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Archive for December, 2009

After the over-indulgence that often happens over Christmas, it’s good to move into the new year with thoughts of recycling and cutting down on our waste production.  

With the Bokashi Bucket, every time you have scraps to throw, be it meat, fish or vegetable, just open the lid and drop them in the Bokashi Bucket along with a ‘sprinkling’ of the Bokashi Bran and re-seal the lid.  …And by using the Effective Micro-organisms in the bran there will be no smells to worry about!

When the bucket is full, leave for two weeks with the lid sealed and then either dig the resultant Bokashi into the garden or add to your compost heap. As the Bokashi is ‘composting’ in the Bokashi bucket, a nutrient rich liquor is produced and this can be collected every couple of days using the tap on the bucket.  Dilute the liquor with water at 1:100 and use as plant feed throughout the home and garden.

We recommend the purchase of two Bokashi buckets, so that when one is full and ‘composting’, you have a spare to start filling – there is a considerable saving if you purchase two buckets at the same time.

For all your recycling needs visit www.recycleworks.co.uk.

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This is a great festive tip from Rita at Friends of the Earth and we hope you enjoy…

After cooking, use residual oven heat to bake discarded orange or lemon peels until they darken in colour.  These baked rinds are full of citrus oils and can be used as fragrant, festive firelighters – with none of the nasty chemicals used in commercial products.
 

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Here at Gardening With Children we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year in 2010.

Thanks to all the thousands of people who have visited and supported Gardening With Children since our launch one year ago.  We hope you have enjoyed all of our seasonal gardening hints and tips, activity ideas and recipes. 
Together we can all do our bit for the Earth and its the little things we do each day that make all the difference.
So here’s to 2010 and we look forward to sharing your ideas and stories again next year, along with a few of own…
So once again, Merry Christmas from the Gardening With Children Team – Sylvia, Charlotte, Sally, Kim, Debbie, Simon, Theresa, Christine, Jim, Robert, Martin and Ian xxx

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Mince pies are one of the true tastes of Christmas, but if you only ever eat mass-produced ones, they are generally bland and pretty disappointing. This recipe is my very favorite…and I have tried a few. ..And the secret is all in the pastry.

Handed down to me by a dear farming lady, who is famous locally for her fantastic home cooked fayre, follow a few easy steps to get fabulous results. This recipe makes between 28 and 36 (depending on how thick you like your pastry).

 

But if you have too much pastry for one baking session, you can put any left over into a bag and freeze for later use. …But be warned these mince pies are so delicious you will never have enough. I made 30 yesterday and have only 5 left – I should however point out that I didn’t actually eat them all myself, but did give a fair few away to friend and neighbours!

Ingredients

1/2 lb self-raising flour
1/2 lb plain flour
1/2 lb butter (preferably at room temperature)
3 oz caster sugar
2 oz lard or margarine (preferably at room temperature)
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
Around 500g of good quality mince meat

Method

  1. Mix flour and sugar together in a large bowl
  2. Rub diced cubes of margarine and butter into the flour sugar mix, until the consistency is like bread crumbs
  3. Mix the egg yolks and fresh orange juice together, then add to the bowl of dry ingredients
  4. Mix together and form a ball of pastry with your hands
  5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes
  6. Roll out the pastry onto a floured surface
  7. With pastry cutters, cut an equal number of large and slightly smaller circles for the mince pie bases and lids
  8. Grease a baking tray with butter
  9. Put mince pie bases into the baking tray
  10. Add good quality mincemeat, but don’t overfill
  11. Lightly dampen the edges of the pastry bases using a brush dipped in water
  12. Press the lids securely on, taking care to seal the lids to the bases
  13. With a pointed knife make two small cuts into the centre of each mince pie lid to act as a vent
  14. Brush lightly with milk
  15. Cook 175 C for 15 to 20 min
  16. Place on a baking tray to cool
  17. Dust with icing sugar
  18. Store in an air tight container for later or alternatively, if you are like me, eat NOW!

Remember for any food thats left over during the Christmas period use the brilliant Bokashi Bucket. It will take all the kitchen waste – yes all of it. Meat, fish, bones and vegetable peelings and in just two weeks the waste will be suitable for digging into the garden or compost heap.  Plus a nutrient rich liquour is produced that can be diluted down into a plant food suitable for both indoor and outdoor plants.

