Used Tyre Fairy Gardens

I’ve often seen fairy gardens made out of old tyres, but on trying to find out how to paint a tyre, I’ve found so much conflicting advice!

One site had a thread where people were discussing the best paint for your tyre with person A commenting that he had 30 years’ experience as a paint expert and that you should use an exterior oil based paint.

The next comment was from someone who had tried it and an oil based paint didn’t work. For every person suggesting a particular type of paint, another was refuting it and recommending something else.  It was rather overwhelming, for something that was supposed to be a fun task.

Another site recommended washing then sanding then washing the tyre again, then using a primer before using one or another paint – that seems like hard work for a children’s fairy garden project!Make a fairy garden Read more: Used Tyre Fairy Gardens

Apps For The Everyday Gardener {Infographic}

Growing up my dad always had a patch of veggie garden. From pawpaws to sweetcorn, I can remember veggies in most of the houses we lived in, and even as an adult now, when my dad moves into a new house, you can bet we’ll be eating from the garden within three months.

Unfortunately this isn’t a green thumb that I inherited, and since I live on the other side of the world and a lot of vegetables are very different here (gemsquash, anyone?), gardening has been a slow, step-by-step, seasonal processes for me. Last year I had four different apps running – from planting by the moon to pick this vegetable that many days after sowing (we had the smallest carrots a carrot cake has ever seen using that method). I was sent this infographic, and thought it might help those of you still hoping to get something growing this year, or something to save for next year.

Professional horticulturists and farmers are discovering the advantages of bringing their beds into the computer age. It’s easy when advanced phones like those from Apple and Sony are available from T-Mobile to put powerful applications at your fingertips, even in the great outdoors. Gardening, in other words, has been “appified.”

Click here to Pin this post for later: Apps For The Everyday Gardener

It’s pretty amazing, looking at the business side of all that, how something as simple as gardening can be affected by technology, but as a novice, I appreciate all the help I can get!

How To Turn A Garden Gift Into A Garden Adventure

I wrote a post last week about Twinkl, the educational resource where I download a lot of the printable activity sheets that I use with my girls, and the different ways that I use them.

How To Turn A Garden Gift Into A Garden AdventureOne of the things I love about using online resources is that it saves me a lot of time and effort in turning a simple gift – while nice enough – into an adventure, something I know my own girls would love.

For a birthday party this weekend, I bought a gardening kit for the birthday girl – a spade, fork and shovel, as well as twin planters and a little watering can, ideal for indoor planting. With that, I bought a little sunflower seed pot and a runner bean seed pot, so the recipient could get planting straight away. All of this came to about £12, which I thought was pretty good value for money.

How To Turn A Garden Gift Into A Garden Adventure

But, much like the bug hunter kit, I wanted it to be an experience rather than just a gift, so I headed over to Twinkl and printed off a few different worksheets: Flower Display Bunting, the Bean Life Cycle and the Sunflower Writing Paper.

The flower display bunting I put in the gift for her to make, and the sunflower writing paper – for making notes or writing letters. For the bean life cycle I got to use my laminatorI printed out the life cycle, cut out the cards and laminated them so that they can be part of the growing experience.

My girls and I did a fabulous fun experiment with beans, so this is a wonderful learning experience and one I hope our recipient will enjoy too!

So, that’s how we turn a basic garden gift into a garden adventure, complete with bunting, and letter writing.

Grow Your Own With Kids: Seedlings

Well, we’re two weeks in to this year’s growing and I’m cautiously excited. To be honest, I may have overdone the seedlings, because they’re doing really well, but will need thinning soon and I don’t have enough room in the house to keep them all indoors! But we’ll see how it goes.

I wasn’t going to spend too much time documenting our garden adventures, because I’m certainly no expert and everything we’re doing is trial and error. But there’s a great blog I’ve been following for about a year now – Mark’s Veg Plot – and I’ve learned so much from Mark and his documenting what he’s doing in his garden, that I figure it may inspire someone else to grow their own too. Trust me, if I can do it in our shady swamp garden with two kids and no spare time or money, there are a lot of other people who can do it too!

