Archive for September, 2010

If you have never tried making souffle now is your chance and it makes even more sense if, like me you have a glut of courgettes to use up.  They are at their seasonal best right now, and this recipe is both easy and delicious.

…And as long as you don’t open the oven door half way through cooking, your souffle will rise beautifully!

If you have too many courgettes to eat in one sitting, why not cook them with the garlic, mash them ready to use and then freeze to use on another occasion.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
250g courgettes finely sliced
25g butter
25g plain flour
150 ml warm milk
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
25g cheddar or Gruyère cheese

Cook the garlic and courgettes with the olive oil in a frying pan, until soft but not brown

When they are cooked, mash them to a pulp

Melt the butter and flour in a saucepan

Add the milk, little by little stirring continuously

When all the milk has been added, allow the sauce to bubble for a couple of minutes and then remove from the heat

Add the courgettes, egg yolks and cheese to the sauce and beat well together to create a sticky mix

Whisk the egg whites until stiff

Fold the egg whites into the mixture

Put the mixture into a greased souffle dish

Bake for 20 minutes at 190 C until the souffle is brown on the top but still slightly wobbly in the middle

Remove from the oven and serve

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This week we received an enquiry from Debra about composting fruit waste in schools, and we thought a few of you might find our advice useful….

For an excellent range of well designed compost bins visit http://www.recycleworks.co.uk.

School fruit waste is suitable to put in a compost bin, and if included with other green waste and then mixed with  50% brown waste such as thin cardboard or shredded paper, it will make compost that is suitable for use in the school garden. 
However the general advice is it’s often not achievable to compost all of the fruit waste generated in school, due to the quantities involved. 
As a general guide if the school is generating large volumes of fruit waste it is better to compost only what you can and have a well balanced compost bin that is working well.  That way everyone has a positive experience of composting, the children find it a useful learning exercise and everyone involved is then more likely to begin composting at home. 
Some people also worry about the fruit flies associated with this type of waste, but if the lid is left off the compost bin on a windy day, they will disperse quite easily. 
It’s also worth bearing in mind that because fruit waste is acidic it is particularly important to balance it with the shredded cardboard and maintain a good air circulation. 
The soil around a compost bin can be affected by the contents of the bin.  For example, the grass may grow quicker and be greener due to the leaching out of nutrients. 
For more information on composting take a look at our fact sheet – How to Make Compost.

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As autumn descends the hedgerows become full of wild berries.  A valuable source of winter food for birds, why not harvest a few hawthorn berries and have a go at making this old fashioned jelly.

Find a crop of berries that appear juicy and are nice and ripe.  Three pounds of berries will make around two jars of jelly.


3 lb hawthorn berries
Sugar – 1 lb of sugar per pint of liquid
Juice of 1 lemon


Take the berries, remove all the stems and wash

Put in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil

Simmer for around an hour and mash the berries part way through

Strain the mixture through some muslin

Take 1 lb of sugar per pint of juice and put in a heavy saucepan

Add the juice of a lemon to the sugar

Add the strained hawthorn juice

Bring to the boil and stir well to dissolve the sugar

After a few minutes add a teaspoon of the mixture to a saucer and allow to cool.  With a knife cut across the mixture and if a thin skin has formed the jelly is ready

Pour the mixture into sterilised jars and seal securely with lids.


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We always have competitions running for families and schools, with some great seasonal prizes up for grabs.   

In August, Sylvia in her Recycleworks brief asked for your gardening photos.  She had some very good entries and the winning shot was of three year old Sam Thomason with his first harvest, grown with the help of mum Emma.  Well done Sam! 

Sam Thomason aged 3, with his first harvest of carrots and potatoes


   The Gardening With Children August Quiz was won by Millbrook Primary School in Shropshire along with their teacher Mrs Mills.  Well done to everyone who took part. 

If you would like a chance to win a prize in during September take a look at our competitions for Schools and Families.  All entries need to be with us by 30th September – Good luck! 

