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Posts Tagged ‘education’

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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Hedgehogs are considered the gardeners friend, but we may not be that friendly towards them as our gardens can contain many hidden dangers. Here are some ways that we can reduce these hazards.

Slug Pellets

Many slug pellets contain Metaldehyde (commonly the blue ones but check the ingredients on all slug pellets) and will not only kill the slugs but can also kill the hedgehogs (and birds) if they eat one of these victim slugs. Try alternative natural slug deterrents such as Slug Gone and Copper Slug and Snail Tape that are safe to all wildlife.

Recycled containers

We are all being encouraged to recycle but empty food cans, yoghurt pots, plastic cups etc. are a real danger to inquisitive hedgehogs and small animals which can get stuck in them head first and die of starvation or suffocate, to prevent this squash all cans, and cut up containers before putting them into the bin. Wildlife can also get caught in the plastic rings that hold the cans together and the different sizes of holes in them can trap different types of animals, each circle should be cut up before putting them in the bin. These have been banned in America we hope that our government will ban them too.

Water Features/Ponds

These attract wildlife to our garden but if there is no escape route anything that falls in will be unable to climb out and drown. Hang some plastic coated wire over the side and into the water to make a ladder, half submerge some rocks around the edges or make a gentle slope on at least one side of your pond. Keep ponds topped up, especially in hot weather so that hedgehogs are less likely to topple in. Children’s paddling pools and sand pits are also a danger when filled with rainwater.

Netting

Keep all pea-netting a foot above the ground so the hedgehogs can go under it and will not try to go through it and become stuck.  The same applies to tennis nets, children’s football nets etc.

Bonfires/Compost Bins

Before burning accumulated rubbish in the garden or before emptying or turning your compost bins check that a hedgehog has not made a home in it, the best time to spread the heap is October/November.

Strimming

Take care when mowing long grass with mowers or especially strimmers, when cutting long overgrown areas cut initially to about a foot high and then check for hedgehogs and other wildlife before cutting any lower. 

Provide a safe home for our friends

We should all leave an area of our garden to go wild for nature, and this would be an ideal place to put a hedgehog house these provide a safe haven for hibernating hedgehogs and also for females to have their young. Ideally place the house somewhere quiet against a bank, fence or wall and out of prevailing wind. We have the perfect Hedgehog home at The Recycleworks the Hogitat it is an attractive natural home and safe retreat for hedgehogs which will comfortably nestle into any garden.

  • It features a sturdy, rust-proofed steel frame
  • A waterproofed roof with an attractive natural finish
  • A predator defence tunnel
  • Lots of room for a family of hoglets and the mother

 So let’s do all we can to help our adorable prickly friends.

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Our latest competition winner Ryan Cinato wrote about wanting a hedgehog to come into his garden and it got me thinking about how special and unique these little creatures are. Hedgehogs are a gardener’s friend and a welcome visitor in any garden.

Everyone knows what a hedgehog looks like but did you know that there are approximately 5,000/7,000 spines on an average adult hedgehog each one is 25mm(1”) long, they are really modified hairs and are absent from the face, throat, chest, belly and legs where they are covered with coarse, grey-brown fur. Something that I did not know is that hedgehogs have a small tail.

Hedgehog Food

If you want to help hedgehogs and encourage them to your garden why not start by putting out some Hedgehog Food for them. At this time of year, end March beginning of April, hedgehogs should be emerging from their winter hibernation and will be very hungry. A hedgehogs natural diet consists of earthworms, slugs, beetles caterpillars, snails etc. these become harder to find in cold or dry weather but to supplement their diet during these difficult times and when they need it most (after hibernation, when they have young and prior to hibernation) we can help them by putting out food do not put out milk and bread as the hedgehog cannot digest the bread and cows milk gives them very bad diarrhoea, many hedgehogs die because of this wrong diet.

At The Recycleworks we love hedgehogs and have some ready mixed Hedgehog Food, it is similar to a hedgehog’s natural diet and following trials with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society our improved recipe includes chopped peanuts, sunflower hearts, dried mealworms, sultanas and dried blackberries. As the food contains dried ingredients, be sure to put out a bowl of fresh water as well. Any food should be placed somewhere where dogs and cats cannot get at it, especially if it contains raisins and sultanas as if eaten even in small quantities these dried fruits can cause cats and dogs serious kidney problems.

Hedgehog snack feeding bowl

Food should be put out in the evening and ideally in a hedgehog feeding station so that only the hedgehog can get to it, the easiest way to make one of these is to place a paving slab on some bricks, leaving a gap as an entrance hole and put the Feeding Bowl in the middle underneath the paving slab with the Water Bowl outside.

For your little or big Hedgehog enthusiast why not treat them to a Hedgehog Field Guide this four page guide includes lots of facts and information on feeding and encouraging hedgehogs to your garden.

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Christmas is a time when we often spend more on food, and as family budgets get a little stretched it’s even more important to get the most out of our food. 

For peelings and left-overs that can’t be reused take a look at the Bokashi Bucket system

Every time you have scraps to throw, be it meat fish or vegetable, just open the lid and drop them in the Bokashi Bucket along with a ‘sprinkling’ of the Bokashi Bran and re-seal the lid.

When the bucket is full, leave for two weeks with the lid sealed and then either dig the resultant Bokashi into the garden or add to your compost heap. As the Bokashi is ‘composting’ in the Bokashi bucket, a nutient rich liquor is produced which is collected by using the tap on the bucket every couple of days. Dilute the liquor with water at 1:100 and use as plant feed throughout the home and garden.

To make the most of food that can still be eaten take a look at Love Food Hate Waste.  They shares top tips to help you cut food waste, save some money, and make the cook’s life a little easier.

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We love these kids Minibug houses, and they are are a great way to introduce children to the facinating world of wildlife.

Perfectly designed for children to use, the bug habitats have also been carefully constructed to provide perfect insect habitats too.

The MiniBug Ladybird Log is a natural habitat for ladybirds and other beneficial insects.  Constructed from solid FSC birch logs and oak, larch, or similar timber for durability, the Ladybird Log has a hollow central chamber that can be filled with natural material to provide insulation and security for the ladybirds inside. 

Intersecting the chamber are many holes drilled into the log at an upward angle, which allow the insects to reach the insulated and safe inner chamber. Ladybird Food/Attractant can be used with the tower if necessary and/or the tower may be used to release larvae with food source.

 

This Minibugs Bug Box  provides over-wintering habitats for insects such as solitary bees (non-aggressive garden pollinators).

Offering a variety of potential habitats, the top section is made of variable sized canes and the lower of bored solid timber.

 

 

The MiniBug Solitary Bee House is a natural habitat for non-swarming solitary bees.

Based upon the best selling solitary beehive and made from naturally durable FSC Cedar, this unique solitary bee house is specifically designed to attract non-swarming bees, which are gregarious and safe around children and pets.

 The bees are naturally attracted to holes in wood and the MiniBug Solitary Beehive provides habitat that has become harder to find in modern gardens

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