This is a great project to do with the kids on a raining day when it is too wet and cold to venture out into the garden. Seed tapes are biodegradable paper which have seeds incorporated into them at set distances. The idea is you lay the tape flat on top of the soil, cover with a fine layer of soil and let nature take its course. This method avoids over sowing or having to transplant seedlings into the garden and you end up with neat straight lines of vegetables (great for the Virgo's amongst us!). The tapes are also easy for little hands to handle. This method particularly suits small seeds such as carrots, lettuce, onions, spring onions, leeks, musclun and basil. These tapes cost a fortune at the garden centre but are dead easy to make! Continue Reading →
Popcorn has been a popular snack food since the late 19th Century and, if it isn't coated with sugar or saturated in butter, it's a low calorie snack. A great family project is to grow and make your own healthy organic popcorn. It's one way to get the kids keen on gardening! Popcorn doesn't come from the same plant as sweet corn. It is a primitive variety of corn whose kernels contain air pockets. Popcorn is easy to grow, provided you can provide adequate water to maintain steady growth. You can find seeds in most online seed suppliers catalogues. I bought our first plants from a farmers market but you could try growing organic popcorn from a health food shop. Popcorn enjoys the same growing conditions as sweet corn, rich soil, water, sun and protection from frosts. Continue Reading →
A Willow Igloo is a fun, easy, quick and free thing to do this winter. You must harvest the willow in winter when it is dormant. Go down to a river or lake edge and harvest some living willow branches. They need to be at least 2cm thick. Cut long lengths. Decide where you are going to build your willow igloo. A good place is somewhere which receives summer sun but does not dry out too much. Continue Reading →
Grow a craft project in your garden this summer?
Growing birdhouse gourds and then making a birdhouse is a great outdoor project to do with the kids. A good winter project when winter gardening is not very comfortable! Gourd birdhouses are attractive to many species of birds including Sparrows, Wax eyes, Swallows and Chaf-finches. It all depends on how big you make the entrance hole to what species of bird you attract. Continue Reading →
In today’s world any way to prise children out from in front of the TV or Xbox can be a real challenge for parents. One way to get kids outside can be to involve them in gardening. By designing the garden with the kids in mind it is possible to develop an exciting adventure playground and fantasy world within your own property boundary. A child’s world is big on the senses so a garden which has smell, taste, sound, touch and sight creates interest for our little ones. Continue Reading →
Who doesn't like butterflies? Don't they have such a magical ethereal quality about them. Here is an idea for enjoying your garden whilst helping the environment and New Zealand native biodiversity.
Despite its favourable climate New Zealand can only account for 23 species of butterfly. Of these 23 species of butterfly, 11 are native and 12 have been introduced. This is not a great number when other countries, such as Japan, have 225 species. What it does mean is that our species of butterflies are very special and we need to look after them. Continue Reading →
Beneficial insects, or as I call them the "good guys", play a very important role in any organic garden, maintaining the natural balance. Beneficial insects include many wasps, ladybirds, lacewings, damselflies, hover-flies and different types of bees. Unfortunately like many organisms beneficial insects are under threat from pesticides, spreading suburbia and agriculture. Providing a secure haven in your garden allows these good guys an excuse to make your garden their permanent home. These sorts of insects seem to prefer individual tunnels to either lay eggs or hibernate in during the winter months. Remember you also need to provide a food source of flowers, shrubs and pests. Continue Reading →