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Archive for April, 2012

During March our Schools Competition was to find three signs of spring, tell us what they were, as well as your favourite thing about spring.

We had a great vegetable growing starter kit to give away to one lucky school which included

There were lots of entries but the winning school was St. John’s Catholic Junior School at Bebington, many congratulations to them and we hope that their vegetables grow superbly.

Thank you to all of you who entered this competition, why not have a go at our current competitions in:

The School Zone

This year the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee and there will be lots of events and festivities taking place all over the country.

For a chance to win some great gardening goodies get patriotic and have a go at our competition, all you need to do is to ‘Draw a Royal Garden’ and you could win:

Kids Standing Raised Bed Growing Table

1 x Kids Standing Raised Bed Growing Table

1 x Gardener’s Apprentice Hand Fork

1 x Gardener’s Apprentice Hand Trowel

2 x Children’s Gardening Aprons

1 x Kid’s traditional Watering Can

A selection of Seeds

So get designing and send in your drawings to us before 31st May 2012. For more information and an entry form see our School Zone.

Take a look at our other competition in the Family Zone.

Lots of seeds can be started off on your windowsill and an ideal way to grow them is in a Mini Propagator especially if the weather outside is cold or wet.

To win some great garden goodies all you need to do is to

SOW AND GROW SOMETHING YOU CAN EAT ON YOUR WINDOWSILL

and then tell us all about it or send in a photograph or a drawing

 The winning entry will receive:

So get planning, sowing and growing as entries need to be in by 31st May 2012. For more information and an entry form take a look at our Family Zone.

Good Luck

Gill

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I had an ‘Ask the Expert’ enquiry this week from Natalie who wanted some advice on which seeds to buy from our website that she could grow at her son’s nursery garden. She wanted to grow things that the children could eat at their snack time but the only draw back was that they had to be able to pick them between now and the end of June before they break up, here was my advice:

As you are limited for time (approx. 9 weeks before the end of June) the quickest things to sow/grow/harvest would be vegetables/herbs that are grown for their leaves rather than their fruit (tomatoes) or roots (carrots, beetroot).

Mustard and Cress

Mustard and Cress are perhaps the easiest and quickest to grow and can be eaten in approx. a week, these can be sown little and often, sow indoors not too thickly on a thin layer of moist compost or moist tissues, cover with a piece of paper until they are 1”(25cm) and then cut when they are about 2”(50cm).

Salad Leaves (Red & Green mixed) are very quick to mature and their different coloured leaves look attractive.

Coriander

Herbs fit nicely into this category and our Herb Variety Pack contains:

Coriander, Basil, Dill, Rocket

Basil

available to buy separately is Parsley (this can sometimes be slow to germinate)

Essential Propagator

 

To get them all off to a good start I would sow them in Pots/Trays in a Propagator or on a warm sunny windowsill. When they are big enough to handle re-pot them into Larger Pots/Trays with more space to grow, again returning them to the windowsill until they are large enough to plant outside when the weather if favourable.

 

They can be planted into Containers, Hanging Baskets, Wall Baskets, Window Boxes or Grow Bags. They are ideal for planting into Raised Beds, Salad and Herb Beds, Corner Raised Beds or Mangers.

It is advisable to protect them with Fleece if any frost is forecast until they are well established.

Salubrious Salad and Herb Bed

For best results they should be in a warm, sheltered and sunny position.

I hope that Natalie and all the children enjoy sowing and growing their seeds and they enjoy eating the lovely fresh leaves too.

Happy Growing

Gill

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Waiting for food and water

Back home from our Easter break one of our first duties was to feed the school chickens, pupils can volunteer to be put on ‘The Chicken Rota’  to look after the chickens during the holidays and at weekends, we were down for four days during the Easter holidays.

Mini Swiss Chalet for Chickens

The school has four Warren chickens and they live on the school field in a very desirable chicken house with a large run. They were always very pleased to see us, I am sure they must miss the children during the holidays. We topped up their food and gave them clean water and straw for their nest boxes and were rewarded with four lovely fresh eggs each day, they were all different sizes and colours and some were still warm, I don’t know who enjoyed looking after the chickens the most my son or me!

