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Thank you to everyone who entered the May/June School Competition the overall winner was Hazlehurst Community Primary School, Ramsbottom their prize of a Kids Standing Raised Bed is on its way.

Kids Wooden Standing Raised Bed Growing Table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The competition was to create a new fruit/vegetable by combining two vegetables or fruits together, there were lots of inventive and wonderful combinations as well as some delightful drawings of the new fruits/vegetables here is a selection from the winning school (as written on their entry forms by the pupils).

Squashed Carrot – Butternut Squash and Carrot

Rassapple – Rassberry and Apple

Mapple – Apple and Mango

Tomcuc – Tomata and Cucumber

Rasbacugette – Rasberry, Banana, Cucumber and Courgette

Rasana – Rasberry and Bannana

Cawberrianoci – Cucumber, Strawberry, Banana and Brocoli

Bleech – Peach, Leek and Bannana

Pineberry – Pineapple and Rasberry

Plape – Plum and Grape

Labbege – Leek and Cabbege

Rasbstrawb – Rasberry and Strawberry

Papple – Pear and Apple

Papercot – Plumb and Apricot

Stramang – Strawberry and Mango

Banstraw – Banana and Strawberry

Apparrot – Apple and Carrot

Cherrynana – Cherry and Bannana

Bnaple – Apple and Beanna

Maple – Aple and Mango

Appberry – Appel and Strawberry

Arenge – Orange and Apple

Banberry – Banna and Strawberry

Mangle – Apple and Mango

Strawry – Strawberry and Cherry

Cherrango – Cherry and Mango

Banango – Banana and Mango

Apange – Apple and Orange

Zed – Apple and Strorberry

Thana – Tmoto and Bnana

Banapple – Banana and Apple

Apperbnan – Apper and Bnan

Banorange – Banana and Orange

Parnan – Banan

Blokly – Binana

Worter Pumpkin – Worter Meln and Pupkin

Tomcarro – Tomato and Carrot

Strarass – Strarbery and Rasbery

Shrapple – Stawberry and Apple

Tomotowapplenanna – Tomotow and Apple

Appllberry – Appll and Strawberry

Poptoma – Poppy and Tomato

Bnana Moon – Bnana and Moon

Bcherry – Cherry and Banana

Oniyplumy – Onion and Plum

Rocatcart – Rocet and Caret

Fbaner – Flower and Banana

Banappleorange – Banna, Apple and Orange

Redeloy – Redberry, Melon and Strawberry

Strawbcot – Strawberry and Apricot

Peechpiertompatletic – Pier, Peech, Tomato, Potato and Letic

Tmatobanana

Strawbo – Strawberry and Mago

Lightningcarrot – Lightning and carrot

Strarbrango – Strawberry and Mango

Banatom – Banana and Tomato

There are some really good combinations; fruits are definitely more popular than vegetables, well done to all of you.

The Summer Family competition will be posted on the Gardening With Children Competition page soon, so keep a look out and have a go, you could be our next winner.

Gill

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Spring and early Summer is a very busy time in the garden, I wouldn’t like you to miss out entering our two free competitions before next weeks closing date of 30th June, so here is a quick reminder:

Have a look at the Gardening With Children website, in the School Zone and the Family Zone you have the chance to win a fabulous

 

Kids Wooden Raised Bed Growing Table (one supplied)

Kids Wooden Standing Raised Bed Growing Table

It is the perfect size and height for younger children to have the experience of their very own real vegetable and flower garden.

Crops can be easily tended, watered and picked, they are ideal for growing Strawberries, Herbs,  Lettuce, Spring Onion, Radish and baby vegetables including Beetroot, Turnip and Round Carrots, why not plant a few of your favourite flowers between the crops for a wonderful display.

What you have to do

In the School Zone

Create a new vegetable or fruit by combining two vegetables or fruits together then send in

  1. Its name
  2. Which fruits/vegetables it is made from?
  3. A picture/drawing of it

For full details and an entry form click here.

 

In the Family Zone

Look at the pictures of the insides of various fruits and vegetables and work out, using the following list, what they are.

Tomato, Orange, Apple, Banana, Sweet Pepper, Carrot, Cucumber

To view the pictures and for full details of how to enter click here.

 

Both competitions are free to enter, the closing dates are Tuesday 30th June 2015.

Good Luck

Gill

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Have you seen our two competitions on the Gardening With Children website, in the School Zone and the Family Zone you have the chance to win a fabulous

 

Kids Wooden Raised Bed Growing Table (one supplied)

Kids Wooden Standing Raised Bed Growing Table

It is the perfect size and height for younger children to have the experience of their very own real vegetable and flower garden.

Crops can be easily tended, watered and picked, they are ideal for growing Strawberries, Herbs,  Lettuce, Spring Onion, Radish and baby vegetables including Beetroot, Turnip and Round Carrots, why not plant a few of your favourite flowers between the crops for a wonderful display.

