Compost Duvets Really Do Help Worms Work Harder and Make Faster Compost

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compost_duvetDid you know that Compost Duvets will enable the worms to work harder as the weather chills in all that extra autumnal organic waste?

They will also make cocoons all winter which will all hatch in early spring. This will make a big difference to the speed of composting when spring arrives and you get a huge burst of hungry young worms in the compost.

How they work: like a conventional Duvet in that any heat below causes the stuffing to swell up and provide a physical barrier preventing the natural heat from escaping. This concept has proved to maintain high temperatures within the compost, both day and night. This heat can be maintained for up to 10 days.  It will also keep out frosts in winter so that the worms can work all year round. The Duvet fits snugly into the wooden bins but it can be used on any compost pile.

So why not add one to your compost bin and give it a helping hand to make all that lovely compost!

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Seven Top Reasons Why Using A Wooden Raised Bed Will Make A Huge Difference

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edible_garden2More and more schools and gardeners are discovering the benefits of growing in Raised Beds. Here are the top seven reasons to use one!

1. You can match the type of soil in your Raised Wooden Bed to suit your plants or if you live in an area with poor or heavy clay soil you can fill your Wooden Raised Beds with a good growing medium.
2. Raised Wooden Beds take the bending out of gardening and provide easy access gardening for the young, old and the disabled.
3. Raised Wooden Beds offer improved drainage which is good news for those that live in an area prone to flooding and also during prolonged wet weather.
4. Crops are easily reached without walking on the soil so there is no compaction meaning less digging and less work.
5. The soil warms up much faster in Spring enabling you to plant earlier crops.
6. They are easy to cover with film, fleece or netting to protect crops.
7. They are suitable for growing a wide variety of Soft Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, Alpines, Small Trees and Shrubs.

Red Tomato Chutney Recipe – Easily Make Your Own

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red-tomato-chutneyDid you know the word ‘Chutney’ is derived from the Hindu word ‘chatni’ which means strongly spiced? If you like lightly spiced chutney then this recipe is perfect for you

Red Tomato Chutney

Ingredients

  • 900g/2lb Tomatoes (firm but ripe)
  • 450g/1lb Onions
  • 450g/1lb Cooking Apples (weight when peeled and cored)
  • 450ml/¾ pint Malt or Wine Vinegar (I used Malt)
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon Ground Mixed Spice
  • 350g/12oz Sugar
  • 300g/10oz Sultanas
  • Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

What you need to do

  1. Skin and chop the tomatoes, peel and finely chop the onions and the apples.
  2. Put all the ingredients into the preserving pan except for the sugar, sultanas and the seasoning, simmer gently until tender.
  3. Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until dissolved then put in the sultanas and seasoning.
  4. Simmer steadily, stirring regularly until it is the consistency of a thick jam.
  5. Spoon into hot sterilized jars, add a waxed circle and tighten the lid securely.
  6. Store in a dark, cool and dry place.

Notes:

  1. I made 2.5 times the above quantities in a large stainless steel pan 17cm high x 25cm diameter, this is the maximum volume that can be made in this size of pan.
  2. Once the sultanas have been added you need to stir the mixture regularly as they sink to the bottom and can burn.
  3. If the chutney is slow to reduce down to a jam consistency, spoon off some of the watery mixture from the top of the pan and sieve out the vinegar liquid returning any pulp to the pan.

Homemade chutneys, jams and preserves make a lovely personal gift, why not plan ahead and give friends/family a home produce hamper later on in the year at Christmas.

Top 10 Grow Your Own Jobs To Do In May

Grow Your Own Potatoes Ready For Christmas!

May can be one of the most busiest months in the garden or on the allotment so here are our top ten jobs for you to be getting on with during May:

  • Plant tomatoes in greenhouses either directly in the soil or place two in a grow bag. Make sure they have plenty of support!
  • Harvest asparagus spears if the plants are over two years old.
  • When you leeks are pencil-thick, transplant them in to 15cm deep holes.
  • Sow spring cauliflowers and winter cabbages in 1cm deep drills.
  • Plant your main crop potatoes and earth up around the shoots when they are 10cm tall.
  • Thin out your gooseberries by removing every other one.
  • Sow different varieties of salad leaves every three weeks for a constant and fresh supply.
  • Place a cloche over early strawberries to help them ripen early.
  • Watch out for carrot fly – they’ll be about and ready to strike.
  • Be prepared for late frosts. Even in May we can still get them!

 

Go On Then So How Do I Make Compost?

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Children's ComposterAs it’s National Gardening Week we’re talking all this week about gardening and composting so we thought that one of the most important things would be to cover ‘how to make compost’!

First create a space in which to do your outdoor composting. This should be an open space preferably direct on the ground, otherwise on hard standing. Compost can be made in a heap or a suitable container can be used such as a compost bin, which we have a huge variety of available at Gardening Works

Gather together as much Organic Waste as possible and make a loose pile. These organic materials soon begin to heat up as the composting process starts. The volume then quickly shrinks. At this stage it is important to dig over the compost using a pitchfork, to introduce more Air into the middle of the pile. This should be done a few times at the early stages of composting as natural compacting occurs.

The heat naturally generated quickly builds up again as microbes resume composting in the improved conditions. The temperature will quickly reach 130-I60F in a large well-mixed pile. This will help destroy weeds, seeds and disease and the materials will decompose much faster.

Turning also subjects insect larvae and spores to lethal temperatures inside the pile, which later cools as the microbial activity is succeeded by that of worms and beetles. Add more materials at any time until the pile is as big as the space will allow or the bin is full. Check regularly. Compost should be Moist to give the best results. If it is dry add a bucket of water. If it is too wet mix in some brown or dry materials and cover to prevent more rain getting in. A well-balanced mixture of green and brown materials produces good compost. Compost will mature at less than half the original volume.

Once the composter is full and the contents have stopped shrinking quickly, the compost is left to mature. At this point you can start a new compost pile. In time the contents will become unrecognisable and the mixture is then ready for use. A big well-managed mixed pile can be ready for use in a few months. An unattended pile may take about a year. It is traditional to use 3 separate units, one mature and being used on the garden, another maturing and one currently being filled.

So we hope this helps you get started and here’s to lots and lots of lovely compost!

Look In To A Whole New World With A WOW – Wooden Observational Wormery

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Charles Darwin studied worms for 39 years and concluded that life on earth would not be possible without them. The main reason is because they increase soil fertility so efficiently, but also because they reduce quantities of plant waste too which is an important part of the life cycle. Let us make your educational experience so much easier and practical and see into the World of Worms with our WOW Obervational Wormery. Watch the worms at work and monitor the wonderful changes they make within the WOW as it turns the waste into compost and garden soil.

The WOW Worm Farm comprises the wormery, observation panel, cover for observation panel and hinged lid. There are no nails or anything else that you need tools for, simply put the pieces in place. We have simplified the options for this fascinating activity so that it’s now as easy as possible. This is worms the way they are naturally in a single area of ground. No special feeds. No moving worms around. No special recovery prescription.

There is no need to buy worms if it is going on to earth but of course you can get some if you want a running start. Realistically the worms will come up from the ground when the compost is softening for them to eat and this is the way to see worms at work naturally. You can use the WOW from the moment it is erected. Just add organic material for composting as you would normally, making sure that there is a bit more brown material than green material if adding fruit waste. A larger version of the WOW observational wormery is available with 600lt capacity.