Gardening, Gary, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants, Watering

 

Most of your plants need regular watering to survive, and the hotter it gets the more water they need. Watering big gardens and allotments can become a chore that takes time away from your other garden maintenance. Irrigation has been used to water large areas since the ancient Egyptians dug channels through their fields to divert river water. Luckily, you have a few more options available to you beyond diverting rivers. 

Irrigation types 

Irrigation works by supplying controlled amounts of water to your plants at set times, and there are a lot of ways you can do this. The method that is right for you will depend on how much sun your garden gets and if your plants have similar or different watering requirements

 

Sprinklers 

 

Easy to install and simple to maintain, the sprinkler system replicates rainfall by supplying water from above the plant. This is an easy way to water a large garden and if you get a simple lawn sprinkler can be one of the cheapest. There are advantages and disadvantages to a sprinkler system, and its usefulness will depend on your need: 

 

Advantages Disadvantages 
Covers a large areaCan cause overwatering
Can be automatedProne to disruption from wind
Can be used anywhereSome systems can be expensive to install
Low maintenanceNot the best system if you have different watering requirements

Soaker hose

 

These hoses are made of porous materials and release small amounts of water directly into the soil. More often used in vegetable patches and under hedges, this method of above-ground irrigation might be the best option for you if you want to conserve water. 

AdvantagesDisadvantages 
Conserves water Requires regular maintenance
Conserves soilTime-consuming initial installation 
Can be automated Low output
Waters soil directlyLimited coverage 

Drip Line Irrigation

 

Drip line irrigation is similar to a soaker hose but allows you more control over how much certain parts of your garden get watered. These systems can be placed at ground level or put over your plants if a more advanced line and nozzle system are used making it a good irrigation system for hanging baskets.

Advantages Disadvantages 
Conserves waterTime-consuming set up
Adjustable output Can be prone to clogging 
Long lifespanSlower than other systems 
Can be automated More advanced systems can have a big setup cost

 

Self-watering containers

 

These specialized containers are a great solution to keeping your plants watered if you are away for a short trip. These pots  have an upper pot that holds the soil and plant, while a lower reservoir holds the water and feeds it to the soil. Usually, these pots hold enough water for a few days, depending on the weather and evaporation rate – all you need to do is refill the reservoir. 

Tree bags 

Trees and shrubs need slow, deep watering to become established. Tree watering bags are put around the base of the tree and filled with water where they will slowly release it into the soil surrounding the rootball. They are an inexpensive and water-saving way of establishing 

Automate your system 

 

If you are going on holiday, are away a lot or want to spend time on other gardening jobs then automating your watering is one of the best things you can do. Setting up a basic automated system is simple and can be done in a few steps, all you need is a timer that attaches to your outdoor tap – this can be mains or solar-powered.

  1. Make sure your hose pipes and sprinklers are set up so you have total coverage of your garden 
  2. Attach your timer or regulator to your water source and set the times
  3. Connect everything together with
  4. Do a test run 
  5. Enjoy

 

Once you have the right irrigation set up you will find yourself with much more time to enjoy your garden and get the rest of your jobs done, making this a must-do job for the serious gardener.

Garden Design, Gardening, Gardening & Landscaping, Gardens, How To, Scott, Wildlife

A garden pond is one of the best things you can create to encourage all sorts of animals into the garden. It will act as both habitat and water source to a variety of wildlife such as dragonflies, frogs and all sorts of birds. This guide will equip you with the knowledge to make a wildlife-friendly pond in your garden with minimal materials. 

Be sure to share how you go on with building your own pond over on the Primrose Instagram.

garden pond with water lillies

Tools & Materials:

  • Pond liner
  • String and pegs or stakes
  • Sharp knife
  • A long plank of wood
  • Spirit level
  • Garden spade
  • Bags of sand
  • Some large rocks

Method:

Locate Your Pond

  1. Identify the best spot for your pond. The ideal would be a spot that gets plenty of sun during the day and a little shade in the evening. If you can, avoid any overhanging trees as falling leaves can pollute the pond water.
  2. Mark out the edge of your pond with the string and pegs. Play around with different shapes and sizes until you’re happy. 

