Archive for February, 2012

This year marks the 20th year of the Fairtrade Foundation.

For the last 20 years Fairtrade has worked with producers in developing countries to achieve better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers.

During Fairtrade Fortnight 27th February – 11th March why not ‘take your step for Fairtrade’ (fairtrade.org.uk/step) and support this brilliant charity, your step could be to simply try a new Fairtrade product , swap brands of some of your favourite products to Fairtrade ones, hold a Fairtrade Chocolate tasting at school or home, or to ask your shop to stock more Fairtrade products.

Look for the Fairtrade Mark when you go shopping! Over 3000 products from coffees to flowers are Fairtrade certified.

Flower Brooch

Garden Lovers Apron

Beaded Scarf

We at the Recycleworks support this worthy cause by selling some lovely Fairtrade products including; pretty hand stitched Flower Brooches, glamorous Beaded Scarves, stylish Cotton Messenger Bags, extremely practical Cotton Whopper Shopper Bags and strong, hard wearing Cotton Garden Lovers Aprons (with appliqué shears, trowel and secateurs) all these products are on special offer at the moment and with Mothers Day only a few weeks away (18th March) they would make ideal gifts for mums or grandmas so support Fairtrade Fortnight and spoil the ones you love.

Whopper Shopper Bag

Messenger Bag

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It has come to my attention that this week is National Chip Week 20th – 26th February and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the humble potato. Whether they are fat, thin, crinkly or wedged we just can’t get enough of them. Did you know that you would need the area of Wembley Stadium to grow all the chips that we British eat every year. A quarter of all potatoes grown in Britain become chips, that’s about 1.5 million tonnes each year or roughly the same weight as 125,000 full double decker buses.

Why not grow your own chips?

There is nothing more satisfying than eating your favourite food that you have grown yourself, and now is the ideal time to get started. The easiest way to grow them especially if you are limited for space i.e. you have a small garden or patio or live in a flat is to plant them in growing bags. These bags are ideal because they can be positioned anywhere, are easy to move, look attractive,  are reusable, give protection from slugs and make harvesting easy.

Potato Growing Kit

Once you get your ‘seed’ potatoes put them into egg trays/boxes with the ‘rose’ end upwards this is where you might see tiny shoots or the ‘belly button’ end facing downwards and place them in a frost-free light (not sunny) room. When the shoots are about 1 inch they are ready to plant. Half fill the growing bag with compost and plant your seed potatoes about 4 inches deep and water well, as the plants grow add more compost covering the leaves and repeat this until you reach the top. Position the bag somewhere sunny and sheltered and as a guide they are ready to harvest after they have flowered. Potatoes need to be kept well watered but not soggy. Varieties suitable for chips are Kestrel a second early, plant out in the bags early to mid April and The Bishop a maincrop, plant in mid to late April.

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This year Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday is on 21st February and is the day before Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent). Pancakes are associated with this day because they were a way to use up rich foodstuffs such as eggs, milk and sugar before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent

On Pancake Day, pancake races are held in villages and towns across the Country. Participants race through the streets carrying a frying pan and flipping and catching a pancake in it whilst they run. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church still carrying her frying pan and pancake.

Pancake Day is a fun day which you can share with friends and family.

Why not have a go at making pancakes, this is the recipe that I use which was given to me by my mum.


  • 1 pint full-fat milk
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 6 oz self raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 level teaspoon ground ginger
  • Generous shake of ground nutmeg
  • 1 oz caster sugar
  • Butter to cook the pancakes


  1. Pour the milk into a jug, add the eggs and beat well
  2. Sieve the flour into a bowl with the nutmeg and ginger, stir in the salt and sugar and make a hollow in the centre
  3. Gradually pour the egg and milk mixture into the centre of the flour, whisking just in the centre as you pour
  4. Keep whisking so you gradually draw in the flour from the outside of the bowl – this will hopefully keep your mixture lump free!
  5. When the flour is fully mixed in, cover the bowl and put in the fridge to rest for half an hour or a few minutes if you are short of time!
  6. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat
  7. Add a small amount of butter and let it melt to cover the base of the pan
  8. Give the batter mix a quick whisk
  9. Ladle some batter into the pan, and tilt the pan so the batter mix covers the base
  10. Put the pan back onto the heat and leave to cook for 1–2 minutes
  11. Flip the pancake when the underside is golden brown
  12. Remove the pancake from the heat when both sides are golden brown
  13. Add your favourite toppings and enjoy

Pancakes are traditionally served with caster sugar and lemon juice. Why not be adventurous and experiment with some delicious toppings:

Add some fresh fruit e.g. pineapple, bananas, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or use tinned fruit

Serve with cream, ice cream, crème fraiche, Greek style yoghurt

Drizzle with chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce, honey, maple syrup or golden syrup

Sprinkle with nuts, chocolate or honeycomb pieces

The variations are endless, yum, yum!

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This year between 14th – 21st February it is National Nest Box Week, this event is organised by the BTO to encourage people to put up nest boxes in their gardens schools, or local green spaces. It was launched in 1997 because birds natural nest sites were disappearing, as trees were being cut down, old houses were being repaired and gardens were being ‘tidied’. Since then it is estimated that between 5 – 6 million nest boxes have been put up by nature lovers across the U.K. By putting up nest boxes now you are giving the birds a chance to become familiar with them before the breeding season starts and also give them a safe place to roost at night.

There are different types of nest boxes available small or large boxes with holes, open fronted nest boxes, very large nest boxes, and community nest boxes each can attract different species of birds, so don’t just put up one box why not spoil the birds and put up a few different types.

