Archive for May, 2017

Beef Tomatoes

This week it is British Tomato Week 22nd-28th May which is launched by the British Tomato Growers Association to promote our own locally grown tomatoes.

British grown tomatoes are available in shops now, picked when they are perfect for eating and with only a short distance to travel to the shops they are super fresh, tasty, healthy and environmentally friendly.

Although many British growers produce tomatoes on a large scale they care about the environment, millions of bumblebees are used each year to pollinate plants, insects are used as a natural pest control and millions of gallons of water are stored from glasshouse roofs for irrigation.

Tomatoes are delicious fresh or cooked, they are very healthy containing Vitamins A, C and E, and Potassium and Calcium, they are low in calories and contain virtually no fat or cholesterol.

Store your Tomatoes at room temperature, keeping them in the fridge impairs their flavour.

Did you know?

  1. Tomatoes are fruits not vegetables.
  2. In Britain we each eat on average two tomatoes every week.
  3. Tomatoes originate from the Andes in South America, where they grow wild. They were first cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 AD.
  4. Tomato Seeds have been grown in space.
  5. The largest UK tomato glasshouse covers 26.5 acres, but is currently being extended to 44.5 acres, or 18 hectares. That’s the size of 25 international football pitches.

For more information and tomato facts have a look at the British Tomato Growers website and for a large selection of delicious tomato recipes click here.

So support our growers by buying British and local Tomatoes or why not have a go at growing your own it is a lot easier than you think and now is the perfect time to plant them, click here for a Guide to Growing your own Tomatoes.


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At this time of the year many of us will have pots or trays that are overflowing with young vegetables and flowers that are ready to be planted outside, many of these young plants will have been grown in a porch, conservatory, greenhouse or on the windowsill where they will have got accustomed to warm temperatures. Deciding when to plant out can be quite tricky, although day time temperatures on average are rising, cold snaps, strong winds and clear skies with frosts can damage or even kill your prized plants.

The key to the transition from a warm, cosy environment to the big outdoors is ‘Hardening off’, Hardening off is the process of preparing your tender plants to cope with harsher outdoor conditions including lower temperatures, lower humidity and winds, it can take two to three weeks before they are ready to be planted outdoors. Hardening off will thicken and alter the plant’s leaf structure and increase its waxiness, further new growth will be sturdy and slower than if they are grown in the greenhouse, hardening off frost-sensitive plants will unfortunately not make them hardy.


How to harden off your plants

A cold frame is perfect for hardening off your plants, the clear hinged lid lets in adequate light and can be propped open slightly wider every few days to slowly introduce your plants to outside temperatures, closing it again at night, leave the lid fully open for the last few days prior to planting out. Position your cold frame where it will receive some sun but not all of the day, the best time to begin hardening off is when it is cloudy thus avoiding high afternoon temperatures and frosty nights, the insulating wooden frame will help maintain temperatures overnight.

Clear Panel Wooden Cold Frame With 2cm Thick Boards - Easily Extendable

Protect your plants from pests

If you have grown some tasty crops you can be sure that if not protected the slugs and snails will get to them first, apply copper slug and snail tape around the top of the cold frame to stop them from coming in, if you have any small gaps around the cold frame base sit your plants on a layer of slug gone this irritates the slugs/snails foot and they will look for food elsewhere. Place enviromesh netting over the cold frame to protect your crops from insects whilst they are at their most vulnerable.


Use your Cold Frame all year round

Cold frames are very useful, they can be used to extend the growing season, crops can be started off earlier in a cold frame than if they were sown/planted directly in the ground, frost tender crops grown in containers can be protected in a cold frame from Autumn frosts to extend cropping. Tender plants can be overwintered in a cold frame. Fruits and Vegetables that benefit from higher temperatures i.e. Melons, Chillies will produce a better crop if grown in a Cold Frame.

Red Chillies

Happy Gardening



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Why not have a go at our two new free competitions on the Gardening With Children website, there are some great gardening books for you to win:

In the School Zone

Simply tell us:  What you are growing in your School garden and which is your favourite?

For a chance to win books for your School which include gardening projects, recipes and how to recycle successfully.

Click here for full details and an entry form.

In the Family Zone

Simply tell us:  What is your favourite fruit or vegetable that you have grown and why?

For a chance to win family gardening and cook books.

Click here for full details and an entry form.

Hurry the closing date for both competitions is Wednesday 31st May 2017.

Good Luck

Congratulations to our School Competition winner

We had lots of entries for our January-March School Competition, who all correctly answered the Who am I? fruits and vegetable questions.

The winning entry was from Cranborne First School Allotment Club who win a Stewart Essential Heated Propagator, well done to them.



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