Dig Your Pond

  1. Start digging. If you dig from the middle and work out you can adjust the shape as it develops. Things can look very different in perspective once a piece of lawn suddenly become a large hole. You don’t have to dig very deep; a shallow pond will still be very beneficial for wildlife. 
  2. Pile soil to one side of your pond to create a gradual slope. This will allow wildlife to access the water easily and get out of the water should anything accidentally fall in. 
  3. Once you’re happy with the size and shape, rest your plank of wood across the pond and use your spirit level to check both sides are even. Repeat several times at different angles. This step is very important. Having a pond that is higher on a certain edge could lead to water flooding out of the pond in heavy rain. Spend time making sure this part is as perfect as you can get it.
  4. Remove any sharp objects or stones from the bottom of the hole to avoid ripping the lining before covering the bottom of your pond with sand. A small layer of a few cm’s will do to offer a layer of protection for the liner.
  5. Dig a small trench around the edge of the pond for the excess liner to be tucked into. This will help give everything a clean finish.

Line Your Pond

  1. Place the liner into the hole ensuring it covers the entire surface. Take time to remove as many creases as you possible can pushing the liner into the surface of the soil so it fits the shape of the hole as close as possible. 
  2. Tuck the edge of the liner into your trench and weigh it down with rocks, removing any excess liner with a sharp knife.
  3. Use any remaining sand to create a small layer of sand in the base of your pond.

Fill Your Pond

  1. Fill your pond with water! Try to use collected rainwater if possible as this will be packed full of nutrients that are perfect for kickstarting wildlife. To stop the water from disturbing the sand you can empty it onto a surface like a plastic bag so that the force is spread out a little more.
  2. Once filled you can add your choice of aquatic plants; wildlife will soon flock to your new pond!

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts 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.

 

Fire Pits, Gary, How To, Outdoor Living, Recipe

We always look at our gardens as a place to relax and entertain, but when it comes to cooking we always limit ourselves to burgers, sausages and meat on a stick. The barbeque and firepit are essentially an entire kitchen in one place if you use them right so, why not truly bring you life outside with these top tips on cooking great food outdoors no matter the size of your space.  

 

Note: If you have a small balcony or window ledge you can use a disposable barbeque for most of these tips, but please make sure you follow any instructions that come with it carefully and make sure it is properly secured. 

Get Prepared for Cooking Outdoors 

Organisation is the key to successful cooking, and even more so when you are using a Barbeque. So, every time you cook outdoors make sure you follow these steps. 

  1. Remove any old ash 
  2. Clean grill racks or grates 
  3. Oil and preheat your grill grates
  4. Light your charcoal and wait for them to go white 

Once you’re prepared then it’s time to get cooking

Cook with more than Charcoal

Cooking outdoors is remarkably versatile, one way to make your food taste better is to cook over different woods. Not only does this add flavour, but you can cook directly on some woods for a really intense boost. Try grilling halloumi over applewood or a steak over oak and see what results you get. There are plenty of different woods to use, and experimenting with flavour combinations is always fun, and there are some classics you can’t ignore.  Make sure you always use wood you have bought online as it is food safe, and won’t contain any nasty surprises. 

Get the right temperature 

 Just like with your oven, you need to control the heat coming off of your BBQ. The heat you cook over is the defining factor on how a lot of food turns out – too high and your food will become dry or won’t cook through before the outside burns, too low and it might never cook and you won’t get that classic Barbeque char.  Hold your hand about 12cm (5inches) above the grill and see how long you can hold it there comfortably 

6 seconds = low heat – perfect for low and slow cooking,  or keeping things warm. 

4 seconds = medium heat – the ideal temperature for most foods. 

2 seconds = High heat – too hot to cook on

You also need to control the temperature across the grill, this is really easy on a gas barbeque as you just need to turn the temperature down, but a charcoal grill is a bit more difficult, but you have a few options 

 The half and half method –  here,  you put all the coals to one side of your grill, so you have a  hot side and one with no direct heat. Then all you have to do is put food closer to or further away from the coals to control the temperature. 

Move your grill racks  – simply moving your grill closer to or further away from the coals is a simple way of controlling heat if your barbeque allows you to. 

Adjust your airflow – most barbeques come with air vents that allow you to control the airflow over your coals. This will allow you to adjust the heat of your flames. As a general rule of thumb: More air = higher heat. 

