Free Upcycled Garden Bunting

Our play house bunting was start to look a little sad and faded so we needed something new and colourful to add some pizzazz to the play house. We had been given some plastic wallets recently which we have no use for in the office but we knew they would come in handy for a crafty project sometime. So we decided to turn them into some upcycled garden bunting and create a fun and free addition to the garden. Here’s how…

The playhouse bedecked in its upcycled garden bunting

The playhouse bedecked in its upcycled garden bunting

You will need:

Old plastic wallets can be upcycled into garden bunting

Old plastic wallets can be upcycled into garden bunting

To make:

  1. Make your triangular template using your cardboard, ruler and pencil

 

Make your cardboard template

Make your cardboard template

2. Draw round your template onto your plastic wallet. We used the bottom of the folder that is joined together as the top of our bunting so that we had double thickness and stronger colour

Make your bunting out of the plastic wallet

Make your bunting out of the plastic wallet

3. Cut out your triangle – we used a scalpel but you could just use scissors. Don’t cut your joined end.

4. Repeat until you had all your bunting made

5. Add your bias binding or string through the middle of each triangle and either sew or staple them down.

You can sew or staple your bunting together

You can sew or staple your bunting together

The bunting looks so pretty and colourful

The bunting looks so pretty and colourful

6. Add to your garden.

Pretty upcycled bunting for the garden

Pretty upcycled bunting for the garden

Aren’t they a pretty addition. We have lots of folders left, I wonder what we will make with them next!

Mama Vialii!

Our Top 5 New Year Garden Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! We hope you have had a lovely time over Christmas and are well rested and looking forward to 2019. It’s the perfect time to make plans for the year ahead and have good intentions and to help you, we have collated our top 5 new year garden resolutions to help raise the standards in your garden in 2019…

Get Composting

Reducing and recycling have been buzz words for the last few years and we are always trying to reduce the amount of waste we generate. A great way to help with this is to have a compost heap in the garden. Throw all your fruit and veg peelings on there, egg shells, garden waste, grass clippings and by this time next year you will have a lovely compost to use in your garden.

Composting

Get composting this year

Lawn TLC

Our lawns put up with a lot throughout the year so it’s worth giving them a little TLC so they have the best chance of flourishing. There are a few things you can do which will really help:

Why not just choose one of them to tackle this year and we can help with some of the other ones and you can be happy that you helped make a big difference to your lawn this year.

Care for Wildlife

Do just one thing (or more if you wish!) to encourage wildlife into your garden -if we all do that then it will make a HUGE difference. It could be something simple like add a wildlife friendly plant to your garden or a bird feeder. Or you could do something bigger like sow a wildflower meadow or build a bug hotel.

Echinacea are a great plant for attracting wildlife

Echinacea are a great plant for attracting wildlife

Plant A Tree

There’s an old saying, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago”. The second best time is now. If you have small children like me and Tilda, we definitely recommend doing it now – you can see the tree grow alongside them. Make sure you plant a tree appropriate for the size of your garden. If you want help with that please get in touch. 

Spend More Time Relaxing Outdoors

There are always LOTS to do in the garden but make a resolution to spend more time relaxing outdoors this year. It will be good for your health and for those around you.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019 in the garden.

Lulu & Tilda

Vialii Guide to Kids Gardening Gifts for Christmas 2018

Every year it seems to get harder and harder to get gifts for the kids which are actually useful and something they will like for more than five minutes and not awful for the environment. Well, worry ye not, we have pulled together some ideas we think you will all love in our Vialii Guide to Kids Gardening Gifts for Christmas 2018…

Grow Your Own Mini Dinosaur Garden

Yup, you heard us! The dino lover in your life will be blown away by this creative gift. It comes with a pop up scene and you can grow your own “grass”. Available from Not on the High Street. 

Raaaaar! Grow your own dino garden!

Raaaaar! Grow your own dino garden!

