Archive for September, 2009

Last week we were contacted for some advice about starting a school garden using raised beds.  We thought the advice might be useful to others so here is the original question along with our response. 

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If you have any questions of your own, please get in touch with us at Ask The Expert and we will do our best to help.

We were asked….

….I work in a school that has no garden area but we are keen that the pupils should be involved in growing their own vegetables.  We are thinking along the lines of raised veg. beds but would these be suitable to place on tarmaced areas?  Would we need to put in a liner under the soil? Finally, what mix of soil/compost should we use?  Thank you….

 Charlotte’s response…..

 Raised beds are excellent in a school garden.  The Recycle Works Ltd Raised  beds are very easy to assemble and can be put together in a matter of minutes, with no screws, no nails and no holes to dig.  They all just slot together. 


 Made from FSC wood they can be located on any level surface.  Tarmac would be perfectly fine.  They do not have to be used with a liner.  You may see a bit of drainage coming out of the base in very we weather, however this prevents water logging which is good for the crops.  If you do choose to use a liner, make sure it is perforated to allow adequate drainage. 

If you are growing root crops take a look at the Deep Raised Beds as they allow more room for roots to develop. 

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For the best growing results we recommend you use a good vegetable compost.

Raised beds are perfect for gardening with children as they allow easy access to the growing area without trampling, and are very easy to dig over and maintain.  And don’t forget they are suitable for bulbs, wild flowers and of course vegetable crops.


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Each week we are choosing our favourite bulbs for springtime and this week it is the turn of these beautiful Mickey Mouse Tulips


Available in lots of either 100 or 1000, we have chosen these Tulip bulbs, primarily for our Traditional Raised Beds, however they will look just as good anywhere else in your garden.

The bulbs will dispatched directly from the grower and so will be in prime condition.  If you would like to receive your order of bulbs in October please make sure you place your order with us by no later than 9th October 2009.

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This week we received a wonderful email from Holway School Community Garden in Taunton.  This is a little bit of what they had to say and we hope it inspires you as much as it did us….

” At the beginning of this year a friend and I started a school community garden in Taunton.  We were very lucky getting permission from the school to use their land and a grant from a council scheme to begin our funding.  So moving very quickly in April we got started.  


Making the garden accessible to both the school children and members of the community was so important to us… on looking around we settled on Raised Beds from The Recycle Works, choosing a combination of deep and value raised beds to create a (probably) unique layout for our garden.  Time has flown, we have had great success with the garden and a massive interest in the raised beds!

We have lots of exciting things coming up now, even as lots of the plants that have been producing well all summer are dying off!


We are hopefully launching our website in the next few weeks – with which we hope to have a link to the recycle works as many people have asked where to get the raised beds!

We are building up to a big event at which we will be building a full size greenhouse – out of plastic bottles!!!

Following that we will be increasing our growing areas to included patches for 2 classes from the school that will be doing a “field to fork” project.  To do this we will be returning to the Recycle Works for more raised beds for this as 1 – the teachers specifically asked to use the Raised Beds as they like them so much, and 2- we tried a cabbage patch dug straight into the ground and it was quite unsuccessful partly due to the amount of maintenance!”


Thanks so much to Holway School for this wonderful suprise email, we always love to hear from you, and emails like this help us all to stay so motivated to keep doing what we love!

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I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of  courgette cake recipes over the last few weeks, some more successful than others it has to be said, but this one is a real winner.  I tried it out over the weekend and all who taste it, agree it is totally yummy…And if you are less than convinced about the idea of courgettes in a cake, you’ll be amazed by how good it tastes. 

Fancy growing your own recipe ingredients - visit The Recycleworks for everything you need

Fancy growing your own recipe ingredients - visit http://www.recycleworks.co.uk for everything you need

50g raisins, optional
handful of chopped walnuts, optional
230g courgettes (2-3), weighed before grating
2 eggs
125ml vegetable oil
150g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
few drops of vanilla essence

200g cream cheese
100g icing sugar, sieved
Few drops of lemon juice


If using raisins, put in a bowl and cover with warm water to plump up.
Beat together eggs, oil and sugar until creamy. Sieve in flour, bicarb and baking powder and beat until well combined.
Grate courgettes and drain off excess water.
Stir in grated courgettes, raisins and/or chopped nuts.
Pour into a greased and lined tin and bake for 30 mins until slightly browned. Ice when cooled.

A little tip from a good friend is to make this cake in Victoria sponge tins and put lime curd between the two cakes, and the icing on top.

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Take a look at our latest  Schooland Family Competitions for budding gardeners.  They are easy to enter and have some great prizes up for grabs!  Good Luck with your entry.
For the School Competition  we are looking for the best Indoor Grow Your Own project carried out in the Autumn term.  If crops aren’t ready to harvest when the competition comes to a close, don’t worry just send your entry with news of where the project is up to so far. 