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We recently had an enquiry from Paula in Yorkshire.  Here is her question along with our advice.

“I have got to take a class of Key Stage 4 pupils with learning difficulties for a modular allotment session each week during the first half of the autumn term.  What can I grow in that limited time?”

Hi Paula,
 It’s always tricky planning gardening activities with children when you have only a few weeks to see the results. 
There are the obvious things to plant such as bulbs.  Outdoor varieties can be planted straight into the ground and provide a nice surprise in early spring when the rest of the garden is still dormant.  The children can also plant their own bulb in a pot to take home.  Indoor varieties of hyacinths, narcissi and crocus are nice.  Always choose good quality bulbs and ones particularly suited to being forced indoors – the labels will tell you.
Then take a pot, place a few bits of broken crocks or small stones at the bottom for drainage, half fill with moist compost and then position the bulbs so that the top of the bulb reaches the rim of the container.  Water thoroughly from the top.
Then put in a cool dark place such as an unheated garage.  Keep the soil moist and in 12 to 16 weeks when the shoots are 2 to 3 inches above the pot move the pots to an unheated space and place in indirect light.  Don’t allow them to dry out.  In a week or two the pots can then be given to the children to take home where they can put them on a sunny window sill and enjoy the flowers.
Growing Herbs on Window Sills
Pots of herbs can be sown in  moist compost and cultivated indoors.  Parsley and Sweet Fennel in particular are successful in autumn.  This herb pot holds 4 herbs and has its own self watering systems which is handy. 
Sowing Winter Salads
Our selection of winter salad seeds can be planted now and will grow all through winter months.
Making Leaf Mould Compost
Kids always love raking leaves.  You can collect them into one of these leaf mould composters and next year you will have a great soil improver for your raised beds
Good luck with your half term of gardening

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As the days begin to shorten and the nights take on a cooler air it becomes an important time for animals such as hedgehogs, as they start to hunt out places to hibernate. So this months family competition has a slightly prickly theme!


See how much you know about these enchanting creatures by entering our Hedgehog Quiz. The closing date is 30 September 2010.

The first correct set of answers out of the hat will win the perfect home for a hedgehog – a Hogitat plus the laminated Field Guide to Hedgehogs and some Hedgehog Food which is perfectly designed to give hedgehogs a nutritious meal to see them into their winter hibernation.


So here are the questions

(1) Why are hedgehogs known as the gardeners friend?

(2) Name two ways that you can encourage hedgehogs into your garden

(3) Hedgehogs are mainly nocturnal – what does that mean?

(4) True or False: A hedgehog may travel 2 miles in a night?

(5) Give one reason why animals hibernate in winter

Send your answers by email to competitions@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk or fill out the form here and post to Gardening With Children, Unit 1, Bee Mill, Ribchester, Lancashire. PR3 3XJ.

Good Luck!

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With autumn in the air, now is the perfect time to get composting. So for this months school competition we thought it would be fun to have a Mini Composting Quiz.

Why not have a go, it will only take a few minutes and it’s a fun way to learn more about composting. …And the first lucky school out of the hat will win one of these brilliant Children’s Twin Wooden Compost. Made from FSC wood and treated with non-toxic preservative it’s a perfect way to get kids excited about composting.  …But the closing date is 30th September 2010 so enter today! 


So here are the questions

Which one of the following helps to make compost in the compost bin? (a)Birds, (b)Worms or (c)Squirrels

List 3 things you can put on the compost heap

List 3 things you should avoid putting on the compost heap

True or False? – Some moisture is important for composting and helps the vegetation to break down but too much water makes the compost smelly and sloppy

Why do you think it’s important to compost kitchen and garden waste?

Send you entries by email to competitions@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk or fill in the form here and send by post to Gardening With Children, Unit 1, Bee Mill, Ribchester, PR3 3XJ.

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