Little Gardener’s Mini Greenhouse

This lovely little greenhouse will be fun to build for your little ones then you can plant the various seeds that come with it. It is reusable so environmentally a good gift this Christmas. Available from the Ethical Superstore.

My first greenhouse!

My first greenhouse!

Make Your Own Insect House

This fab wee kit comes flat packed, Ikea style! Make your insect home and then find the perfect corner of your garden to locate it. Available from Garden Divas.

Make your insect house

Make your insect house

Peter Rabbit Wellie Socks

We LOVE Peter Rabbit here at Vialii Towers so these Peter Rabbit socks are perfect for us! Available in Peter Rabbit or Lily Bobtail designs from eBay and other retailers.

Cosy and cute Peter Rabbit tootsies!

Cosy and cute Peter Rabbit tootsies!

Apprentice Gardener Tool Set

If you are serious gardeners like us then you will need a proper set of tools. This set from Spotty Green Frog will help you have your garden flourishing in no time!

Get a head start on your career as apprentice gardener

Get a head start on your career as apprentice gardener

Wildflower Glass Terrarium

How gorgeous is this little glass terrarium. It comes with all you need to grow your very own wildflower meadow. Beautiful! Available from Prezzy Box.

A beautiful terrarium of your own

A beautiful terrarium of your own

Botanist Case

This stunning case would make any wannabe botanist proud. It contains a magnifying glass, notebook, 3 storage boxes for collecting specimens and a wooden flower press. The perfect way for your little ones to explore the natural world. Available from various suppliers including Trouva.

Be the most stylish botanist on the block!

Be the most stylish botanist on the block!

Hope that helps round off your Christmas shopping. You a festive period full of fun and frivolities! See you in 2019!

Love

Lulu & Tilda xx

Make An Autumn Wreath

With all the leaves changing colour and falling from the trees, we were inspired to make an autumn wreath for my bedroom door. It’s a great craft project for children of all ages (and mummies and daddies!) and it sure adds a lovely splash of colour to your home. Here’s what you need and how to make it. It’s super easy!

Autumn wreath

You will need:

To make:

1. Choose a pretty autumn leaf which will be your template. We chose a lovely maple leaf as it’s such a pretty shape.

2. Draw around the leaf on your coloured paper – lots of times!

Draw round your autumn leaf

3. Cut out your leaves. Be careful with the sharp scissors!

Cut out your leaves

4. Draw the veins of the leaves on your cut outs so they look realistic!

5. Cut out your ring to the size you want – we used a dinner plate to make the size we wanted. A grown up might need to help with this as thick card can be tricky to cut.

Cut out your ring

6. Glue your paper leaves onto your ring so that they overlap each other.

Glue your leaves onto your wreath

7. Now it’s ready you just need to hang your wreath on your door!

Hang your DIY autumn wreath on your door

You could use real leaves if you wished although they wouldn’t last as long.

Hugs

Tilda x

Darn Good Nature Art

Hey everyone. I went for a fun ramble along the Darn Walk during the school holidays. The Darn Walk if you have never been is a pretty walk along the River Allan which links Bridge of Allan and Dunblane. I decided to collect from nature along the way and make a nature art picture when I got home.

We all enjoyed our ramble along the Darn Walk

We all enjoyed our ramble along the Darn Walk

One of the many cool things to see along the way on the Darn Walk is a cave which is said to have inspired the writer Robert Louis Stevenson for Ben Gunn’s cave in Treasure Island. There is a fab pirate bench beside it too!

Ben Gunn's cave at the Darn Walk

Ben Gunn’s cave at the Darn Walk

We loved playing at the river, collecting treasure, speaking to the horses and watching the golfers on our amble up to Dunblane! I took lots of pics along the way too!

There are lots of wonderful things to photograph along the way

There are lots of wonderful things to photograph along the way

And here’s the horse I made with what I found on the walk. Why don’t you go on a walk, see what you can find and make a picture up with your own treasure!

My nature picture

My nature picture

Happy rambling!

