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Archive for the ‘Gift Ideas’ Category

Thank you to everyone that entered our October/November Competitions, we had lots of entries correctly identifying the fruits and vegetables in the cryptic questions and pictures, well done to you all, it just shows how much you know about the fruit and vegetables that you grow and eat.

The Schools Competition winner was Molly Potter from St Botolph’s C of E Primary School, Northfleet, Kent, they will receive a Wooden Raised Bed and module complete with accessories, this will be a perfect starter Raised Bed for their School Gardening Club.

Classic Wooden Raised Bed 90cm x 90cm

The Family Competition Winner was Matthew Lemin, Age 5, from Warminster and he will receive a

Raised Bed on Legs

photo 5
We hope that he enjoys growing lots of fruit, vegetables and flowers next year, it will make a lovely early Christmas present.
If you are stuck for Christmas presents for young gardeners and wildlife lovers click here for some great ideas, don’t be disappointed order as soon as you can they are all proving very popular.
This years top gift is the Hogitat an instant cosy and natural home for the hedgehogs in your garden.
The Hogitat Hedgehog House
Happy Shopping
Gill

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Last week we had an enquiry regarding our Croma Preservative, there is nothing unusual about that, but this was from The Barn Owl Centre of Gloucestershire who wanted a preservative to use on their owl nest boxes and as it is non toxic, kind to wildlife (and plants) it is perfect.

The Barn Owl Centre of Gloucestershire is a registered charity which has been established since 1997 and who are working to support the environment, wildlife and the community through Education, Conservation and Bird Welfare not only are they passionate about Barn Owls but all species of Owls and Birds of Prey.

Education plays a huge part in their work and their resident birds play an important part in group visits to/from Children, Schools, Farmers/Landowners etc. making it a fun, interactive and enjoyable experience. Wild bird casualties can be brought to them for treatment and rehabilitation with the sole aim of releasing the birds back to the wild once they are fit and well.

Young Barn Owl

Did you know?

Barn Owls ….

… hunt at night, and although they have very good eyesight  they rely on their exceptional sense of hearing to locate their prey.

… are easily recognised by their heart-shaped face, whose outer feathers collect, trap and focus sound just like human ears.

… fly almost silently which enables them to hear the smallest noises made by their prey of mainly field voles, wood mice and common shrews, they eat on average 4 a night.

… eat their prey whole, the indigestible parts are then coughed up in the form of an owl pellet.

… do not hoot (that’s Tawny Owls) they screech.

We have barn owls locally but I have yet to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural surroundings. If you are passionate about Owls and wildlife why not have a look at their website to see how you can help, if you live locally why not become a volunteer.

Many of our native birds are in decline and really do need our help, they need Nest Boxes, which provide them with a safe place to roost and rear their young, Bird Feeders filled with high energy bird food throughout the year and a Bird Bath with clean water to drink and to bathe in to keep their feathers in tip top condition. Wildlife products make excellent gifts why not treat your dad or granddad this Father’s Day (16th June) and help the wildlife in your garden.

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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Open Birch Log Nest Box

Open Birch Log Nest Box

Birds come in all shapes, sizes and colours and each one is as particular about where they live as we are. Every bird finds or builds a nest that is as unique as they are, but sometimes it is not always that simple, due to redevelopment and intensive farming many birds are losing their natural habits, making it harder for them to breed and leading to a decline in many species.

 Robin & Wren Nest Box

Robin & Wren Nest Box

To mark National Nest Box Week 14th – 21st February 2013 the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) are inviting individuals, families, schools, and community groups to put up Nest Boxes in their gardens or in their local area and provide a home for our birds.

Pembroke Nest Box

Pembroke Nest Box

If you haven’t got a Nest Box in your garden now is the ideal time to put one up although you can put up a nest box at any time of the year.

Open Fronted Ceramic Teapot Bird Nester

Open Fronted Ceramic Teapot Bird Nester

Nest boxes come in all shapes, sizes and colours too to cater for the needs of different birds, they can be bought ready built or why not build your own with a ‘Build your own Nest Box Kit’ this is a lovely thing to do with children and a great half term activity, Nest Boxes also make an unusual and wildlife friendly gift for any occasion so why not treat the birds in your garden this Valentines Day and show them that you care.

