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Why not play your part in increasing and preserving our beautiful wildflowers by joining The Recycleworks Wildflower Seed Project 3013/2014.
 
Schools or Community Associations that support children can register FREE and they will receive 5 Seed Collecting Tins to store their valuable seed until the spring followed by instructions of how to sow and grow their wildflower seeds.
                  Seed storage tins
This year, while stocks last, we are giving away to each new member of The Recycleworks Wildflower Seed Project 2013/2014 a beautifully illustrated guide to ‘Collecting and Propagating Seed of Hay Meadow Flowers’ which has been produced by The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, who through their Hay Time Project work with farmers and landowners to restore meadows in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland that have lost some of their wildlife value using seed harvested from nearby species-rich donor meadows, they involve volunteers in their work and provide educational opportunities for schools and the public. The full colour guide shows hay meadow plants in flower, their seed heads/pods and their seed as well as information on seed collecting, storage and propagation.
 
Hay Meadow seed saving brochure0001
 
 
COLLECTING SEED

Collecting seeds is a wonderful thing to do with children, they will learn where seeds come from, and not only be rewarded with free seeds but also lots of free plants in spring and with the satisfaction that they have grown them themselves from ‘their’ seed.

Some of the most rewarding and valuable seeds to collect are from Wildflowers and Nectar Rich plants which provide food for our bees, butterflies and pollinating insects, by growing these you will be giving back to nature and enriching your environment.
 
Here are some of the many plants that are beneficial to insects: Buddleia, Ox Eye Daisy, Borage, Verbena Bonariensis, Evening Primrose, Calendula, French Marigold, Teasel, Thistles, Foxglove, Cornflower.

Ox Eye Daisy

Where to look for seeds
The best places to find wildflowers are in uncultivated areas such as on grass verges, under hedges, on the edges of parks/playing fields (where the grass cutters can’t reach), church yards and meadows. Nectar rich flowers can usually be found in gardens. You may need to ask the landowners permission before entering their land to collect seed.
 
How to collect seed
You will need paper bags or envelopes, scissors and a pencil.
Some seed heads will shed their seeds very easily, simply empty their contents into your bag, or cut off the ripe seed head/pod and place in your bag then write the plant name on the bag, the date, the place and also where it was growing in sun/shade or in dry/wet soil this will help you when you grow your new plants next year. If some of the seed heads/pods are damp, lay them out on paper to dry before removing the seeds. If you are not sure of the name of the plant cut off the seed head/pods and a leaf or take a photograph so that you can identify it later.

Evening Primrose

Storing your seed
Some of the seeds will need to be cleaned by removing the husk and extracting the seeds from their pods/seed heads as these may contain small insects too. Place your dry seeds in a cold, dry and dark place until February/March. This can be in a container in the fridge so that they go through the natural cold winter conditions. It can be in a sealed tin (which will protect them from insects and animals) in the shed, but dry, cold and dark is important. If they get wet or warm they may start germinating and if it is too early for spring they will not survive.
 
Some seeds can be toxic, take care when collecting seed and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
 
Make the most of the warm Autumn days and collect some wildflower seeds.
 
Gill

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This year both the garden and the allotment are flourishing, what a huge difference the sun makes, the flowers in the garden are in full bloom with many now producing seed for next years plants, even the vegetables are outstanding with some even worthy of the show bench (local only). Soft fruit picking has been never-ending from Strawberries to Red/White/Blackcurrants, Gooseberries, and Raspberries with the promise of a good crop of Blackberries, Apples, Pears, Damsons and Plums yet to come.

If you have grown some vegetables which have produced an exceptional and tasty crop why not try saving some of their seeds to grow next year, this is not a new idea. Millions of people, for many thousands of years have been saving their own seeds to grow year after year, this has led to the preservation of many old ‘Heritage’ seed varieties and the creation of many new varieties.

Collect seed from strong, healthy, vigorous plants when they are fully mature/ripe choosing the largest seeds and those that are not damaged or deformed. Allow fruits to fully ripen on the plant before collecting their seeds. Don’t be tempted to collect seeds from F1 hybrids they will not grow true to the parent plant, producing an inferior plant and crop.

You can harvest seeds from most types of vegetables, the following varieties are perhaps some of the easiest to start with:

Beans and Peas

Let the pods mature and ripen on the plant.  Pick the pods whole when they are dry and start to turn brown and lay them out on newspaper indoors to dry out for at least two weeks, remove the individual seeds from the pods, allowing them to dry out further before storing.