What you have to do

In the School Zone

Create a new vegetable or fruit by combining two vegetables or fruits together then send in

  1. Its name
  2. Which fruits/vegetables it is made from?
  3. A picture/drawing of it

For full details and an entry form click here.

 

In the Family Zone

Look at the pictures of the insides of various fruits and vegetables and work out, using the following list, what they are.

Tomato, Orange, Apple, Banana, Sweet Pepper, Carrot, Cucumber

For full details, an entry form and to view the pictures click here.

 

Both competitions are free to enter, the closing dates are 30th June 2015.

Good Luck

Gill

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This week it has been glorious with long, dry days of warm sunshine, perfect weather for gardening and getting outdoors and also for Butterflies too, on my allotment I saw quite a few including Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Small Whites and my first Orange Tip, they are all stunning to look at, when they eventually settle to feed on the spring flowers.

In Britain there are 59 species of butterfly that breed here plus up to 30 other species that come here as occasional or regular migrants from elsewhere in Europe, but all is not well for these beautiful fragile creatures, according to a report published in 2011 by Butterfly Conservation three-quarters of UK butterflies showed a 10-year decrease in either their distribution or population levels with numbers of ‘garden’ butterflies dropping by 24%.

DSC03741

Loss of habitat including food plants for caterpillars and butterflies can have a devastating effect, in Spring many species emerge from hibernation and are hungry for nectar and pollen, by growing Spring flowering plants in the garden we can really give them a boost early on in the year, favourite Butterfly plants include Aubretia, Arabis, Forget-me-nots, Polyanthus, Primroses, Sweet Violet, Wallflowers and of course Spring bulbs. Wildflower seeds can be sown now to provide food in the Summer/Autumn they will also benefit Bees and other pollinating insects, there are many different ‘mixes’ available, they need very little looking after but look stunning.

 Short Mix

If you are really keen to do more to help Butterflies and Moths why not consider joining Butterfly Conservation, if you join before 31st May 2015 you can get your first year’s membership for half price, members receive a Gardening for Butterflies and Moths Booklet, colourful identification charts, Butterfly magazines, e-newsletters and more, have a look at their website for full details.

If you have seen an early sighting of a Butterfly you can register it on the Butterfly Conservation website, many of the early Butterflies have already been spotted but there are many more species yet to find, have a look at the list for the species that still haven’t been seen yet this year and keep your eyes peeled.

Which reminds me I must report my Orange Tip Butterfly sighting on the BIG Spring Watch website, they are also asking you to register your first sightings of a Swallow (which are returning from Africa), an Oak Leaf and a Seven Spot Ladybird all the sightings will be studied and used to help save and conserve our wildlife and provide a picture of how it’s doing.

So get out this weekend and get spotting!

Gill

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National Gardening Week (13-19 April 2015) was launched four years ago by the RHS and since then has grown into the country’s biggest celebration of gardening. Thousands of people, gardens, charities, retailers, culture and heritage organisations and groups get involved with many events and activities being held up and down the country from beginner’s workshops to guided walks, face painting to garden parties, there’s something for everyone and everyone is invited. Find out what’s on.

There are plenty of things you can do yourself or with your family to get into the spirit of National Gardening Week here is my suggestion:

Sow some seeds

Having been a gardener for most of my life, I must have sown thousands and thousands of seeds, yet I am still excited when they grow and appear out of the compost, it’s magical and also amazing to think that vegetables, flowers, grasses and even trees all start from a small seed.

If you are new to gardening, sowing seeds can be a bit daunting and perhaps scary, why not start off with something very simple that is quick to grow and can be picked and eaten straight away, I remember growing Cress when I was at Primary School. Cress Seeds can be grown on compost in a seed tray or pot, or on kitchen roll or cotton wool; they germinate quickly, grow fast and need very little attention.

Mustard and Cress ready to eat

Grow speedy Cress in a pot

Fast growing crops are best for children, fill your pots with compost, water then sprinkle your Cress seeds onto the surface place in a bright position and watch them grow, simply cut with scissors just above the compost level when ready, usually 7-14 days after sowing, and eat fresh. A brightly coloured Children’s Mini Propagator Kit is the perfect introduction for your budding gardener to sow and grow their seeds and will fit neatly on the windowsill.

 

1. Cress Heads

  1. Decorate a small plant pot or empty container with a happy, funny or scary face using paint, felt tips or crayons, why not add some sequins, wool, glitter.
  2. Once your decorations have dried, place some compost inside the pot, water and sow some cress seeds on top.
  3. Place on a windowsill and water carefully when it starts to dry out.
  4. When the Cress has grown, give your Cress head a ‘haircut’ and enjoy.

