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Archive for October, 2009

Now is the perfect time to set a bed of strawberries and there is no better way than to use a Raised Bed….And by planting now you will have a fabulous crop in time for next summer.

wooden_raised_bed-01

Strawberries do best in well-drained, fertile, warm soil.  If the soil is heavy, cold and with poor drainage it will have a drastic impact on success.  But by using a Raised Bed from the Recycleworks Ltd, you will be able to give them the optimum conditions they need… And the raised bed will also provide some protection from slugs.

Which Variety?

There is an overwhelming choice out there, here are some of our favourites.

Alice  The perfect choice if you only have room for one variety, as it is trouble free and easy to pick.  One of the best mid season varieties as it combines a sweet flavour and juicy texture with excellent disease resistance.  Flowers in May and fruits from June until early July 

Cambridge Favourite  If you love picking your own strawberries for eating or making jam, this is a well loved favourite.  It produces a bumper crop of juicy orange red fruits of excellent flavour.  Ready to pick from June to early July

 Flamenco  This strawberry produces excellent quality sweet and juicy fruits over a long picking period.  A very versatile variety suitable for growing the traditional way in the garden, as well as making it the perfect variety for container growing, as it will transform your patio into a very productive fruit garden.

You Will Need:tools_4_job

What to do

  1. Assemble your raised bed in a sunny, sheltered position if possible.  The raised beds from Recycleworks Ltd are ideal, and so easy to assemble with no screws, no nails and no holes to dig
  2. Fill with a good quality compost
  3. Set the strawberry plants allowing around 40cm between the plants
  4. Ensure the roots are well covered with soil
  5. Water each plant

kids-watering-can

It is also important to think about protection for the growing plants.  During the winter you may want to protect from frost with fleece, and when the fruits begin to develop next summer there is the all important netting to think about.  These hoops have been specially designed to fit into the Recycleworks raised beds and provide an easy way to fit crop protection.

hoops2-01

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Gathering wild food can be so much fun… and hedgerows have lots to offer.  We will be giving you plenty of ideas of what’s there to be found throughout the year. 

This week we are focusing on Sloe Berries.

Traditionally used in gin here are a couple of non-alcohlic ideas of things you can do with the humble sloe!

Making Spiced Sloe Jelly

  1. Collect around 5 lb of sloes
  2. Cover with water
  3. Add 2 cinnamin sticks and about 20 cloves
  4. Simmer until tender
  5. Tip into muslin and allow juices to drip through but don’t squeeze
  6. Add 1lb sugar to 1 pint of juice approximaitely
  7. Add 1/2 pint malt vinegar
  8. Boil until mixture begins to thicken
  9. On a cool teaspoon take a sample of the mixture and see if it begins to set as it cools
  10. When it does pour the mixture into storage jars and seal
  11. This is excellent with steak and kidney pudding, game and venison. 

Making Sloe & Apple Jelly

This recipe was kindly sent in byFrederica – so many thanks and we hope you enjoy it.

  • Cook until soft equal amounts of sloes that have been pricked with a bodkin, roughly chopped windfalls or crab apples and enough water to cover
  • Tip the mixture into muslin and leave the contents to drip into a container but do not squeeze
  • Combine the juice with sugar at a ratio of 1 pint of juice to 1 lb of sugar
  • Cook until set

When collecting berries don’t forget this handy Berry Picker.  It helps in the battle against thorns and speeds up the picking as well!

berry_picker_m

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We are busy thinking about Christmas 2009 and spring time 201o, and it’s all fast approaching.

Everyone wants to spend the Christmas money wisely without wasting it on gifts that aren’t 100% appreciated.   And the almost fail safe option for all ages has to be flowering bulbs.

Buy now to flower at Christmas, for example the pots of Amaryllis, Merry Christmas or Amaryllis Snow White. These fine quality bulbs are guaranteed to please. They will flower with many flower heads and will flower again for many Christmases to come so your gift could last for many years.