 

Pepper SeedsRed Chillies

Collect seeds from Peppers that have fully ripened on the plant and have started to go soft and wrinkly. Remove the seeds and place on a plate to dry out, when they are completely dry they are ready to store. Care must be taken with Chilli Peppers, it is advisable to wear gloves and allow an adult to remove and handle the fruits and the seeds.

Beef Tomatoes

Tomato Seeds

Pick tomatoes that have been left to fully ripen on the plant. Scoop out the seeds and the pulp, place them in a container with water for a few days swirling the water each day. The seeds should come free from the pulp and sink to the bottom, drain off the liquid and any seeds that float, rinse the seeds in a small plastic sieve. Place the seeds on a plate to dry out, when they are completely dry they are ready to store.

Place your dried seeds in paper envelopes, labelling them with the name, variety and the date that you collected them, adding any growing instructions or notes. Store the seeds in a cool dry place in an airtight tin, which will keep moisture, unwanted insects and animals out.

Allowing the seeds to mature on your plants will reduce any further crops as the sole intention of any plant is to put all its energy into making seeds so that they will grow again next year and once this has been achieved its job is done.

Collecting seeds will save you money, is rewarding, fun and educational, teaching children about the life cycles of plants and how the food that they eat grows.

Gill

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We have had a great response to our Wildflower Seed Project 2012/2013 from schools, and community associations that support children, if you want to get involved, start collecting your seeds now before the plants have dropped them all and register your group before 31st October 2012.

Seed storage tins

What you need to do 
If you are not already a member join our FREE Gardening with Children Club, which gives schools and community associations supporting children of all ages access to lots of information to encourage children to learn about gardening, grow their own fruit and vegetables and to care for their environment as well as member’s special offers and discounts.
 
Once you have received your welcome email with your exclusive Membership Number register your school/group FREE for our ‘Wildflower Seed Project 2012/2013’ before 31st October 2012 via email to sylvia@recycleworks.co.uk quoting your Membership Number, School/Group Name, Address, Contact Name, Telephone Number and email address.
 
We will then send you 5 FREE seed collecting tins to store your valuable seed in until the spring, when we will then contact you via email with details of our ‘Wildflower Seed Propagating Kit’ perfect for schools and groups and containing everything you need to sow and grow your wildflower seeds as well as sowing and cultivation instructions.
 
Collecting Seed
Collecting seeds is a wonderful thing to do with children and they will learn where seeds come from. Not only will they be rewarded with free seeds but also lots of free plants too in spring and with the satisfaction that they have grown them themselves from ‘their’ seed.
 
Some of the most rewarding and valuable seeds to collect are from Wildflowers and Nectar Rich plants which provide food for our bees, butterflies and pollinating insects, by growing these you will be giving back to nature and enriching your environment.
 
Here are some of the many plants that are beneficial to insects: Buddleia, Ox Eye Daisy, Borage, Verbena Bonariensis, Evening Primrose, Calendula, French Marigold, Teasel, Thistles, Foxglove, Cornflower.

Ox Eye Daisy

Where to look for seeds
The best places to find wildflowers are in uncultivated areas such as on grass verges, under hedges, on the edges of parks/playing fields (where the grass cutters can’t reach), church yards and farmland that is grazed. Nectar rich flowers can usually be found in gardens. You may need to ask the landowners permission before entering their land to collect seed.
 
How to collect seed
You will need paper bags or envelopes, scissors and a pencil.
Some seed heads will shed their seeds very easily, simply empty their contents into your bag, or cut off the ripe seed head/pod and place in your bag then write the plant name on the bag and also where it was growing in sun/shade or in dry/wet soil this will help you when you grow your new plants next year. If some of the seed heads/pods are damp, lay them out on paper to dry before removing the seeds. If you are not sure of the name of the plant cut off the seed head/pods and a leaf or take a photograph so that you can identify it later.

Evening Primrose

Storing your seed
Some of the seeds will need to be cleaned by removing the husk and extracting the seeds from their pods/seed heads as these may contain small insects too. Place your dry seeds in a cold, dry and dark place until February/March. This can be in a container in the fridge so that they go through the natural cold winter conditions. It can be in a sealed tin (which will protect them from insects and animals) in the shed, but dry, cold and dark is important. If they get wet or warm they may start germinating and if it is too early for spring they will not survive.
 
