Not sure what to do when?

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Not exactly two turtle doves but as near as I could get in our garden.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Weather projects

Weather projects link very well with gardening activities as the weather conditions directly affect how we garden and what we can grow. A study of the weather also provides an ideal opportunity for children to read and create charts and diagrams.

In our garden we have set up a weather station that provides lots of data that may be useful when delivering such projects. We share our weather data and information through:

A web site which gather real time data every 10 minutes whenever our computer is connected to the internet

To view click here

Our weather diary blog which has monthly charts created from data collected by our weather station and also a daily summary of weather conditions with comments on how this has affected our gardening.

To view click here

A section of Our plot at Green Lane Allotments website has a section dedicated to information about the weather.

The information includes a monthly weather summary, monthly and annual weather charts.

To view click here

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Win a £25 voucher to spend on seeds

Win a £25 voucher to spend on the website.

The competition is open to visitors to any of our blogs and websites. Unfortunately the seed company only ship within Europe.

Click here for more information on how to enter the competition
The closing date for entry is 19 November 2010

Friday, 29 October 2010

Grow Your Own Potatoes

Launched in 2005, Grow Your Own Potatoes (GYOP) was one of the first primary school based growing projects. Since then it has become the largest of its kind with almost 1 million children signed up for 2010 learning where potatoes come from, how they grow and that potatoes are a healthy food. Its simplicity and the fact that GYOP is a hands on activity makes it perfect for young pupils.

Schools that register to take part (in Feb) receive a FREE growing kit containing everything they need to grow a successful crop.

Visit the GYOP website for more information.

Click here to visit my website for more about growing potatoes in containers

Alan Roman have a good choice of seed potatoes - their website also includes lots of information about individual varieties and potato growing in general.

Harrod Horticultural also have planters available too click here

Friday, 8 October 2010

Sunflowers and sheds - a production for children

Suitable for children aged 5-8 and their families.
World Premiere

M6 Theatre Company presents

Sunflowers and Sheds

Directed and Scripted by Gilly Baskeyfield & Dot Wood
Devised by M6 Theatre Company
Designed by Joss Mazen
Original music by Tayo Akinbode
Cast: Eve Robertson and Luke Walker

Saturday 6th November at 11am & 1pm, Lyric Hammersmith
Monday 8th November at 1.30pm & 3.30pm, Unicorn Theatre

From M6 Theatre Company, comes Sunflowers & Sheds a tender and heart-warming story of discovery, sure to inspire and delight audiences young and old alike. This enchanting new production is set to tour the UK from 30th Oct – 22 December.
On the allotments down by the railway, Frank’s peaceful routine is turned upside down by the arrival of lively Isabella and her chickens on the neighbouring plot. Through the changing seasons, the seeds of friendship grow side by side with the raspberries, runner beans, memories and dreams.
Underscored with original music, let the colourful world of Sunflowers & Sheds take you on a journey that will capture your heart and imaginations.

Co Director Dorothy Wood said about the production, “I chose to set the story of this unlikely friendship on the fertile ground of an allotment - a place where the patchwork and diversity of people and plants grow side by side.
Sunflowers and Sheds gives children the opportunity to watch this special friendship develop and to discover what lies beneath the surface - of soil and people!
Through a visually delightful set, original music and strong emotional journey, we rediscover - that surprises are more enjoyable and disappointments more bearable, when shared with a friend.”
Sunflowers and Sheds will tour the UK from 30th October until the 22nd December. For further information on the tour visit

Friday, 24 September 2010

Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

Thanks to Isaac Newton Primary school in Grantham for sending me photographs and information about how they built their own greenhouse from plastic bottles.

To read more click here

Don't forget I'd really love to receive information about your school gardening project

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Studying the weather

Studying the weather is an ideal project for linking to gardening activities as the weather conditions and climate very much affect how we garden and what we grow.

A study of the weather also provides real life opportunities for the pupils to study and create charts and graphs.