If you’re seasoned at this whole gardening thing, and you see me doing something clearly wrong, please let me know! I did accidentally plant pumpkin seeds this week, then realised they weren’t supposed to be planted till May. I’m interested to see what happens to them now.

Indoor Garden

Two weeks ago we planted a bunch of seeds, and here we are, almost two weeks later, in a house full of seedlings. It’s brilliantly satisfactory, seeing little green heads pop out from under the soil. I do love it. It’s still really cold outside, so I’m leaving everything inside for the moment, and in a few weeks I’ll move it into the freezing conservatory.

Our sunflowers have grown so much I’ve had to stake them, and I think I’m going to have to find higher stakes soon. I’m going to have to plant them in pots, I think, because our soil is so wet from the flooding. I wonder if straws will be strong enough to hold them up. I may have to try. We had loads of them, but most of them became really thin and the tops died. I don’t know what that’s about.

The courgettes/zucchinis have done amazingly well. I’m happiest of all with them. Now I just talk to them every day and ask them to keep growing. They’re one of my favourite vegetables to grow or eat, and the flowers are my favourite thing ever, so I have high hopes for these ten seedlings – again, I’m not sure when to plant them out, but I’ll give them a few more weeks in the living room, till there are four ‘true leaves’ at least. I don’t suppose I’ll keep all of them, but maybe I can swap a few for something I haven’t grown yet.

I also sowed a lot of spinach, then thinned it out. The ones I plucked and replanted aren’t looking great, but the package said I should be able to start harvesting tomorrow! Erm. I think not. I guess I’ll sow a second round this weekend, in case.

There are also a few peat pots of three different beans. Again, I’m  not sure how they grow together, but here we are, enjoying the experiment. They are just starting to germinate under the glass there, so we’ll find out soon enough.

On the windowsill we still have the onion pot I planted, and the greens on that are growing like crazy. We’re eating those as they are quite strong and delicious, and in that space I can’t see too much growth from the onions themselves.

I bought that strawberry to plant outside, but I’m still scared of my post-flood garden. It’s not ideal just yet. I’ll have to transplant it soon though.

The potatoes have been chitting a few weeks now, and they should go outside next week, according to the instructions from the Potato Council. I hope we have a better crop this year, but I must admit I’m hesitant after last years attack of the slugs.

I’ve sowed three rows of spring onions, and I’m shocked by how they can grow in one day – not all at once though. Much like children, they’re pretty unique and tend to do their own thing! This weekend I need to sow the second lot, so there’s a fresh batch every two weeks. But I suspect I will have to thin them out soon too. I’m not sure how that works. I’ll read up on it today.

These are window sill carrots. In otherwords they grow round bulbs, rather than the  traditional long ones. I may have over sowed here too. The instructions say 5cm apart, although I’m not sure how many window sills they think people have!

The tomato planter was a Christmas present. I’m really nervous with this one. Last year my tomato plant finally  grew two little tomatoes, well after the first frost. Needless to say, we never ate from it. Sad but true.  I have hopes this year, at least. At least we’re starting them early this year, so we have a chance.

And finally, a gratuitous ‘I’m doing this with children’ picture. We read a story about Winnie the Pooh where Kanga uses a broken honey pot as a planter. At the end of the story there’s a task for little fans to plant their own seeds in an egg carton. I had both egg carton and seeds on hand, so Ameli planted them, then decided she needed to watch them to see if they grow – while munching on the honey cookies we made for Pooh Bear earlier. She was quite disappointed that nothing had happened yet, but we’ll keep an eye on it, and soon enough…

Garden 5

Growing Beans And Onions Indoors

A few weeks ago we had ‘Growing‘ as our PlayLearning theme, during which we planted three types of beans and some onions. Over the last three weeks I have taken photos of their progress, and here they are below.

Growing Beans

Ironically, the dwarf bean sprouted roots and shoots much sooner than the broad bean or barlotti bean. We’ve now replanted them into soil as I’m not sure how long they were going to survive on just water and cotton wool!