Some seeds can be toxic, take care when collecting seed and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
 
So make the most of this lovely weather and collect some wildflower seeds.
 
Gill

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Collecting seeds is a wonderful thing to do with children and they will learn where seeds come from. Not only will they be rewarded with free seeds but also lots of free plants too in spring and with the satisfaction that they have grown them themselves from ‘their’ seed.

Some of the most rewarding and valuable seeds to collect are from Wildflowers and Nectar Rich plants which provide food for our bees, butterflies and pollinating insects, by growing these you will be giving back to nature and enriching your environment.
 
Here are some of the many plants that are beneficial to insects: Buddleia, Ox Eye Daisy, Borage, Verbena Bonariensis, Evening Primrose, Calendula, French Marigold, Teasel, Thistles, Foxglove, Cornflower.

Ox Eye Daisy

Where to look for seeds
The best places to find wildflowers are in uncultivated areas such as on grass verges, under hedges, on the edges of parks/playing fields (where the grass cutters can’t reach), church yards and farmland that is grazed. Nectar rich flowers can usually be found in gardens. You may need to ask the landowners permission before entering their land to collect seed.
 
How to collect seed
You will need paper bags or envelopes, scissors and a pencil.
Some seed heads will shed their seeds very easily, simply empty their contents into your bag, or cut off the ripe seed head/pod and place in your bag then write the plant name on the bag and also where it was growing in sun/shade or in dry/wet soil this will help you when you grow your new plants next year. If some of the seed heads/pods are damp, lay them out on paper to dry before removing the seeds. If you are not sure of the name of the plant cut off the seed head/pods and a leaf or take a photograph so that you can identify it later.

Evening Primrose

Storing your seed
Some of the seeds will need to be cleaned by removing the husk and extracting the seeds from their pods/seed heads as these may contain small insects too. Place your dry seeds in a cold, dry and dark place until February/March. This can be in a container in the fridge so that they go through the natural cold winter conditions. It can be in a sealed tin (which will protect them from insects and animals) in the shed, but dry, cold and dark is important. If they get wet or warm they may start germinating and if it is too early for spring they will not survive.
Some seeds can be toxic, take care when collecting seed and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
 

Seed storage tins

 
Join The Recycleworks Wildflower Seed Project 2012/2013
Schools or Community Associations that support children can register FREE to The Recycleworks Wildflower Seed Project 2012/2013 and they will receive 5 FREE Seed Collecting Tins to store their valuable seed until the spring, when they will receive details of a ‘Wildflower Seed Propagating Kit’ containing everything needed to sow and grow their wildflower seeds as well as sowing and cultivation instructions. Click here for more information.
 
So make the most of this lovely weather and collect some wildflower seeds
 
Gill

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Last week the Eco Committee members at Thomas’s School were invited by the Parish Council, in co-operation with the Borough Council, to plant a tree as a final act in the local Jubilee celebrations. The tree, an English Oak, was planted in open space land in the village so that it can be enjoyed by future generations and there will be a plaque put next to it to commemorate the Queens Diamond Jubilee. The children (including Thomas) put the top soil around the tree and sprinkled wildflower seeds around the base.

Thomas and the Jubilee Tree

Thomas has been on the Eco Committee this year and has thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the Eco work at school as well as providing his own input with regards to the wildlife that is in the school grounds. The School has put up bird boxes one of which has a camera, a bird table for feeding the birds, a nesting material holder, fat ball feeders and other bird feeders as well as insect houses.

Pembroke Nest Box

Pembroke Nest Box

The school gardening year has come to an end and preparations have been made for the summer holidays. All the young plants in pots have been planted in the ground, climbing plants have been tied in and supports provided, and the raised beds have been weeded and covered with netting to deter unwanted visitors.

 Enviromesh Netting

Enviromesh Netting

During the holidays Thomas and I will make regular checks to keep the garden ticking over until September this ties in well with feeding the school chickens as Thomas has been put on the ‘chicken rota’ again which I have to say I enjoy doing as much as he does. We are both looking forward to those super fresh boiled eggs!

Click here for our top 10 tips for caring for the school garden during the holidays.