In our garden we have set up a weather station that feeds information to our computer. Data has been collected since October 2009 and so almost covers a full year. The charts and type of station used has changed during this time as we continue to learn and improve.

If you study the weather then you may like to check the following:

The Green Lane Weather Diary this is updated daily wherever possible and includes short comments on how the weather is affecting our gardening.

The weather station sends real time information to this web page. On most days this is updated every 15 minutes - although at times when we are unable to leave our computer connected to the internet this feature will be suspened.

Monthly weather summaries are also provided on our web site from this link

Most of the charts can be viewed at full size by clicking on the images. If there is other types of information that would prove useful then please post a comment and if possible we will try and help.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Welcome back

I hope all of you who work in schools had a great summer break and hope that your new school year gets off to a good start.

I also hope that your school garden has survived your absence, that the weeds haven't grown too high and that you still have some fruit and vegetables left worth harvesting.

Gardening tasks for September are listed on my website here

Also do please consider sending me some information about your school gardning activities to add to my example pages here 

Friday, 13 August 2010

Getting started next term


If you want to get a start on your vegetable patch but don't have the time to sow seeds and wait for them to grow enough to plant out then these offers from Suttons and Dobies may be of interest.

Suttons seeds are offering a bundle of winter vegetable plants, seeds and seed potatoes

ALL THIS FOR JUST £14.95! - PLUS FREE 1kg of Carlingford Potatoes

36 Plug Plants, 4 seed packets + 1kg Carlingford Potatoes FREE!

Price: £14.95
If you are interested click here

Dobies Seeds have almost the same offer but minus the seeds and seed potatoes. Exactly the same plug plants (variety and number) without the potatoes and seeds for £9.95. For us it's a better option.
We've ordered this offer from Dobies  We had this offer last year and were very satisfied with what was produced.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Spire Infant School's Garden

Details of a second school garden is now available on the website. Spire Infant School is also in Chesterfield. Its pupils move on to Spire Junior School and then to our other example school Parkside Community School.

Thanks again to Liz - a governor at Parkside - for sharing the information posted on the my website. To read about the gardening activities at Spire Infant School click here.

With the summer break fast approaching I hope your gardens survive well without you for a little while - when you return in September maybe you would like to add your school garden to these two examples.

I am equally interested in schools that are just beginning their gardens and also to share any pitfalls and setbacks. Remember too you could involve the children/students in putting together a report. For ideas click here

Saturday, 10 July 2010

August gardening calendar

Although there may be heavy downpours in August, this can fall on very dry soil meaning much of the water will run off rather than penetrating the soil. Watering is very important as many plants will have grown larger and be loosing more water through transpiration.

Daylight hours become noticeably shorter during August but during the day, in some areas, high temperatures may be achieved. There is still the possibility of strong winds.

For schools it will be essential to enlist some volunteer help to ensure that the garden survives the August break – some schools may choose to run summer clubs. Maybe a rota of willing helpers could be established. Each set of helpers could be made responsible for a given task. The main tasks will be watering, picking, weeding, cutting grass and ensuring adequate ventilation of greenhouses or polytunnels. If possible feeding plants can be added to the list of tasks. Alternatively groups could be asked to look after the garden for a given period over the summer break. Automatic watering systems may be worth considering.

Ensure that helpers understand how to look after the garden and which areas are priorities.

The activities for the August gardening calendar have been kept to a minimum but include some activities for those not restricted by schools' August break.

Click here for August gardening calendar

How does your school keep the garden going over the summer break?

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

At last our first example school garden

I'm really grateful to Parkside Community School in Chesterfield for being the first school brave enough to send information about their gardening projects. Parkside has around 500 students aged 11-16 and at the moment has three gardening projects on the go. Thanks to Liz - a governor at the school - for sharing the information posted on the my website.  To read about the gardening activities at Parkside click here.

