Archive for August, 2009

If you are in the enviable position of having a surplus of ripe tomatoes why not have a go at making this delicious soup. If you haven’t grown your own, or if like mine they are still green, locally sourced tomatoes are fairly cheap to buy at this time of year.

Food tastes 100 times better if you grow your own!  For all your Grow Your Own needs visit www.recycleworks .co.uk.  With everything from raised beds, compost bins, tools and books there is something for everyone.

This recipe is totally yummy and extremely nutritious!

Knob of butter
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
1 onion
1 medium potato
1 lb fresh tomatoes
dash of tomato puree
1 pint vegetable stock
quantity of milk


What to do

  1. Chop the onion and gently fry in the butter until clear
  2. Add a clove of crushed garlic, mix and fry a little longer
  3. Peel and chop the potato and add
  4. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add
  5. Add in the bay leaf and stock
  6. Simmer gently for 20 minutes
  7. Allow to cool
  8. Blend until smooth
  9. Add milk as desired to obtain preferred thickness
  10. Reheat before serving

Serve with crusty bread or my children’s favourite cheese on toast croutons!

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 Alison, who is the gardening volunteer parent for a school in Dorset, got in touch this week with Linda via www.gardeningwithchildren.co.uk to ask advice on what to plant in their small plot for Autumn term at school.

Well we thought it was worth sharing Linda’s advice as she has some really good choices and tips to think about.

Our Gardening Expert Linda

Our Gardening Expert Linda

Vegetable seeds to sow now:
Broad bean`Stereo` or `Super Aqualuce`, Chard `Bright Lights`, Pea `Feltham First`, Spinach `Bordeaux` or `Dominant`

 Then Linda suggested something I am guilty of not doing, read the seed packets carefully as some of these may need heat to germinate. Alternatively you could purchase small plants to over winter.

 Salad crops to sow now

Lettuce `Green Oak Leaf` or `Cocarde`, Mustard, Mizuna, Rocket

Herbs to sow now and over winter
Chervil, Coriander, Par-cel, Parsley

 Flower seeds to sow now which will flower next year
Antirrhinum, Calendula, Centaurea, Eschscholzia, Papaver somniferum, Pansy viola `Heartsease`

 If you want instant flowering plants you may have to purchase what is available locally. Perennials such as Aster, Crocosmia, Helianthus, Rudbeckias and Dahlias should be available.

You say that you only have a small plot but any areas not planted could be sown with green manure.  This is easy for the children to do and will help improve the soil structure, fertilize and prevent leaching of nutrients ready for spring planting.  Try Field beans, Rye or Tares at this time of year though make sure that these are dug in before they flower.

 I would recommend that you purchase some bare root wall flowers, when available, these will provide long lasting colour in the border or between vegetables early on in the season.

Success will also be weather dependant though in Dorset you should be ok. Ensure that the soil the plants are in is free draining to avoid water logging. Good Luck and I hope this has given you food for thought!

Thank you Linda there is something in there for me to get on with too!

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Once again, our resident gardening expert, Linda, has answered a question posed by one of our children’s nursery customers. Linda’s advice is always so useful and practical that we love to include them on our blog so that we can share this wonderful information with you!

Q. I was wondering if you could possibly help me out, I am writing our gardening info sheet and wanted to talk to them about their hanging baskets, planters, veggies, herbs and fruit! Could you possibly tell me what is in season for the is time of year and what is hard watering and will last in the hand of our little ones! Your help will be most appreciated.

Everyone needs a watering can!

Everyone needs a watering can!

A. Nothing is truly hard wearing from inquisitive children; I have found that spiky plans command respect! (To be avoided at all costs). Larger plants seem to withstand probing fingers and being sat on. In the border, Bamboo has worked well on one of my sites as has Phormium tenax. The children use it as part of a mini jungle weaving in and out. This time of year is a little bit like clothes buying, we might still want to buy for summer but most places only have autumn/ winter stock in. The summer bedding season is over with perhaps a few offerings left in some outlets and the autumn/ winter bedding is just about poking through.

Suggestions for this time of year ….. Hanging baskets- available in mini form are perennials, grasses, some spring bulbs and evergreens. Planters- bulbs for spring, textural evergreen plants such as stachys byzantina are always enjoyed, lavender. Herbs- mint, chives, sage, oregano. Veggies- rocket, broad beans, onion setts, spinach, peas. Fruit- top fruits such as apple trees, pear trees and plum trees are the best bet though you can still be harvesting autumn raspberries and later fruiting strawberries. This list is by no means exhaustive and choice will be subject to what is available. If you plan ahead for next year you may have fun growing your own and enjoy a more extensive and specific variety of plant material. Please get in touch again should you wish to go down this route and I can be more specific. Enjoy the journey!

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Now is the time to begin choosing your bulbs for next spring.

Over the next few weeks we will be telling you about some of our favourite varieties.


This week it’s the turn of the spring garden bulb Yellow Crocus. Available in lots of either 100 or 1000, these are perfect to grow in a Traditional Raised Beds, however they will look just as good anywhere else in your garden.

There are also many different bulb selections to choose from so why not have a browse through and order in time for autumn planting.

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We are very excited to announce the winner of the schools competition that finished at the end of the summer term.

We asked entrants to create a recipe using at least one ingredient grown themselves.  We then asked that they make their creation, taste it and then tell us all about it. 