Lulu x

Make Your Own Bug Hotel

My recent blog “Make Your Own Bird Feeder” was all about helping birds. This one is all about helping the bugs which are an important part in keeping our gardens healthy. As we landscape our gardens with beautiful seating areas, carefully manicured lawns and garden sculptures there are less and less habitats for wildlife. We recently made a really cool bug hotel at school with help from M&D. Here are my tips on how to make your own bug hotel…

Bug hotel

Our school bug hotel complete with the sign we made

You will need:

Bug hotel

Our bug hotel, doesn’t it look great?

To make:

1. Choose a quiet corner of your garden where the bugs won’t be disturbed too much and away from your veg beds

2. Carefully stack the pallets on top of each other with the help of a grown up

3. Now is the fun part, fill your bug hotel, adding the larger items such as bricks and logs first (it’s good to drill holes in the logs first too)

4. Roll up the cardboard and slot it into some gaps.

5. Fill your tin cans with various items such as cut down bamboo canes, collections of plant stems or old leaves and moss then add them to your bug hotel with the open end facing out

6. Stack slates up and slide them in

7. Fill all the gaps with leaves, moss, pine cones and sticks.

Once your bug hotel is finished it will be a beautiful feature in your garden as well as a 5 star hotel for your creepy crawly friends to check into. Keep filling up any gaps as the garden materials start to decay down.

And remember to give your hotel a name. Our favourite is the Grand Bug-and-Pest Hotel but we also love Bug-ingham Palace and Edin-bug Castle! What will you call yours?

Bug Hotel

A bug hotel at Chelsea Flower Show

It’s not just us that loves bug hotels, they have even featured at the Chelsea Flower Show too!

Lulu x

Dye Your Easter Eggs Naturally

We had a fun early Easter over at our BFF Euan’s house and it even snowed! We have NEVER rolled our Easter eggs in the snow before! This year we decided we would try and dye our eggs naturally which was a lot of fun and had some interesting results. In this blog we tell you what you need and how to try it home.

Dye your easter eggs naturally

Dye your easter eggs naturally this year

You will need:

How to dye your Easter Eggs naturally:

1. Hard boil your eggs

2. Boil your “dyes” (the spinach, beetroot, cabbage and turmeric) in separate saucepans with the water. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15-30 mins.

Dye your easter eggs naturally

Boil up your dyes

3. The dye is ready when it is a few shades darker than you want your eggs to be. Set the dyes aside to cool.

4. Strain the dye.

5. Add the vinegar.

6. Add an egg to a small bowl then cover the egg with the dye. Make sure the egg is completely submerged. Repeat for each colour.

Add your boiled eggs to your natural dyes

7. Put the eggs (still in the dye) in the fridge to set and until the desired colour is reached. Note that they will fade a bit once rinsed.

8. To achieve a stronger colour, do several soaks, drying them between each dye.

9. Once you have finished add a little oil to the eggs to give them a shiny finish.

Oiling your eggs make them lovely and shiny

10. Roll them down a hill!

Dye your easter eggs naturally

A snowy day for rollng Easter Eggs!

Our favourites were the beetroot and the cabbage. The spinach didn’t work very well at all for us. Play around with different patterns. We loved our half coated ones which looked really cool.

Dye your easter eggs naturally

The half coated red cabbage dyed egg, doesn’t it look awersome!

Happy Easter everyone, hopefully it won’t be as snowy when you are rolling your Easter eggs.

Love

Lulu & Tilda xx

Dye your easter eggs naturally

What We’re Growing in 2018

We LOVE this time of year as we see all the bulbs pushing through in the garden and the weather (hopefully) starts to improve. We have BIG plans to grow lots of lovely things in our garden this year to supplement the fruit trees, rhubarb, raspberries and blueberries we already have growing. Here’s what we’re growing in 2018 in our veg garden:

Growing veg

VEGETABLES

FRUIT

FLOWERS

We’re also growing a few flowers from seed too to add to our pretty garden:

As you know from our last blog, “Growing Potatoes” we will also be growing three different varieties of potatoes this year.