Amaryllis Merry Christmas available from www.recycleworks.co.uk

Amaryllis Merry Christmas available from http://www.recycleworks.co.uk

Or you can choose the small pots of 5 or 6 small bulbs with their own biodegradable pot and compost.  Crocus Bulb Kit Rememberance and  the Narcissus Bulb Kit Tete a Tete, both well under £10.00. Also under £10.00 the Hyacinth water culture kit.   Who cannot fail to melt under the spell of a Hyacinth?   Bulbs are perfectly simple to plant now in Pots and Planters to flower as the days get longer again. Try a mixture of Blue and Yellow Crocus or a mixture of Tulips Ali Baba and Mickey Mouse or a mixture of Red Riding Hood and Pinocchio Tulips.

Tulip Ali Baba available from www.recycleworks.co.uk

Tulip Ali Baba available from http://www.recycleworks.co.uk

…And please remember all bulb orders must be received at Recycleworks Ltd by 31st October.

bulbs for spring

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We were recently contacted by Kath from the Peel Kids Gardening Club, and she asked for some ideas for activities with a Halloween theme. 

pile of pumpkins

We have put together our Favourite Spooky Halloween Ideas  in this fact sheet so do take a look .  Packed full of easy to do activities there’s a Yummy Recipe for Pumpkin Soup, a Make Your Own Jack -O-Lantern craft activity, Grow Your Own Spook, and all you need to know about making your very own Ghostly Scarecrow.

Hope you all have fun this Halloween!

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We received an enquiry recently from Rona in Peterborough.  She asked:

I have been asked to take on the Reception class garden.  Part of it is designated as the wildlife area.  There is a buddlea bush but otherwise it is just grass.  What can we do to make it a bit more wild and diverse?

My advice would be applicable for anyone wanting to increase the wildlife interest in their garden…so hope you find it useful.

1                    Provide Plants for Shelter & Food

If you are just setting up your garden, or if you have a garden that is very open with perhaps just a lawn and fence, consider introducing some wildlife friendly plants.

Sorbus, Berberis and Pyracantha all have berries which are a good source of food for birds.

In Spring sow raised beds with Flower Meadow Seeds .  These will give beautiful colour in the summer months and will also provide important nectar for butterflies.  During April consider sowing flowers such as Honesty.  This plant will appear year after year and is great early nectar for butterflies.

The native climber Old Mans Beard (clematis vitalba) can be planted at the base of a hedge or fence, and is good for bees, butterflies and moths.

For container gardening consider Marguerite plants in the summer months as they look so pretty but also attract butterflies and moths.

Lavender bushes provide nectar for bees and butterflies and seeds for birds when the flowers die back.

Other container plants to consider for their wildlife benefits include Sedum Spectabile (Ice Plant), Skimmia Japonica and Mexican Orange Blossom.

If you have the space, every garden benefits from having a few trees or large bushes.  Consider Field Maple which will attract bees, moth caterpillars and hoverflies, and Laurel for shelter for birds, bees and hoverflies.

2                    Provide Food for Birds

To encourage birds to your garden, provide a supply of food, particularly during the winter months.  Seeds, peanuts, bread crumbs, chunks of cheese and windfall apples are all good sources of food.  The bird bistro feeders are an excellent source of seeds for blue tits and finches and attach easily to a fence.

When providing food, think about attracting a variety of bird species.  Putting food on the floor will encourage ground feeders such as blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks and wrens.  Hanging feeders of nuts and seeds will encourage finches and tits.  The apple bird feeder is handy for those windfall or half eaten apples that the children have left, and fruit is an excellent bird food.

Food on a bird table will be popular with robins, sparrows, doves and pigeons.

Also don’t forget that birds also need a clean supply of water all year round and a bird bath is ideal.

For bird lovers the Gift Bird Feeder is a great present.  Included are sunflower seeds, a fabulous flower bed feeder and wool spiral.

The perfect gift for Bird Lovers

The perfect gift for Bird Lovers

Remember not to overfeed the birds though, as food left to go rotten will attract vermin, and harbour disease.  So clean away excess food regularly with a Bird Table Cleaner and replace water each day.

