Peek-a-BOO!

Q:What’s a vampire’s favourite fruit?
A: A nec(k)tarine!

Hee hee! In case you haven’t noticed it’s Hallowe’en this week, a time for ghouls and ghosts and of course, my favourite, the pumpkin lantern! I love pumpkins as they are easy to grow, lovely to eat and fun to carve. Oh and they have a funny name too 😉 This week I am sharing with you my top tips for growing pumpkins and Mummy’s favourite pumpkin soup recipe.

How did that light get in there?!

How did that light get in there?!

How to Grow Pumpkins

Pumpkins are easy to grow. Try growing them from next Spring and you could have some of your very own pumpkins to eat and carve by next Hallowe’en. Here’s how:

If you are looking for a variety to grow which will make a good pumpkin for next Hallowe’en, try “Jack of all Lanterns”. It also stores and cooks well. And if you have plenty of pumpkins, a yummy recipe which is perfect for this time of year that you can ask your Mummy & Daddy to help you cook is…

Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

Pumpkin soup, perfect for this time of year

Pumpkin soup, perfect for this time of year – serve it in a pumpkin for the ultimate effect!

Method:

For a wonderful Halloween themed craft project have a look at this blog:

Halloween Leaf Ghosts!

Happy Hallowe’en everyone.

Lulu

A (Light) Bulb Moment – Planting Spring Bulbs

Now is the perfect time of year to get outdoors, plant some bulbs and then sit back and wait for a Spring Spectacle! Here are my top tips for planting spring bulbs. I have also included a wonderful craft project, perfect for children who love gardening and art, so you can make your own daffodil to brighten up your home through winter while you are waiting on the real ones to spring to life.

 Me and my new daffodil

Me and my new daffodil

Be Prepared

Now, I ain’t no Boy Scout (I will be joining Beavers when I’m bigger though!) but when it comes to bulbs I agree with their motto “Be Prepared”. Bulbs like well drained soil so if you have heavy soil add a bit of grit to the area when you are planting. A small handful at the bottom of your planting hole is always a good idea too. And make sure you have given your garden a good old weed and tidy before you plant your bulbs too in order to give them the best possible start.

That's a BIG box of bulbs to plant!

That’s a BIG box of bulbs to plant!

No Soggy Bottoms

Now, a bit like in “Great British Bake-Off”, we don’t want any soggy bottoms on our bulbs. Give the bulbs a squeeze before you buy them and make sure they are nice and firm. If you are digging out old bulbs from the shed, discard any that are soft, mouldy or shrivelled.

The Only Way Is Up

It might sound silly but plant your bulb the right way up. The top is the pointy end. The bottom is the round, hairy end (bit like my Daddy, tee hee). If you are not sure plant them on their side as they will turn themselves round the right way as they grow (aren’t plants clever?!) Some small bulbs such as fritillaria are often best planted on their side, especially in heavy soil, to stop water getting into the bulb and causing it to rot before it has become established.

Beautiful tulips in the sunshine

Beautiful tulips in the sunshine

Label ‘Em

It’s not just our nursery/school stuff that needs labels on them, plants need labels too. A little discreet wooden label won’t be offensive and will help you avoid putting a fork through your prized Allium bulbs 🙁

Dig Deep

As a general rule, plant bulbs two to three times their own depth and around two bulb widths apart. Replace the soil after planting, breaking down any large clumps and firm in gently, making sure there are no air spaces around the bulbs.

Allium Purple Sensation

Allium Purple Sensation

Repeat After Me

After flowering, remove the seed head and wait for the foliage to yellow and die back, then lift the bulbs, clean off any soil and store in boxes or net bags in a cool, dry place. Remember to label them too! Next year you will have lovely, fresh bulbs and you can start again. You can leave the bulbs in the ground but they will eventually start to rot and die.

So there you go, a cheap and easy way to create a wonderful display in Spring and brighten up our days. But it will be a while before these beauties are ready so in the meantime M&D and I have put our heads together and come up with a wonderful craft project inspired by one of the most popular bulbs – the Narcissus. Or Daffodil to me and you!:

Make A Paper Plate Daffodil

You will need:

To make:

1. Take one of your paper plates and on the reverse side draw the outline of your daffodil shape. Ask your grown up to cut this shape out, then paint it a lovely bright yellow.

 Painting the flower is a lot of fun

Painting the flower is a lot of fun

2. Take the other plate and draw a similar daffodil shape but slightly smaller and this time draw it on the correct side of the plate. You can paint this one the same colour, or add on some coloured paper to give a different texture. We chose some lovely yellow crepe paper to glue onto the plate.

I liked adding the glue to the flower

I liked adding the glue to the flower

3. Stick your two plates together. You will now have a lovely 3D effect because the plates have been used opposite ways:

Stick the two flowers together

Stick the two flowers together

4. You now need to make the daffodil’s trumpet! To do this get a toilet roll tube. Ask a grown up to cut approx 2cm deep slits, approx 1.5cm wide, at one end of the tube (you will have roughly 9 “tabs” when you have finished. On the other end cut lots of slits to make a fringe effect. Once this has done paint the inside and out orange:

Yay, more painting!

Yay, more painting!

5. Once the trumpet is dry glue the tabs and stick it in the middle of your petals and glue a loop onto the back to hang it up:

The finished daffodil to keep us cheery all winter ;

The finished daffodil to keep us cheery all winter ;

If you need any more advice on bulbs or would like to contact us about getting some planted in your own garden then please get in touch.

Lulu

Save The Snail!

