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Summer is here and there is nothing better than being outdoors and exploring.

Why not have a go at our new competition in the Family Zone for a chance to win some great wildlife products – all you need to do is to go on a Bug Hunt, this could be in your garden, a friends garden, on your allotment, on a day out or even on holiday.

There are thousands of different species of Insects, but being small and quite elusive they often go unnoticed in our day-to-day life, why not go and explore to see what is living on your doorstep.

Fritillary Butterfly

Fritillary Butterfly

What to take

An Insect Guide or Book, Camera, Magnifying Glass, Note Pad, Pencil.

Where to look

Have a look under stones, rocks, plant pots, logs, rotting wood, in compost heaps and long grass, on the underside of leaves, on flower heads, in leaf litter.

Bugs or Insects you may find

  • Dragonflies and Damselflies
  • Ladybirds
  • Grasshoppers/Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Butterflies
  • Hoverflies
  • Aphids/Greenfly
  • Moths
  • Lacewings
  • Ants
  • Wasps
  • Bees
  • Earwigs
  • Flies

Make a list of the Bugs and Insects that you find, you may want to take a photograph or draw a picture of them.

Write down which bug or insect was your favourite and why?

What you can win

A Ladybird Tower

 ladybird_house_m-01[1]

And a Butterfy Bee Nectar Feeding Station

butterfly_feeder_m[1]

How to enter

Simply tell us which bug or insect was your favourite and why?

Fill in your answers on the entry form (click here) with your details and send in to gill@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk or by post to Gardening with Children Family Competition, Unit 1, Bee Mill, Ribchester, Preston PR3 3XJ by the closing date of Monday 31st August 2015.

This is a great way to get children (and adults) outdoors and interested in their environment, and it is something that everyone can do whatever their age.

Happy hunting and good luck!

Gill

 

DSC05889

Small Tortoiseshell

They say that counting sheep is relaxing and helps you to go to sleep, why not do something which is equally as relaxing that is also fun, educational and very important – why not count butterflies?

This year ‘The Big Butterfly Count’ runs from 17th July – 9th August and the organisers Butterfly Conservation are asking as many people as possible to get involved and count butterflies and moths for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather, good places to count are in gardens, meadows, parks and woods.

If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) – this is so that you don’t count the same butterfly more than once . If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.

To make things easier you can download a handy identification chart from their website to help you work out which butterflies you have seen.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Elephant Hawk Moth

The ‘Big Butterfly Count’ is a nationwide survey aimed at assessing the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world’s biggest survey of butterflies. Over 44,000 people took part in 2014, counting almost 560,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.

Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses. The count also assists in identifying trends in species, this will help to plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.

You can submit separate records for different dates at the same place, and for different places. Your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies or moths.

Once you have done your count submit your records online before the end of August.

There is a great results map showing sightings that have already been submitted, you can see which butterflies and moths other people have spotted near you and across the UK, it is fascinating.

Have a look on their website there is lots of information and wonderful pictures of butterflies and moths which you may spot during your count as well as great ideas to get more people involved such as a Barbecue for Butterflies, Picnic in the Park, Butterfly play date, Butterfly Tea Party, it is a great activity for groups such as the Brownies/Cubs etc. Summer Schools, Child Minders, the W.I., Walking Clubs, Gardening Clubs etc.

So get out there on the next sunny day and look for Butterflies and Moths.

Red Admiral Butterfly

If you want to attract butterflies into your garden you will need to provide nectar rich flowers throughout the butterfly season, as well as food plants for the butterfly caterpillars to eat, click here for advice on which nectar rich plants to grow in Spring, Summer and Autumn and tips on gardening for butterflies.
Love your environment
Gill

Oak Tree

Trees play an important part in our lives by enhancing our environment and creating wonderful wooded places to spend quality time with our families.

Trees are havens for wildlife too, providing homes and food for caterpillars (leaves), insects (flowers, leaves), beetles and larvae (trunk, rotting wood) these in turn are food for animals and birds especially newly fledged youngsters or hungry chicks still in the nest, in Autumn and Winter their fruits/berries and seeds provide a welcome meal for birds and animals, trees really are a very important part of the wild food chain.

Family pic 5

If you are interested in planting trees to help wildlife, for the environment or to enhance your local area The Woodland Trust are currently offering Schools and Community Groups the chance to apply for free trees for delivery in November 2015.

The tree packs are available in three sizes:

  • Small – containing 30 saplings.
  • Medium – containing 105 saplings.
  • Large – containing 420 sapling.

The packs come in different mixes of tree species so you can choose the best one for your project.

  • Small – Short Hedge, Small Copse
  • Medium – Wild Harvest, Wildlife, Year Round Colour, Working Wood, Wetland, Wild Wood
  • Large – Wild Harvest, Wildlife, Year Round Colour, Working Wood, Wetland, Wild Wood

Communities and Schools can apply for free tree packs twice a year which will be sent out in March and November when the trees are dormant and ready to plant.