If you are a serious bird watcher or a keen enthusiast the addition of a Wildlife Camera in your nest box would be invaluable, you can watch the birds from nest building to the young fledging, and in the comfort of your home.

To get the most out of your nest box, take part in Nest Box Challenge and help the BTO to monitor the breeding success of birds in Britain’s green spaces. To take part, simply register your nest box online and then give them regular updates on whether it is used, what birds are using it, and the progress of any nests.

Remember that any time of the year is a good time to put up a Nest Box.

As this event starts on Valentines Day and if you love birds why not treat them to a nest box or two!

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To celebrate our British treasure the Bramley Apple and Bramley Apple Week 5th February – 12th February why not make a delicious, warming

Bramley Apple Crumble.


  • 1kg/2lb 3½oz Bramley apples
  • Granulated sugar to taste
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 100g/3½oz plain flour
  • 175g/6oz butter
  • 50g/2oz rolled oats
  • 100g/3½oz demerara sugar
  • Generous pinch of ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. Peel, core and dice the apples, put them in a pan with a tablespoon of water and granulated sugar to taste and cook over a medium heat for about five minutes, until the apples start to soften.
  3. Transfer the apple mixture to a shallow ovenproof dish.
  4. Rub the flour and butter together until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  5. Stir in the oats, demerara sugar and the cinnamon/nutmeg and sprinkle evenly over the cooked apples in the pie dish.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden brown on top.
  7. Enjoy hot or cold with Ice Cream, Cream or Custard.
  8. Serves 4.

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This week 5th February – 12th February it is Bramley Apple Week. We are all being encouraged to cook with this very British Apple. It is recognised by home cooks and professional chefs as the best apple for cooking and the Bramley’s unique qualities make it one of the most versatile ingredients for both sweet and savoury dishes.

The first Bramley tree grew from pips planted in the garden of Mary Ann Brailsford at Southwell, Nottinghamshire, England in 1809 making the variety over 200 years old. In 1900 the tree blew down in a terrible storm, but incredibly it survived and believe it or not this tree continues to bear fruit today.

If you want to pick your own Bramley apples why not invest in a tree for your garden or allotment they are available to buy bare rooted or growing in containers. It is not too late to plant them.

Apple trees can do well anywhere, apart from waterlogged sites or in salty sea air, they prefer rich moist soil with well drained loam. It is best to position your tree somewhere sunny and sheltered this will maximise the time your fruit has to ripen.

Bare root trees can be planted late autumn to early spring but avoid planting if there’s a frost, place roots in moist soil until conditions improve. Make the hole big enough for the tree to be buried up to the old soil mark on the stem, and for the roots to be spread out. Place the tree in the hole and push in a wooden stake, then fill the hole with good potting compost and gently firm down but not tread in. Tie the tree to the stake securely but not too tightly on the stem. Water in well and apply a mulch.

Container grown trees can be planted anytime of the year except when frosty or if the soil is too dry or wet. For container grown trees dig a hole larger and deeper than the container, put fresh compost in the bottom and place the tree (minus container) in the hole, do not break up the soil from the container, then fill the hole with fresh compost to the base of the tree, firm in, stake and tie in. Water in well and apply a mulch.

If you are growing a tree in a container, half fill a large tub with soil-based potting compost and place your tree on top (minus container) fill the tub with more soil to the base of the tree, water well and feed regularly.

In dry weather water your fruit trees regularly until they are established.

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Don’t forget to enter your RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch or Big Schools Birdwatch results asap, the information that you provide is invaluable to the RSPB and can help our birds.

We took part as a family last weekend on Sunday 29th January and spotted 22 species which was amazing and we all thoroughly enjoyed taking part, my son was delighted to be chosen to do the Birdwatch at school and commented that “It was the best lesson of the week and could he do it every week!” Don’t worry if you missed taking part as this is something that you could do for fun anytime throughout the year.

Trumpeter Swan

There were a couple of unusual birds that my son wanted to add to his Schools Birdwatch results, these being a Trumpeter Swan and a Black Swan they can both be found on the River Ribble at Ribchester next to my sons school but although he could see them from the window they could not be included as they were not actually in the schools grounds. The Swans are part of a growing collection of birds that are usually about and include a large number of Mallards and now a ‘friendly’ Canada Goose, all the birds are fed every morning by a devoted local lady usually about 9am, so when they hear the children arrive for school they all start to gather on the river bank in anticipation.

Black Swan

The Trumpeter Swan is native to North America and the Black Swan to Australia so we are not sure how they got here but we are privileged that they have and hope that they will stay.

So please keep feeding the birds, you never know what you might encourage into your garden.

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Thank you to everyone who entered our Schools Christmas Wordsearch and the Family Festive Quiz we had a brilliant response and I am delighted to be able to announce the winners.

The winner of the Schools Christmas Wordsearch was Joseph from Winterhill School, Kimberworth, Rotherham, S. Yorks and they will receive Kids Standing Raised Beds, along with 3 solid wood and stainless steel Apprentice Hand Trowels and a Kids Traditional Watering Can.

Kid's Standing Raised Beds

The winner of the Family Festive Quiz was James Jarvis from Southampton and his prize is the Kids Standing Raised Beds.

Congratulations to you both and we hope that you all enjoy using your prizes.

Don’t forget to have a go at our current competitions, in the School Zone you could win a Bug Board and a Hogitat Hedgehog House by designing a Garden for Wildlife and in our Family Competition you could win a fantastic Ceramic Bird and Bee Nester as well as a brilliantly designed Ladybird and Insect Tower by watching the wildlife from your window. With the school half term holidays fast approaching you may get some spare time then to enter. Good Luck!

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