 

3                    Provide Nesting Pouches

Nesting pouches are useful for birds all year round.  Not only will birds use them for breeding in the spring and summer months, these are also excellent places for providing winter shelter.  At the end of the summer clean out bird boxes and nesting pouches ready for winter use. 

And to encourage bats to roost in your garden these Wooden Bat Boxes are designed to meet their needs perfectly.

Wooden Bat Box Specially Designed to Encourage Bats to Roost

Wooden Bat Box Specially Designed to Encourage Bats to Roost

4                    Provide Habitat for Mammals and Insects

Wildlife will thrive better in gardens where there are areas left to go a little wild.  Leaf, twig and log piles are great refuges for insects and mammals, and also provide habitats for hibernation.  So it’s a good idea to put piles in corners and quiet parts of the garden.

Crevices in rotting wood are great places for ladybirds and creepy crawlies to hide, and the Ladybird and Insect Tower is specially designed for this.  Rotten tree stumps are also a favourite with woodpeckers, who delve into the wood with their beaks to find tasty grubs.

The hogitat is specially designed as a natural home and safe retreat for hedgehogs. 

Hogitat - A perfect house for hedgehogs

Hogitat - A perfect house for hedgehogs

The Solitary Bee Hive and Butterfly Feeding Station are perfect for increasing the diversity of insects visiting the garden, and Insect Study Centre and Solar Insect Theatre make studying insects at close quarters easy and fascinating in equal measure!

 

5                    Sit Back & Enjoy!

After all the hard work of setting up your wildlife garden, it is so enjoyable to sit back and watch as things begin to happen.  You will be amazed at how quickly birds, mammals and insects begin to investigate the new surroundings and set up home, and it is fascinating for both adults and children alike to watch as this magical process unfolds.

This fabulous selection of Wildlife Guides makes identifying your garden wildlife so much easier.  And if you want to observe and record all the action at close quarters this Wildlife Surveillance Camera will provide great footage for classroom sessions.

           picture 7

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Each week we have been finding our favourite bulbs, and this week it’s the turn of  this fabulous Spring Bulb Collection from Recycle Works Ltd

Spring_bulb_collection2

It comprises 10 bulbs from each of the following varieties and they are ideal for growing in Traditional Raised Beds:

  • Puschkinia Libanotica
  • Chionodoxa Luciliae
  • Anemone de Caen
  • Galanthus Nivalis (Single Snowdrops)
  • Anemone Blanda Mixed
  • Dutch Crocus Blue
  • Muscari Armeniacum
  • Narcissus Tete a Tete
  • Tulip Red (Mme Lefeber)
  • Species Crocus Mixed

The 100 bulbs when planted out will take up an area of 1m x 2.5m and can be planted along with the Instant Meadows to give bring colour to your garden throughout spring and summer.

Instant Meadows Available to sow as Seeds

Instant Meadows Available to sow as Seeds

The plants will continue to produce new bulbs each year making the following years display even more impressive.

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We are delighted to announce that the winner of our Summer Family Competition was Hannah Hill from Preston, Lancashire. 

Hannahsunflowercollage

Hannah is a  member of her School Growers Club, and was busy during the summer growing all sorts of vegetables along with this rather spectacular sun flower.  She and her family are trying to do their bit for the environment, and growing their own produce saves on airmiles, not to mention helping to reduce those trips to the supermarket. 

recycleworks

Hannah will receive £75 worth of gardening equipment from Recycle Works Ltd, including a Salubrious Salad Bed, which is also perfect for growing winter herbs or bulbs.  She also receives a children’s trug, a hand trowel & fork, a copy of Grow It Eat It a great practical guide to growing and eating your own produce along with a Paper Potter, which is great for making paper plant pots – a lovely tactile activity for children.

paper-potter-01

Well done Hannah – we hope you enjoy your prizes.

If you would like to enter our Autumn Family Zone or School Zone competitions, take a look now for more information.  ….And if you would like to receive regular gardening tips and recipes, along with a chance to win one of our weekly give away prizes email charlotte@gardeningwithchildrenco.uk to receive our letterbox newsletter. 

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