Current Issues, How To, Indoor, Indoor Plants

 

 With 40% of office workers expecting to remain working from home in 2021 the need to make our homes more suitable for this new way of working is important for our wellbeing and productivity. Creating an effective working environment in the home that doesn’t get in the way of the rest of your life can be a challenge, but it’s one that can be overcome in any home in a few simple steps. Here are our top tips for setting up a successful home office. 

Pick a Place With Natural Light 

 

Your space needs to be bright enough to see what you’re doing, but not too bright that it’s distracting. Setting up your workspace near a source of natural light is a great option, it increases productivity and is an effective way of boosting your mood. 

But don’t forget lamps –  towards the end of the year your working hours will likely be longer than the time the sun is out in full, and if you work in the evening or early morning your contact with natural light will be smaller. A great way to overcome this is to put a lamp near your workspace. A floor-standing lamp that is placed a bit away from your works station is the best option, but if you are on a budget or don’t have space, a table lamp or your room’s main light will work well enough. If you can, choose a cool-white bulb as they keep you more alert for longer whilst warmer lights can make you feel more sleepy. 

Separate The Space 

Creating a distinction between home and work is important for your mental health and well being. Your leisure and family time needs to be just that, and it is far too easy to want to check emails and take calls when your computer is on your sofa or in the bedroom. For those of us with a spare room, a dedicated home office is the best option, but for those with a busy family home or a small flat, this can be a bit more difficult. The number one rule should be to keep your home office as far away from the busiest part of the home as possible. If you have a busy, kitchen set up in the living room or vice versa. Try to find somewhere where you can physically separate, but a quiet corner will do just as well.

But I like background noise – a lot of people have grown used to the bustle of a busy office and need it to focus. The temptation can be to turn on the TV and have it running in the background, but this can be fatal to your productivity. We are more easily distracted by visual things, so if you need background noise consider a radio instead. 

Add Houseplants

Houseplants, especially air-purifying ones are an important addition to your home working space. They bring all the benefits of a garden indoors and with climbing and tall plants available they are a viable option for all sized spaces. Houseplants also:

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Increase productivity
  3. Make the place more attractive 
  4. Clean the air and reduce noise

Even one or two plants can improve your space. Find a houseplant that works for you and enjoy a better environment.

Get a Good Chair

Back pain and bad posture will affect concentration, blood pressure and general health. The chair you sit on for 40 hours a week is very important to your life overall. A good office chair should offer back support, be comfortable and be high enough to put your feet flat on the floor whilst sitting

Take Breaks 

47% of employees have reported a decrease in breaks taken during the workday. When you’re home already it can feel unnecessary to take time out to recharge and relax, but a whole day of uninterrupted work will most likely lead to less productivity and an increase to stress. Take the time out to make a hot drink and relax.      

We’d love to see how your working from home. Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

 

Conservation, Current Issues, Events, Scott, Sustainable Living, Wildlife

What is Earth Day?

Climate Activism

Earth Day is an annual series of demonstrations and events that push engagement with issues surrounding the environment on a global scale. This year’s events focus on climate action. In a year where we’ve been inspired by individuals like Greta Thunberg and groups like Extinction Rebellion its time to put plans into action and halt the growing crisis.

When is Earth Day?

Earth Day takes place every year on April 22nd.  

Important Dates

April 22nd 1970 marked the first Earth Day. It acted as a voice for growing environmental concern in a world that was beginning to consume more and more. The Paris Agreement was signed on Earth Day 2016; this is perhaps the most important declaration for change that has occurred for the environment. Nations have pledged to hit strict targets for lowering carbon emissions, protecting ecosystems, investing in green businesses and a whole host of other topics. 

Green Energy - Off Shore WInd farm

Why is 2020 so important?

Earth Day 20202020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth day. Since 1970, the event has grown to include millions of people across thousands of organisations. That’s people and nations all over the world who have pledged to do their part and take action. In a year that’s already seen the damage created by extreme weather the time for action has never been clearer.

How can I get involved?

There are many things you can do as an individual to help celebrate Earth Day 2020. Below are just a few ways you can engage with the day this year:

  1. Research the history of Earth Day and the many achievements they’ve helped bring about. Spread the word about the day and its importance in the world today.
  2. Charities all over the world are dedicated to tackling the issues that Earth Day engages with. Supporting these charities with your time or your money is a great way to ensure their work continues.
  3. If change is going to come about it has to come from the organisations and business that affect are day-to-day lives and the best way to bring this about is with individuals holding business to account. Contact the businesses you regularly engage with and question their green credentials; let them know that you take their effects on the environment seriously.
  4. World wide change can start in your own back garden. Local wildlife is essential for healthier ecosystems. You can set up habitats and feeding stations or plant a wildflower meadow to help your local environment out; a small action that if done collectively can make a difference nationwide! 

Wildflower Meadow

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.

 

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 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.