Bokashi Buckets and everything else you need for recycling is available at http://www.recycleworks.co.uk

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We have a lovely new product in stock that will be fab for next summer and will make a nice christmas stocking filler in the mean time.

Polanters  are clever vertical gardens that can be extended to fit any space. …And if you ever grow plants on walls you will know how quickly they dry out and how tricky they can be to water. 

But the  Polanter Vertical Growing System has an integral watering system that spreads the water evenly through, giving the plants ideal growing conditions.

They can be planted with strawberries, flowers or herbs, with columns of thyme, mints or parsley.  In fact there are dozens of ways to make them sing.  Plus they smell great, attract bees and butterflies, and for small gardens they take up next to no space!

 There are some fabulous colours which we will introduce in spring, but we are stocking Green, Terracotta, White and Lavender at the moment. 

…And at only £22 they would make great stocking fillers for Christmas!

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Friends of the Earth have a tip each day for doing something to save the environment and one tip recently recommended avoiding car pollution, traffic and fuel bills by walking to school in little crocodile convoys.

More information is available at  www.walktoschool.org.uk.

Anyway this got us thinking that with the year coming to a close in a few weeks time, our last competition before Christmas should perhaps focus on thoughts of a better environment for 2010. So with our “Love Your Environment” theme in mind we would like your top idea for a New Years Resolution that is good for the environment.

Be as creative as you like and our favorite ideas will go onto the Blog in the New Year. The very best one of the bunch will also win a beautifully crafted solid wood and stainless steel Children’s Hand Trowel plus 10 packets of herb, vegetable and flower seeds to plant in the New Year.

Email your entries to charlotte@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk by no later than 31st December 2009.

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When my children were small, each week we would go to a play group where the first activity of the morning was to make bread.  It was a wonderfully calm, focused and absorbing activity for the children and adults alike, and one of my fondest memories of their early years.

The children would make their own little bread roll which would rise and be baked during the course of the morning.  And when it was time to go home, each child would be given their own bread to take.

 

….And there is something wonderful about home made bread, it has taste, real texture and is a meal all on its own.  So for picnics at the allotment, make your own bread and pick rocket, salad leaves, radishes and tomatoes for a home grown filling!  

For all your gardening needs from raised beds, to compost bins, cold frames to wildlife goodies visit www.recycleworks.co.ukWe also sell a wide range of gardening products specially designed for children, including tools, gloves, allotment plots, wormeries and compost bins

…Back to the business of making bread, with the possible exception of bread machine converts, we are not really a generation of bread makers and the whole process can seem a bit daunting.  But by following a few easy steps the results can be amazing. 

When bread making with the under 10’s we recommend preparing the dough in advance, up to step 10, and dividing the mixture into balls to make rolls.  Each child can then finish their own fairly easily.

Ingredients

Just over a pint of tepid water
2 sachets of dried yeast
1 dessert spoon of brown sugar
5 cups of strong white flour (note our cup takes around 160g of flour)
2 cups of either wheat bran, ground oatmeal, wholemeal flour or granary flour (experiment to see which you prefer) 
Handfull of seeds – choose from chopped chesnuts, linseed, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc

 

Method

  1. Take just over 1 pint of tepid water in a jug
  2. Add 2 sachets of dried yeast
  3. Whisk with 1 dessert spoon of brown sugar until dissolved
  4. In a separate large deep bowl add 5 cups of strong white flour
  5. Add 2 cups of either wheat bran, ground oat meal, wholemeal flour or granary flour.  These give the bread a little more texture.
  6. Add contents of the jug
  7. Stir round and then with your hands form into a ball of dough
  8. If its too sticky add a little more flour but don’t add too much
  9. Work the dough by stretching, folding and kneading for 10 to 15 minutes
  10. Stand in a covered bowl in a slightly warm place until twice the size (about an hour)
  11. Knead for a second time for around 3 to 4 minutes
  12. At this stage you can add seeds of your choice, and little hands love to prod them into the dough
  13. Put into bread tins or make into roll shapes.  When making rolls with little ones there is the chance to be creative, so try cobs, plaits and cottage rolls
  14. When the children have finished leave the dough to rise a second time, for around half an hour and until it doubles in size
  15. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes for rolls.  For a loaf allow 30 – 35 minutes at Gas mark 4 to 5 or 180 C.
  16. When the bread is cooked, place on a rack until cool.  Store in a sealed tin or bag to keep the bread fresh for longer

 

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