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Archive for March, 2013

Why not have a go at our two free Childrens Competitions.

1.  In the Family Zone and Kids Zone

This Easter grab your wellies put on a warm coat, get outside, and spot 3 signs of spring for a chance to win

a fantastic Yeominis Childrens Wheelbarrow

Yeominis Children's Wheelbarrow

and a pair of Childrens Embroidered Gardening Gloves

Children's Emroidered Gardening Gloves

both are perfect for budding young gardeners.

For full details and how to enter take a look here.

2.  In the School Zone

All you need to do is to find 10 hidden words in our Gardening Wordsearch for a chance to win

a Kids Raised Bed Growing Table

Kids Standing Raised Bed Growing Table

Designed for children they are a perfect height for kids to stand at and around, to sow, grow and harvest their very own vegetables.
 
For full details and how to enter take a look here in the School Zone.
 
The closing date for both competitions is 30th April, 2013.
 
Gill
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Before the growing season gets into full swing get organised, make plans and prepare for a busy Easter Weekend and a productive year ahead in your garden.  

Tools   Check, clean, oil and replace any that are damaged or worn, make sure that you have the right tools for all your jobs this year.

Propagators   These will soon be in full use, test yours early to check it is working properly and give it a good clean, hygiene is very important when sowing seeds. Now is an ideal time to buy one, it will be invaluable throughout the year and in years to come.

 Potting Tray in black

Pots, Trays and Compost   Organise your Greenhouse/Potting Shed sort through your pots and trays throw away any broken ones, give the rest a good clean as well as your potting tray, order new Seed Compost and Vegetable Compost, last year’s opened bags may not be suitable for starting off your new seeds and plants.

Watering Cans & Water Butts   Drain and clean out, check the rose on your watering can and replace if necessary, don’t be caught out by the weather invest in a Water Butt, remember the drought we had in Spring 2012.

Steel Seed Tin 'Dig For Victory'

Store your seeds in a Seed Tin

Seeds   Take stock of your seeds, discard any that are opened and out of date and order more while stocks are still available, store in a suitable Seed Tin to protect them from Mice, Pests and moisture.

Plan   Sit down with a nice cup of tea and draw a plan of your garden/vegetable patch make notes on crops that did/did not do well and where your crops where grown last year, make a new planting plan for this year rotating your crops to get the best results and to avoid problems.

Growing Vegetables by Pauline Pears 

Read   Gardening books are invaluable for reference, ideals, hints and tips for your garden/vegetable plots.

Order Early   If you need any gardening products order early whilst products are available to make sure that you have everything you need.

Make your plans and preparations now, Easter is early and it’s the busiest gardening weekend of the year, let’s hope it’s warm and dry.

Gill

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The weather is a very popular subject with the British people and who can blame them, one minute it’s sunny the next its cloudy, it can be warm one day and freezing the next or blowing a gale, foggy, raining, sleeting or snowing and if we are very unlucky a combination of all of these.

Just over a week ago I thought Spring had arrived, on my plot I began digging in earnest, the sun was shining, it was warm, I weeded the beds, dug one of them over and forked in some Chicken Poo ready for my Onion Sets which I planted 4” apart in rows, leaving 9” between each row, this year I am growing Setton and Sturon. Onions Sets are very easy to grow and only need occasional weeding, feeding and watering if the weather is dry during the growing season.

Autumn Rasberries

Autumn Rasberries

The next job was to prune my Autumn Raspberry Canes down to the ground, I forked in some Chicken Poo, applied a mulch from my Compost Bin and placed the old canes across my onion bed to deter the birds from pulling the sets out of the ground as it is said they think they are worms. Autumn Raspberries fruit on this years new canes, which may need to be thinned out in Summer if they are overcrowded, I prefer them to Summer Raspberries as they flower later, avoiding the frosts, and fruit later, extending the fruiting season, you can pick delicious Raspberries well into late Autumn, it is still not too late to plant some Raspberry Canes.

Frogs & spawn

Since that lovely sunny day we have had biting easterly winds, freezing temperatures and snow, the frogs in the garden pond have been waiting patiently at the bottom for over a month, this weekend they are very active, we did a head count on Friday evening with a torch and counted 30+, we have 8 blobs of frog spawn so far.

Spring surely must be just around the corner

Gill

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I hope that you are all having a lovely day and are being treated to breakfast in bed, some lovely flowers, a plant, maybe some gardening equipment, a day or Sunday lunch out. 

Last year I recall was a lovely day and I spent the day in the garden, after breakfast in bed of course, but this year we have a steely grey sky and a bitter cold biting wind with snow on the weather forecast.

If you are not going out why not have make some delicious Chocolate Chip and Cherry Cookies with your children to thank them, here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Chip and Cherry Cookies

Ingredients

  • 75g butter/margarine softened
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 175g plain flour
  • half teaspoon baking powder
  • 50g glace cherries
  • 100g chocolate drops

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180C, 350F, Gas mark 6.
  2. Mix together, in a bowl, the caster and light brown sugar with the butter/margarine until smooth and creamy.
  3. Beat the egg in a dish or cup, add the vanilla essence and mix again.
  4. Add the egg mixture a little at a time to the butter mixture mixing well.
  5. Sift the flour and baking powder through a sieve into the bowl and stir in until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Cut the cherries into small pieces and add to the mixture with the chocolate drops and stir well.
  7. Put a heaped teaspoon of the mixture onto baking trays, lined with greaseproof paper, and flatten down with a fork.
  8. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Leave them for a few minutes before removing with a spatula and putting on a wire rack to cool.
  10. Makes approx. 24 cookies.

 Whatever your plans have a lovely day,

 Gill

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If you like a bit of heat in your cooking then why not have a go at growing your own pot of Chillies on your windowsill.

Chilli Pot

Windowsill Chilli Pot

Chillies make attractive plants, there are lots of different varieties to choose from which will produce chillies in varying shapes, sizes, colours and degrees of heat from mild through to hot, some are even described as ‘inferno’ these definitely are not for the faint hearted.

Chilli seeds need heat to germinate, the plants prefer a warm and sunny position to grow on and ripen their fruits, as they are slow to germinate they need to be sown early to crop in late summer.

Fill your seed trays or pots with seed compost and sow the seeds thinly on the surface, lightly cover with compost or vermiculite and water carefully with a fine rose.

Place in a propagator or on a warm windowsill at a temperature of 18-21C (65-70F), do not exclude light as this helps germination, which can take 7-14 days.

Once the seedling are large enough to handle pot on into small pots of good quality compost, and then when they have outgrown their pots transplant into larger pots, hanging baskets, containers, or into grow bags where they are to crop. If you want to grow them outside harden them off and plant out in a sunny sheltered position after all risk of frost has passed,

Feed the plants weekly after the first fruits begin to form and water when the compost feels dry, you may need to stake the plants to support the fruit bearing stems.

Chilli Starter Kit

Chilli Starter Kit

Give them a try; why not treat yourself or someone special on Mothers Day (10th March) to a Chilli Growing Kit .

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