This warm, calm weather is perfect for our insects and especially our Butterflies, in Britain there are 59 species of Butterflies that breed here yet they are far less common now than they were 50 years ago one of the main reasons for this is that much of their natural habitat, wildflower meadows, heath land, woodland and peat bogs has been lost to industrial and housing developments and intensive farming. Your garden, however large or small, could be a haven for butterflies, providing food and shelter; even a window box or container garden can help.
Why not have a go at our two new free competitions on the Gardening With Children website, where you can win some great Butterfly products for your garden.
Click here for full details and an entry form for the School Zone Competition or Click here for full details and an entry form for the Family Zone Competition.
Please send in your entries for both competitions by the closing date of Friday 7th July 2017.
Congratulations to our May Competition winners
Thank you to everyone that entered the May competitions, the School Zone competitions was won by Terling C of E Primary School and the Family Zone Competition was won by Harriet Volland both win a selection of Gardening books.
Well done to both of you and good luck to you all for our new Butterfly competitions
Why not give your Dad/Grandad a hand in the garden, I am sure they would appreciate the extra help and enjoy your company as well, let’s hope that we have a lovely sunny day and that we can all get in the garden.
British grown tomatoes are available in shops now, picked when they are perfect for eating and with only a short distance to travel to the shops they are super fresh, tasty, healthy and environmentally friendly.
Although many British growers produce tomatoes on a large scale they care about the environment, millions of bumblebees are used each year to pollinate plants, insects are used as a natural pest control and millions of gallons of water are stored from glasshouse roofs for irrigation.
Tomatoes are delicious fresh or cooked, they are very healthy containing Vitamins A, C and E, and Potassium and Calcium, they are low in calories and contain virtually no fat or cholesterol.
Store your Tomatoes at room temperature, keeping them in the fridge impairs their flavour.
Did you know?
Tomatoes are fruits not vegetables.
In Britain we each eat on average two tomatoes every week.
Tomatoes originate from the Andes in South America, where they grow wild. They were first cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 AD.
Tomato Seeds have been grown in space.
The largest UK tomato glasshouse covers 26.5 acres, but is currently being extended to 44.5 acres, or 18 hectares. That’s the size of 25 international football pitches.
So support our growers by buying British and local Tomatoes or why not have a go at growing your own it is a lot easier than you think and now is the perfect time to plant them, click here for a Guide to Growing your own Tomatoes.
At this time of the year many of us will have pots or trays that are overflowing with young vegetables and flowers that are ready to be planted outside, many of these young plants will have been grown in a porch, conservatory, greenhouse or on the windowsill where they will have got accustomed to warm temperatures. Deciding when to plant out can be quite tricky, although day time temperatures on average are rising, cold snaps, strong winds and clear skies with frosts can damage or even kill your prized plants.
The key to the transition from a warm, cosy environment to the big outdoors is ‘Hardening off’, Hardening off is the process of preparing your tender plants to cope with harsher outdoor conditions including lower temperatures, lower humidity and winds, it can take two to three weeks before they are ready to be planted outdoors. Hardening off will thicken and alter the plant’s leaf structure and increase its waxiness, further new growth will be sturdy and slower than if they are grown in the greenhouse, hardening off frost-sensitive plants will unfortunately not make them hardy.
How to harden off your plants
A cold frame is perfect for hardening off your plants, the clear hinged lid lets in adequate light and can be propped open slightly wider every few days to slowly introduce your plants to outside temperatures, closing it again at night, leave the lid fully open for the last few days prior to planting out. Position your cold frame where it will receive some sun but not all of the day, the best time to begin hardening off is when it is cloudy thus avoiding high afternoon temperatures and frosty nights, the insulating wooden frame will help maintain temperatures overnight.
Protect your plants from pests
If you have grown some tasty crops you can be sure that if not protected the slugs and snails will get to them first, apply copper slug and snail tape around the top of the cold frame to stop them from coming in, if you have any small gaps around the cold frame base sit your plants on a layer of slug gone this irritates the slugs/snails foot and they will look for food elsewhere. Place enviromesh netting over the cold frame to protect your crops from insects whilst they are at their most vulnerable.
Cold frames are very useful, they can be used to extend the growing season, crops can be started off earlier in a cold frame than if they were sown/planted directly in the ground, frost tender crops grown in containers can be protected in a cold frame from Autumn frosts to extend cropping. Tender plants can be overwintered in a cold frame. Fruits and Vegetables that benefit from higher temperatures i.e. Melons, Chillies will produce a better crop if grown in a Cold Frame.
We all love Easter and especially Chocolate Easter Eggs but do you know when and where they were invented and by who?
The first chocolate eggs were made in France and Germany in the early nineteenth century, as the chocolate used couldn’t be moulded these eggs were solid.
In 1873 J.S. Fry & Sons, a Bristol chocolatier made the first hollow chocolate Easter egg.
In 1875 Cadbury entered the market producing hollow Easter eggs in dark chocolate with a smooth surface which were decorated with chocolate piping and marzipan flowers, they were filled with dragees (small hard sweets).
In 1893 Cadbury was producing 19 different types of Easter egg it wasn’t until 1905 when they introduced Cadbury Dairy Milk that Easter eggs sales really took off.
The first crème eggs were launched by Cadbury in 1923 this was replaced in 1971 by the crème egg that we enjoy today.
Over 500 million Cadbury Crème eggs are made each year, in 1973 2 million exploded in a giant fridge because someone had put too much yeast in the yolks.
Each year over 80 million Easter eggs are sold, more than half of all the eggs are bought in the four days before Easter.
We spend £150 million on Easter Eggs and £70 million on crème filled eggs.
If you get too many Easter Eggs why not get creative in the kitchen and make them into delicious treats to share click here for the recipes.
At Christmas we decorate a fir tree with baubles, lights, beads and tinsel which has pride of place in our home it seems such a shame that it is only enjoyed once a year and for only about 3 weeks. This year why not start an Easter tradition and make an Easter Tree this could be outside either using a tree that is growing in the garden or one that is growing in a pot which would look lovely near your front door or alternatively you could have an indoor tree.
How to make an indoor Easter tree
Put on your coat, grab your wellies and go on a walk to collect some nicely shaped branches alternatively if you have been pruning in the garden save some of the thicker branches.
Select the branches that will make an interesting shape once they are placed together, you can leave the branches natural, paint them white or ask an adult to spray them with gold or silver paint.
Find a wide vase and fill with small pebbles or sand to support your branches and keep them in place.
Arrange your branches in the vase and decorate.
There are many decorations to choose from in shops these include easter chicks, rabbits and eggs and as with Christmas decorations you can re-use them year after year, also add pom poms, bows and ribbon to decorate your tree
The Easter tree is popular in Europe and has now found a place in British homes, in Germany they are known as Osterbaum or Easter Tree. The biggest Easter egg tree was in Rostock, Germany it was decorated with 76,596 painted hens’ eggs.