I’d love to hear what you plan to grow in your garden this year…

Lulu & Tilda xx

Thanks to DT Seeds who we purchased this year’s seeds from and for all their great plant descriptions. 

Growing Potatoes

It was Potato Day in my neighbouring village of Dunblane at the weekend so we popped up with M&D to have a look. It was a busy old gathering of people and we bumped into friends, colleagues and clients while we were there! So, what happens at Potato Day and what has it got to do with growing potatoes, I hear you say?…

Potato Day

Well, Potato Day is a gathering of people who are selling a huge range of different varieties of potatoes. From your early potatoes to salad potatoes there was a variety to suit your garden. You could buy a bulk bag of your favourite variety or just individual tubers of ones you haven’t tried before to suit your allotment size. There was also a stall selling lots of seeds and onion sets so you could get your whole GYO area sorted out for the season ahead.

Potato Day in Dunblane

Potato Day in Dunblane

Our Picks

We opted to go for 3 different varieties of potatoes this year. We normally only choose one as we don’t have lots of space so it was a real treat to be able to choose individual tubers and get the exact quantities we wanted. You can also look at each tuber and make sure none are soft, mouldy or shrivelled. We chose:

1st Early – Arran Pilot. A very early traditional potato, the most popular potato grown in the UK in the 1930s! A new one to us.

2nd Early – Maris Peer. A great tasting early potato. We grow this potato lots and we love it!

Salad potato – International Kidney. This one makes a very tasty salad potato with a waxy texture. Another new one for us to try.

Potato Day in Dunblane

A great choice of potatoes

What next…

You need to “chit” your potatoes before you can plant them in the ground. Chitting means sprouting the tuber – putting it, most eyes upright, in a light, cool but frost-free place at about 10C. Old egg cartons are a great holder for your potatoes while they are chitting. Chitting potatoes gives you a quicker and slightly larger harvest.

Once you have healthy, short, green shoots, about an inch long, they are ready to be planted in the ground. Rub off all but 3 or 4 of the healthiest shoots at the top of your potatoes.

Dig straight, shallow trenches, two to three feet apart, in prepared soil. Plant seed potatoes 12 inches apart and cover with about 3 inches of soil. When the shoots reach 10 to 12 inches tall, use a hoe or shovel to scoop soil from between rows and mound it against the plants, burying the stems halfway.

Potato chitting

Potato chitting

Your first early potatoes should be ready to dig up around June/July with the second earlies about a month later. If you choose maincrops they will be ready from August through to October.

Happy potato growing!

Lulu & Tilda xx

 

Make Your Own Bird Feeder

It’s been a busy start to 2018 for me as I turned 6 and started going to Beavers. On my very first week there we made a cool bird feeder from an old bottle which made me think I should show you how to make your own bird feeder using some things from around the house. It’s still really cold outside so our feathered friends need as much help as possible and it’s a great craft activity for half term!

Lulu's bird feeder

You will need:

Sainsbury’s Bank Guide to Building a Bottle Bird Feeder

Original image from Money Matters blog (www.sainsburysbank.co.uk/money-matters/ )

To make:

1. Carefully add 2 pairs of holes in the bottle where the pencils will be pushed through. Make sure that each pair of holes are the same height. You may need a grown up to help with making the holes as it can be tricky.

2. Push your pencils/sticks through to make perches for the birds.

3. Add some small holes above each perch so that the birds can access the bird food (not too big though or the seeds will fall out)

4. Tie string round the top which you will use to hang it up

5. Fill with bird seed and put your lid back on (to keep your seed dry)

6. Now it’s ready to hang outside!

 

We have ours hanging in our apple tree and can see it easily from the house and watch birds coming for their tea!

Enjoy making yours.

