Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘School Projects’ Category

garden-blueberries

Blueberries are dark, sweet, delicious and often quite expensive; they are a cousin to our native Winberry, (also known as the blaeberrie, bilberrie, whortleberrie or huckleberrie) which can be found growing on moors amongst the heather and are ready to pick July-September. I think Winberries have a better flavour and are sweeter but not everyone is fortunate to have them growing nearby, if this is the case why not try growing your own Blueberries, which are now regarded as a ‘super fruit’ as they are extremely high in antioxidants and vitamins (especially Vitamin C) so have many health benefits.

Blueberry pants can be bought from Garden Centres, Nurseries or by Mail Order either to grow in pots or to plant in the garden.

Blueberries prefer an acid soil with a pH level of 5.5 or below this can be measured with a pH meter or a Soil pH testing kit, if your soil conditions are suitable add plenty of acidic organic matter such as pine needles, composted conifer clippings or ericaceous compost when planting. They prefer a sunny sheltered position and are best watered with rainwater whenever possible. If your garden soil is not acidic Blueberries will happily grow in pots in ericaceous compost, for young plants choose one that is at least 30cm (12in) in diameter, then move into a 45-50cm (18-20in) container when it is outgrows the first one, place some crocks/pieces of polystyrene in the bottom of the containers to help retain moisture.

Plant two different varieties of Blueberries to ensure cross-pollination, a single plant will produce fruit but yields will be higher and fruits bigger if more than one plant is grown. Use netting to protect ripening fruit from birds, not all the fruit ripens at the same time the berries are ready to pick when they are deep blue and can easily be pulled off.

Blueberries produce fruit on previous years branches, young plants will not need pruning for the first two or three years, after this prune between November and March take out any dead, dying and diseased branches first then one or two of the oldest branches at the base especially any low branches to create an upright bush.

My three container grown Blueberry plants are now in their third year and I am hopeful that I will have a good crop this year.

Why not make this a half term holiday project with each child having their own Blueberry plant, they could even give it a name!

Have a fun half term

Gill

Read Full Post »

primrose

Although it may seem slow Spring is on its way, in our garden the frogs have been croaking, the buds on the early Clematis are nearly ready to open, the snowdrops are up and the Primroses are in flower.

Primroses have to be one of my favourite flowers; they bring back happy childhood memories of walks up the fields gathering small bunches for my mum – although picking them nowadays isn’t the done thing.

Primula Vulgaris is the British native Primrose that can be found growing in hedgerows or on banks in the wild, but it will also grow happily in gardens.

They prefer a well-drained soil and will thrive in clay, chalk, loam and sand; they will grow quite happily in semi-shade making them perfect to plant under hedges, trees and in a woodland setting as well as in a wildflower meadow.

Primroses can be grown from seed, these are sown in Autumn and remain dormant during the Winter months they will begin to grow when the weather warms up, alternatively you can buy them bare root to plant in Autumn or as pot grown plants which are available now to plant straight away. When primroses have become established they will form thick clumps that can be divided and replanted, ideally during September, they will also self seed naturally. Primroses thrive on leaf mould which can be incorporated when planting or used as a mulch around the plants.

Primroses provide an early source of nectar for Bees, Brimstone Butterflies and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies they are also the food plant of the caterpillars of the rare Duke of Burgundy Butterfly.

Did you know?

  • The Primrose is the county flower of Devon.
  • Its name derives from the Latin ‘Prima Rosa’ meaning ‘first rose’ of the year although it is not a member of the rose family.
  • Since Victorian times, April 19 has been known as ‘Primrose Day’ it is the anniversary of the death of the former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, the Primrose was his favourite flower and on this day every year they are placed at his statue in Westminster Abbey.

Primroses do not take up much space in your garden their pale lemon flowers are a glorious sight and their sweet delicate fragrance is a delight, they are well worth growing and a sign that Spring is on the way.

Gill

Read Full Post »

Stewart Essential Heated Propagator 52cm

Propagator is essential if you want to get your seeds started earlier and to also ensure a good germination rate as they provide the correct temperature and humidity for your seeds, plants and cuttings to grow. If you already have a Propagator it is a good idea to plug it in and check that it is still working, if you haven’t got one I would highly recommend them they are very easy to use and take the guess work out of growing from seed.

Propagators are cheap to run, to make them as economical as possible keep them full while they are in use, replacing your germinated seeds with newly sown trays. Seeds do not all germinate at the same time so plan ahead, germination times are usually specified on the seed packets, plant slow-growing seeds first e.g. peppers and aubergines followed by tomatoes and herbs and then fast germinating seeds such as lettuce, salad leaves, pumpkins, courgettes and cucumbers.

