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Posts Tagged ‘outdoor childrens 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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Twigs are useful, fun, free, and help wildlife too.

This Half Term why not put on your warm coat and wellies and go for a walk in the woods or the park and find some sticks, after all this windy weather there should be plenty lying on the ground, collect different lengths and thicknesses, you may also find some on the beach which have been washed up by the sea often in interesting shapes and colours.

Here are a few suggestions for your bounty of sticks:

Pooh Sticks

This game was played and made famous by Winnie the Pooh, you can play it on any bridge over running water, each person drops a stick (at the same time) from the bridge on the upstream side then peers (carefully) over the downside of the bridge to see whose stick appears first, this is the winning stick.

Did you know that there is a World Pooh Sticks Championship, this year it is on Sunday 30th March at Day’s Lock, Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire it is a charity event organised by the Rotary Club of Oxford Spires and Friends.

Tracking Sticks

Tracking with Sticks

Tracking with sticks is a popular Scouting activity; you can play it in the park (split your participants into two groups), in the back garden or even in the house. Use your sticks to leave a trail of arrows to give clues to your seekers of your whereabouts they can be in the open or can be slightly hidden to make it harder.

Spider Catcher 2

Make a Spiders Web Catcher

Spiders are opportunists and will make their web wherever there is the chance of catching some insects. Choose three straightish sticks about 30cm long, place them on the floor in a triangle and tie each corner tightly with string, next pick a strong thickish stick about 80cm in length and tie your stick triangle to it at one end. Push your stick into the ground near some bushes and wait patiently, it may take a while before a spider makes its web there.

Build an Insect/Bug home

When you have finished with your sticks return them to nature and make a home for Insects, Bugs and Beetles. Find a nice quiet corner of your garden, break your sticks so that they are roughly all the same size and then lay them all the same way on top of each other, you can put some leaves, soil and grass in between this will make a damp environment for your creatures, finish off by putting some more leaves and foliage on top.

Have a great holiday and have fun!

Gill

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