Lulu x

Vialii Guide to Kids Gardening Gifts for Christmas 2017

If you’re like us, you will have been writing (and re-writing) your list for Santa for some time now. If you are looking for some more ideas or a lovely garden related gift to give to someone you love, read on for our MUST HAVE list for 2017…

Superhero Planter

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

Kapow! How cool is this super hero planter. Bish bash grow!

£15

Fairies Sign

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

 

If like us you have fairies living in your garden, you may want to have one of these signs to warn visitors.

£3.95

Unicorn Planter

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

If unicorns are a favourite for a loved one, surprise them with this beautiful planter. Too cute!

£10.49

Sow & Grow Butterfly Garden

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

This cute kit would inspire anyone to start growing plants and encourage wildlife to come and visit.

£9.99

Gruffalo Garden Tool Kit

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

We LOVE the Gruffalo in our house so how could we resist this tool set? It has 3 mini tools, mini watering can and a tool bag.

£16.99

Real Adventure Den Kit

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

Who doesn’t love a den? This would be a definite hit for anyone!

£34.95

Drinking Animal Mini Seed Kit

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

Ah, how brilliant is this? Not only do you get to easily see how seeds grow, you get cute little animals to grow them in.

£10.95

Kids Veg Seeds

Christmas gardening gifts for kids

Googly eyes are always a good addition and these seed packets made us laugh a lot! A fun stocking filler.

£2.25

Some of these will definitely be going onto our wish lists!

Hope you are all on the nice list and get lovely gifts from Santa. Merry Christmas!

Love

Lulu & Tilda

*Prices correct as of 27/11/2017

Grow Your Own Strawberries

We just love growing our own fruit and you can pretty much find us in our raspberry patch at this time of year, catching the end of those rosy jewels! But we think we would like to grow some more strawberries for next summer. Did you know what now is the perfect time to plant them? Here is what you need to do to grow your own strawberries…

I've only got eyes for yummy strawberries!

I’ve only got eyes for yummy strawberries!

You will need:

To grow your strawberries:

Here is a wonderful visual from the people at Sainsbury’s bank which shows you what you need to do…

Sainsbury’s Bank Guide to Grow your own strawberries

 

By next summer you will be picking the delicious fruit from your windowsill!

Enjoy!

Lulu & Tilda x

Deadly v Woody Nightshade

We have heard a lot of chat recently about deadly nightshade and fears that it is appearing in domestic gardens. However, in many instances it is actually a completely different plant called Woody Nightshade which is growing. It evens grows out of my school hedge! Whilst it’s not as toxic as it’s deadly namesake, its berries should still never be eaten. In fact NO berries should ever be eaten unless a responsible adult says it’s OK (or it comes in a punnet from Waitrose!) If you are worried about what is in your garden or just want to learn more, here are some images of the two plants and some interesting facts to correctly identify whether they are deadly or woody nightshade…

Atropa belladonna

Atropa belladonna

 

The name

Firstly, whilst they have similar names they are actually completely unrelated plants. Deadly Nightshade is Atropa belladonna. Despite its deadly potential, belladonna literally means ‘beautiful lady’ coming from its use to promote pupilar dilation, a proven way to increase attractiveness apparently!

Woody Nightshade’s latin name is Solanum dulcamara, so a completely different family altogether. It actually belongs to the same family as the humble potato and tomato. Don’t let that fool you into eating it though! However it’s just the common name that causes confusion between the woody nightshade and deadly nightshade.

The flowers

The flowers of Deadly Nightshade appear as a single flower while the Woody plant’s flowers grow in clusters:

 

Deadly v woody nightshade

Deadly v woody nightshade

The berries

The unripe berries show a clear difference: the Atropa belladonna has a single berry while the berries of the Solanum dulcamara hang in clusters. The ripe berries are even more distinctly different, in colour, shape and structure:

Deadly v woody nightshade

Deadly v woody nightshade

 

The effect

Deadly Nightshade: Symptoms may be slow to appear but last for several days. They include dryness in the mouth, thirst, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, blurred vision from the dilated pupils, vomiting, excessive stimulation of the heart, drowsiness, slurred speech, hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, delirium, and agitation. Coma and convulsions often precede death! Yikes! There have been differing opinions on what is required to be digested in order to cause poisoning, some saying half a berry, others saying 20+. To make it simple just never eat any! Or the root which is even more toxic!