Build Your Own Nest Box

Build Your Own Nest Box Kit

Why not put up a House Martin Nest Box ready for the arrival of these delightful Summer Visitors.

House Martin Nest Box - Single Chamber

House Martin Nest Box

Gill

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You may recall a blog that I posted in September 2012 ‘Plant Hyacinth bulbs for a stunning display and wonderful fragrance at Christmas’ with growing instructions for planting indoor prepared Hyacinths.

Newly planted bulbs in September 2012

Newly planted bulbs in September 2012

To follow up this blog I thought I would show you how mine went on.

hyacinths flowering in pots

On the cool windowsill in January 2013

Although they did not quite meet the christmas deadline I was able to place them on the living room windowsill in early January, where they are fully appreciated and will benefit from the cool temperatures by the window which will extend their flowering period. All 3 bulbs were grown in a different container and were all successful, each producing a beautiful flower stem and wonderful fragrance.

Growing indoor bulbs is a great thing to do especially with children, the size of the bulbs make them easy to handle and they’re pretty undestructable – they just want to grow.

Indoor Minnow Narcissi Bulb Pot

Indoor Minnow Narcissi Bulb Pot

Why not grow them in a clear container, children will be able to see their roots forming and growing.

The Crocus Glass Cube

The Crocus Glass Cube

The Tete a Tete Glass cube

The Tete a Tete Glass Cube

Indoor bulb kits make a unusual and attractive gift, it is still not too late to plant indoor bulbs, why not plant some now, they would make a lovely gift for Mother’s Day on Sunday, 10th March.

Gill

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Blackberries are plentiful this year and picking them is another of my favourite Autumn things to do, it is also the time when farmers begin to cut their hedges so to avoid disappointment a few years ago I planted a cultivated blackberry at the bottom of my garden and this year from late August I have been picking fruit every few days. Cultivated Blackberries are definitely worth growing, producing much larger berries than their wild cousins, and are often thornless making them child friendly.

Cultivated Blackberry ‘Black Satin’

Blackberries to me are the taste of Autumn, they can be made into lots of delicious deserts, I love their flavour but not really their seeds so when I have a good crop I make a batch of Blackberry Jelly which we all enjoy through the winter months. As I pick my Blackberries I freeze them in margarine cartons or ice cream tubs and when they have finished cropping I then make my Jelly.

Blackberry Jelly

Ingredients

  • 900g/2lb Blackberries (Fresh or frozen)
  • 150ml/1/4 pint Water
  • Granulated Sugar or Jam Sugar with added Pectin
  • Lemon Juice

Method

  1. Place the Blackberries in a pan with the water and simmer gently until very soft, press the fruit regularly.
  2. Strain through a jelly bag or muslin – I did this the first time but it took quite a while to drain through so now I press it through a sieve, although you do not get a clear liquid you do get more pulp and more taste.
  3. Measure the liquid and reheat in a clean pan.
  4. Add 450g/1lb sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per 600ml/1pint of Blackberry liquid. If you are using frozen Blackberries you need to double the quantity of lemon juice. If you are using sugar containing pectin only add half the amount of lemon juice.
  5. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. It is at this point that I taste some of the cooled liquid and if it is a little tart I add some extra sugar.
  6. Boil rapidly until a setting point is reached.
  7. Pour into hot jars and seal down.

To give you an idea of yield last year I used approx 5lb Blackberries which made approx 3 pints of liquid and filled 10 medium/small jars.

Blackberry jelly

Delicious on toast, crumpets, and in jam sandwiches, it is also nice warmed in the microwave and drizzled onto deserts, ice cream, yoghurt, porridge or rice pudding.

A jar makes a nice gift or add one to a homemade hamper of home grown produce for an unique Christmas present.

I still have a couple of jars left from last year which will tide me over until I make this year’s batch, making jam is a great way of preserving your precious fruit have a look at out website for more ways to preserve your crop and how to make harvesting and storing fruit easier and safer.