Now Parkside has broken the ice maybe some more of you would feel brave enough to share your gardens with us. Remember you could get the children involved in writing an article and taking photographs  - maybe a good little project for the end of the year?

Monday, 14 June 2010

Guest books

I've added guestbooks to both my website and blog so please spare a minute to pop by and leave a message - it's good to know who my visitors are.

Click here to go to the guestbook on my website. I have been making some alterations to my website which I hope makes things easier to find. Any suggestions for additions to the website or any improvements are always welcome even if they are not always carried out.

If you prefer I have also created a visitors comments area on the sidebar of this blog. I'm still patiently waiting for some reports of school vegetable patches to include on the examples page of my website so please try to send something that I can include here. With vegetable patches beginning to fill up with plants it's a great time to take a few photos!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Request for help at Horbury Fayre

The Home Grown Horbury stall for Horbury Fayre is in the process of being finalised and the Home Grown Horbury group are running a "Spot the growing plot" competition to get people thinking about the plots of unused land around Horbury and Ossett that could be used to grow fruit and vegetables.

Competition entrants can win one of two beginner’s growing kits that have been put together by the group. They have also have various leaflets & bookmarks etc to give away.

The Fayre takes place next weekend - Saturday 19th from 9am ‘til 5pm and Sunday 20th June from 10am to 5pm.

The group could do with some help in running the stall and giving out leaflets etc. If anyone can spare an hour or two to help, please email Andy or ring 07971 098510.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

July's calendar is now available

In theory July is one of the hottest months of the year with low rainfall. Although brief showers can be heavy and the rain that falls may run off dry soil or quickly evaporate. Hot days can also mean thunderstorms.

There may also be spells of windy weather which can flatten plants as well as speed water evaporation.

Although the days are beginning to shorten light levels are still good.

July is an important month for school gardening projects. With the fast approaching summer break it is important that preparations are made to try and ensure that your school patch survives until school reopens.

Watering will be an essential task – you should either invest in an irrigation system or gather together a willing band of garden watchers who can water your plants for you and maybe do a bit of weeding. Make sure that your helpers understand the need for consistent watering and the need not to overwater should the conditions be wet. Watering is best carried out in early morning or late afternoon especially in a greenhouse.

Mulching around plants especially fruit trees and bushes will help conserve moisture and also keep weeds down. Water well before mulching.

Greenhouses will also need to be adequately ventilated. Doors are often left open during the summer months but this can be a problem if it becomes suddenly windy. Also an open door is an invitation to cats and birds so if you do wish to leave it open then place some type of netting over the opening to keep out unwanted guests.

You could reward garden helpers by letting them pick any crops such as courgettes and beans that won’t hang on until you are back at school. This will also help in that crops such as courgettes and beans will keep producing if mature 'fruits' are regularly removed.
The complete July calendar is here

If you can think of anything I have missed then please add to the comments on this blog posting

Monday, 24 May 2010

June Calendar

June sees the beginning of summer with 21 June having the longest period of daylight. Plants really spring into growth enjoying what should be higher temperatures and extra light. Danger of frost should have passed in most parts of the UK.

Sunshine can cause temperatures inside a greenhouse or polytunnel to soar. If there is no natural shading for the greenhouse then you may need to apply shading of some sort. June is also often a dry month and so one major task will be ensuring that your plot is watered. You need to prioritise which plants need most water such as seedlings, new plantings etc.

Unfortunately the improved conditions are also enjoyed by weeds.

For a list of suggested tasks for June click here. Please add any suggestions that I may have overlooked in the comments here.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Using ICT to plan your vegetable patch.

One activity that combines gardening, ICT and geography is the creation of plans for your vegetable patch.