We had some excellent entries and it was a tough decision. However the winner is Berry Hill Primary School, Coleford, Gloucestershire for their spicy splat scones, put together under the watchful eye of their teacher Mrs Walker.  

The school gets £150 worth of gardening goodies from Recycleworks Ltd.


We particularly liked this entry because the recipe was very experimental and included some great ideas from the children – such as the inclusion of curry powder! The recipe was also adapted to include all sorts of vegetables from the school garden including peas, carrots and courgettes. We thought this was very creative.

Finally, when reading this entry it was obvious that the teacher and pupils all had a great time putting this together. The children were particularly excited about eating things they had grown themselves – which is of course what it’s all about and all in all it was an inspirational entry. Well done!!

And don’t forget we are running a great Family Competition over the school holidays so if you haven’t done already, send in your entry soon. The closing date is 6th September.

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The harvesting season is now in full swing and the winning and loosing crops of the year begin to make themselves know. 

In the feast and famine world that is our allotment, now is definitely a time of feasting with gluts of runner beans, courgettes and soft fruits.  We returned this week after two weeks away, and found that we barely recognised our beautifully tended plot, which seemed to have run rampant and wild almost overnight. 

To make the best of your harvest here are some helpful tips.

  • Always harvest crops when they are at their best.  Don’t be tempted to just pick what you want for your immediate needs and then leave the rest, as crops will quickly go over, with lettuces bolting, runner beans going stringy and broad beans turning into bullets. And that’s to say nothing of the pests that will be eyeing things up ready to pounce. 
  • If you have a surplus try setting up a bit of an exchange scheme with fellow gardeners.  That way you get to taste crops that you haven’t grown, in exchange for things you have too much of – a real win win!
  • For crops that store well such as onions and garlic clean off, and dry out in a cool dark space.  If kept correctly these can last very well for many months.  Take a look at these great wooden storage boxes, perfectly designed for storing fruit, vegetables and bulbs.


  • If you are getting a bit bored of the same vegetables get adventurous and check our blog regularly for recipe ideas.  There are lots of recipes available for soups, chutneys and jams and we will be featuring our favourites over the coming weeks.


  • As each crop comes to an end don’t forget to recycle all of your plant waste in a compost bin.  That way you will have some lovely soil conditioner all ready for the next gardening year.


  • Don’t forget to involve the children in the harvesting activities.  My children love it and although they seem to want to eat most of it, guzzling raw beans and peas like no tomorrow, I do get a sense of satisfaction at getting them to eat their greens so easily at this time of year.  The children’s trug and wheelbarrow are designed with children in mind and are perfect for harvesting activities.

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If you have lots of green tomatoes sitting there and refusing to go ripe, why not try our yummy fried green tomatoes.


3 medium, firm green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs (beaten)
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cornmeal
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper. Let tomato slices stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour, milk, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes.

Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. Fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 4-6 minutes on each side or until brown. As you cook the rest of the tomatoes, add olive oil as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Read the words below and then read the riddle.  Can you guess which words match up best with each part of the rhyme.  Send your answers to charlotte@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk  by 23rd August 2009.  The first correct set of answers out of the hat will win a hogitat hedgehog house.

Mountain Hare
Song Thrush
Swan Mussel
Common Blenny

(1) I’m a prickly chap and I eat worms from the ground
(2) I’m called Bufo and I hop around
(3) Eating snails at my anvil is a favourite dish
(4) I must have clean water, I’m just that kind of fish
(5) I change colour in the winter snow
(6) There’s some special magic that makes some worms glow
(7) You’ll find me in a rock pool at the sea shore
(8) I hide in a shell on the river floor
(9) I have my young on rocks close to the sea
(10) My home is my dray high up in a tree

Good Luck !!

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My girls have a fascination with wiggly worms.  When I’m gardening they regularly get a bucket and collect a few for closer inspection.  For worm lovers and also for those who need a bit of convincing a wormery is a perfect environmental project. 


It will recycle all of your fruit and vegetable kitchen waste into great soil conditioner for the garden, and a handy liquid fertiliser, which my children like to call worm juice.  Rich in nutrients, I have to say that our worm juice gave what can only be described as spectacular results in our school garden this year!


The Waste Buster wormeries designed and hand-made by the Recycleworks Ltd are designed to last.  Made from FSC wood they need only a little maintenance and can be kept indoors or outdoors if protected from extremes in temperature.

The children will eagerly collect up peelings and scraps and take them to the wormery each day….a great hands on lesson in recycling.  And the educational wormery with its great viewing window allows easy viewing of the activity going on inside, which children find completely fascinating.

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If you are lucky enough to live in a heathery part of the world, where bilberries abound, why not go out and pick some for this recipe.  If you don’t have a handy supply of bilberries other soft fruit such as blueberries will be a fine alternative.


2 cups of plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup melted margarine
11/4 cups bilberries or blueberries


  1. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon to a mixing bowl and stir round to mix all the ingredients together well
  2. In a jug mix together the milk, melted margarine and eggs
  3. Stir this into the dry mixture until well blended.
  4. Stir in bilberries or other soft fruit you are using
  5. Heat a greased frying pan
  6. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle
  7. Cook a couple of minutes each side
  8. This recipe makes between 10 and 12 pancakes depending on how large you like them!


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