Slow cook

The barbeque is a surprisingly versatile piece of kit once you know how to use it, and slow cooking is one of the best cooking methods if you want tender, flavourful food that is hassle-free.  When you slow cook on the barbeque, it doesn’t interrupt your outdoor time and you still get some delicious food. Lots of people slow cook in their daily lives so they don’t have to cook after a long day at work, so why not apply the same to your time in the garden, just place an oven friendly dish into your barbeque away from direct heat and just leave it for a few hours until you’re hungry. You can slow cook anything you usually would or you can just close the lid and make some amazing ribs

Go Meat-Free 

The barbeque is just for meat right? You wouldn’t be saying that if you’ve ever tried halloumi and watermelon skewers. The smoky flavours and quick cooking you get from cooking over a barbeque are great companions for a host of vegetables. Here are some top meat-free recipes to try cooking outdoors.  

Make the most of Marinades

Cooking is all about enhancing the flavours what already exists, and this is done by seasoning your food well. When it comes to the barbeque this is mostly done with a good marinade (a flavoured liquid you soak your food in). The longer you can prepare the marinade and have the food resting in it before you cook the better. Here are a few basic ones for your toolbox. 

Barbeque sauce – Heat: 5 tablespoons tomato ketchup | 2 tablespoons clear honey | 3 tablespoons soy sauce | 3 tablespoons wine vinegar | 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato purée |1 teaspoon salt | 300ml beef stock over medium heat until thickened. Cool and use to marinate your meat 

Honey mustard – whisk together 4 Tbsp  honey   | 4 Tbsp  mayonnaise | 4 Tbsp dijon/ wholegrain  mustard | 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar | 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and use for chicken and pork 

Chinese style –  grate one piece of  fresh ginger and combine with | 4 Tbsp dark soy sauce | 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar | 1 Tbsp rice wine | 1 pinch superfine sugar | 4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped | 2 Tbsp honey | 1 tsp five-spice powder

Rest up 

Resting food after you’ve cooked it makes a big difference, especially in meat. It allows flavours to settle and makes the food more tender. When you are cooking on the BBQ you should rest all the meat and veg for at least a minute so any hot spots cool down and to improve the taste. You will quickly find that even your burgers are tasting better. 

Dessert 

People know to cook burgers or kebabs over the grill, but why go back inside when it’s time for pudding. There are plenty of desserts you can cook outdoors on the Barbeque, and the sweet/smokey flavour combination is one that is often overlooked. Here are a few of the best

Roasted Pineapple – Put some sliced pineapple in a tray with 50g butter | 100g brown sugar and cover with tin foil. Put the tray into a medium-hot part of the barbeque for 30 minutes and serve with a cream made of 2 tbsp white rum | 160g coconut cream

Chocolate baked Bananas – cut a slit down one side of the Banana. Put chocolate buttons and marshmallows into the slit and wrap securely in tin foil. Put the package on the embers of the fire for 20 mins.

Barbecued peaches – halve and remove the stones of 4 peaches. Brush with a small amount of vegetable oil and place face down on the grill and cook for 5 minutes or until the surface has char marks. Fill with soft cheese and drizzle with honey and return to the grill until the mixture has warmed through

 

These tips are just scratching the surface of the things you can do when cooking outdoors you can do in your garden, but once you get started it’s difficult to keep the cooking indoors. Once you have the basics done you can start looking into more specialised equipment or even inventing your own recipes – the sky is limitless. For more advice see outpost on cooking on a firepit 

 

We’d love to see what you are cooking in your garden this summer. Let us know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

 

 

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.

Decoration, Flowers, Gardening, How To, Planting, Plants, Watering

How to Choose and Care for Bedding Plants

Bedding plants are a wonderful way to add liveliness to your garden and make it your own. They can transform beds with their differing colours, and will help support our precious pollinators. With so many bedding plants to choose from, you may feel unsure of where to begin; read on for all of the advice you need for choosing and caring for your bedding plants.

What is a Bedding Plant?

A bedding plant can be an annual, biennial, or tender perennial, that is planted into a flower bed to build a seasonal arrangement. After a bedding plant’s season of interest has ended, they will likely be replaced by another plant, and put away or discarded. 