Propagators are a worthy investment which will increase the germination success of your seeds, enable you to sow and grow earlier and to grow more varieties.

I wouldn’t be without my propagators I have two 52cm heated propagators which in spring are both full for quite a number of weeks, having two gives me that extra room to sow my seeds thinly and individually in pots, which avoids root disturbance when transplanting, and also to repeat sowings if germination has not been as successful as expected.

For more information on sowing seeds and using propagators click on the link below:

Sowing and Growing in a Propagator

Successful Seed Sowing

 

Win a Propagator

For a chance to win a propagator why not enter our two new free competitions in the School Zone and the Family Zone on the Gardening With Children website both include a selection of pots and trays to get you off to a good start.

For details of the School Zone Competition click here or for the Family Zone Competition click here.

Good Luck

Gill

Read Full Post »

Square Ground Bird Table

This year the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch takes place over three days for the first time, running from Saturday 28 January to Monday 30 January, this means that if you are busy over the weekend or the weather is bad you still have the option to take part on the Monday – you could even do it at work in your dinner hour!

The Big Garden Birdwatch has now been going over 35 years, it originally started in 1979 as a Winter activity that junior RSPB members could get involved in, Biddy Baxter who was then the editor of Blue Peter liked the idea and featured it on one the programmes, the response was amazing with over 34,000 people sending in their forms, it wasn’t until 2001 that adults were invited to join in the fun too.

Big Schools Birdwatch

Schools can take part in the Big Schools Birdwatch anytime before 17 February 2017, either as a whole school or in classes; the Birdwatch is suitable for all ages and abilities and an invaluable educational activity which allows pupils to get closer to nature and become aware of their environment and its wildlife.

CJ Wildlife Giant Fat Ball Bird Feeder

Getting started

Visit the RSPBs website and register for your free pack which is full of fascinating facts, tips and advice.

Make sure that you have plenty of bird feeders and bird food available in your garden; it is recommended that you feed the birds throughout the year and not just for the Big Garden Birdwatch or during Winter. If your bird feeders have been out at while it may be an idea to give them a wash before filling them up, this applies to your bird baths also as good hygiene and clean water are very important.

On the day – Find somewhere warm, dry and comfortable to view the birds, have a pen, your checklist/pad, a pair of binoculars and friends/family who can also look for birds.

What to do – For one hour count the maximum number of each species that you see at any one time, this means that you are less likely to double count the same birds.

Here are some of the more common birds that you might see:

  • Blackbird
  • Blue tit
  • Chaffinch
  • Coal tit
  • Collared dove
  • Dunnock
  • Goldfinch
  • Great tit
  • Greenfinch
  • House sparrow
  • Long-tailed tit
  • Magpie
  • Robin
  • Starling
  • Woodpigeon

Keep watching closely there are many other species that may visit your garden especially if the weather is cold.

Send in your Birdwatch results to the RSPB by 17th February 2017.

For more information and advice on feeding the birds in your garden click here.

I shall be taking part, happy bird watching

Gill

 

Read Full Post »

calendar-dec-2016

We have all heard of time capsules being found in old buildings that have been left there for future generations, they are a great way to capture a moment in time and very interesting. Making your own time capsule is a great family activity and as we approach the end of 2016 now is the perfect time to do it. You could make your time capsule for future generations or you might want to leave it for yourself/your family in 5, 10 or 20 years time, it may be an idea to record where you have put your time capsule just in case you forget, according to the International Time Capsule Society most time capsules are ‘lost due to thievery, secrecy or poor planning’.

What container should I use?

This depends on where you are going to put your capsule, how much you want to include in it and how long it will be left for.

Indoors:     A Shoe Box, large cardboard box or even a suitcase

Outdoors:    The container needs to be waterproof and non perishable,

What should I put include?

  • A letter to the finder, you may want to include your contact details.
  • Photographs of you, your family, pets, your garden, house, car, fashionable outfits.
  • Photographs of this year’s holidays or memorable places
  • A newspaper for the day that you seal your capsule or perhaps newspapers/magazines of the previous week.
  • Coins and notes – include this years new £5 note and an old one too.
  • Food labels or packaging (if possible those with prices on) – this could be a general selection or your favourites, you could even describe the flavour, smaller food items can be includes in your capsule.
  • An old mobile phone
  • A music CD or a DVD
  • Packets of seeds

Where should I put it?