A system that can be used effectively for the is GrowVeg. This is a web based system that allows children to easily draw up attractive plans. This has proved very popular in some schools and a school licence is available which allows a single account to be used by multiple pupils or groups of pupils in a class. This is basically the same as a single-user account but is marked for concurrent access. It costs £25 per year (which can be invoiced to the school if required). The teacher will usually set up the outline plan for the garden as a template that they then make a copy for each child/group to use. The pupils are all logged on to the same account but open the plan allotted to them so that they don't save over each other's work. Setting it up this way enables the teacher to log on and get access to all the pupils' plans after the class.

For several years now we have used this system to plan our allotment plots. A great feature of this system is that after you have used it for a year the it 'remembers' which crops were grown where in previous years and gives a warning if you try and plant something in a position that has been used for a similar crop in a previous year.

Where different groups of children are using the same gardening space in consecutive years or where members of staff change  it is essential that a plan is kept each year to avoid cultivation problems that may result in using the same area year after year for the same type of crop.

To read more about how we have used the system click here

For more links to the ICT curriculum click here

Online Garden Planning Tool

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Garden Calendar update for May

May is an exciting time of year when things really start to 'get going' in the garden.

May can be one of the driest months of the year so you need to take care not to let seedlings dry out. Also make sure that fruit bushes and trees that are setting fruit are well watered at the roots.

May is also often one of the sunniest months of the year but it can be a very changeable month with temperatures rising and falling quickly. Frosts may still be likely in some areas although the risk does decrease at the end of the month.

Ventilate the greenhouse in the daytime to prevent temperatures becoming too high when it is sunny.

The difference in temperatures between inside a greenhouse and outside can be fairly extreme so it is important to harden off and plants that have been raised indoors before planting outside in beds. The principle is to expose plants to conditions outdoors gradually so they acclimatise to outdoor conditions. This is called hardening off see gardening techniques on the website.

I've added the list of gardening activity suggestions for May to the website. Click here

As usual if you have any other suggestions please post them in the comments area here.
For links to the complete gardening calendar click here

On another note if you are thinking of adding a shed to your plot check out this website before buying as they offer some very cost effective solutions. Click here for more information about choosing a shed.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Get Schools Growing Now Competition - request for support

One of our visitor's schools is one of five short-listed in a 'Get Schools Growing Now' campaign. Their success depends on receiving the most number of votes by midnight on Sunday 11 April 2010.

Please support them by visiting the website here and registering a vote for Stanwell Fields School. You can register a vote every day!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Gardening Calendar Update for April

As promised I am trying to keep one month ahead with the gardening calendar to help with forward planning so April's diary entry is now posted here. As always remember that the suggestions can only give guidance and you should garden according to your local conditions. If you have any suggestions for additions to the calendar then please post them here.
Spring begins in earnest during April although it can still be an unpredictable month so don’t be tempted to plant out tender plants too early. It is a month of spring bulbs and blossom. Daylight hours are increasing and growing conditions improving. Although temperatures should be rising and the sun should be seen more frequently, frosts are still a hazard to tender plants. There is still chance of snow. This may be a month when you have to water outside as even during showery weather soil surface can dry out fairly quickly which will spell death to emerging seedlings.

Saturday, 20 February 2010


Very few kitchen gardens are without a compost bin or heap. Composting is a way of converting any organism that has once been living into a nutrient rich product. This when added to the soil, not only introduces nutrients from which your plants will benefit, but improves the soil structure.
A composting project also fits in well with the primary science curriculum for instance possible links with Sorting and using materials, Grouping and changing materials, Rocks and soils, Micro-organisms.

Composting is an all year round activity; however, you will find that some times of the year are more active than others.

For more information and advice click here

Also available on my website is a free Smart notebook download. If you don't have a Smart Notebook application a free interactive reader can be downloaded. This allows you to use but not to save any changes.

I would appreciate feedback on how useful if at all you find the resource.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Why not make a video of your gardening project?

