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Posts Tagged ‘school gardening’

Red Admiral Butterfly

What a lovely summer we have had, everything has really benefited from those long, warm, sunny days – fruit, vegetables, flowers, birds, animals, insects and of course ourselves.

During the school holidays Thomas has spent a lot of his time catching and identifying butterflies, moths and insects with the sweep net that I bought from our local hardware store, it is very similar to a fishing net but the net is about 3 times deeper and is pointed at the end. We have taken it with us on walks, visiting friends and family, on holiday, to the coast, in the fields, woods, meadows and up hills and it’s been brilliant and really interesting learning which species live where and which are the most/least common. The insect world is vast there are thousands and thousands of species out there just waiting to be explored so why not get out on a warm, dry day and see if you can catch some, if you haven’t got a sweep net have a go with a fishing net I am sure you will catch something.

Butterfly/Bee Nectar Feeding Station

Butterfly/Bee Nectar Feeding Station

As the weather has begun to get cooler and nectar rich flowers are becoming less available now is a good time to provide some extra food and a safe and dry place for our wonderful insects to roost and hibernate, we have put up a Butterfly/Bee Nectar Feeding Station next to our Buddleia Bush, whose flowers have nearly all gone to seed, and I think I might put up a Butterfly & Moth Feeder nearby too, as well as being a feeding station the insects can also roost and hibernate inside on the cassette which can be lifted out so that you can observe your guests as they rest .

Butterfly and Moth Feeder

Butterfly and Moth Feeder

If you want to catch and identify insects and bugs why not have a look at the Catcha Bug Catcher this clever little device allows you to catch them and easily observe them through the clear sides then release them without harm, it’s very handy for re-locating those large house spiders in the Autumn!

Catcha Bug - Spider & Insect Catcher

Catcha Bug Catcher

If you are interested in attracting butterflies and moths into your garden click here for lots more information.

Why not have a go at catching moths in your garden or school garden click here for full details.

Have fun, love your environment

Gill

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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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Strawberries on plate

I seem to be surrounded by Strawberries: at my allotment, in my garden and even when I visit my parents, they have a strawberry bed which is simply overflowing with fruit (I can’t resist them and always leave with a tub full). This year has been an exceptional year for Strawberries, they are at their best now and simply delicious, however you choose to eat them.

HomeBetween 1st June – 31st August Breast Cancer Care are encouraging people to support them by holding a Strawberry Tea. Simply get together with friends and family, buy or bake some cakes, add some strawberries, put the kettle on and away you go!

You can hold a Strawberry Tea at home, at work, at your Sports Club in the clubhouse, with your community group, gardening club, art group and at school.

Holding a Strawberry Tea at School is a great way to get children involved, I am sure there will be lots of eager volunteers to help make the Strawberry Treats as well as designing posters, invitations and planning the event, why not combine it with the end of term Summer Fair.

There are some delicious Strawberry recipes on their website, this is one of my favourites, it’s perfect for parties too or as a cooling and refreshing treat on a hot day.

Mini Rainbow Jellies

This recipe uses small shot glasses, you can use larger plastic cups by increasing the quantities of Jelly and adding more Strawberries, why not try different flavours of jelly and use other seasonal fresh fruits.

Makes 12     Preparation time: 20 minutes     Chilling time: 3½ hours

Ingredients

  • 35g Pineapple Jelly Tablet
  • A drop of blue food colouring
  • ½ x 35g Lime Jelly Tablet
  • 4 Strawberries sliced

What you need to do

  1. Make up the pineapple jelly with water as the pack directs. Pour half into a jug and add a drop of blue food colouring to darken the jelly slightly. Allow the jelly to cool slightly.
  2. Pour the darker coloured jelly into the base of 12 plastic shot glasses then chill in the freezer for 15 minutes or until just set.
  3. Make up the lime jelly as the pack directs using half the amount of water. Leave to cool.
  4. Pour the lime jelly over the set coloured pineapple layer, then put back in the freezer for 15 minutes or until set.
  5. Press a slice of strawberry into each jelly then pour over the remaining uncoloured pineapple jelly to fill each glass. Chill in the fridge for about 3 hours or until set.

If you have a glut of Strawberries why not put them to good use; hold a Strawberry Tea, have a great time and raise money for a good cause at the same time. If you have a large crop turn them into delicious Strawberry Jam and bake some Strawberry Jam Drop Cookies or into Strawberry Smoothies.

Enjoy

Gill

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This week I have spent quite a lot of my free time on my allotment on my hands and knees weeding, it is amazing what you see when you get that bit closer to the ground.

Whilst digging up some of the larger weeds I uncovered two types of grubs one was cream and is the larvae of the Cockchafer Beetle, the other one was grey and is the larvae of the Crane Fly or Daddy Long Legs both these grubs will happily munch their way through the roots of your plants and crops but they will also make a welcome meal for a young bird.

Above ground amongst the foliage were Ants, Spiders, Beetles and quite a lot of Ladybird larvae, which is good news, as I have not seen many Ladybirds this year.

Field Guide to Ladybirds

I began wondering about the life cycle of Ladybirds, so I had a look at my Field Guide to Ladybirds and thought I would share my finding with you.

During the winter months (October-February) Ladybirds become dormant which is known as ‘overwintering’, prefering a dry, sheltered place away from predators usually in leaf litter or bark crevices.

In March/April the Ladybirds will become active and look for aphids (greenfly) to eat.

During May the male and female Ladybirds will mate.

Ladybird Larvae

Ladybird Larvae

During June-July the females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves they look like very small yellow jellybeans, they will choose a plant that has a good supply of aphids, which the larvae will eat once they have hatched out, the larvae don’t resemble a Ladybird at all, they mainly have a long grey body with black and orange markings and have six black legs, after a couple of weeks growing the larvae start to change and after attaching themselves to a leaf become a ‘pupae’.

Ladybird Larvae

Ladybird Pupae

In August the new Ladybirds emerge from the ‘pupae’ and begin to feed on aphids, they need to eat lots of them to build up their reserves to see them through the winter.

Minibug Ladybird Tower

Minibug Ladybird Tower

Ladybird and Insect Tower

Ladybird and Insect Tower

Ladybirds really are good news for gardeners, eating lots of aphids and should be encouraged in every garden, why not put up some insect houses to give them a home for the winter.

Gill

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The weather is a very popular subject with the British people and who can blame them, one minute it’s sunny the next its cloudy, it can be warm one day and freezing the next or blowing a gale, foggy, raining, sleeting or snowing and if we are very unlucky a combination of all of these.

Just over a week ago I thought Spring had arrived, on my plot I began digging in earnest, the sun was shining, it was warm, I weeded the beds, dug one of them over and forked in some Chicken Poo ready for my Onion Sets which I planted 4” apart in rows, leaving 9” between each row, this year I am growing Setton and Sturon. Onions Sets are very easy to grow and only need occasional weeding, feeding and watering if the weather is dry during the growing season.

Autumn Rasberries

Autumn Rasberries

The next job was to prune my Autumn Raspberry Canes down to the ground, I forked in some Chicken Poo, applied a mulch from my Compost Bin and placed the old canes across my onion bed to deter the birds from pulling the sets out of the ground as it is said they think they are worms. Autumn Raspberries fruit on this years new canes, which may need to be thinned out in Summer if they are overcrowded, I prefer them to Summer Raspberries as they flower later, avoiding the frosts, and fruit later, extending the fruiting season, you can pick delicious Raspberries well into late Autumn, it is still not too late to plant some Raspberry Canes.

Frogs & spawn

Since that lovely sunny day we have had biting easterly winds, freezing temperatures and snow, the frogs in the garden pond have been waiting patiently at the bottom for over a month, this weekend they are very active, we did a head count on Friday evening with a torch and counted 30+, we have 8 blobs of frog spawn so far.

Spring surely must be just around the corner

Gill

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We have got just the thing…

hot out of our warehouse this Spring is our new range of

Thrifty Raised Beds

Budget Raised FSC Wooden Beds

At the Recycleworks we have been thinking about how to Grow your Own vegetables and fruit as easily and economically as possible whilst still getting the maximum yield from a wide range of crops, so we have developed a range of budget Raised Beds which will appeal to everyone:

  • Families – the family budget is being pinched, now is the time to Grow your Own and reap the benefits
  • The first time gardener – perfect starter beds and entry into Grow Your Own
  • The accomplished gardener – a great product to extend your growing area
  • Schools – affordable and well within the budget
  • Community Groups – great for getting people involved in gardening, socialising and working together.

The beds are available in 3 sizes:

  1. The Thrifty Classic – 80cm x 80cm
  2. The Thrifty Long – 80cm x 105cm
  3. The Thrifty Big Square – 105cm x 105cm

with a choice of three heights for each size: 14cm, 28cm, and 42cm and a choice of two colours : Chestnut or Green.

Assembly instructions are supplied with each Raised Bed.

To help you grow the maximum yield and to remove the guesswork if you are new to Grow Your Own each raised bed also comes with a growing/planting guide including ideas and tips on suggested crops, planting, positioning, watering and feeding.

To warm up the soil before planting why not add a Compost Duvet or a Raised Bed Watering Kit to make watering easier and more economical in the long summer months.

Prices start from £15.55 making them very affordable to everyone.

You will surprised at how much you can grow in such a small space – you can’t beat the taste, texture and smell of freshly picked produce.

Gill

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