Love your environment and enjoy your holidays

Gill

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Pressing flowers, leaves and grasses is easy and fun, follow some simple steps to get the best results, and then enjoy making pictures, cards and bookmarks. Pressing flowers is a great way to preserve flowers and can be done throughout the year to record the Seasons, why not stick them in your Wildlife and Nature Diary or a Scrapbook.

Flower Press

A Flower Press

Firstly, you will of course need a Flower Press!

Before beginning we advise that only flowers from the garden should be picked and pressed. It is against the Countryside Code to remove plants from the countryside and wild flowers should always be left for the enjoyment of everyone.

Garden flowers ready for pressing

  1. When selecting flowers to press always choose those that are looking their best, and are clean.
  2. Removing moisture is the key, so begin by collecting the flowers when they are dry. Wet flowers can go mouldy.
  3. Press your flowers as soon as possible to avoid them drooping or wilting.
  4. Lay the flowers flat face down on the blotting paper. Take care to arrange leaves and petals as you want them to appear when the flower is pressed, try pressing flowers on their side to get a different effect. 
  5. Place another piece of blotting paper or flower preserving paper on the top.
  6. Place the two pieces of paper between two pieces of cardboard.
  7. Place the layers into a flower press as follows, cardboard, paper, flowers, paper and cardboard.
  8. Depending on the press you may be able to fit in several layers like this.
  9. Tighten the wing nuts and leave to dry for a few days, longer if you use large, thick flowers.
  10. Alternatively place the flowers between sheets of blotting or flower preserving paper and place inside a large book such as the phone book and leave for a few days.  Be careful to use enough plain paper sheets to protect the books from staining.
  11. Experiment with different types of flowers. Pansies and violas are particularly easy and tend to keep their colour well. 
  12. Note if the flowers turn brown during pressing it may be because they are taking too long to dry out  

Stunning yellow pansies

Pressing flowers the traditional way can take time and lots of patience but if you want faster results flowers can be pressed and dried in the microwave. Repeat the process in the same way as above but if you use your flower press you will need to remove the wing nuts/bolts and secure the wooden boards with wide elastic bands 2 or 3 along each side, if you use a book check that it has no gold embossing and remove any staples. Place in the microwave for two minutes on medium heat, allow to cool then have a look at the flowers to see if they are dry if not return to the microwave for another minute and check again, keep repeating until the flowers are completely dry. This method may need a little experimentation.

Pressed flowers loose their colour if exposed to light so avoid direct sunlight or humid rooms when displaying them.

Love your environment

Gill

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If you enjoyed taking part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch in January this year or maybe you missed out why not take part in the RSPB’s ‘Make Your Nature Count’ Survey next week from Saturday 2nd June to Sunday 10th June.

To take part all you need to do is to watch which birds and creatures visit your garden or local park for one hour during those dates and record the highest number seen at any one time then send in your results before 2nd July 2012.

Square Ground Bird Table

Square Ground Bird Table

This survey is a bit different than the Big Garden Birdwatch as creatures e.g. Bagdger, Grey Squirrel, Slow Worm, Muntjac Deer, Hedgehog, Roe Deer, Mole and Red Squirrel and Blackbird, Robin and Song Thrush chicks can be included. Only record the birds that land in your garden or park with the exception of Swifts and House Martins as these are most likely to be seen in flight. To help you to identify the species there is a Counting Sheet available to download.

Hedgehog Snack Feeding Bowl

Hedgehog Snack Feeding Bowl

By taking part in the UK’s largest garden wildlife survey you will be helping to build a picture of the wildlife that visits green spaces in summer.

This is a great free half term holiday activity that all the family can take part in, all you need is a pencil, paper and if you have some a pair of binoculars plus a little bit of patience!  If you are watching the birds on the park why not take a picnic as well.

We will be taking part too, Thomas can’t wait.

Happy watching

Gill

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I had an ‘Ask the Expert’ enquiry this week from Natalie who wanted some advice on which seeds to buy from our website that she could grow at her son’s nursery garden. She wanted to grow things that the children could eat at their snack time but the only draw back was that they had to be able to pick them between now and the end of June before they break up, here was my advice:

As you are limited for time (approx. 9 weeks before the end of June) the quickest things to sow/grow/harvest would be vegetables/herbs that are grown for their leaves rather than their fruit (tomatoes) or roots (carrots, beetroot).