This video comes from the BBC Dig In site. Making a video of your school's gardening activities is an ideal literacy activity and is not as difficult as you might think. I have successfully carried out film making activities with children as young as 6 and also children with special needs. Without exception they have loved it! Film making also integrates Gardening into your ICT lessons. It motivates children who would usually have difficulty in writing about their experiences and adds a new dimension to literacy lessons.

If you do create a video you could upload it to YouTube or TeacherTube and I would be happy to post a link to it on my website. Also I am still keen to receive any photos and information about your school garden to add to my website examples page which at the moment has NO examples. If you have a website showing your schools gardening activities why not email me the link to add here? The aim of this page is to inspire other schools to have a go and also alert them to what went well and any pitfalls. Remember someone has to be first!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

What to do in March

Mid March heralds the start of spring when things really get started in the garden. Temperatures and daylight hours should be increasing although March is also a month of cold winds and strong breezes. As the saying predicts snow is also likely.

As always weather and local conditions should guide you. If conditions are poor resist sowing and planting too early. Later sown seeds catch up but those sown in poor conditions often develop into weak plants.

If conditions are poor many seeds will benefit from being sown indoors in a greenhouse or under cloches.

Suggestions for gardening activities during March are now available on the website click here As usual these can only be offered as suggestions as location, weather and soil conditions can affect timings.

If you wish to add any suggestions then post a comment here

Friday, 5 February 2010

Why fertilise the soil?

If your soil has just been cleared and hasn’t been used for growing before then you will probably not need to use a fertiliser. New ground often produces fantastic crops. Over the years plants use up the natural nutrients in the soil and so the fertility needs supplementing with a fertiliser of some sort.

Fertilisers contain three main plant nutrients, nitrogen (N) which is needed for healthy leaf growth, Phosphorus (P) which is needed by plants to produce healthy roots and shoots and Potassium (K) which is of general benefit to plants but is particularly necessary for plants to produce fruit and flower.

Fertilisers also contain very small amounts of trace elements such as iron and manganese.

The proportions of N, P and K should be quoted on all fertiliser packs as N:P:K so 10:12:24 indicates that the fertiliser is high in potassium and would therefore be good to use on fruiting or flowering plants.

When using fertilisers it is important to follow the instructions on the labels. Just in case the label becomes unreadable you may find it useful to male a note of the instructions to keep somewhere safe.

Click here for more information

Friday, 29 January 2010

Add flowers to your vegetable patch.

You may have heard gardeners talk about companion planting. This practice is based on the belief by many gardeners that certain plant groupings are in some way beneficial.

There is much argument as to whether some aspects of this belief has any scientific basis. An investigation into whether certain plant combinations work or not could form an interesting investigation for children to undertake; for instance do nasturtiums attract aphids away from broad beans or do marigolds repel whitefly away from tomatoes.

There is little doubt, however that flowers do attract beneficial insects which can only be a good thing. They provide another dimension to a vegetable patch. Not only by providing colour and the opportunity to study insects at close quarters but also by providing a crop of cut flowers for the classroom.

If you have space a patch of native wild flowers is especially effective in supporting a range of indigenous insects. A patch of nettles tucked away in a corner will provide a food plant for many butterfly caterpillars (don't worry not cabbage whites!) and the leaves (not roots) can be used on the compost heap. Also a patch of grass that is allowed to form seed heads attracts many insects. To provide a food supply for as many insects as possible you need to choose different shapes of flowers e.g. tube shapes and daisy shapes.and also have some flowers that grow throughout the season.

More information is available if you click here

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Big School Birdwatch

When I first started teaching I was amazed at how my class of 9 year old children couldn't even identify the most common of garden birds. Some thought that the smaller birds were babies and the larger ones were the mums and dads.

The Big Schools' Birdwatch provides an opportunity to help children appreciate the birds that they probably see every day but don't even notice. There is also special activity in which nursery children can get involved - Little Schools' Birdwatch

Click on the links to find out more, even if you don't take part in the Birdwatch you will find lots of ideas, activities and resources to use with children.

