Archive for July, 2010

Whilst a lot of the country is enjoying some sunny weather at this the start of the school holidays, here in Lancashire the rain has not been in short supply. 

The water-butt is full, the wellies are out (not to mention the waterproof trousers!) and the day has been spent dodging showers …again!  

It was during one of the wet spells that we decided to make some cookies.  Always guaranteed to lift the spirits, they are so easy to make and are munchingly more-ish!!

100g chocolate  broken into pieces
125g unsalted butter
100g granulated sugar
75 g soft brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder


  1. Heat the oven to 190C
  2. Grease a baking tray
  3. Melt the butter
  4. Mix the sugars together in a mixing bowl
  5. Add the melted butter and beat well
  6. Beat the egg
  7. Add the egg and vanilla essence to the mixing bowl
  8. Mix well
  9. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixing bowl and mix well
  10. Add in the chunks of chocolate and mix
  11. Spoon dollops of mixture onto the baking tray and place in the middle of the oven for around 10 or so minutes or until slightly brown
  12. Allow to cool and munch

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Broad beans are at their yummy seasonal best round about now.  Try them with bacon for a delicious side dish or snack.

2 or 3 cups of broad beans
6 rashes of bacon
1 onion
dash of olive oil


  • Add the shelled broad beans to a pan of boiling water
  • Cook for 2 minutes
  • Drain and rinse through cold water
  • Remove the outer skins
  • In a frying pan, add a dash of olive oil and cook the bacon until crispy
  • Add a finely chopped onion and cook until the onion is clear
  • Add the pre-cooked broad beans and heat through
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve and enjoy!

…And if you would like to avoid wasting the broad bean pods why not trim and remove stringy edges, cut into 3 to 4 cm strips, dip into flour and shallow fry for a slightly unhealthy but tasty treat.

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The summer holidays are a great time to spend some quality time with the children, and to help prevent things from descending into chaos, it’s good to  have a few activities planned. 

For some inspiration have a look at Things to do in the Summer Holidays – Our Activity Ideas.  From little growing projects to finding wild food, there is something for all age groups to enjoy.

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We were at the allotment at the weekend and Jemima, being a lover of all fruits, was going round asking which berries she was allowed to pick.  She set about the redcurrant bush and before I knew it she’d filled a tub full of red currants…and along with the red ones there were green ones and all shades in between.

On the whole they were not quite ripe enough to pick but Jemima’s enthusiasm was hard to contain.  We also don’t net our fruit for fear of trapping birds and if we had left them on the bushes for longer a lot would probably have been eaten. 

So I took my large tub of under ripe redcurrants home and put them on a window sill, with the lid loosely fitted and left them for a couple of days.  Hey presto!  They all ripened beautifully and so I will probably pick them early again next year.

For super speedy berry picking why not try the handy Berry Picker.  Available in two sizes it allows you to harvest the fruit up to ten times faster than usual.

I decided to make some redcurrant jam with my bumper harvest.  It was so easy to make and extremely delicious.


600g red currants
900g sugar
600 ml water


  1. Wash the redcurrants and remove any stems
  2. Put them in a pan with the sugar and water
  3. Stir well
  4. Bring to the boil
  5. Allow to boil for a few minutes until the fruit begins to soften
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the mixture begins to thicken
  7. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and place on a saucer to cool.  If a thin skin forms on the top which crinkles when cut through with a knife, the jam is ready
  8. Poor into clean glass jam jars, seal with a lid and store ready for use.


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Congratulations to the lucky winners of our June competitions. 

The school competition was won by the Shinewater Primary School Eco Committee and the winner of our family competition was Grace Ellett and Grand mum Phyllis.  Well done we do hope you enjoy your prizes, and thanks to everyone else who entered.

If you would like a chance to win, why not enter our competitions for July.  For all the details click here for Families and here for Schools.  This month we have some wonderful wildlife goodies up for grabs.  Good luck with your entry! 

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With this spell of lovely weather looking set to stay during July and August, we thought this tip of the day from Friends of the Earth was particularly appropriate…


Consider buying a water butt to catch rainfall that you can later use to water your plants. It’s more planet-friendly than using tap water, which has to go through energy-intensive purification to make it drinkable. The plants won’t mind if you save rain for them instead.

For more Tips of the Day from Friends of the Earth click here and for a well designed and affordable range of water butts take a look at www.recycleworks.co.uk.


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July is here and so are our new competitions! Take a look, and get your entry to us for a chance to win some lovely wildlife prizes!

School Competition for July

With only a few weeks left until the end of term we know how busy you all must be.  So we have made the July competition very quick and easy to enter.  Just send in a photo of some gardening in your school or nursery garden.  The top shots will appear on our blog, and the very best of the bunch will win a fabulous Bumber Bird Feeding Bundle.  Perfect for encouraging birds into the garden during the autumn term, it will include:

  • 1 x Birdie Bistro
  • 1x Pack of 3 Birdie Bistro Refills
  • 1 x Window Bird Feeder
  • 1 x Apple Bird Feeder
  • 1 x Roosting Pocket
  • 1 x Bird Table Cleaner
  • 1 x Bottle of Wildkleen Bird Table Sanitizer
  • The closing date is 31st July 2010, so send in your entries to competitions@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk today! 

    Family Competition

    Friends of the Earth came up with this great idea for helping others and the environment during the summer holidays…

    “Don’t pack loads of toys for your trip. Instead, when you arrive at your holiday destination, go into the local charity shop and buy some toys. Let the kids play with them on holiday and then before you leave donate them back. Think of it like a toy library while helping a charity make some money.”

    For this months family competition we would like to hear of anything you are up to over the summer to help others or the environment where you live….. Maybe you’re starting to recycle your rainwater,  growing flowers for butterflies or perhaps volunteering with a local wildlife group…. 

    Whatever you are up to, tell us in a few words and the best entry will win a Solar Insect Theatre – perfect for the study of all sorts of butterflies, moths and other flying insects.

    Send your entries to competitions@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk, or complete the form available here and pop it in the post to us.  All entries need to arrive with us by 31st July 2010.

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