avoid buying gift wrap by using readily available items. A newspaper may seem an unsightly idea but actually, a text-heavy monochrome print combined with a colourful ribbon or string can look wonderful under the tree. And just because you go simple on the gift wrap doesn’t mean you can’t splash out on the extras. Using printer paper to wrap smaller items, and decorating it with some natural flourishes like some holly or a sprig from your Christmas tree can look both traditional and thoughtful. You could even take a trip to your local art store, buy some stamps and get the kids involved with decorating some plain paper with some stylish patterns.

Shop sustainably  

If you want to do your bit for reducing waste but haven’t got the time for the ideas outlined above, then the best thing you can do is shop as ethically as possible. That means buying gift wrap that is plastic-free and fully recyclable. Simple brown craft paper is a cheap and recyclable product that’s eco-friendly and easy to dress up. You could even go the extra mile and shop from companies which support natural causes. The RSPB or the World Wildlife Fund are excellent charities to start with. 

Are you planning to get ahead with your Christmas wrapping this year? Why not tag us in an Instagram post showing us your eco-friendly ideas for gift wrapping! We may even feature you on the Primrose feed.

Scott at Primrose

Scott is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Conservation, Current Issues, Organic, Scott, Sustainable Living

world soil dayWe’re experiencing a climate emergency. This message has finally found a voice in society and awareness of the issues facing our planet are beginning to be discussed with the attention they deserve. One of the most pressing but unreported of these is the condition of the Earth’s soil. You’ll know how important soil is to the health of your garden; the same is true for our nations soil and the soil of our planet. The 5th of December marks World Soil Day, an international project started by the United Nations to promote awareness and action over soil erosion. 

So what is soil erosion?

world soil day

When we think of the climate emergency we may think of large blocks of ice falling into the sea or freak weather showing on the news but soil erosion is an issue that is just as catastrophic whilst remaining widely unknown. Soil erosion is a wearing down of the most fertile layer of soil. This is the layer of soil that contains all the best nutrients and organic matter that’s suited for growing everything from forests to garden plants and vital crops. 

Isn’t soil erosion natural?

world soil day

Soil erosion is a natural process but it’s normally a slow one. As is so often the case in these stories, it’s the actions of humanity that have accelerated the issue to near breaking point. Intense farming, singular crop use, deforestation and expansive building of disruptive infrastructure are all things that have caused this process to accelerate. Dealing with the natural causes involved a shift in the way farms operate, due to human action, these shifts in behaviour need to happen on a global scale to help mitigate the damage.

How serious is the problem?

Time is running out to make such changes with the UN claiming we have less than 60 years before the planet runs out of fertile topsoil; a disaster considering this is where 95% of the world’s food is grown. Soil erosion is a silent symptom of the climate emergency but it can make its effects known via food shortages, lack of crop diversity, higher carbon levels in the atmosphere and accelerated climate catastrophe…  

What’s being done?

Word is beginning to spread and actions are being taken. The formation of Groundswell in 2015, the UK’s leading agricultural conservation event, is a sign of farmers recognising the problem and vowing to make a change in how they work that will benefit everyone. 

There are lots of practices that farms can introduce to regenerate their soil. Dropping the use of chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides, turning away from tilling machinery, planting more diverse crops and changing grazing practises can ALL contribute to healthier soil. The end result can be more nutrient-rich, varied and organic produce for us as consumers, farms that are more likely to stand the test of time and a healthier planet.  

organic produce

What can I do to help?

The best thing you can do to support the soil crisis is to be informed. Arm yourself with the know-how of what’s going on with our world’s soil and spread the word! This basic step will help you make more informed choices about where your food comes but also lend you a voice when it comes to communicating these ideas to those with the power to change them and stop bad practices causing soil erosion.  

soil

See our quick list below for ideas on how you can celebrate:

  1. Get out in the garden and test your own soil.
  2. Get a local school involved with a soil health workshop.
  3. Shop your local area for organic farms to try and locate fresh produce.
  4. Plan a sponsored run or walk to raise awareness of soil erosion and wider climate issues.
  5. Share this blog post and spread the word!

For more information on World Soil Day see this handy infographic from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations: Click here 

 

Scott at Primrose

Scott is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Celebrations And Holidays, Christmas, Decoration, Gary, Lighting

One of the best parts about the run-up to Christmas is decorating the house and garden.  Nothing beats the festive feeling you get from a dressed-up space, and the rights lights can really add some atmosphere. We have put together a guide for choosing the right outdoor and indoor Christmas lights for you. 

Shop our full range of Christmas Lights Here 

Before buying there are a few things to consider that will affect both where you put your lights, and if they are actually suitable for your space. 

Suitability for the garden

Always remember to check the product carefully before buying, especially if you are decorating the outside of your house. Whilst most of our lights are suitable for indoor and outdoor use, indoor-only lights are not built to withstand wet and cold conditions, and some of the bulbs in outdoor only lights are not always safety tested for use on indoor furnishings. 

Power 

Your lights power source is also an important consideration when creating a lighting display. :

Mains powered  The most reliable lights in winter, they allow you more control over when your lights are on. You may need to consider buying protection for your leads and cables to avoid exposing any electrics to the winter weather

Battery-powered These lights are a great option for smaller gardens, balconies or areas that cannot easily be connected to mains power. Just remember to keep a good store of the correct batteries to keep the display lit.

Light Types 

Using a combination of different lights in your display is the best way to keep things interesting. We sell a variety of different light types:

String 

These lights are the most common and versatile. You can wrap them around a tree or use them to border windows or guttering. String lights come in multiple variations: 

Straight line

lights are the most popular choice because of their versatility. The basic forms of these lights are great for decorating trees or fences whilst the more decorative  look great day or night. 

Icicle

Lights follow the same basic design of other string lights, but instead, the lights hang. These lights often look like hanging lightbulbs, but we also offer some more inventive options. These lights are great for hanging across fences or from porches and trees. 

 

Silhouettes & statues 

Add a statement piece to your display with a lighting arrangement that is hard to miss. These lights make a perfect centrepiece, or a great starting point to build a display around.  

Projectors

Create a vibrant backdrop to your display by using a projector to create moving or static images on any flat surface. Kids will love watching these projectors and they are perfect for blank spaces that are unsuitable for lights or other decorations. 

Stake 

The main feature of a stake light is the pointed end that lets you drive it into your lawn, borders or plant pots. The freestanding lights are great for lining pathways or adding colour accents to smaller spaces like balconies or courtyards. 

Storage 

It’s fun to plan a Christmas display and create something wonderful, but once Christmas is over, and the display comes down, what do you do with all your lights and decorations? We are familiar with the annual journey into the attic or back of the cupboard to fetch out a box of tangled wires and tinsel. Avoid hours of untangling and replacing light bulbs by putting your decorations in a handy storage bag

Shop the Christmas range now and tag us in your Christmas light creations on Instagram @primrose.co.uk   

 

Gary at PrimroseGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

See all of Gary’s posts.