Although the Birdwatch started on 18 January it isn't too late to join in!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Guzzler - a Talking Story

Guzzler - Talking Story- (Windows only)

Aimed at KS1 (6 - 7 year olds) but could be used with Lower KS2 especially children learning difficulties.

Although not exactly a garden pig this resource would link in with a vegetable growing project.

Guzzler is a pig with a flaw in his character - he eats anything he can get his snout onto. But one day he goes too far and has to be taught a lesson.

The text employs repetition and provides opportunity to study how the vocabulary used conveys what the characters are feeling.

A PDF version is provided which can be printed for children to read away from the computer. This provides opportunity to compare electronic and paper based books. The talking story provides an opportunity for the children to become familiar with the use of an electronic text.

Guzzler is a fully illustrated and narrated talking story which can be used with a whole class, small group or by individual children.

The narration is activated by a sound button on each page. For children needing support with their reading they can attempt to read without the narration and then use the narration to check their accuracy or they can play the narration and listen before attempting to read unsupported.

As the narration is playing the words being spoken are highlighted in red.

Each page requires the reader to click on animal or object to activate a sound. To exit the story, at any point, tap the escape button on your keyboard.

Click here to read more

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Free Potato Growing Kits for Schools

The potato council are offering free potato growing kits to schools who register with them. The kits include supporting lesson plans and worksheets and for a chance to win prizes for your school by entering a competition once you have harvested your crops.

The website also has free resources and information focusing on growing and cooking potatoes. Click here to visit their website.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Have you noticed any difference?

I have been working on tidying up this blog and also slightly adapting the template to give a wider publishing area. It's always a nervous moment when you enter the world of HTML but I don't think any disaster has occurred yet!!

Hope that you think there has been an improvement!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Harrod Horticultural Offer 10% discount on some items to our visitors

Harrod Horticultural are continuing to offer 10% discount on their range of timber raised beds and netting etc for anyone ordering from them after linking from any of my Harrod links from this blog and sister blogs and websites.
To qualify you must also quote Green Lane at the checkout.
Harrod have increased their range of timber raised beds. These include some triangular, and manger shaped structures as well as some raised on legs. To view their range of raised beds click here

For their range of garden netting and materials click here

Monday, 11 January 2010

Introduce ICT into the School Vegetable Patch

For a couple of years now we have used the Grow Veg online planner to plan out our plot. This is a simple to use planning tool that could be used at all levels in school as well as for adult gardeners.

With it is easy to draw out your garden plan and decide how best to plant it. You will need to create a plan of your plot so that you can work out what you will grow and where. You will need to take into account that some plants will need more space than others and also consider which plants will grow together and what the needs of each type of plant are. In other words learn as much as you can about the plants that you intend to grow.The planning tool clearly shows how much space plants require and how to group them for maximum success, removing the need to look up planting distances and crop families.
It also alerts you if you try and grow a similar crop in the same position in subsequent years. Plans can be printed. As well as offering an online planning tool for a small annual subscription of £15/€17 (There is a North American version too) the website has advice and tips for growing all types of vegetables.

This planning tool has proved very popular in some schools and a school licence is available which allows a single account to be used by multiple pupils or groups of pupils in a class. This is basically the same as a single-user account but is marked for concurrent access. It costs £25 per year (which can be invoiced to the school if required). The teacher will usually set up the plan for the garden as a template that they then copy over for each child/group. The pupils are all logged on to the same account but open the plan allotted to them so that they don't save over each other's work. Setting it up this way enables the teacher to log on and get access to all the pupils' plans after the class. For more information use the contact button on their website. Please refer to this website when you do so.
Online Garden Planning Tool

A demo of the online planner can be viewed on their website and if you fancy having a go a 30 free trial is also available. To learn more click on the banner below. 