Most gardener’s don’t like snails but I have a confession to make. I, Lulu Ann Burt love them! There, I said it! ‘Nails (as I call them) are funny creatures and I love hunting for them in the garden. I say Save The Snail! Trouble is they love eating the scrummy plants in the garden as much as we do! It’s important to try and help look after our prized plants so here are a few of my top tips on being snail-savvy in the garden as well as a brilliant project to make your own snail which won’t eat any of your prized hostas!

 Me and my friend the 'Nail

Me and my friend the ‘Nail

 

As I love snails very much and as M&D feel very strongly about being organic we don’t recommend putting down slug and snail pellets in the garden. These can be eaten by other animals or even children and can be very dangerous (as well as not very nice way to treat my friend the snail!) Here are some better ways to deal with them…

Ooh ooh, ouch!

Snails hate to crawl over anything scratchy so putting a ring of something like crushed egg shells or grit around the plants they most like to eat helps deter them. Watch out for any foliage that falls into the ring as that can be used as a bridge by the canny creatures.

Ring a ring of hostas

If you have your prized plants in pots which the snails are attacking, try putting a copper ring around the pot – the snails won’t want to crawl over it and your plants stay safe.

Snail hunting!

This is my favourite method – snail hunting! Swap your spade for a torch and get out at dusk and collect the pests yourselves. You will be amazed at how many of the wee beasties you will find!

Head out and do some snail hunting at dusk

Head out and do some snail hunting at dusk

Pull on the (fox)gloves

Sometimes you need to box clever and choose plants which snails wouldn’t have at their beastly banquet. Choose plants with scented leaves such as alliums, fennel and rosemary, plants with textured leaves such as lambs ears and lavender or plants such as ferns, foxgloves and camellias. All beautiful but relatively safe from unwanted intruders.

Cheers

A method well known in the gardening world is setting beer traps for snails. If your grown-up can spare some of their well earned bottle at the end of a day’s hard graft in the garden, ask them to sink a rinsed out empty can with some beer in it, into the ground. Snails are attracted to the smell and fall in the can and can’t get back out making it easy for you to dispose of them.

Nematodes

Some gardeners turn to a biological solution in the fight against snails. A naturally occurring nematode (a tiny worm) can be introduced into the gardener by adding it to a watering can. They contain bacteria which attacks and kills snails. It lasts for about six weeks and doesn’t affect anything else in the garden. Despite the name no toads are used in this method!

Nema-toads

As you can see there are lots of ways of tackling snails but I think one of the best ways is to attract beneficial wildlife that feasts on snails. If you have space for a wildlife pond you can attract frogs and toads which love a slug supper. Creating a log pile or leaving a corner of old leaves may mean a hedgehog sets up home in your garden and it will repay you by eating up these foe. Or make a bug hotel or encourage birds into the garden to help you in your efforts.

Other simple measures such as weeding regularly so snails have less places to hide, digging over your borders to expose snails and allow birds to eat them and lifting pots regularly to see what’s hiding below can all help. And are organic too!

So, now you know how to keep snails out of your garden why not bring one into the house instead with this wonderful craft idea:

Make A Paper Plate Snail

Make A Paper Plate Snail

Make A Paper Plate Snail (Image courtesy of Kiwi Co)

You will need:

To make:

1. Draw this shape on the paper plate:

2. Cut off the top part of your paper plate to make the snail shape:

3. Use your coloured paper or stickers to stick shapes around the shell. Make your snail as funky and colourful as you wish. I liked learning about the different colours and shapes we were using as we did it

4. Finally paint the body, stick on (or draw on) your eyes and if you wish, add some pipe cleaners to make the feelers. And there you have it – a paper plate snail! All the fun but your hostas will stay safe 😉

You can make themed snails too if you wish. Grandma and I made a lovely festive snail for Christmas!

Remember to email me photos of your snail creations or if there are other garden animals you would like to learn about and see a craft project on then let me know!

For more tips on garden pests visit our blog:

Vialii Guide To Top Garden Pests And Diseases

Lulu

Thank you to Kiwicrate for the inspiration for this craft project

Funny Pets In The Garden – Part 2

You all loved my first blog on the funny pets we have come across in gardens. So by popular demand I have written a second blog on this very cute & cuddly subject. Hee hee, they make me laugh every time I look at them 🙂 Funny Pets in the Garden – Part 2:

This is the doggy which my good friend Georgia’s Mummy & Daddy used to have. His name is Murdo and he is very handsome! They now have another doggy called Sandy who I like to visit. Here is Murdo who has found a cool spot in the garden to sit:

Murdo was a "hot dog" so found a place in the shade to sit!

Murdo was a “hot dog” so found a place in the shade to sit!

Here we have my lovely friend Ruby. I have known her since she was teeny tiny. She is super cute! Here she is deciding that today she will have a picnic in her lovely garden:

 Ruby demands an alfresco lunch!

Ruby demands an alfresco lunch!

More doggies. This time it’s Simba and Harley who belong to Honor, Hope and Kai. I think they are practising their ballet moves together here!:

 Simba and Harley practise their  ballet moves

Simba helps Harley to perfect his”en pointe”!

Here’s a funny photos of Jasper who used to live next door to me. He’s really a Labradoodle but Calum decided Jasper was going to be a horsey instead!:

Gee up Jasper!

Gee up Jasper!

 

And finally, one last photo, again of Fudge. Whilst she isn’t in the garden this time, this photo was taken when it was really bad weather one winter. Daddy couldn’t get out into the garden so he stayed inside to do some work and Fudgey-doo-dee (and a funny beard) kept him warm!:

   I'm not sure who is hairier in this photo, Daddy or Fudgey!

I’m not sure who is hairier in this photo, Daddy or Fudgey!

If you have funny photos of animals in your garden please get in touch, I would love to see them and share them on my blog.

Lulu