Archive for May, 2009

We are delighted to announce the latest winner of our schools competition that ended recently.  We asked schools to design and implement a project that improved the environment at their school.  We received so many excellent entries and it was a tricky job to choose the best.  But after lots of careful thought we chose the entry from Thornleigh Salesian College as our winner. 

Tending the Planters

Helpers at Thornleigh Salesian College perparing a planter

Thornleigh Salesian College organised a Big Tidy Up and Bulb Planting Day at the end of January.  They then made posters to advertise the event to everyone they could think of – students, teachers, families and neighbours. 

Planting the Vegetables

Planting the Vegetables

The day began bright and sunny and over 40 volunteers turned up to help out.  The group made great improvements to the school grounds and planted around 1000 bulbs. 

Repairing a Bench

Repairing a Bench

We particularly liked this project because it had a real community feel and was a great example of the power of teamwork. 

Putting in a Path

Putting in a Path

The school managed to get sponsorship from Action Earth, the bulbs were donated by a local company, tools were loaned from the Local Council, and lots of volunteers were found from within the community around the college – A Fantastic Effort!

 The school has won £250 worth of wildlife products from Recycleworks Ltd, and will be choosing what they would like over the next few days.

Because of the high standard of the entries we also decided to award runner up prizes to four other schools.  These were Redstart School in Somerset, St Andrew’s C.E. Primary School in Manchester, Shaping Futures Day Nursery in Nottingham and Ysgol babanod Llangennech Infant School, Carmarthenshire.


If you missed out on our last round of competitions, the good news is we are now running a new Family Zone Competition and School Zone Competition. Both end on 31st July and we are offering some fabulous gardening and wildlife prizes from the Recycleworks Ltd .  Do take a look and why not have a go – you could be a winner!!


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What with Compost Awareness Week, we are all rather excited about the wonderful “Compost! The (mini) Musical”.

This Teaching Pack is the work of Anneliese Emmans Dean and comes with a Resource CD, containing all the information you need to teach and perform Compost! The (mini-)Musical – indoors or out!

Teach your class, group or friends to rap, drum, sing and hum their way through Compost! The (mini-)Musical then perform it to others to inspire eco-change.
Bring along your enthusiasm, your sense of rhythm and your desire to combat global warming through worm power!

Anneliese performing with Year 4 pupils

Anneliese performing with Year 4 pupils

Two versions are included: one for 7-10 year olds, and one for older children and adults. Adaptable in length, you can teach the  ‘mini’ musical in as little as 30 minutes (e.g. at festivals). Or, include all the songs, spoken parts and suggested cross-curricular activities, and teach it over a term.

If you read music, it includes the sheet music, but the Resource CD also includes recordings of all the songs, so you can also put on Compost! The (mini)Musical with no musical knowledge at all.

More information on Compost! The (mini) Musical, including pricing and ‘Performance Licences’ can be found here.

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Charlotte had a call for help this week and it was all about runner beans.  For those of you thinking of planting them and perhaps wondering about their aftercare, read on because help is at hand.


Ask the Expert Query
Hi Charlotte we would like to grow some runner beans with the kids this summer. 

  • Can we plant the beans directly into the soil or should we chit them first and then grow in pots before planting out? 

Answer:  Runner beans are fine to sow directly into a well prepared seedbed.  We often dig some bokashi bran into the seedbed as it keeps the soil fresh and clean.  Runner beans can be grown in pots first but this isn’t essential.  Also they don’t require chitting before sowing.

  • We are going away next weekend for a fortnight , so should we wait until we get back before planting the beans so that we can water/watch over them?  Or is it okay to leave them for a fortnight when newly planted? 

Answer: They can be left whilst you are way but you could take some steps to keep them moist.  Start by giving them a good watering before you leave.  To retain water you can cover with a mulch such as composted bark.  Alternatively you can place a cane in the ground next to the seed and put a plastic pot on top of it.  Water then condenses inside the pot, particularly at night and then will drip down the cane onto the ground, keeping the area around the seed moist.  Also remember you can water with garden yoghurt throughout the season.

  • Finally is it best to grow up a bamboo wigwam type structure or are there other alternatives?


Answer: Runner beans require a supporting structure to grow up, so it is worth putting this in place at the time when you sow the seeds.  This can be a wigwam of canes or a trellis.  The main thing is to make sure the structure is fairly strong and tall enough.  The plants can get quite heavy when laiden with beans and some varieties can grow up to 7 feet tall.

If you have any tricky gardening questions you would like some help with, why not get in touch at Ask the Expert.  Happy Gardening!

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We are pleased to announce the proud winner of the Family Zone competition that ended recently.  She is Susie Talbot of Riverside Barn, Lancashire.

Susie opted for a Waste Buster Wormery as her prize.  Recycleworks Ltd do a great selection and she chose one with a window so her children could watch all of the worm activity going on inside.

Her wormery has been installed for a few weeks now and we were keen to find out what she thought of it.  This is what she said:

“With two small children and a busy Bed and Breakfast, we find we generate a fair few food scraps, tea bags, etc and so I was very keen to find a way of reducing the amount we throw away.

The wormery is great and the whole family is so excited about it.  It is very satisfying to separate out our food scraps for the worms, and the wormery is perfect for the children – just the right height for them to go and put the food in themselves.  The window is also brilliant and the worms seem to have really captured the children’s interest.

Susie and her son Tom with their new wormery.

Susie and her son Tom with their new wormery.

I’m so glad I went for a wormery it’s so satsifying to be putting our kitchen scraps to such good use!”

If you missed out on our last round of competitions, the good news is we are now running a new Family Zone Competition and School Zone Competition. Both end on 31st July and we are offering some fabulous gardening and wildlife prizes from the Recycleworks Ltd .  Do take a look and why not have a go – you could be a winner!!

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childrens_garden_plotIt’s wonderful to know that Linda’s expert gardening advice is really making a difference, especially to this school garden. For those of you who are thinking of using weed suppressing membrane, here’s the continuation of Linda’s advice.

School’s  Question – Thanks so much for your advice, that’s really helpful. We have done our best to clear the site but it has been sadly neglected for a very long time!

We had to use mattocks as the ground was so full of roots that forks and spades made no impact. Hopefully we have got the worst out but do you think we should lay a weed suppressing membrane on the soil under the beds to stop any remaining ivy coming up in the future?

Linda’s Response – Sounds like you should have hired a digger to clear site!

I wouldn’t bother laying membrane, it sounds like you have done the donkey work already and by this very action should have weakened any more ivy growth. I expect that you will still have to keep taking ivy out as it appears but the addition of soil to build up the raised beds should suppress any more growth. As each season goes by it will eventually give up the ghost. Also if you put a membrane down on a vegetable border it would make it very awkward when you come to harvest as there is a chance that you will also dig the membrane up.

Love Your Environment!

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