More suggestions for ICT activities are available on my website here

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Choosing what herbs to grow

The suggestions for which herbs you may choose to grow on your vegetable patch are now completed on the website click here

Herbs are a sort of half way house between flowers and vegetables. As well as having scented foliage, many have attractive flowers and variegated leaves. A herb garden can be ornamental as well as productive. Herbs can be mixed in amongst other ornamental or food plants; they can be grown in containers or in a patch devoted to growing herbs. Herbs are ideal plants for the sensory garden as not only can they contribute a mixture of flavours and scents but many have a particular texture.

Many herbs flowers are much loved by butterflies and bees so a herb patch can encourage biodiversity in your vegetable patch and encourage beneficial insects which in turn will pollinate fruit or help keep insect pests under control.

The word herb has various definitions, on this page the term herb is used to describe a plant grown for flavouring, scent or medicinal purpose.

Growing herbs in a school garden is especially appropriate as many plants date back to the beginnings of civilisation and can be linked to a study of a particular historical period. Herbs were used in the courts of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Ancient Egyptians used herbs for medicinal purpose and also in the embalming process. Ancient peoples believed some herbs had magical properties and they were used to protect from evil and in rituals. Each herb had a special significance or power attributed to it. Herbs have even been used as currency.

Through the ages herbs continued to be used medicinally as some still are today. They were also used to flavour food especially when food became tainted during storage. Not only would use of herbs mask unpleasant tastes but was thought to act as a disinfectant on particularly bad meat. Herbs were burned as a fumigant. Bad smells were often associated with disease and herbs were used to mask odours. To fulfil this, aim herbs would be stuffed into keyholes and shoes or herb bags would be worn from a belt. They have also been used as ingredients in dyes and cosmetics.

In the 16 and 17 century herb gardens became popular in cottages, castles, and monasteries although wild herbs were considered to be more powerful than cultivated ones. Herb women and root gatherers made a living collecting herbs growing wild in the countryside. Some of these women were persecuted and tried as witches. Herbs were also grown by apothecaries in physic gardens.

Friday, 8 January 2010

February Gardening Calendar added

I have added the suggested activities for February to the web site Click here

Where we live in West Yorkshire the gardening season doesn't really get going until March but there are things that you can do if you are desperate to get started. This will mostly be preparation and planning work but in some milder areas it may be possible to start sowing and planting. Refer to seed packets and information about the climate in your area. Generally speaking there is no mad rush to get seeds in as those sown a bit later soon catch up and often overtake earlier sowings. If the weather continues as it is there will be no decision to make!

Do remember to look after wildlife when conditions are bad.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

And ... when is a currant not a currant?

Answer - When it is a grape!

Children - well I suppose adults do too - may confuse blackcurrants and the dried currants using in baking. These are not currants at all but are dried grapes. TheBlack Corinth grapes used are a very small, sweet, seedless, black grape from Greece.

Currants and gooseberries belong to the same family of plants called Ribes. Several ornamental plants also belong to the same family.

They are fairly easy to grow and require a similar methods of cultivation. A relatively new introduction to the family is a jostaberry which is a cross between a blackcurrant and a gooseberry.

I have now completed the page on the website about currants and gooseberries click here

Monday, 4 January 2010

When is a fruit not a fruit?

Answer - when it is a strawberry, raspberry, blackberry or rhubarb!

Fruits such as raspberries and blackberries are really bundles of tiny fruits clustered together. The raspberry has a hollow core so when you picked it is quite fragile. On the other hand blackberries have a sold core and are more robust fruits. Raspberries and blackberries are closely related and many hybrid berries have been created by crossing them and their offspring.

Each strawberry has on average 200 seeds. The part that we eat is technically not a fruit but a swollen stem and the things which look like seeds are all individual fruits each with a seed inside.

Although we refer to it as fruit, rhubarb isn't a fruit at all. It is an herbaceous perennial. We eat the stems of the rhubarb but it is considered to be a fruit as this is how it is generally used.

Choosing berries and rhubarb page is now completed on the website. Click here