Cress Cotton Wool Lamb

2. Cotton Wool Cress Lamb

What you will need

  • Plastic or Polystyrene disposable plates
  • Coloured Felt tips
  • Cotton Wool
  • Glue
  • Cress Seeds

What you need to do

  1. Draw a lamb on the plate, give him/her a large body.
  2. Spread some glue on the lambs body and press on a piece of cotton wool, allow to dry.
  3. Carefully wet the cotton wool.
  4. Sprinkle your cress seeds on the cotton wool and place on a light windowsill, keep the cotton wool moist.
  5. Watch your seeds grow, they will be ready to eat in 7-14 days, simply cut with scissors and enjoy.

Have fun

Gill

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Snowy Allotment

The weathermen were right the cold weather has arrived, this morning we woke to a snowy winter wonderland there is little chance of doing any outdoor gardening at the moment.

It is too cold to start tidying up the garden, leave dead leaves/vegetation there for at least another month they are homes to many insects and pests such as slugs which although are unwanted provide a welcome meal for birds, frogs, toads and hedgehogs, small twigs/branches will be picked up by the birds to build their nests – a messy garden attracts more wildlife than a tidy one.

Wooden Puddle Duck Boards - Garden Track

It is too wet/frozen to start working on the soil, you can do more harm than good by starting too early, soil can soon become compacted making digging hard work, repeatedly walking on lawns can create a muddy mess, walking on frost covered grass will leave ‘black’ footprints damaging your grass, if you have to cross your lawn why not put down some duckboards they can be easily moved around or removed when not needed and will keep your shoes clean too, they are ideal for laying on your vegetable beds to walk on when you are sowing/planting.

Why not start your gardening year indoors there are lots of jobs that you can do now in preparation for Spring:

  • Have a good sort through your seeds throw away any out of date packets, it is often false economy sowing old seeds as germination rates can be poor and growing time is wasted by re-sowing. Order/buy new seeds, have a look through seed catalogues or on the internet there are thousands of different varieties of vegetables, fruits and flowers available with new varieties each year why not have a change and grow something completely different.
  • Make a Sowing Schedule and a Planting Plan that way nothing will get overlooked and every inch of your garden will be used, have a think back to last year’s crops did some do better that others, should they have gone in sooner, would you grow them again this year?

Onions from sets

  • Onion Sets and Seed potatoes are widely available, buy them early whilst all the varieties are available, choose ones that are firm, disease free and have not started sprouting. Onion sets can be planted now individually in pots, put seed potatoes in egg boxes or seed trays to ‘chit’ make sure the ‘rose end’ of each potato is at the top this is where most of the ‘eyes’ are, place in a light frost-free environment such as a cold greenhouse, polytunnel, porch or on your windowsill.
  • Have a spring clean in your greenhouse/polytunnel/potting shed, de-clutter, re-organise and throw away broken and unwanted items. Wash seed trays, pots, sieves, labels, watering cans, water butts and garden tools with Hortisept Pro Garden Disinfectant, hygiene is very important. Give the greenhouse glass a good clean inside and out with Verritex Pro Cleaning Solution to remove the build-up of algae and let in the maximum amount of light, wipe down the staging and wash out the gutters too.

Sneeboer Mattock Garden Tool

  • Garden Tools are very important and may need some maintenance clean, oil and sharpen ready for Spring. If you already have a Propagator it is a good idea to plug it in and check that it is still working.
  • Buy new compost each year for seed sowing and growing on seedlings and young plants, use last year’s bags of potting compost as a mulch or dig in to improve the soil.

Robin in snow 1

  • Keep the bird feeders topped up and wash out regularly, birds need a supply of fresh water to drink and to bathe in (even if it is cold) bird baths are shallow and will soon freeze up.

Keep yourself busy and warm – Spring is just around the corner (I hope)

Gill

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In life there are few certainties and many uncertainties; the British weather has got to be one of the biggest uncertainties, in Britain we have a very varied and changeable climate not just north to south but regional as well which makes it very hard for our weathermen to forecast, even with new technology. The weather affects everything not just your holiday or BBQ, it also has a huge impact on plants, birds, wildlife and even the seasons too, although Spring comes at the same time each year, it can in fact be early brought on by mild temperatures or late if we have prolonged cold spell with freezing temperatures.

Early Small Tortoiseshell

Unseasonal mild weather can bring creatures out of hibernation early, yesterday there was a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly fluttering against the upstairs windows if we had let it out it wouldn’t have survived, it is too cold and there are hardly any flowers about so it would have had no food, as well as being an easy meal for a hungry bird. Thomas managed to catch it in his butterfly net and place it safely in his pop up Butterfly House which he then put in a dark cupboard, it has now gone back to sleep, we shall keep checking on it.

