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Posts Tagged ‘kids holiday activity’

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

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Here are 3 activities to get the kids outdoors and away from the television, games console or their phone:

DIY Build Your Own Bird Nest Box Kit

Build a nest box for your garden

This week is National Nest Box Week (14-21 February) and it’s the perfect time to put up nest boxes in your garden as many birds are now paired up and looking for a nest site. There are lots of different types of nest boxes available which are suitable for different species of birds, if you want to attract a good variety of birds why not put up a few different boxes, some species of birds like to build their nests near to each or in a colony these include House Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, House Martins and Swifts so put up 3 boxes together. If you want to get hands why not make your own Nest Box with a Build Your Own Nest Box Kit, it contains everything you need to make a nest box that is suitable for House Sparrows, Great Tits or Nuthatches, who will be first to make their home in your Nest Box?

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Make a Den

Go for a walk in the woods, there should be lots of dead twigs and branches on the ground that have been blown off in the recent windy weather, first collect the larger branches, place them upright with the tops together to form a wig warm shape this can be freestanding or around the trunk of a tree, if you have some rope tie these together, next find medium sized branches and place onto your structure to fill in the gaps, then collect smaller twigs and them leaves to camouflage it. Use your den as a hide to watch birds and wildlife. If the weather is cold and wet why not make an indoor den with clothes maidens, tables, sheets and pegs – behind the sofa is always a favourite spot.

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Skim Stones

Skimming stones can be tricky at first but with a bit of practice it can be easily achieved, for best results you need a calm sea, still river or pond/lake then you have to find the ‘right’ stone it should be smooth, round and flat, the flatter the stone the better, throw your stone hard, low and horizontally and it should bounce across the surface of the water, large bounces at first getting smaller until finally it disappears into the water. Have a competition with family or friends to see who can get the most bounces.

Lets hope that the weather is kind to all of us this week

Have a great holiday

Gill

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Nyjer Seed Feeder

Winter is all about looking after our wonderful wildlife especially the birds, as their natural food resources decline they increasingly rely on us for food and water, putting out a regular supply can make a huge difference. The RSPB monitor British Bird populations using the results from their Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend, if you took part don’t forget to submit your results before 16th February, Schools have another week left to do their Big Schools’ Birdwatch it’s a great classroom activity and a great introduction to birds.

 Blackbird Nest Box

As the days lengthen the birds sense that Spring is on the way, they become noisier this is often to attract a partner or to defend their territory, the next step is to build a nest you may notice birds carrying twigs, feathers or moss in their beaks, now is the perfect time to give birds a hand and put up some nest boxes in your garden/school garden/local community they come in all different sizes and shapes to suit different species of birds, it may take a while for the birds to show an interest in your box, be patient, they will start by ‘checking it out’ to make sure it is suitable and safe, once chosen they will quickly build their nest inside.

Build Your Own Nest Box

Organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to encourage individuals, families, Schools, Groups and Clubs to put up Nest Boxes in their area, National Nest Box Week (14th-21st February) coincides with the half term holidays so get the children involved, choose and put up some nest boxes in your garden, put up different types to encourage more species, if you really want to get ‘hands-on’ my favourite is the Build Your Own Nest Box Kit it contains everything you need (pre-cut, pre-drilled wood pieces, screws, nails, washers and a hanger) to make your own Nest Box it has a 32mm entrance hole making it suitable for a wide variety of birds including House Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal, Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatches.

 Nest box showing removable sections

If you want to go ‘high tech’ in the garden why not put up a Bird Box with a Camera, you will be able to watch the day to day life of your birds and witness that special moment when the eggs hatch.

So give a bird a new home, there is nothing more satisfying than a bird nesting in your Bird Box especially if it is one that you have made.

Love your environment

Gill

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If you find some slightly soft fruit and vegetables in your cupboard that are past their best why not dig out your paints and make some fun pictures with them.

Fruit and Vegetable Prints

What you will need

Equipment

  • Poster paints in various colours
  • Plastic plates
  • Paint brushes
  • Knife
  • Paper or card
  • Aprons
  • Plastic Table Cloth

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Mushrooms – Cut in half lengthways or cut the stalk off to reveal the gills
  • Broccoli Heads – Keep whole, paint the heads and roll onto the paper or cut lengthways this will resemble a tree
  • Broccoli/Cabbage Leaves – paint or dip the leaves
  • Sweet corn – keep whole, paint the kernels and roll onto the paper
  • Carrots – Cut into chunks for a round print
  • Potatoes – Cut in half for a large round print or cut in half then with the flat side down cut off 3 sides to make a triangle or four sides to make a square or a rectangle
  • French/Runner Beans – Cut at an angle across the pod to make a leaf shape
  • Celery – Cut into chunks, paint the bottoms for crescents or the sides for stripes
  • Apples – Cut in half horizontally to reveal the inner star shape
  • Starfruit – Cut across to make a perfect star
  • Pomegranate – Cut in half horizontally, knock out the seeds to reveal the sections

What you need to do

  1. Cover your working surface with the plastic table cloth and put on your aprons (it can be very messy).
  2. Ask an adult to cut and prepare your vegetables as above.
  3. Put the paints onto separate plates, you may need to add a little water if they are very thick, then spread them out across the base of the plate with a paint brush.
  4. Dip you fruit/vegetables into the paints or paint them with the brush.
  5. Stamp, roll or dab your fruit/vegetables onto the paper to create your masterpiece.
  6. Leave your pictures to dry.
  7. Give your hands a really good wash!

As well as making pictures why not see if your children can identify the fruit and vegetables and where and how they grow.

When you have finished with your fruit and vegetables give them a rinse and recycle them in the Compost Bin.

Have fun

Gill

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