Mustard and Cress

Mustard and Cress are perhaps the easiest and quickest to grow and can be eaten in approx. a week, these can be sown little and often, sow indoors not too thickly on a thin layer of moist compost or moist tissues, cover with a piece of paper until they are 1”(25cm) and then cut when they are about 2”(50cm).

Salad Leaves (Red & Green mixed) are very quick to mature and their different coloured leaves look attractive.

Coriander

Herbs fit nicely into this category and our Herb Variety Pack contains:

Coriander, Basil, Dill, Rocket

Basil

available to buy separately is Parsley (this can sometimes be slow to germinate)

Essential Propagator

 

To get them all off to a good start I would sow them in Pots/Trays in a Propagator or on a warm sunny windowsill. When they are big enough to handle re-pot them into Larger Pots/Trays with more space to grow, again returning them to the windowsill until they are large enough to plant outside when the weather if favourable.

 

They can be planted into Containers, Hanging Baskets, Wall Baskets, Window Boxes or Grow Bags. They are ideal for planting into Raised Beds, Salad and Herb Beds, Corner Raised Beds or Mangers.

It is advisable to protect them with Fleece if any frost is forecast until they are well established.

Salubrious Salad and Herb Bed

For best results they should be in a warm, sheltered and sunny position.

I hope that Natalie and all the children enjoy sowing and growing their seeds and they enjoy eating the lovely fresh leaves too.

Happy Growing

Gill

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Waiting for food and water

Back home from our Easter break one of our first duties was to feed the school chickens, pupils can volunteer to be put on ‘The Chicken Rota’  to look after the chickens during the holidays and at weekends, we were down for four days during the Easter holidays.

Mini Swiss Chalet for Chickens

The school has four Warren chickens and they live on the school field in a very desirable chicken house with a large run. They were always very pleased to see us, I am sure they must miss the children during the holidays. We topped up their food and gave them clean water and straw for their nest boxes and were rewarded with four lovely fresh eggs each day, they were all different sizes and colours and some were still warm, I don’t know who enjoyed looking after the chickens the most my son or me!

Chicken Run

We then took a detour down to the river to see the Sand Martins they have just arrived back from the South Sahara and they make their nests (burrows) in the sandy bank on the opposite side of the river, there was also a Mallard Family with their two young ducklings these are the first ones I have seen this year.

'Pleased to see us'

Back home we had the best ever boiled eggs for dinner!

Keeping chickens in your garden is becoming very popular and I can now understand why. They are easy to look after, fascinating to watch, friendly, make brilliant ‘pets’ for children, take up very little room and will ‘recycle’ a lot of your kitchen scraps into delicious eggs.

Have you got room for chickens in your garden?

Gill

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This year the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee and a fantastic way to celebrate this historic event, which will provide a lasting and truly environmental tribute, is to plant a tree or wood. The Woodland Trust is helping millions of people in the UK to come together to plant 6 million trees. The aim of their Jubilee Project is to create hundreds of Jubilee Woods and 60 special Diamond Woods, which will transform our landscape in a generation. Individuals, communities, schools and families are being invited to take part to plant thousands of trees in their gardens (trees in pots count too), playgrounds and community space. Schools and community groups can apply for free tree packs.

All types of trees can be planted e.g. Fruit Trees (Apple, Plum, Pear, Cherry), Trees with berries (Hawthorn, Rowan), Trees with Nuts (Hazel, Cob Nut, Oak), Native, Deciduous or Evergreen Trees, Trees for Autumn Colour or Blossom, or Trees to attract wildlife. Before choosing your tree you will need to consider where you are going to plant it, how much space is available and how big your tree will grow when it is mature.

Trees are an essential part of our environment and provide an invaluable habitat for wildlife. Their leaves and bark provide food and a home for insects and larvae which in turn are food for birds and animals. They provide nest sites in their branches and holes in their trunks for birds and animals. Underneath their canopy they provide a unique habitat for many woodland plants and wildflowers. Trees provide fruits and food for wildlife as well as ourselves. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and their leaves act as a filtering system absorbing harmful pollutants and intercepting the damaging particles in smoke and dust and in return they produce oxygen. Over a year two trees are capable of producing enough oxygen for a family of four.

So why not take part and make your tree count as one of the 6 million planted in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it’s something that my family will definitely be doing and I will let you know how I get on.

Love your environment.

Gill

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