Chicken Run

We then took a detour down to the river to see the Sand Martins they have just arrived back from the South Sahara and they make their nests (burrows) in the sandy bank on the opposite side of the river, there was also a Mallard Family with their two young ducklings these are the first ones I have seen this year.

'Pleased to see us'

Back home we had the best ever boiled eggs for dinner!

Keeping chickens in your garden is becoming very popular and I can now understand why. They are easy to look after, fascinating to watch, friendly, make brilliant ‘pets’ for children, take up very little room and will ‘recycle’ a lot of your kitchen scraps into delicious eggs.

Have you got room for chickens in your garden?

Gill

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I hope that you have all had a lovely Easter. Over the holidays we managed to get away in the caravan to Silverdale and had a great time although it was a little bit chilly but the cold weather didn’t seem to put off the wildlife.

The Adventurer Feeder

When we go on holiday we always take with us a couple of Bird Feeders (one for Seed or Sunflower Hearts and one for Peanuts) to put up near the caravan. This is something that anyone could do and you can often attract different species that you wouldn’t get in your garden. Within half an hour we had Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, and Robins and were thrilled when a couple of Marsh Tits and Jays arrived later on.

A hungry Pheasant

The fallen seeds on the ground attracted Blackbirds, Jackdaws, Magpies and Pheasants, it was not just the birds that were hungry, Grey Squirrels were regular visitors and their acrobatics were very funny to watch but they did tend to monopolise the feeders, and had started to chew them, we shall have to invest in some Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders for our next holiday.

Whether you are at home or on holiday keep feeding the birds, they need your help throughout the year not just during winter.

Small Guardian Seed Feeder

On one of our woodland walks we were privileged to see a couple of Roe Deer (a female and her year old fawn) later we came across a lovely sunny bank carpeted with our native Bluebell, they were stunning and their sweet perfume was delightful. If you get the opportunity go for a walk in your local woods and witness this spectacular sight, as well doing a bit of bird/wildlife spotting (take your Nature Diary with you). You can find out where your nearest Bluebell Wood is by visiting The Woodlands Trust website, here you can also register your local Bluebell Wood so that other people may visit it too.

A stunning Bluebell Wood

So get out there and enjoy your environment.

Gill

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This year the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee and a fantastic way to celebrate this historic event, which will provide a lasting and truly environmental tribute, is to plant a tree or wood. The Woodland Trust is helping millions of people in the UK to come together to plant 6 million trees. The aim of their Jubilee Project is to create hundreds of Jubilee Woods and 60 special Diamond Woods, which will transform our landscape in a generation. Individuals, communities, schools and families are being invited to take part to plant thousands of trees in their gardens (trees in pots count too), playgrounds and community space. Schools and community groups can apply for free tree packs.

All types of trees can be planted e.g. Fruit Trees (Apple, Plum, Pear, Cherry), Trees with berries (Hawthorn, Rowan), Trees with Nuts (Hazel, Cob Nut, Oak), Native, Deciduous or Evergreen Trees, Trees for Autumn Colour or Blossom, or Trees to attract wildlife. Before choosing your tree you will need to consider where you are going to plant it, how much space is available and how big your tree will grow when it is mature.

Trees are an essential part of our environment and provide an invaluable habitat for wildlife. Their leaves and bark provide food and a home for insects and larvae which in turn are food for birds and animals. They provide nest sites in their branches and holes in their trunks for birds and animals. Underneath their canopy they provide a unique habitat for many woodland plants and wildflowers. Trees provide fruits and food for wildlife as well as ourselves. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and their leaves act as a filtering system absorbing harmful pollutants and intercepting the damaging particles in smoke and dust and in return they produce oxygen. Over a year two trees are capable of producing enough oxygen for a family of four.

So why not take part and make your tree count as one of the 6 million planted in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it’s something that my family will definitely be doing and I will let you know how I get on.

Love your environment.

Gill

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