  • Bury it in the garden
  • Put it in the attic
  • Under the floor boards
  • Under your bed
  • In a cupboard

If you are leaving it for yourself/your family put a note on it ‘Do not open before ****’, make sure it is sealed well so that you are not tempted to have a peak earlier than planned.

I hope that you all have a Happy New Year

Gill

Read Full Post »

p1050264

 

Have you seen our Children’s Christmas Quiz in the School Zone under ‘What to do this Term’ on the Gardening With Children website?

It is a fun trivia quiz with a mix of religious and traditional Christmas questions and would be a perfect end of term activity either individually or as a team challenge, it is a multiple choice quiz which makes it easier and suitable for children of all ages.

Click here to go to the Christmas quiz.

Here are the answers: 1b, 2c, 3c, 4a, 5b, 6b, 7c, 8a, 9c, 10b, 11c, 12b, 13b, 14a, 15b, 16c, 17b, 18a, 19c, 20b

 

Congratulations to our September-November Competition Winners.

We had lots of correct entries for our Hedgehog Word Search Competition in the School Zone, the winner was Hempshill Hall Primary School, Nottingham who wins a Hedgehog Pack containing a Hogitat Hedgehog House, a Hedgehog Snack Bowl, a pack of Hedgehog Food and a guide to Hedgehogs.

I really enjoyed looking at all the lovely Hedgehog pictures that were entered in the Family Zone Competition, it was really hard choosing a winner but overall the winning picture was by Leah Jobson with her picture of ‘Sophie’ the hedgehog who ‘loves hugs and dislikes being alone’, Leah wins a Hedgehog pack containing an Igloo Hedgehog House, a Hedgehog Snack Bowl, a pack of Hedgehog Food and a guide to Hedgehogs.

HEDGEHOG

Well done to both of you, I hope that you will soon have a hedgehog in your Hedgehog House.

Gill

Read Full Post »

CJ Wildlife Blackbird Nest Box

We are all familiar with our summer migrants the Swift, Swallow and the House Martin who come to Britain to breed and escape the harsh African, yet did you know that tens of millions of birds arrive in Autumn from their breeding grounds to escape the bitter cold weather and a shortage of food (hidden under ice or snow) to spend the winter in our mild climate. These birds travel large distances from the north and east (Scandinavia, Northern Europe and the Arctic) and include Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Brambling, Robin, Starling, Blackbird, Bewick’s Swan, Whooper swan, many types of ducks, wading birds and geese including Pink Footed Geese who fly very high in a V-shaped formation called a ‘skein’.

Here are some amazing statistics about some of our Winter migrants:

Brent Goose – Over 120,000 arrive October onwards from the Canadian Arctic flying 19,000 miles to the UK, overwintering mainly in Ireland.

Bewick’s Swan – Over 7,000 arrive October onwards from Siberia flying 2,500 miles to the UK.

Fieldfare – Over 720,000 arrive October onwards from Scandinavia and North West Russia flying 1100 miles to the UK.

Many birds arrive on our shore hungry and exhausted, some make emergency stops on their journey and rest on oil rigs and boats out at sea (as seen in this year’s Waitrose Christmas advert).

Wildlife World Open Fronted Teapot Bird Nester and Nest Box

You might be surprised to hear that Robins, Blackbirds and Starlings are winter migrants as we see them throughout the year, in the UK we have our own resident populations but during the winter their numbers are boosted by birds escaping the extreme cold of Eastern Europe. These visiting birds act differently as they are not used to their new surroundings and having people nearby, they skulk in the undergrowth and near the feeders before darting out for food they are easily frightened unlike our residents that dive on the feeders, they will after time adjust to their new environment and become more confident.

We all know the importance of feeding the birds throughout the cold winter months, knowing that thousands of winter migrants are coming here to feed makes it even more important, if you haven’t got any birdfeeders in your garden now is a good time to invest in some, they are inexpensive and will provide many hours of pleasure for you and the birds! It is a good idea to put up different types of feeders that will hold a variety of bird food, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, mixed bird seed, fat balls and mealworms, different types of food will attract more species of birds. If you are fortunate to have an apple tree or maybe know someone who has, store any surplus apples now to put out later on for the ground feeding birds, this year has been a very good year for fruit. Some kitchen leftovers can be put out for the birds these include grated cheese, cooked potatoes, rice or pasta, porridge oats, fruit, biscuit and cake crumbs. Water is just as important as food, fresh water changed regularly will provide birds with drinking and bathing water.

For more information on feeding birds through the Winter click here or to see our range of bird feeders click here.

This weekend make time to put up some bird feeders in your garden.

Gill

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »