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Posts Tagged ‘setting up a school garden’

With this spell of lovely weather looking set to stay during July and August, we thought this tip of the day from Friends of the Earth was particularly appropriate…

 

Consider buying a water butt to catch rainfall that you can later use to water your plants. It’s more planet-friendly than using tap water, which has to go through energy-intensive purification to make it drinkable. The plants won’t mind if you save rain for them instead.

For more Tips of the Day from Friends of the Earth click here and for a well designed and affordable range of water butts take a look at www.recycleworks.co.uk.


 

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We recently received an enquiry from Caroline Chandler asking  for advice on setting up a school garden. 

At Gardening With Children we have heaps of information, factsheets, hints and tips, and there is lots to look at on the blog too.  So for all you’ve ever wanted to know take a look around the website, or click on the links below. 

Top Tips for Setting Up A School Garden

…And if you have a question that we haven’t answered do get in touch on our Ask the Expert page and we will do our best to help!

Happy Gardening!

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The growing season is in full swing and the combination of warmer days and occasional rain showers means that the garden seems to be changing literally overnight. 

Vegetable crops and flowers are coming on in abundance, not to mention the weeds!!

If you would like some gardening inspiration take a look at our Gardening Jobs for June.  …And for tools, raised beds, and everything that is gardening visit www.recycleworks.co.uk .

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 We love this Bee-Kind advice from Friends of the Earth so we thought we would share it with you.

The Friendly bumble bee is in decline all over Europe.  This is bad news as they pollinate a wide variety of the plants we eat.

 

Bumble bees often nest in compost heaps, so if you see some emerging from yours try to leave them in peace as much as possible – they sting only when provoked and die off naturally in autumn.

If you would like to receive regular top tips from Friends of the Earth on how to have a greener way of life, you will find all the information here.

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For something to make you smile during this spell of sunshine, do take a look at our gallery of lovely pictures and poems from Spetisbury Primary School in Dorset. 

They are all about spring time and are just beautiful …well done to all the children who took part. …And thank you to Samantha Kelly for sending them in. 

If you have a seasonal picture or poem you would like to see on our blog please send to charlotte@gardeningwithchildren.co.uk or post to Gardening With Children, Unit 1, Bee Mill, Ribchester, PR3 3XJ.  We always love to hear from you!

 

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If like most gardeners at the moment , you are struggling to plant out your young plants with all these chilly winds and cool nights, why not consider buying a polytunnel.  I have had the allotment for over 10 years and this year, with the installation of a polytunnel I feel like I have entered a whole new world of gardening! 

With the wet and chilly summer weather of recent years I have struggled with some of the sensitive vegetables, and last year once again, I had difficulty producing a crop of outdoor tomatoes.  So I thought that the investment in a polytunnel might improve our success and increase the range of plants we can grow

…And so far I have been delighted.  Like many fellow allotmenteers I have trays of early lettuces, rocket etc all ready to plant out.  But with continuing cool temperatures those who have been brave enough to put them out in the plot have found that unless the plants have been covered with a cloche or fleece, they have either died of fright at the inclement temperatures or have just stopped growing.

The plants in the polytunnel have been telling a very different story though.  Lettuces are almost ready to harvest, tomatoes are growing inches each week and seedlings are germinating literally overnight. 

Without the effects of the wind, temperatures inside have been ticking along nicely in the early twenties and during more prolonged periods of  sunshine have climbed even higher.  …And with no birds to peck about and no slug damage to date I am a complete polytunnel convert.

Lettuces growing outside and protected with cloches

 

The same lettuces grown in the polytunnel

 

Little Gem lettuces growing outside and protected with fleece

The same batch of Little Gem lettuces sown in the polytunnel

Plus polytunnels are a great space to do gardening with children.  I have a small table in the corner of mine where the children can make notes, draw pictures and take measurements of the plants.  …And when the weather is wet or windy activities can carry on unhindered!

…And for everything you have ever wanted to know about owning your own polytunnel, the Polytunnel Handbook is an indispensible guide.  Full of practical advice and handy hints it shows how your polytunnel can stay productive in every season.

 

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If you are just starting to put some of your tenderly cared-for seedlings outdoors for the first time this week take extra care with them. 

Along with many gardeners around the country, many of the allotment holders here have started planting out beans, rocket and early lettuces, but the ground frosts have been playing havoc, scorching the tender leaves, and in many instances killing them entirely – a bit of a disheartening beginning to the growing season!