Woody Nightshade: It contains solanine, an alkaloid glycoside. It increases bodily secretions and leads to vomiting and convulsions. The strength of its actions is said to be very dependent on the soil in which it grows with light, dry soils increasing its effects. Though the berries are very attractive the bitter taste is a disincentive for the majority of people, especially children. There have been no recorded deaths from eating the berries from this plant in recent years but it will likely give you a very sore tummy and need medical attention if consumed.

 

Solanum dulcamara

Solanum dulcamara

If you want to learn more about poisonous plants we hugely recommend a visit to the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens. Their Fairy Garden is awesome too! If you are still unsure which plant you have in your garden and want some advice then please get in touch.

And remember, no eating dubious berries you find!

Lulu & Tilda x

Double Book Review: “Growing Perfect Vegetables” & “The Salad Garden”

This week I have had my head in the books as I have two new books to review for you! So I better crack on and tell you about them:

Square Foot Gardening: “Growing Perfect Vegetables”

Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening (commonly referred to as SFG) is a planting method that was developed by American author and TV presenter Mel Bartholomew in the 1970s. It’s a simple way to create easy-to-manage gardens with raised beds that need a minimum of time spent maintaining them. This book is a very visual guide to raising and harvesting vegetables at their optimum. I loved this book as it was really easy to read and is packed full of lovely inspiring photographs. It takes you through examples of what to grow in your SFG, how to know when they are ripe and an easy to read table telling you when to sow your veg and when they will be ready to eat. There are also some tips at the back about growing other vegetables which don’t strictly work in a SFG such as perennial fruits. The SFG theory is a great way of getting into growing veg as it only takes up a small space, it’s easy to manage and, crucially, easy to see when things are ripe and ready to use. This book tells you all you need to get you started on the road to becoming your own wee allotment expert. My star rating is:

4stars

Available now in paperback, RRP £11.99

“The Salad Garden” by Joy Larkcom

Salad Garden

When “The Salad Garden” was first published in 1984, it was held in high esteem by gardeners, chefs and even professional growers. It has now been updated and released to suit the modern market. Consideration has been given to being able to garden in smaller spaces like on patios, window boxes (or a square foot garden!), new varieties of salads are included and the recipes have been given a modern twist too. It’s not just salad leaves that are covered in this book, there are peas, tomatoes, fennel, flowers, root vegetables and much more. I think this book suits a more serious garden who wants to learn a lot more about a wide range of salad. There is a lot of great information about how to grow each vegetable and recommended varieties. It’s just a little less colourful and user friendly than the SFG book but has a LOT of useful information packed into it. My star rating is:

3stars

Available now in paperback, RRP £16.99

Happy reading (and growing!)

Lulu xx

Our 9 Favourite Ways To Slay The Slug!

We love our garden but sadly slugs do too! This year we have LOADS of slugs and snails in the garden. Our latest blog gives you some tips on how to deal with them.

With a little help from your friends

One of the most effective ways to help deal with the slugs in your garden is to encourage wildlife that likes to have a munch on some slugs. Invite hedgehogs, blackbirds, toads, newts and songthrush along for a slap up meal!

Hedgehogs are a great help

Hedgehogs are a great help

Garlic

Slugs are a bit like vampires and hate the smell & taste of garlic. Leave a barrier of chopped up garlic around the vegetables that slugs like to munch on. For non edible plants like hostas you can spray them with a home made garlic spray to keep them safe.

Egg Shells

This is a common one but did you know you can bake the shells in the oven for 20 minutes to make them more effective. Mix them with your garlic pieces for the ultimate protection!