Gill

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Every year Lavender plants need pruning, which means cutting off this year’s flower stalks and about 2/3cm of this years green leafy stems, this encourages new growth and keeps the plants bushy and compact. Instead of putting the flowers into the compost bin make them into attractive Lavender Bags and fill your house with the fragrance of summer, they are very easy to do and perfect for children to make.

Lavender Flowers

What to do

  1. Trim your lavender on a dry day, tie in small bunches and leave to dry for a week or two in an airy place.
  2. Remove the flower heads from the lavender stems by rubbing them gently between your fingers into a dish.
  3. Cut some pretty cotton fabric, white muslin, organza or net into 15-20cm circles, use a dish as a template.
  4. Lay the circles out flat then place about 1 large tablespoon of lavender flower heads in the centre.
  5. Gently draw up the edges of the circle to make a bag and hold in place with a peg.
  6. Tie up the bag with ribbon, wool or string and make a pretty bow.
  7. If you want to hang the bags up tie on an extra length of ribbon/wool/string.
  8. To refresh your Lavender bags give then a good squeeze or to enhance their fragrance add a few drops of Lavendin Oil to the bags.

Lavender Bags

Pop one in your drawer or cupboard to deter insects.

They make lovely gifts or stocking fillers and are often used as wedding favours, why not make some to sell at a school fundraising event.

If you don’t have any Lavender plants in your garden dried Lavender Heads and Oils are available to buy.

Have a go, I made some for my wedding day and they were are great success.

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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This year Mothering Sunday is on 18th March, little over a week away, here are a few suggestions (which are also on my wish list) for Mothers Day Gifts available from The Recycleworks.

The Family Kitchen Garden. This invaluable book provides clear instructions on growing vegetables, fruit, herbs and cutting flowers including an A-Z of plants and month-by-month advise on what to do when. A must have book.

Grow your own gift pots, these seed kits contain all you need to grow either Basil, Cape Gooseberry or Chilli on your windowsill in a stunning hand painted terracotta pot.

Watering Cans are a very useful gift and are available in all sizes and attractive colours.No gardener would be without a good pair of gloves and these Rostaing Violette Ladies Gardening Gloves are perfect for protecting your mum’s hands and look great too.

Our Fairtrade products are currently on offer and our range includes some lovely handcrafted items, by buying these you will be helping the most economically-deprived people of the world improve their lives.

I hope that I have given you a few ideas but there are many more products available on our website so take a look for your perfect gift.

If you want to be creative and make your own gift click here for details of how to make a homemade card and a decorated windowsill pot.

So go on spoil your loved ones on their special day, and my idea of a perfect Mothers Day – a nice sunny afternoon spent in the garden, I am keeping my green fingers crossed!

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This year marks the 20th year of the Fairtrade Foundation.

For the last 20 years Fairtrade has worked with producers in developing countries to achieve better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers.

During Fairtrade Fortnight 27th February – 11th March why not ‘take your step for Fairtrade’ (fairtrade.org.uk/step) and support this brilliant charity, your step could be to simply try a new Fairtrade product , swap brands of some of your favourite products to Fairtrade ones, hold a Fairtrade Chocolate tasting at school or home, or to ask your shop to stock more Fairtrade products.

Look for the Fairtrade Mark when you go shopping! Over 3000 products from coffees to flowers are Fairtrade certified.

Flower Brooch

Garden Lovers Apron

Beaded Scarf

We at the Recycleworks support this worthy cause by selling some lovely Fairtrade products including; pretty hand stitched Flower Brooches, glamorous Beaded Scarves, stylish Cotton Messenger Bags, extremely practical Cotton Whopper Shopper Bags and strong, hard wearing Cotton Garden Lovers Aprons (with appliqué shears, trowel and secateurs) all these products are on special offer at the moment and with Mothers Day only a few weeks away (18th March) they would make ideal gifts for mums or grandmas so support Fairtrade Fortnight and spoil the ones you love.

Whopper Shopper Bag

Messenger Bag

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