 More ground frosts are forecast for this weekend, but when the seedlings are bursting out of their trays and clearly need transplanting, take a few precautions to protect them from the extremes in temperature and it will make all the difference.

 Try putting tender new plants in a Cold Frame to harden them off for a few days, and once transplanted into the ground covering them with these handy Cloche Tunnels will ensure they have plenty of light and space to grow but stay nice and protected from the cold nights.

 

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This is a great idea from Friends of the Earth.  It gives seedlings a great head start and is a handy way to recycle plastic bottles too! 

All you need to do is cut empty plastic bottles in half and place them over seedlings to give them their own individual greenhouse.  Very young plants will benefit from the warm micro-climate underneath the plastic, which also protects them from hungry slugs and snails.

If you would like to be a little greener why not subscribe to receive Friends of the Earths free Tip of the Day by email.  All the details can be found here.

For all your gardening needs this spring visit www.recycleworks.co.uk.

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Nesting places are limited in many gardens, and to maximise the number and variety of birds you have in your local area, consider putting up some nest boxes.  …And the nesting season is starting to get into full swing so get them installed as soon as you can!

 

Which Nest Box to Choose

The robin and wren prefers to nest in an open fronted box, and our Robin and Wren Nest Box has been specifically designed with this in mind. 

 

Equally suitable is the Open Birch Log Nest Box and is perfect if you prefer a more natural look. 

These nest boxes should be located low to the ground, no more than 1m or so high, and will need to be well hidden by vegetation to keep predators away. 

House Sparrow were once one of our commonest birds but populations have sharply declined in recent years, partly due to a lack of natural nesting sites. 

House sparrows are very communal birds, typically nesting in colonies, so the  Timber House Sparrow Terrace is perfect for them. 

Inside the box is split into chambers to fit three pairs of birds – all very cosy!  House sparrows are happy to use a nest box positioned high under the eaves, but when locating it remember to keep away from areas where house martins or swifts usually nest.

The Birch Log Hole Nest Box  is suitable for tits and sparrows, and should be fixed at a height of between 2 and 4 metres.

Siting Your Nestbox

Birds like to have a clear flight path to the nest box so avoid too many obstacles that can make access difficult.  It’s also a good idea to tilt the bird box downwards a little bit, then when it rains, the rain is more likely to hit the roof and not enter the nest box itself.

The nest box is best located away from strong, direct sunlight and strong winds, so unless it is in a sheltered corner position it so it is facing a north-easterly direction where possible.

Cleaning Your Nestboxes

Nestboxes should be cleaned well before the nesting season begins.  Old nests can harbour disease and parasites so should be removed.  Boiling water can be used to kill any remaining bugs and the box should then be left to dry out thoroughly before putting up in the garden.

The RSBP recommend that nestboxes should not inspected whilst birds are nesting, how ever tempting this might be.  But you can keep an eye on everything that’s going on inside with the Nestbox with Infra Red Camera.  Live footage taken during the day and night can then be viewed from your television! 

…And to give birds a helping hand during the busy nesting season, don’t forget to provide water in a Bird Bath and some supplementary Bird Food on a Garden Bird Table.

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Mushroom Growing Kit arrived on my desk a couple of weeks ago, with a little note from Sylvia to give it a whirl.  I was full of excited expectation as I have very clear memories of having a similar kit as a child. 

 

My mum helped me to set it up and then each day I would check it to see if the mushrooms had started to grow.  After a week or so little white specks began to appear on the soil and I still remember my complete amazement as these perfectly white wonders seemed to literally grow before my very eyes.  …And once they started there was no stopping them – a fantastic childhood memory!

So equiped with my kit I set off home and over the last week or so the children and I have had a fun new indoor growing project to do.  We’ve been taking photos along the way and the results look like they are going to be every bit as good as I’d hoped.  Check back next week for the full story with pictures, and some tasty mushroom recipe ideas.

In the meantime check out the Mushroom Growing Kits we have available to buy.  We have sourced these kits very carefully for freshness and for the high quality of the growing medium and the spores.  They are excellent quality and by following the simple instructions you will get some great results.  ….And unlike in my childhood there are White Shiitake or Brown Button Mushrooms to choose from!

Delicious Shiitake Mushrooms available from http://www.recycleworks.co.uk

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