Archive for April, 2009


By now you’ll know that at Gardening With Children we encourage you to pose questions through our ‘Ask The Expert Section’. We’re sure that many of you may be wondering about the same questions so we’ve decided to include them on the Blog where possible so we can all benefit!


Linda PlattHere’s the question Linda, our resident gardening expert was asked and her wonderful response!



We’re in the process of planning a vegetable plot at my daughter’s primary school. The ground we have available is full of ivy and shrub roots so we think that raised beds will be the best idea. I know the depth of the beds depends on the type of crops you want to grow but as we’re not exactly sure what we’ll be growing yet can you recommend the best depth for us to start with. Thanks.


Linda’s Answer

It is a good idea to grow vegetables in raised beds as it has many advantages, for example, crop rotation is easier to manage, drainage is improved and the soil warms up faster in the spring.


Where topsoil is thin or soil conditions poor, a raised border allows the soil to be built up and improved plus the overall look is one of organised and tidy.


Chidren's Garden PlotI would recommend before you install the new raised beds that you clear the site of pernicious weeds such as the ground ivy. You can just hand pull at the ivy but digging out the roots as much as possible would give your crops a head start. If you just place the raised beds on top of the ivy you will eventually end up hand weeding any way and it is much easier to do it on a produce free site first. I would also remove the shrub roots as they may impede drainage.


For primary school children I would suggest using a traditional raised bed standing 15cm high. If at a later stage you decide to grow root crops or species requiring deeper soil it is easy enough to add height to an existing bed. Alternatively you could choose to have additional deep wooden raised beds specifically for these crops. Remember to still crop rotate annually though.


If you decide that you may like to grow potatoes, which take up a lot of space in the border, then why not try using the potato grow bags. This is an easy and fun way to grow potatoes and harvesting is simple as the whole lot can be tipped over and the potatoes just fall out. No digging needed!


Good luck with your project and happy gardening.


Kind regards


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We have just launched two exciting new competitions for Summer, one for families and one for schools.  We are offering some great prizes so why not have a go – you could be a winner!

Your school could win over £150 worth of Gardening Goodies.  To enter we would like you to create your very own recipe using at least one piece of fruit or veg that you have grown yourselves.  We’d then like you to make the dish of your choice, have a taste and then let us know how it all turned out.  Go to the school competition page for more details.   The closing date is 31st July 2009.

Also take a look at our family competition.  You could win £100 worth of gardening tools and bird care goodies. 

To enter we would like you to go out into the garden and collect and press a few flowers

Then make a picture of your choice and send it to us or if you want to keep it, a photograph will be ok instead.  For all the information on how to enter take a look at the family competition page

The closing date is 31st July 2009.

Good Luck and Happy Gardening!


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Good Friday has traditionally been the day to bake hot cross buns and this fabulous little recipe has been used in our household for many years.

The children love getting involved, mixing in the dried fruit, shaping the buns and putting the marzipan crosses on the top.  And they are quite honestly the best hot cross buns I have ever tasted.


One word of warning though – because they contain no preservatives, unlike the bought varieties, they need to be eaten within a day or so of baking.  We get around this by sharing them amongst our neighbours and friends!


1 lb plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 pint milk
3/4 oz fresh yeast
3 oz butter
2 oz caster sugar
6 oz currants
2 beaten eggs
sweetened milk for finishing
quantity of marzipan

What to do

  1. Warm the milk until luke warm then add the yeast and butter
  2. Stir until the yeast dissolves
  3. Mix in the beaten eggs and sugar
  4. Put the flour, salt and mixed spice into a bowl
  5. Make a well in the centre
  6. Tip the liquid into the well and beat the mixture until smooth
  7. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and work in the currants
  8. Knead for a few minutes
  9. Place in a greased bowl, cover and put somewhere warm for an hour or so, until the dough has doubled in size
  10. You can knock it down and allow it to rise a second time, but my children generally don’t have the patience to wait so we never bother
  11. Shape the dough into buns and put on a greased baking tray.
  12. Roll some thin pieces of marzipan and place on the top to form a cross
  13. Allow the buns to rise for about 15 minutes
  14. Brush with sweetened milk
  15. Bake at around 175 C for around 15 minutes
  16. Enjoy warm with butter!

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This week Spring has sprung and thoughts will be returning to the school garden once again.  Do you grow fruit and vegetables in your school grounds?  We thought you might like to know about a campaign being run by Dorset Cereals.  One of their aims is to make it government policy for every school to have an Edible Playground.  That way all children have a chance to learn where food comes from.

Edible Playground Campaign

If like us, you think this is a great idea why not sign their petition here to get every child sowing, growing and eating.  The petition will be sent to The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

potato-planter-small-011If you want to start or extend your own edible playground then why not have a look at some of our simple growing ideas.  Our potato growing kits are  a great activity for children to do themselves and bring so much excitement at harvesting time.

They are only £10.99 including potatoes and we are doing some great discounts for larger orders.

For growing in a larger area we also do a good selection of easy-to-assemble raised beds.  With no nails, no screws and no holes to dig, they can be positioned on soil or hard-standing, making them so easy to use and very flexible in the school grounds.


Children's Garden Plot

If you are embarking on gardening activities for the first time and need some advice don’t forget to Ask The Expert and we will do our best to help!  Love Your Environment and Happy Gardening!

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