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Ok so just what is National Gardening Week?
Well the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) started it eight years ago to celebrate gardening and to encourage people to take part in activities which they hoped would spark a passion for gardening and the great outdoors.
Since then things have really taken off with all kinds of people getting on board including individual members of the public, retailers, groups of children and adults, charities and heritage organisations.
This year (2019) National Gardening Week falls between the 29th of April and the 5th of May.
You can find out more about National Gardening Week, and the events that are on in your area, by visiting the RHS site.
REMEMBER The whole point of the event is to inspire people to get involved in gardening so even if National Gardening Week has been and gone you can still pick one or more of these ideas and have a go.
If you fancy getting involved here are a few things you might like to try …
Garden Journal featuring Freshly Planted and Willow Day.
A great place for the kids to start is by creating their own garden journal. This might sound a little daunting to younger children so calling it a garden notebook instead might be the way to go.
This can be as simple or as detailed as your family want it to be. You could just buy a couple of cheap exercise books from the highstreet and get the kids to decorate the front cover. If you are handy with your PC you could put together some A4 sheets, with bullet points or prompts to help start things off, and slip them in to plastic pockets in a ring binder or if your children love to craft they could make their own from scratch.
If you don’t have a garden you might be about to scroll on but you can still do this. Window sill planting and back yards still count. You don’t even have to have “Gardening” in the title … call it anything you like.
Have fun talking about what will go in the journal.
It could just contain things they see in the garden, including birds and insects, and the changes that they notice, for example leaves dropping off or flowers opening, which would be particularly interesting it you did it once a month. Or they could record their gardening activities.
If your children love to draw this is a fab time to let them loose with out the boundaries that sometimes come with school work or you could include photos.
There are no rules here so if they only want to update their journal once a week or even once a month it’s not a big deal … the main thing is that they enjoy it and have fun.
For some great tips on how to complete your journal visit Freshly Planted.
If you would like an idea of how to make your own journal visit Willow Day where there’s a fab tutorial for a travel journal that you can easily adapt to make it garden size.
Biodegradable Newspaper Plant Pots from Crouton Crackerjacks.
I have to confess to being a bit of a You Tube fan. I have learned a lot about sewing and crochet from the generous crafting community who post on there. The younger generation are big fans too so although there are several pictorial tutorials available for similar pots I’ve plumped for this one with a complete demo of how to fold your newspaper.
DID YOU KNOW? … You can slow down a You Tube video by clicking the cog on the play back screen and changing the speed which is great when you are trying to follow something like this. It might be an idea to mute the sound though as that slows down too. There’s also the option to pause and rewind so you can play a step and freeze the action while you catch up.
These homemade plant pots are a brilliant way to recycle the free newspapers that regularly drop on to your door mat and you can plant them directly in to the ground when the seedlings are ready to go.
In the demo video the sheet of newspaper is a full spread torn in half which measures approximately 11 inches by 22 inches. It made a pot with a base 2.75 inches square and 3 inches tall.
To watch the You Tube demonstration by Crouton Crackerjacks click here
Grow Tomatoes In A Container from Eating Well.
There’s nothing quite like grabbing a couple of tomatoes off the plant and eating them fresh in a salad or popping them straight in to your cooking. Even if you only have a small balcony or a back yard they really are worth growing yourself … just find a sunny spot and you are away.
The smell of tomato plants growing takes me right back to childhood when my grandad had a greenhouse full and my grandma used to whip up all kinds of glorious recipes and chutneys.
You don’t have to go all out with a greenhouse, lets face it we aren’t all lucky enough to have the space, so just start with one plant and see how you do.
For instructions on how to grow your very own tomatoes visit Eating Well
Growing Potatoes In A Bag from Quick Crop.
Hot on the heels of the tomatoes are potatoes.
You might think you need an allotment to grow your own potatoes but can actually grow them in limited space using a bag or a container as you did for your tomato plants.
Obviously you are not going to get a huge crop from a small container however it is still worth trying this so you can see the difference between shop bought vegetables and your own home grown ones which are pesticide free.
For details on how to grow your own potatoes visit Quick Crop
Cut And Come Again Crops from Kids In The Garden.
Finally, as far as growing food is concerned, you could try growing salad leaves which is a great way to encourage your children to take an interest in where their food comes from.
The theory is that you grow salad leaves, or pea shoots, and then cut some off the plant to eat which promotes new growth.
If your child won’t touch salad give this a go … they might enjoy eating something that they have worked with and if not you have still had the fun of growing it.
Here’s the best bit … you don’t need a huge amount of space. You can do this indoors, in the ground or in a bag or container as you did with the tomatoes and potatoes.
Pop over to the Kids In The Garden website for more information and while you are there why not dig a little deeper and see what other gardening activities they suggest.
Garden Markers from Playground Parkbench.
Well if you are planting lots of seedlings or vegetables you need to keep track of which is which.
Here’s a clever and quick idea from Playground Parkbench to make your own markers.
The spoons are a great idea as they give children plenty of room to write on but if you don’t want to spend money buying new things or your kids are older you could use wooden lolly sticks or pieces of drift wood you have collected from the beach. Remember if you collect driftwood it must be a small pieces that you can carry by hand and you mustn’t break it off embedded wood or cause environmental damage.
Fairy Garden with The Magic Onions.
Ok important point number one … you might not have a fairy fan in your house but you can still create a mini garden. Playmobil and Lego figures would enjoy their own garden or you could make it more jungle like and pop dinosaurs or wild animals in the “bushes”.
Don’t get hung up on buying lots of expensive miniature accessories if you don’t have them to hand instead use what you have like small stones to make a path.
The size of your fairy garden really depends on where you are going to put it. Choose a shallow terracotta, plastic or metal bowl with a wide opening.