The winning school will win over £150 worth of gardening equipment for spring, including a wooden cold frame, a salad / herb bed, a raised bed and a potato growing kit, all from The Recycleworks Ltd.  Plus all entrants will receive 10% off their next order from them.  To find out how to enter click here.

 This salad bed is great for growing winter herbs and bulbs.
These easy to assemble wooden beds are great for growing winter herbs and bulbs.

For the Family Competition  we would like you to tell us all about a growing project that you have carried out this Autumn.  It could involve planting a tree or several, setting bulbs ready for spring, or growing some winter vegetables.  The project can be carried out indoors or outside, which ever you prefer.

Amarylis - Merry Christmas

This Amarylis called Merry Christmas can be grown in autumn for a lovely winter display

The winner will receive over £100 of gardening equipment ready for spring, including a wooden cold frame, a salad / herb bed and a potato growing kit, all from The Recycleworks Ltd.  Plus all entrants will receive 10% off their next order from them.  To find out how to enter please click here.

Huge congratulations also go to Ruhitha Choudhury for her winning pressed flower entry in our summer competition.  Called Sleeping Beauty her beautiful picture was in the shape of a sunflower and even included lavender, which smelt wonderful as we opened the envelope.  Totally original and very creative she won £100 worth of gardening tools and bird care goodies.  Well done to Ruhitha!


Congratulations also to Teresa Armstrong and pupils from Llangennech Infant School, Carmarthenshire.  They are the winners of our recent Letterbox competition, and correctly answered that squirrels don’t actually hibernate.  An Apprentice Hand Fork and Trowel are on the way to them.

For our weekly competition we’re thinking about autumn gardening. 

At a time of year when the days are getting shorter and the weather is a little less hospitable, there are still lots of things that can be sown in the garden or on the window sill. 

So we would like you to suggest something that’s nice to grow in autumn and why.  Our favourite entry this week will win a copy of a fantastic book called Grow it  Eat It from the Royal Horticultural Society. 

A great growing and cooking guide for schools and families

A great growing and cooking guide for schools and families

It’s full of great little gardening projects and delicious recipes, all put together with kids in mind.  It would make a great classroom resource or a  lovely present for someone.  So email your entry in to charlotte@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk to reach us no later than 27th September 2009. 

If you would like to receive Letterbox, our weekly emailed newsletter packed full of news, seasonal activities and competitions, email charlotte@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk.


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Each week we are featuring our favourite bulbs, and this week we have gone for this lovely little Hyacinth Water Culture Growing Kit


 Simply fill the glass with water, place in a cool, dark, well-ventilated spot and in around 10-12 weeks, you will be rewarded with a beautiful hyacinth bloom to brighten up your window sill during the dark winter days.  And priced at under £9 this would make a lovely little present for someone.


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Autumn is a busy time in the school garden, particularly after the long summer holidays, when things can get a little out of hand. 

And whilst the mornings take on a misty, slightly more dewy feel and the nights begin to draw in, there is still often some very nice sunny weather to be enjoyed.


This week we have been pulling together our own list of jobs to be getting on with over the next few weeks.  From harvesting to encouraging winter wildlife and planning ahead, its all here.  So do take a look if you require some inspiration.

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The blackberries seem plentiful and quite early this year, so I thought it was time to dig out the jam jars and put my own little bit of autumn in a jar.  This recipe is tried and tested and easy to do.  You will get around 3 jars of juicy jam at the end, so thats enough for you plus a present for someone dear if you’re feeling generous.

•500g blackberries
•500g jam sugar
•Juice of half a lemon


•Chill a saucer or plate
•Wash all the blackberries and allow to drain
•Put the sugar, lemon juice and blackberries into a large saucepan and stir round a couple of times
•Dissolve the sugar over a low heat
•Bring to the boil and boil gently until the jam reaches setting point
•To test for this recipe, take a teaspoon of jam and place it on the chilled saucer. Leave for a minute and then push it with a teaspoon. If it creases on the surface its ready
•Cool the jam a little before putting into jars.
•Ideally the jars should be warm when the jam is added.
•Seal tightly and look forward to enjoying through the winter months

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As promised last week, we are featuring our favourite bulbs at the moment. 

It’s the perfect time to buy them ready for autumn planting and our choice this week is the spring garden bulb Narcissus Tete a Tete


No spring would be complete without daffodils, and this beautiful and delicately small variety is perfect for a Traditional Raised Bed, or anywhere else in your garden for that matter.  They can also be successfully grown indoors.

Available in quantities of 100 or 1000, order now for delivery during September, October or November, as you require.

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