The onions were a fun experiment too. I’m waiting a few more days before I start using these, because, to be honest, I have no idea what to do with them! I found this idea on Pinterest, but there weren’t instructions beyond the actual putting it together. I don’t know if you’re supposed to harvest the onions at some point, or if you just enjoy the greens indefinitely! Anyway… we’ll enjoy the greens for now, and see what happens.

It’s quite a cool and fun thing to have in the kitchen though. I think it looks great.

Growing onions

What are you growing this year?

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Gardening: First Harvest

The sudden and long awaited turn in the weather this last week has finally meant I’ve been able to move all the large vegetable pots off the table in the conservatory and out into the garden.

This has had a down side as now we’re back to fighting snails again, as well as the ever hungry slugs and aphids we were already dealing with. Turns out an adult snail can demolish two courgette plants in one night. Oh joy.

On the up side, the last remaining courgette, the one I bought ready to be repotted, is growing at a beautiful rate and I can see some flowers headed this way. It’s first flower was beautiful but the courgette itself was tiny, no bigger than my baby finger. It pretty much rotted while I was waiting for it to grow.

The fated aubergine, or egg plant, has also been victim of the snails, and its leaves are looking paltry – but there are some buds showing too, so hopefully, hopefully.

The tomatoes we got from Heinz are finally doing really well. They seem to have grown every time I look. No flowers yet, and no tomatoes but again, I’m hopeful!
I harvested all the Kale this week, and made an incredible salad that I really loved. I’ll post the recipe on Keeper of the Kitchen this week.

It seemed to like being harvested though because new leaves are popping up all over the place, which is great.

I also had the first potato harvest this week. By the time I got to planting the potatoes, they had long roots already and I didn’t have much hope for them, or much soil, so I dumped them all on one bag and let them get on with it.

I thought I’d have a rummage for some new potatoes a few days ago and proceeded to break most of the foliage. Who knew potatoes were so fragile?

I did manage to find some new potatoes though – my first ever potato harvest, so they accompanied dinner tonight. Yum.

We’ll see what happens to the potatoes from here on out though. I did find as many exploding rotten ones as ready to eat ones though, and I’m curious about that. Why has that happened? Is that to do with the slugs? Have I left them too log? I do wish I was doing this with someone who knew what they were doing.

The apps on my phone are pretty useless. They’re telling me I should be reaping like mad right now! Which, clearly, I’m not.20130707-222135.jpg

I’m glad we’re doing this in the pots though, rather than straight in the ground. It’s made meeting the needs of my seedlings so much easier. It’s like attachment gardening.

Only you eat your babies if you’ve done it right.



Gardening – It’s Like Watching Water Boil, But More Exciting

I’m so glad I decided to plant the sunflower seeds the same day as the tomato plants, because for days and days nothing happened. We opened the growing thingy each day to find nothing, except one random weed that popped it’s head out. I was beginning to think the Heinz Grow Your Own tomato plants were a fail. I did find another bag of seeds though, so thought I’d try again.

20130505-222540.jpgThe sun flower seeds sprouted and one of the two of them shot right up. It’s pretty cool though. The other may or may not have had a fight with a pigeon. I’ve stuck it back in the ground, but I’m not sure it’s grown at all since then. At least it hasn’t died. That’s progress, right?

It’s been a bit of a rubbish week, weather wise, so I haven’t really been out in the garden much, and left my ‘failed’ tomatoes where they were, and I’m glad I did.  When I got back to them, there were four little plants smiling up at me. I’m not sure if Ameli was more excited, or me!

We’ve replanted the sunflower plants, and will be replanting the little tomatoes soon. In the meantime we’ve also planted some potatoes from the Grow Your Own potatoes scheme that was advertised earlier in the year – did you know there’s a potato council? It’s a little like the Ministry of Magic, eh? – but I took more than a month to open the box, by which time all the eyes had sprouted and now I’m not sure if they’re actually going to grow or not. We’ll see, I guess. I’m still really hopeful for something more than herbs from our garden this year!

Anyway, I have yet to plant the next bag of tomato seeds. They’re a different variety, so hopefully between the two we’ll have a good harvest, and once again I’m really hoping I didn’t leave it too late!