If your tub doesn’t have holes in the bottom, or you are displaying it inside, a handful of gravel dropped in first will help to stop the whole thing getting water logged then add your potting mix. Don’t fill your tub to the top, leave a gap between the soil and the lip of the tub.
Now for the fun part … there are no design rules … just have fun.
It might help for younger children to put the path in first as this will break the space down in to smaller planting areas which might feel less intimidating but in the end if they are enjoying the activity just go with it.
All that’s left is to remember to water your garden but don’t over do it, especially if Mother Nature is helping you with regular rain showers.
Visit The Magic Onions for more information.
Grass Head from Tree Girly.
I’m going to finish with a planting activity that is pure fun and suitable for all ages … growing grass hair.
Spring is just the right time to get going with this indoor gardening activity so gather together those tights that have seen better days and get stuck in.
If you use a yoghurt pot to sit your “head” on you can decorate it to look like a face and then trim the grass hair in to different styles as it grows. Tree Girly has the info you need to have a go at this fun idea.
Are you doing anything fun for National Gardening Week?
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Being a mum isn’t for every one but for those of us who do have babies it’s the beginning of a wild roller coaster ride of extreme highs and lows as you guide your child through their first years and give them the best start in life that you can.
My mum still has a collection of dubious nick nacks that we bought with our own pennies for her Mother’s Day gifts and she has always maintained it’s not how much you spend … it’s the thought that counts. I can understand that better now that I am a mum because gifts my little one has chosen are extra special. I have a huge stone on my desk to illustrate this point and a bag of leaves that were described as “playground treasure”.
What ever you have bought for your mum on Mother’s Day make time for her as well. In today’s busy world days can fly by and before we know it we haven’t seen our mum for a week, maybe two. We’re lucky to have our mums so make the most of yours.
Pancake day (or shrove Tuesday) is the day before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent. The day changes annually depending on when Easter is. It falls 47 days before Easter Sunday.
Shrove comes from the word “shrive” which means to confess. This tradition is observed by many Christian Faiths where people usually indulge themselves in foods that aren’t allowed during lent. This comprises of daily products hence the use of butter and eggs.
Another tradition for lent is to give up something you enjoy for the period which lasts 6 1/2 weeks, this could be chocolate or alcohol or some other rich food. It is a time for Christians to prepare for Easter and think about what they have done wrong or what they can confess to.
Other Countries all celebrate the day but in different ways , here are a few:
In Brazil it is called Fat Tuesday and marks the end of the Brazilian Carnival
In Greece it’s called Apocreas (meaning from the meat) as they do not eat meat during Lent
France celebrate Mardi Gras (this is also celebrated in the USA in Catholic and French speaking parts)
Sweden celebrate Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday)
Iceland has Sprengidagur (Bursting day)
One of the fun aspects of pancake day for children and adults is the tossing of the pancake. Can the pancake be tossed perfectly so it lands on the uncooked side. Peppa Pig has an episode devoted to pancake day where daddy pig tosses the pancake and it sticks to the roof (I wonder how many homes this is a reality).
In the UK some towns have pancake races, this was said to have originated on Olney, Buckinghamshire when one housewife was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time and when she heard the church bells ringing she raced to the church while still carry the frying pan with the pancake still in it. In this town there is still a pancake race that has been held since 1445, there are strict rules where contestants have to toss the pancake at both start and finishing lines and have to be dressed in an apron and scarf, even the men .
So whatever you are doing in your house or town enjoy your pancakes and hope there aren’t too many pancakes stuck to ceilings.
For the first time in our house we are eagerly awaiting the tooth fairy. My 6 year old daughter acquired her first wobbly tooth 2 weeks ago after months of ‘mum, when will I get a wobbly tooth, mum why has Grace got a wobbly tooth when she is younger than me’. So now we are at the stage of wobbling her tooth constantly until it finally falls out.
From this I decided to look into the origins of the tooth fairy and if all cultures have a ‘tooth fairy’. There is actually a Tooth Fairy day which is 28th February.
The tradition of leaving a tooth under their pillow is practised in most English speaking Countries, it is custom for parents to pretend the tooth fairy has been and taken the tooth and left money or a little gift where the tooth was. Some parents also leave a trail of glitter to make it more authentic. The tradition in Northern Europe where money was paid for the child’s first tooth can be dated as far back as the 13th Century.
In England in the Middle Ages children were instructed to burn their baby teeth in order to save the child from hardship in afterlife, superstition said if the child’s teeth weren’t burnt they would spend eternity searching for them in the afterlife. Another reason to burn the teeth was to ensure witches did not get hold of them as this meant having a part of your body the witch could have total power over you. It is said the Vikings paid for children’s teeth and in Norse culture these and other children’s belongings brought good luck in battle. The modern example of these traditions into what we now know as the tooth fairy appeared in print in 1927.
In Spanish and Hispanic American cultures they have Ratoncito Perez (Perez mouse in English) which is similar to the tooth fairy, he takes on different forms in different areas but is always depicted as a mouse. This originated in Madrid in 1984 and has the same tradition as the tooth fairy. In Italy, France and French Speaking Belgium the tooth fairy is also a little mouse.
In India, China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam it is customary for the child to throw the tooth onto the roof if it came from the lower jaw or into the floor space if it came from the upper jaw. When they do this they shout a request for the tooth to be replaced with the tooth of a mouse. The tradition is based on the fact that the teeth of mice grow for their whole lives.
In middle Eastern countries the tradition is to throw the tooth up into the sky to Allah, this tradition may date back to at least the 13th century.
So whichever culture you are from it’s good to keep the spirit of the tooth fairy alive and can even help to ensure your children keep their teeth clean as the tooth fairy only takes clean teeth.