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Archive for January, 2014

If you find some slightly soft fruit and vegetables in your cupboard that are past their best why not dig out your paints and make some fun pictures with them.

Fruit and Vegetable Prints

What you will need

Equipment

  • Poster paints in various colours
  • Plastic plates
  • Paint brushes
  • Knife
  • Paper or card
  • Aprons
  • Plastic Table Cloth

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Mushrooms – Cut in half lengthways or cut the stalk off to reveal the gills
  • Broccoli Heads – Keep whole, paint the heads and roll onto the paper or cut lengthways this will resemble a tree
  • Broccoli/Cabbage Leaves – paint or dip the leaves
  • Sweet corn – keep whole, paint the kernels and roll onto the paper
  • Carrots – Cut into chunks for a round print
  • Potatoes – Cut in half for a large round print or cut in half then with the flat side down cut off 3 sides to make a triangle or four sides to make a square or a rectangle
  • French/Runner Beans – Cut at an angle across the pod to make a leaf shape
  • Celery – Cut into chunks, paint the bottoms for crescents or the sides for stripes
  • Apples – Cut in half horizontally to reveal the inner star shape
  • Starfruit – Cut across to make a perfect star
  • Pomegranate – Cut in half horizontally, knock out the seeds to reveal the sections

What you need to do

  1. Cover your working surface with the plastic table cloth and put on your aprons (it can be very messy).
  2. Ask an adult to cut and prepare your vegetables as above.
  3. Put the paints onto separate plates, you may need to add a little water if they are very thick, then spread them out across the base of the plate with a paint brush.
  4. Dip you fruit/vegetables into the paints or paint them with the brush.
  5. Stamp, roll or dab your fruit/vegetables onto the paper to create your masterpiece.
  6. Leave your pictures to dry.
  7. Give your hands a really good wash!

As well as making pictures why not see if your children can identify the fruit and vegetables and where and how they grow.

When you have finished with your fruit and vegetables give them a rinse and recycle them in the Compost Bin.

Have fun

Gill

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This weekend it is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch (25-26 January), so why not take part in the world’s largest wildlife survey, it will only take up an hour of your time, all you need to do during the hour is to record the different species of birds that you see and the highest number of each species that you see at any one time. Schools and Youth Groups such as Brownies and Cubs can get involved too by taking part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch again by watching and recording birds for an hour but this can take place 20 January – 14 February. Send in or register your results online, these results are invaluable and will be used to monitor our bird populations and help with their conservation.

If you are going to take part it is a good idea to put out plenty of bird food and feeders beforehand to attract as many birds to your garden as possible click here for ‘Our guide to feeding garden birds’, if you have time why not make some of your own Bird Cakes.

My Fat Ball and Feeder

Home-made Bird Cakes

An adults help is needed to make these bird cakes as you will need to melt your lard or dripping in a pan.

Ingredients

  • Blocks of supermarket Lard or Dripping
  • Bird Seed
  • Raisins
  • Chopped Nuts/Peanuts

Utensils

  • Thin coated garden wire
  • Brush handle
  • Saucepan
  • Clean empty Yoghurt, Jelly or Custard Pots

Making my Fat Balls

What you need to do

  1. Cut your garden wire into 30cm lengths (with adult help)
  2. Wrap half of the length of wire around the handle to form a spiral and bend over the top to form a loop.
  3. Arrange your empty pots in a tray/seed tray, place a wire spiral in each one then fill to about 2/3rd with the seed mixture.
  4. Melt your lard of dripping in a pan, and leave to cool slightly.
  5. Slowly and carefully pour the melted fat into the pots.
  6. Place your pots in a fridge or somewhere cool to set.
  7. To remove your cakes from their pots, dip them in a bowl of warm water and pull out carefully with the wire handle.

Place your hanging bird cakes around your garden in trees, bushes or from your bird table well out of the way of cats and other predators.

If you have a metal fat ball feeder you can make refills by following the above instructions but omitting the wire spiral from the pots, again warm the pots to remove the cakes and drop them into your feeder.

Happy Birdwatching – Have Fun

Gill

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Happy New Year to you all, let’s hope that this year brings a repeat of the good weather of 2013 and with it another bumper crop of fruit and vegetables.

It is not only our garden that benefitted from last year’s good weather our native wildlife benefited too with many species showing a remarkable increase in numbers.

Red Admiral Butterfly

The National Trust reported that 2013 was a fantastic year for Butterflies; they thrived in the long hot summer months, sightings were up by an average of 80% during the summer’s three official counts, unfortunately for gardeners the Cabbage White did particularly well. The long warm and dry weather was welcomed by insects including moths, bees, crickets and grasshoppers.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Although the cold winter, late spring and hot summer was good news for gardeners by keeping down the slug population, this was not good for the frogs, toads and mammals who eat them, again good for gardeners the numbers of aphids was greatly reduced but this affected the seven-spot ladybirds, hoverflies and birds that rely on them as their main food source.

Almost everything is affected by the weather, at the moment the ground is very wet and very little outdoor gardening that can be done, why not start planning and preparing for the year ahead by checking and ordering your seeds, propagators and seed sowing essentials, click here for lots more information to get yourself organised for seed sowing.

Why not have a go at Sylvia’s January Competition for a chance to win a

Stewarts 52cm Premium Variable Temperature Electric Propagator

Stewarts 52cm Premium Variable Temperature Electric Propagator

All you need to do is

Tell us what you do with your seedlings when you pot them on.  This is not a trick question. We really want to know what you do with them to secure their future as productive plants.

For full details and how to enter (by midnight 31st January 2014) click here.

Good Luck

Gill

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