There is always a high demand for their tree packs, currently all medium (105 sapling) packs for schools this Autumn have been claimed, limited quantities of the small (30 sapling) and large (420 sapling) packs remain, if you are interested in planting this Autumn apply early to avoid disappointment.

The closing date for Autumn applications is 3rd September or upon full subscription.

If you are a School I would strongly advise that you apply asap before the end of this term, it would make a great Autumn project which all the children could get involved in.

For more information and how to apply click here.

Gill

Thank you to everyone who entered the May/June School Competition the overall winner was Hazlehurst Community Primary School, Ramsbottom their prize of a Kids Standing Raised Bed is on its way.

Kids Wooden Standing Raised Bed Growing Table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The competition was to create a new fruit/vegetable by combining two vegetables or fruits together, there were lots of inventive and wonderful combinations as well as some delightful drawings of the new fruits/vegetables here is a selection from the winning school (as written on their entry forms by the pupils).

Squashed Carrot – Butternut Squash and Carrot

Rassapple – Rassberry and Apple

Mapple – Apple and Mango

Tomcuc – Tomata and Cucumber

Rasbacugette – Rasberry, Banana, Cucumber and Courgette

Rasana – Rasberry and Bannana

Cawberrianoci – Cucumber, Strawberry, Banana and Brocoli

Bleech – Peach, Leek and Bannana

Pineberry – Pineapple and Rasberry

Plape – Plum and Grape

Labbege – Leek and Cabbege

Rasbstrawb – Rasberry and Strawberry

Papple – Pear and Apple

Papercot – Plumb and Apricot

Stramang – Strawberry and Mango

Banstraw – Banana and Strawberry

Apparrot – Apple and Carrot

Cherrynana – Cherry and Bannana

Bnaple – Apple and Beanna

Maple – Aple and Mango

Appberry – Appel and Strawberry

Arenge – Orange and Apple

Banberry – Banna and Strawberry

Mangle – Apple and Mango

Strawry – Strawberry and Cherry

Cherrango – Cherry and Mango

Banango – Banana and Mango

Apange – Apple and Orange

Zed – Apple and Strorberry

Thana – Tmoto and Bnana

Banapple – Banana and Apple

Apperbnan – Apper and Bnan

Banorange – Banana and Orange

Parnan – Banan

Blokly – Binana

Worter Pumpkin – Worter Meln and Pupkin

Tomcarro – Tomato and Carrot

Strarass – Strarbery and Rasbery

Shrapple – Stawberry and Apple

Tomotowapplenanna – Tomotow and Apple

Appllberry – Appll and Strawberry

Poptoma – Poppy and Tomato

Bnana Moon – Bnana and Moon

Bcherry – Cherry and Banana

Oniyplumy – Onion and Plum

Rocatcart – Rocet and Caret

Fbaner – Flower and Banana

Banappleorange – Banna, Apple and Orange

Redeloy – Redberry, Melon and Strawberry

Strawbcot – Strawberry and Apricot

Peechpiertompatletic – Pier, Peech, Tomato, Potato and Letic

Tmatobanana

Strawbo – Strawberry and Mago

Lightningcarrot – Lightning and carrot

Strarbrango – Strawberry and Mango

Banatom – Banana and Tomato

There are some really good combinations; fruits are definitely more popular than vegetables, well done to all of you.

The Summer Family competition will be posted on the Gardening With Children Competition page soon, so keep a look out and have a go, you could be our next winner.

Gill

WOW it’s hot, summer has finally arrived, the temperatures are soaring and the plants need watering again! Watering your garden can be time consuming and even expensive if you have a water meter, here are our top tips for looking after your garden in hot weather.

Collecting and storing water

Water butts are ideal for storing rainwater from greenhouses, sheds and house roofs; they are invaluable on allotments and situations where there may not be an outside tap. Guttering can be easily added to collect rainwater from sloping roofs and rainwater diverters attached to down pipes to collect valuable rainwater that would normally disappear down the drain.

Rainsaver Rainwater Collector

When and how to water

The best time to water your garden is in the morning or in the evening when temperatures are cooler; the advantages of watering in the morning are that the drier conditions overnight will discourage slugs, snails and fungal diseases. Hand watering will ensure the right amount is given to each plant/crop but this can be time consuming, an irrigation system around the garden, greenhouse and throughout your containers may seem an expensive option but you can water your whole garden just by turning on the tap, why not make it even be easier by fitting a water timer to your water butt or outside tap, watering can be done whilst you are not there and is the ideal solution for the holidays.

Haws Deluxe 5L Watering Can

Mulching

Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants retains moisture as well as suppressing weeds, this is best done in the spring when the soil is wet and plants are small, ideally use compost from your compost bin you could also use bark chippings, dried grass cuttings or gravel, containers will benefit with mulch too.

