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. 
Gardening, How To, Plants

How to Enhance a Small Garden with Plants

Returning every year with pretty floral displays, planting a mix of perennials is a simple way to enhance a smaller garden with beautiful colours, shapes, and movements. Recognising what to plant in a small garden can be difficult when space is limited, so every unused corner counts. Read on for some simple ideas on how to improve a small garden with perennials. 

Hanging Baskets

How to Enhance a Small Garden With Perennials

Perfect for ornamenting the outside of your home, a hanging basket filled with pretty, trailing blooms will draw attention away from the size of your garden, and will not take up its valuable floorspace.

Trailing flowers can additionally  soften harsh walls, and create a charmingly rustic feel. Versatile, and able to complement any backdrop, plants with white flowers are a good choice if you are unsure on which colour scheme to adopt.

Using Blue Perennials

Another useful tip is to incorporate blue within your hanging baskets. Blue will brighten shaded corners, and will prove a particularly good accompaniment to grey. As such, if your patio or driveway includes grey, the use of blue-flowered varieties will create enviable harmony of cooler tones. 

A hardy campanula, ‘Blue Sky’ will form a generous blanket of stellate-shaped, blue flowers come summer. This perennial’s neat, compact habit makes it a manageable choice, where it will happily grow in both full sun or partial shade.

Pots

Enhancing Limited Outdoor Space with Perennials

Planting perennials in pots is another excellent way to adorn your small garden, without worrying about them growing too large. This approach also allows  more freedom over your plant’s location,  aspect, and soil.

To keep your perennials small, divide them every two seasons, and re-plant accordingly. Your new plants will make appreciated gifts for fellow gardeners. 

Pots are also a wonderful opportunity to experiment with fun colour combinations, and the widely loved Dianthus is one of the best perennials for doing so. Pinks will thrive in sunny spots, and flower all summer long. They also offer divine scents; if you prefer spiced fragrances, we suggest ‘Memories’, or if you enjoy sweeter smells, opt for ‘Tickled Pink’. 

For an innovative, modern touch, why not try planting a taller perennial? Long stems paired with sumptuous flowers will establish beautiful structure, and can help deflect from an unsightly fence or wall. Each boasting tall silhouettes, embellished by intricate purple flowers,  Allium, Agapanthus, and Salvia varieties are excellent for making a statement.  

Raised Beds

Enhancing Limited Outdoor Space with Perennials

Just like containers, raised beds allow you  greater control over a perennial’s environment. They can also create differing structural effects. For example, they can separate your garden from the street, and bring a flair to a basic garden design.

Embrace a multitude of colours by planting a variation of perennials, such as Lavender and Alchemilla. Alchemilla will blend beautifully amongst other plants, and aside from being loved by pollinators, Lavender offers a delightful fragrance that will be relished by guests.  

Planting in Drifts

Enhancing Limited Outdoor Space with Perennials

To soften the difference in height between your garden’s ground and fence,  why not plant your favorite perennials in small drifts? Planting in drifts can create an accomplished look comparable to a wild garden. Nevertheless, be mindful that some perennials may grow quickly, infringing on your garden’s space.

To make drifts, plant several perennials of the same variety in long streaks. It does not matter whether they are vertically or horizontally positioned. The smaller the perennial’s eventual size, the more of them you can plant. 

The smaller the border, the less perennials you need; try Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Salvia ‘Ostriesland’, and Allium ‘christophii’. When individually planted in little drifts, they will create long-flowering border filled with romantic colour.  Being patient, observe your border over time, and fill any sparser areas with new, compatible additions. 

 

Flowers, Gardening, How To, Planting, Plants, Uncategorized

Often found flourishing in the midst of a sunny border, finding the perfect perennials to plant in the darker corners of your garden can require a little more thinking. Read on for eight of our favourite, shade-loving perennials.

Each perennial advertised is potted, enabling you to plant them directly into your garden, and enjoy a beautiful display merely a matter of weeks later.

Perennials for Deep Shade

Deep shade exists when walls or trees shelter the ground from sunlight for the majority of the day.  

The Best Perennials for Shade

Polemonium ‘Northern Lights’

A good styling tip for your garden’s darker corners is to incorporate some light blue flowers; light blue is wonderful for bringing brightness to spaces lacking in colour. Polemonium ‘Northern Lights’ is particularly ideal for this, as this variety will introduce these delicate blue tones, yet will thrive in shade and tolerate most soils. The golden staminodes offset beautifully against each petal, and the ladder-like stems act as a platform from which each flower can project; creating excellent structure.

Hosta ‘Snake Eyes’

Aside from boasting beautiful greenery, hostas will relish the shade. A useful guide to follow is that the darker the hosta’s foliage, the darker its location can be. With each leaf sporting a deep, muted green shade, and a variegated, emerald centre, ‘Snake Eyes’ will add a unique edge to shaded areas. 

Belonging to the lily family, hostas are suited to damp conditions, so this variety will thrive in a bog garden.

Perennials for Dappled Shade

Dappled shade is created when trees and shrubs partially block sunlight via their leaves, resulting in small speckles of sun reaching the ground.

The Best Perennials for Shade

Campanula ‘’Iridescent Bells’

Bearing pale lilac, trumpet-shaped flowers that gracefully nod from their delicate stems, this campanula variety will add charming movement and shapes to spaces shadowed by trees and shrubs.

If the planting location you have in mind presently has no other perennials, the tall height of this campanula will effortlessly forge beautiful structure, making this plant a clever choice.

The Best Perennials for Shade

Geum ‘Mai Tai’

Bearing sumptuous, apricot-toned blooms, Geum ‘Mai Tai’ will grace your garden with subtle hints of peach, bronze, and yellow; perfect for adding some summary warmth to the shadier spots of your garden.

Perennials for Partial Shade

The Best Perennials for Shade

Anemone ‘Wild Swan’

A great way to bring a touch of radiance to darker corners is to use white and yellow; these shades will also evoke a calming feel with your garden. Sporting crisp white petals that harmonise with the yellow stamens they encircle, ‘Wild Swan’ will appear radiant in the sun, and will illuminate your garden’s shaded corners. 

With a lengthy flowering period spanning from May through to November, this Anemone will prove an unfailing perennial for your garden.

The Best Perennials for Shade

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’

Relishing shaded areas, and each presenting unique foliage, brunneras are a wonderful choice areas receiving partial shade. 

Just like ‘Wild Swan’, this beautiful brunnera will shine under the sun, yet bring lustre to shadier spots. A rosette of large, heart-shaped leaves will rest not far above the ground, and during spring, delicate purple blooms will emerge. Nevertheless, ‘Jack Frost’ owes its commended distinctiveness to its stunning silver sheen, decorated by intricate, muted green veins.

The Best Perennials for Shade

Dianthus ‘Memories’ 

If you are seeking to add a luxurious touch to shaded corners, pale, ruffled blooms will create graceful silhouettes and movements within your garden. Free-flowering, and offering a spiced fragrance, Dianthus ‘Memories’ will ornament darker spaces with white double flowers, and will happily grow within a container.