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Archive for June, 2012

We should never underestimate the power of nature and for once the weather forecast was right, last Friday (22 June) it rained and it rained, it was relentless, heavy and windy too. The rain began at 9am and I believe continued until 1am Saturday morning. Amber weather warnings were issued and flood alerts were put out. Living in Ribchester, which is situated in a valley on a flood plain, we are used to flooding, it is an annual occurrence, but this one was quite bad.

A flooded road in Ribchester

On Monday and Wednesday last week I managed to get on the allotment knowing that rain was forecast for the end of the week (but not just how much) I weeded the onion and garlic beds and also between the potatoes all these were growing well and I was very pleased with their progress. I dug over the small bed and planted out my four courgette plants and also dug the large bed at the back and planted my pumpkins all were nicely tucked in with a liberal sprinkling of chicken manure. I was pleased with my efforts and the plot was looking great although there was still plenty to do, as always.

Flattened Onions

My allotment is in a lovely spot, surrounded by the River Ribble on one side and Duddel Brook on two of the other sides, making it very prone to flooding, usually this occurs in Winter which is not too bad but the Summer floods affect the crops the most, last August we had a flash flood, the onions which were nearly ready for harvesting and the potatoes were the worst affected. Water got into the onions and with the warm temperatures they started to rot, I picked them and put them in the greenhouse to dry out but over half had to be thrown away, soon after potato blight spread through the potato crop.

This time the flood water had covered the allotments up to a depth of 6 foot, it was not a pretty sight on Saturday morning, plants had been flattened, debris was stuck in trees and fences, sheds had been moved and everything was covered in a layer of muddy silt, our shed had been lifted up and was now resting on the bench. There is not a lot that can be done we will have to wait and see how our crops respond and hope that we get a hot dry summer. I am lucky that it was only my allotment that was flooded and not my house it must be a devastating and frightening experience for those affected in this way.

Although it is very disheartening I still love my environment and gardening

Gill

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Thank you to everyone who entered our April May 2012 Competitions we were inundated with entries and choosing winners proved quite a challenge.

The Schools Competition was to ‘Draw a Royal Garden’, the variety of the entries and the ideas were wonderful but there could only be one winner and Southville Junior School was chosen, with the winning entry drawn by Adam. Adam has obviously put a lot of thought, time and care into his design and we loved his 3D Queen and Lions.

The winning entry by Southville Junior School

Their prizes of a Kids Standing Raised Bed Growing Table, a Gardener’s Apprentice Hand Fork and Hand Trowel, two Children’s Gardening Aprons, a Kids Traditional Watering Can and a selection of Seeds are on their way and we hope they will prove useful in their school garden.

The Family Competition was to ‘Sow and grow something you can eat on your windowsill’ again we had a great response to this competition, the winner was Sid Hunter from Hertford who grew a bean plant just like Jack and the Beanstalk. To germinate his bean Sid placed it on cotton wool so that he was able to see it growing and the roots and leaves appearing, what a great idea. Sid looks thrilled with the bean that he has grown and we hope that it will produce a good crop.

Sid and his bean

Sid’s prizes of a Children’s Mini Propagator Seed Growing Kit, A Growbox Children’s Flower Garden in a box, a Kid’s Traditional Watering Can, and a Gardener’s Apprentice Hand Fork and Trowel are on their way, we hope that he has great fun using these.

Sid watching his bean grow

Why not have a go at our current competitions; in the School Zone you could win a Solar Insect Theatre and a Butterfly and Moth Feeder by completing our Butterfly Wordsearch and in the Family Zone you could win a Solar Insect Theatre and a Butterfly Nectar Feeding Station by filling in the missing colours to complete the butterfly names.

Good Luck

Gill

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To celebrate National Insect Week (25th June – 1st July) why go on a Bug Hunt in your school garden or at home. Gardens have become a haven for wildlife, especially now that our farmland is becoming more intensively farmed. There are hundreds of different species of Insects but being small and quite elusive they often go unnoticed in our day-to-day life, why not go and explore your patch to see what is living on your doorstep.
 
Be prepared
You may need to wear waterproof/old clothes and Wellingtons.The Minibeast GuideEquipment
A Minibeast/Insect Identification Guide, Camera, Magnifying Glass, Note Pad, Pencil and a suitable container (not airtight) to study the insects (release any insects as soon as possible and return them to where they were found, please take care not to harm the insects themselves nor cause significant disturbance to their environment).
 
Where to look
Have a look under stones/rocks/plant pots/logs and rotting wood, in compost heaps and long grass, on the underside of leaves, on flower heads, in leaf litter and near ponds (always have an adult with you).

Dragonfly

Insects to look out for
  • Dragonflies and Damselflies
  • Ladybirds
  • Grasshoppers/Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Butterflies
  • Hoverflies
  • Aphids/Greenfly
  • Moths
  • Lacewings
  • Ants
  • Wasps
  • Bees
  • Earwigs
  • Flies
  • Bugs
Once you find your insect, make a record of what it is, draw a picture of it or take a photograph, record where you found it, what it was doing or what it was eating/feeding on and the date (Write your information in your Wildlife Diary).
 