Classic Triple Wooden Compost Bin

Containers

Containers, Patio Tubs, Growing Bags, Hanging Baskets, window boxes and Standing Raised Beds all require extra watering to prevent them from drying out, the addition of Rain Gel Water Storage Granules to your compost/soil will substantially reduce the need for watering as the granules absorb large amounts of water which is then slowly released to the plant roots just where it is needed, some window boxes/containers have a water reservoir at the bottom which is drawn up by the compost to the roots. During hot weather or your holidays move your containers out of the sun to a shady corner where they will not dry out as quickly.

Free Standing Wooden Plant or Vegetable Manger Trough Crib Planter

Greenhouses, Polytunnels, Conservatories and Cold Frames

Glass magnifies the sun’s rays, plants are vulnerable to being scorched and will dry out much faster. Open doors, vents and windows in hot weather, automatic greenhouse window/vent openers are very useful especially during holidays, net shading or a glass shade paint can be used to protect plants from the direct glare of sunlight. On hot days pour water on the greenhouse floor first thing in the morning this will slowly evaporate and add moisture to the air to prevent your plants from suffering heat stress.

Standard Mini Wooden Cold Frame

Wildlife

Birds, insects and animals all need water to survive, keep bird baths and water bowls topped up with fresh water daily, you may be surprised who arrives for a welcome drink.

Ceramic Hanging Bird Bath Water Dish

Most importantly if you can get outdoors and enjoy this glorious weather!

Gill

Spring and early Summer is a very busy time in the garden, I wouldn’t like you to miss out entering our two free competitions before next weeks closing date of 30th June, so here is a quick reminder:

Have a look at the Gardening With Children website, in the School Zone and the Family Zone you have the chance to win a fabulous

 

Kids Wooden Raised Bed Growing Table (one supplied)

Kids Wooden Standing Raised Bed Growing Table

It is the perfect size and height for younger children to have the experience of their very own real vegetable and flower garden.

Crops can be easily tended, watered and picked, they are ideal for growing Strawberries, Herbs,  Lettuce, Spring Onion, Radish and baby vegetables including Beetroot, Turnip and Round Carrots, why not plant a few of your favourite flowers between the crops for a wonderful display.

What you have to do

In the School Zone

Create a new vegetable or fruit by combining two vegetables or fruits together then send in

  1. Its name
  2. Which fruits/vegetables it is made from?
  3. A picture/drawing of it

For full details and an entry form click here.

 

In the Family Zone

Look at the pictures of the insides of various fruits and vegetables and work out, using the following list, what they are.

Tomato, Orange, Apple, Banana, Sweet Pepper, Carrot, Cucumber

To view the pictures and for full details of how to enter click here.

 

Both competitions are free to enter, the closing dates are Tuesday 30th June 2015.

Good Luck

Gill

This week it’s National Picnic Week, why not go for a picnic this Sunday on Fathers Day and treat the whole family, especially Dad. Finger foods are perfect for picnics and can be eaten as you explore, my favourites are Sausage Rolls, homemade are definitely best and can be made with the children the day before.

Sausage Roll

Sausage Rolls

Ingredients

  • 500g puff pastry
  • 400g good quality sausages
  • 1 eating apple
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for rolling

What you need to do

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
  2. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface to make a rectangle about 26cm x 40cm, cut the pastry in half lengthways so that you have two long thin pieces.
  3. Slit the sausages with a knife to remove the sausage meat and place it in a bowl.
  4. Peel, core and finely dice the apple, add to the sausage meat with the wholegrain mustard and the salt and pepper, mix together well and divide the mixture into two.
  5. Lightly flour your hands and roll out each half of the sausage meat into a long sausage the same length as the pastry.
  6. Lay the sausages onto each piece of pastry lengthways and brush the egg along the longer edges, fold one edge of the pastry over the sausage and then roll the whole thing slightly so that the join is underneath, press lightly to seal the pastry.
  7. Cut each roll into 12 small rolls and place them on a baking tray, lined with baking paper, so that the join is underneath, make two small cuts on the top of each roll and brush with the beaten egg.
  8. Bake in the oven for approx. 20 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden and the meat has cooked through.

These sausage rolls can be made up to a month in advance and frozen, freeze them uncooked before brushing with the egg, to cook from frozen add 10 minutes on to the cooking time.

They are ideal for school lunchboxes and delicious served warm on a buffet.

Buddleia and Small Tortoiseshell

To keep the children entertained on your picnic why not set them an I Spy Nature Quiz, print off a list of things that you might see on your picnic, and ask them to tick them off as they see them, they could do this individually or in teams don’t forget the prize for the winners, here are some suggestions of what to include:

  • Ladybird
  • Butterfly
  • Bee
  • Beetle
  • Spider
  • Daisy
  • Buttercup
  • Blackbird
  • Robin
  • Oak Tree
  • Holly Tree
  • Rabbit
  • Squirrel

Have a lovely weekend, hopefully with plenty of warm, sunny picnic weather.

Have fun

Gill

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