10 Fat Ball Feeding Ring

As I write this there are twelve starlings picking food off the lawn and pushing their beaks into the soft ground trying to find tasty worms or grubs, with half a dozen House Sparrows busy on the Seed Feeders, which are filled with high energy sunflower hearts although they are slightly more expensive than bird seed I find there is little mess or waste, the fat ball feeders are very popular with all the birds and need refilling the most often. The weathermen are predicting another cold snap this week from Wednesday onwards which they say will last well into next week I will be replenishing my stock of bird food to keep the feeders topped up.

We get a lot of Starlings and House Sparrows in our garden (both of which are in decline this has become apparent from the results of The Big Garden Birdwatches over the last 36 years) we also get the odd Blackbird, Wren, Robin and amazingly Goldcrest yet we have very few Blue, Great or Coal Tits, recently we have had regular visits from a family of Log-tailed Tits they are a delight to watch and are my favourite bird, we did the Big Garden Birdwatch at home yesterday (Sunday) we were down on species and numbers compared to last year I think this was partly due to the weather, it was definitely milder than previous days which could possibly mean that the birds were searching and finding food in the fields and hedgerows, I am sure the heavy drizzle didn’t help either.

Here is my ‘forecast’ for the week ahead:

  1. Turning colder
  2. Send in the results of The Big Garden Birdwatch
  3. Buy more Bird Food
  4. Keep the Bird Feeders topped up
  5. Stay warm inside and enjoy watching the birds in your garden

Love your environment – whatever the weather

Gill

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Xmas Tree Decorations

By now many of you will have put up your Christmas decorations and most importantly your Christmas Tree it is the focal point in any home, decorating it is usually a family occasion with everyone helping.

The tradition of the Christmas Tree as we know it dates back to the mid-1800s, in 1821 Queen Caroline had one at her royal palace which was decorated for the children’s parties that were held there, In 1841 Queen Victoria and German-born Prince Albert stood one at the gates of Windsor Castle, a drawing was later published in 1848 in the Illustrated London News showing them celebrating around an indoor decorated Christmas tree, this was a tradition that Prince Albert had enjoyed in his childhood in Germany, this tradition became very fashionable and soon every home in Britain had a tree decorated with candles, ribbon, sweets, fruit and homemade decorations.

Candles are of course a fire hazard; today we use coloured electric lights, tinsel, foil wrapped chocolate shapes and baubles to decorate our trees, the first manufactured Christmas tree ornaments were sold by Woolworths in 1880. A star or an Angel is usually placed at the top of the tree; the Angel represents the Angel that brought glad tidings of great joy to the shepherds in the fields.

One of the most famous Christmas Trees in Britain stands near the statue of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square, London it is decorated with great ceremony each year, the huge Norwegian Spruce is a gift from the people of Oslo, Norway to thank the British people for their help during the Second World War.

There are many different types of real Christmas Trees: Norway Spruce, Frasier Fir, Noble Fir, the most common is the Nordman Fir, many people choose to have an artificial tree to ‘save the earth’ or buy a living potted tree which can be brought in and decorated then put outdoors after Christmas to grow.

After 12th night, when traditionally all Christmas decorations are taken down, your Christmas Tree can be recycled, many councils will accept them at recycling centres or collect them on your green bin collection day, they then turn them into valuable nutrient rich compost or mulch.

I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year and look forward to sharing my gardening and nature blogs with you in 2015.

Have a wonderful time.

Gill

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We had a brilliant response to our October November Competitions, unfortunately there can only be one winner for each Zone, the lucky winners are:

In the Family Zone

John Stowe, Hampshire

In the School Zone

Fulbrook Middle School, Bedfordshire

both winners will receive:

Hogitat Hedgehog Home

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

A perfect winter retreat for your prickly garden friends

guide to Hedgehogs

Field Guide to Hedgehogs

and a pack of Hedgehog Food

Hedgehog Food

Well done to both of you and I hope that you soon have a Hedgehog making its home in your Hogitat

Look out for our next competitions in the New Year

Gill

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Hedgehogs are busy at the moment looking for a safe place to hibernate and eating plenty of food to build them up for the long winter months, if you love Hedgehogs why not have a go at our two free Gardening with Children Competitions, one in the Family Zone and one in the School Zone.

In both competitions you have a chance to win

Hogitat Hedgehog Home

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

A perfect winter retreat for your prickly garden friends

guide to Hedgehogs

Field Guide to Hedgehogs

and a pack of Hedgehog Food

Hedgehog Food

All you need to do in the School Zone Competition is to correctly identify which Trees the Seeds and Leaves pictured come from, in the Family Zone Competition you have to correctly identify the Fruit/Berries pictured, in each competition there is a list of options to help you.

Hurry, the closing date for both competitions is 30th November 2014

So what are you waiting for? Click on the above links to enter and find out more!

Good Luck

Gill

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