This is a great way to get children (and adults) outdoors and interested in their environment, and it is something that everyone can do whatever their age (I love it as much as Thomas).
 
Happy hunting
 
Gill
 

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To celebrate National Jam Week next week, 18-24 June 2012, why not make some delicious Strawberry Jam. Strawberries are one of the first fruits to come into season but they all seem to ripen at once and do not have a very long ‘shelf life’ once picked, so why not turn your crop into a delicious treat that you can enjoy well into the winter months. This is a great way to preserve your crop if you have a glut or if you want to take advantage of the plentiful supply in the supermarkets.

Strawberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 1500g strawberries
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1250g Sugar

Method

  1. Wash your strawberries; remove the green tops as well as any soft/bruised spots and cut any large fruits into smaller pieces.
  2. Put the strawberries into a large heavy based saucepan.
  3. Simmer gently until hot, and then add the sugar and lemon juice.
  4. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. Raise the heat and boil rapidly stirring occasionally until setting point is reached (To check for setting point chill a plate in the fridge and put a small teaspoon of jam onto it and allow to cool. Push your finger through the jam, if setting point has been reached the skin on the jam should wrinkle up when pushed and the jam either side should remain separate).
  6. Remove any scum off the top of the jam.
  7. Spoon the jam into hot, sterilised jars and seal down.
  8. Leave to cool, label and store in a cool place.

This recipe will make approx. 4 x 500g jars.

Jam is a delicious topping on ice cream, rice pudding, croissants, scones, jam tarts, pancakes, waffles as well as on toast and of course in Britains favourite and our children’s favourite ‘jam butties’.

Yum, Yum!

 Gill

P.S. Have a look at The Recycleworks website under Summer Harvest for more great ways to Press, Preserve and Dry your fruit crops.

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This Sunday on Father’s Day why not tempt your Dad out of bed with the irresistible smell of freshly baked home made Flapjack. This is a recipe that I use again and again and with delicious results every time.

Fruity Flapjack

Ingredients

  • 200g (7oz) unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 80g (3oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 350g (12oz) rolled oats
  • 100g (3.5oz) approx Raisins or Sultanas (add more/less if preferred)
  • 10 approx Glace cherries chopped (add more/less if preferred)

 Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 /Electric Oven 190C / Fan Oven 170C.
  2. Lightly grease an 18cm x 30cm (7inch x 12inch) tin and fully line with greaseproof paper.
  3. Heat the butter, syrup and sugar in a large saucepan until the butter has melted.
  4. Add the Raisins/Sultanas and Cherries and stir, then add the rolled oats and mix well.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly into the lined tin and press down with a fork so that the mixture fills the corners and that any air pockets are removed.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden, keep checking towards the end of cooking as if overcooked they will not have that lovely soft texture (All ovens vary slightly I cook mine at 170C (Fan) for 10 minutes then turn the tray round and cook for another 10 minutes).
  7. Once cooled you should be able to easily lift out the flapjack holding the greaseproof paper, and then cut into pieces.
  8. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Flapjack is packed full of energy and will keep you going whatever you have planned on this special day, it also makes a perfect addition to a lunch box, family picnic or a day out.

Enjoy!

 Gill

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With Fathers Day fast approaching (Sunday June 17th) now is the time to get your Dad that perfect gift to show him how much he means to you.

At The Recycleworks we have lots of great gardening products that would be ideal and will suit everyone’s budget, here are a few of my suggestions for pocket money gifts, all for less than £10.00 each:

Wooden Diblet 
(Handy tool for planting seeds and seedlings)
 
Recycled Adjustable Bottle Sprayer 
(Perfect for spraying plants)
 
Non-Electric Propagator
(Budget propagator that does the job)
 
Growing Tray with 12 x 11cm Pots
(Perfect for potting up your seedlings)
 
Enamel Garden Thermometer
(A must in the greenhouse to keep your eye on the temperature)
 
Gardeners Dirty Work Gardening Gloves
(Ideal for doing lots of messy jobs)
 
Strawberry and Herb Planter
(Great space saving planter for your patio)
 
Car Boot Liner
(Keeps your boot clean and dry)
 
Grow and Cook Book
(Handy book for the gardener and cook)
 
Garden Tool Caddy
(Keeps all your essential tools in one place)
 
Plastic Soil Sieve
(Produces fine stone free soil for seeds and seedlings)
 
Self Watering Trough
(Fill with your favourite Herbs)
 
Orange Bead Hand Scrub
(Cleans dirty gardening hands a treat)
 
Kitchen Garden Propagator Kit
(A must for starting off seeds on the windowsill)
 
Stainless Steel Hand Hoe
(Handy size for weeding and hoeing)
 
Raised Bed Vegetable Seeds – Spring Pack
(Great starter pack includes Dwarf French Bean, Spring Onion, Carrot, Beetroot and Pea)

Take a look at our website too for lots more great gardening products.

Why not give your Dad a hand in the garden, I am sure he would appreciate the extra help and enjoy your company as well, let’s hope that we have a lovely sunny day and that we can all get in the garden.

Gill

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