Current Issues, Jorge, Plants, Trees

It is illegal to sell ‘Pink Lady’ apple trees as the variety can only be grown under license, and the license holder – Apple and Pear Australia – refuses to license to British growers. You won’t be able to grow the tree from the apple’s seeds as they are a combination of genetic information from the variety and another apple.

‘Pink Lady’ is representative of the rise of foreign cultivars, a story that is detailed below, but if you want to still grow a tree, there are many excellent, arguably superior alternatives below.  

Contents

The Decline Of British Cultivars

There was once a time when UK supermarkets were stacked with traditional Victorian varieties such as ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, ‘Egremont Russet’ and ‘Worcester Pearmain’, but then came the American ‘Golden Delicious’ and Australian ‘Granny Smith’ with the UK’s entry into the common market and after that the “antipodean four”: ‘Gala’, ‘Braeburn’, ‘Jazz’ and ‘Pink Lady, which originate from New Zealand and Australia – a region sometimes known as the antipodes. Now, you may have noticed the introduction of the American ‘Opal’, which is unique in its resistance to browning.

The growth of such varieties highlight changing consumer tastes, the commercialisation of apple growing and the supermarket’s demand for uniformity – a trend now in reverse with today’s consumers fed up of plastic packaging and commercial waste.

Put ‘Granny Smith’ and ‘Bramley’ side-by-side and rate them on aesthetics, you can see something like the descent of man with the heavily-russeted, misshapen ‘Bramley’ evolving into the shiny, round ‘Granny Smith’. The new introduction was cleverly marketed as a dual-purpose apple, but perhaps is only good in a salad. Anyone who has bitten into a ‘Granny Smith’ will note its overwhelming acidity, which will stop all but the bravest.

The “antipodean four” all share a crunchy texture, good skin finish (typically red), and high sugar content, which originates in part from the antipode climate and the long sunlight hours that the UK can’t match.

Sunlight, of course, plays a key role in photosynthesis, which results in light energy being converted into sugar, which is primarily stored in fruit. These apples are well-adapted to the UK’s changed palette, now accustomed to highly processed foods that are full of sugar.

A key determinant of colour is the pigment anthocyanin, which is again driven by sunlight helps such cultivars such as ‘Pink Lady’ stand out against traditional English cultivars such as ‘Cox’. Appearance is unfortunately associated with taste and Britons eat 80% more red apples than green.

Crunchiness is caused by the mechanical damage of your bite, which breaks cell walls, causing the release of juice. Crunchiness is a factor of the strength of the cell walls and the rigidity of the cells, which is a function of the water and sugar stored with the cell, as well as the age of the apple. It can be said that the sunlight hours also drive crunchiness.

Apples with the right size, shape and colour receive the highest prices from supermarkets, with apples divided into class I and class II fruit, with class II rarely being sold. (You may have noticed those “little less than perfect apples” at Waitrose.) A ‘Gala’ tree produces a significantly higher proportion of class I fruit than a ‘Cox’, resulting in such varieties being taken up UK growers.

The newest of the “antipodean four” – ‘Jazz’ and ‘Pink Lady’ – are cleverly marketed and carefully managed. Their names for example are actually trademarks with ‘Jazz’ the name of the variety ‘Scifresh’ and ‘Pink Lady’ ‘Cripps Pink’.

‘Jazz’ was developed by Enza, New Zealand Apple and Pear Marketing Board, and Plant & Food Research, while ‘Pink Lady’ was developed by Apple and Pear Australia. They can both be only grown under license, and the trademark holders refuse to license ‘Pink Lady’ to UK growers, fearing the climate will not do it justice. This is why you will never find a ‘Pink Lady’ apple tree for sale.

‘Pink Lady’ has its own website as well as Facebook and Twitter. The brand was keen to give out apples for free on launch at various London stations and even had a tie in Great Ormond Street Hospital. It has its own logo “so much more than an apple”, which is again trademarked. The campaign was so successful, it even won an award at the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Alternatives To Pink Lady

As detailed above, even if you were able to grow an ‘Pink Lady’ apple in your garden, it would be unlikely to taste like one found in the supermarket, owing to the UK’s climatic conditions. The UK’s lack of sunlight can actually be an advantage as when yields are smaller flavour is often concentrated. Flavour is more than just sugar content, but acidity and mouthfeel. ‘Cox’ is famously aromatic and high in both sugar and acidity, creating well balanced flavour.

The Antipodean Apples

Braeburn’ and ‘Gala’ are both easily available and indeed ‘Braeburn’ remains the bestseller at garden centres, but not online (perhaps due to the canniness of the online shopper).

RHS Award Of Garden Varieties

Modern AGM cultivars include ‘Discovery’, ‘Pixie’, ‘Sunset’ and ‘Scrumptious’, which are all easy to grow. Discovery, Sunset & Pixie come recommended from our nurserymen.

Cox

A British classic, but somewhat difficult to grow. You won’t be disappointed with apples you recieve!

Unique Flavours

Egremont Russet and Worcester Pearmain are notable for their unique flavours with hints of pineapple and strawberry respectively.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.