Bedding plants will happily grow in hanging baskets, pots, and raised beds. They are therefore suitable for all forms of outdoor space, ranging from a small balcony, to vast grounds.  

How do I Choose the Right Bedding Plant?

Before identifying the best bedding plants for your garden, pay close attention to your chosen location, and perhaps ask the following questions: 

  • How many hours of direct sun does the location receive per day?
  • Are there deciduous trees that might limit sunlight come spring?
  • What is the state of the soil? Is it damp? Are there lots of stones?

Our guide below will help you decide what degree of shade your location receives:

Preparing your Soil

If you are planting into your garden’s beds, carefully rake through the soil to remove stones and large clods. This will make sure that evaporation isn’t prevented, and a good amount of moisture is kept.

Whether you are planting in pots, raised beds, baskets, or directly into a flower bed, you should always opt for multi-purpose compost. Multi-purpose compost will form a nutrient rich environment for a range of bedding plants, and will also absorb and retain moisture.

What Colours Should I Choose?

Before deciding which colour scheme to embrace, consider how intricate you want your display to be. Mostly done professionally, carpet bedding requires a large range of shades to be planted closely together, however, a simple hanging basket will look beautiful with as little as one variety. For a flower bed, we recommend that you choose four varieties for each season.

Cool Colour Schemes

How to Choose and Care for Bedding Plants

If you wish to evoke a tranquil atmosphere, light blue, lilac, pastel yellow, and white are excellent for doing so. Paler Petunia varieties, such as ‘Blue Vein’ or ‘Beautiful French Vanilla’, can feature subtle, darker markings, which can help break up your colour scheme, without drawing focus away from other plants.

Warm Colour Schemes

How to Choose and Care for Bedding Plants

For a bold colour scheme, choose shades that lie opposite to one another on the colour wheel. Possible pairings include purple and yellow, red and green, and blue and orange. Presenting trailing, funnel-shaped blooms, Surfinias are available in an array of colours, so will make an unfailing choice for your garden.

Should I Buy Plug Plants or Seeds?

Seeds and plug plants each come with their positives and negatives. Seeds can be considerably cheaper than plug plants, yet they are harder to grow. They require more time and care, and unfortunately germination isn’t guaranteed. 

Unlike seeds, plug plants can be expensive; this particularly applies to larger plants, as their roots are more established. However, plug plants can fill a flower bed with pretty blooms within a matter of weeks; making them a convenient option. 

How do I Grow Bedding Plants from Seed?

To successfully grow bedding plants from seed, you will need 10cm pots, peat-free compost, bedding seeds of your choosing, and vermiculite or finely sieved compost.

  • Fill each pot with your compost, and delicately pat it down.
  • Sow your seeds over the compost, ensuring that they are distanced equally. 
  • Apply a layer of finely sieved compost or vermiculite. This will provide gentle cover for your seeds.
  • Label your pots so you can cater to any unique requirements that a variety might have. 
  • Once each pot has had a nourishing drink, place them into a heated propagator to allow germination.
  • When seedlings have developed, prick out those of the largest size, and re-plant into individual containers.

How do I Grow Potted Bedding Plants?

If the risk of frost has passed, larger plugs can be planted straight into your garden. To ensure continued growing, smaller plug plants should be re-planted into containers or pots. For this you will need a pencil, multi-purpose compost, perlite, a dibber, and 7- 8cm pots. 

  • To remove your bedding plants from their containers, carefully push them upwards from their base with a pencil.
  • Fill 7 – 8cm pots with a mix of multi-purpose compost and perlite.
  • Employing a dibber, make a hole in each pot that slightly exceeds the size of your plants.
  • Taking great care, tease out your plants’ roots, and then place them into their holes.

How do I Care for my Bedding Plants?

  • Watering: If your bedding plants are in pots or baskets, they will benefit from daily watering. Even on a rainy day, this advice still applies; a bedding plant’s foliage can provide impressive shelter. For flower beds, a weekly drink will be sufficient. 
  • Deadheading: Any flowers that appear spent should be removed from their base. This will stop your plant from wasting energy by producing seeds. 
  • Flower feed: Supplement one watering a week with a potassium-rich feed. Most composts contain a finite amount of food, so we recommend that you start using feed a month after they were planted out.