Wool Pellets

We have had unreliable results with wool pellets so definitely combine them with something else like the garlic or the slugs will put up with the uncomfortable journey for a munch on your prized courgette!

Vaseline

This is effective when applied liberally around a pot. For plants in the ground you can use an old plastic pot with the bottom cut off, place over your plant and push well into the ground and then cover in vaseline.

Copper tape

This can be pricey if you have lots of pots but it is an effective way of keeping slugs at bay. They get an electric shock when their slimy bodies crawl over the tape.

Beer traps

Sink a pot into the ground and fill with some of your big person’s beer. Slugs will be attracted and fall into the beer trap. Empty and refill every few days. Always ask a grown up to help!

Beer trap

Slugs love a beer too!

Nematodes

In spring, water in these microscopic parasites into the soil. They will kill your slugs and keep the numbers down for the rest of the year.

Slug hunting

Our favourite way is to get a tub and go slug hunting with all our friends!

We never recommend using slug pellets as they can really harmful to pets, children and the environment.

Good luck!

Lulu & Tilda xx

The Jam Maker’s Garden: An Interview by Lulu Burt

I LOVE fruit. I love growing it. I love eating it. And I love cooking with it. So I was really pleased to be sent a copy of “The Jam Maker’s Garden”. I was also really lucky to be able to ask the clever author, Holly Farrell, some pretty cool questions all about her book. So read on to find out what I asked her as well as a lovely idea for a teacher’s gift…

Jam Maker's Garden

So Holly, what is your favourite fruit to grow in the garden?
Probably raspberries, though it changes as each new fruit comes into season!

Yum, I love raspberries, they are my favourite too. What would you say the easiest fruit would be for beginners to grow?
Strawberries- they’re easy to come by and easy to grow. Plus you get a lifetime’s supply of new plants from the runners off the first plants.

If you have a teeny garden, what sort of fruit would you recommend trying?
Strawberries are the smallest plants, but currants only take about a square metre of space for masses of fruit and breeders are always bringing out new, more compact plants like raspberries for pots.

Jam recipes

Yes, we have a lovely little pot packed full of strawberries in our garden which hardly takes up any space at all. Now, in Scotland we finish up for our school holidays next week (woo hoo!) I think making something home-made would be a lovely present for a teacher at the end of term, what would you recommend making?

For the end of June, strawberry jam, for July definitely raspberry. Adding a little twist like strawberry and thyme or raspberry and rose pelargonium really makes it personal. A hand designed label would be nice too!

Ooh, they sound lovely and really different. What’s your favourite recipe in your book?
I can never answer that question! Every season brings it’s own favourites, and I’m greedy!

Ha ha, I’m sometimes greedy too! What’s your top tip for making jams?
Don’t worry too much about the technicalities- follow the recipe and it’s hard to go wrong.

We hear a lot about how sugar is bad for us these days. Does that mean we shouldn’t eat jam too?
We should absolutely be careful about how much sugar we eat – half a jar on toast every day would not be good! I’m not a nutritionist or a dietician but I think with some common sense jam can be enjoyed as the delicious treat that it is.

Jam recipes

Yup, I definitely agree Holly!  Now, final question, what do you grow in your own garden?
I have a relatively small courtyard garden and everything is either edible or can be used as cut flowers. I’ve got raised beds with the usual veggies, lots of herbs, currant bushes, raspberries and strawberries and some fruit trees in large pots, amongst other things!

Thanks for that Holly. I LOVE the fact that everything in your garden can be used somehow.

The Jam Maker’s Bible by Holly Farrell is out now, RRP £17.99. It is a lovely hardback book packed with amazing photos by Jason Ingram. There are deelish recipes for every kind of fruit you can imagine as well as great tips for growing them. If you like jam then this is one for you!

Lulu x

How To Grow Potatoes

My latest blog tells you all you need to know to grow the perfect potatoes in an easy to follow guide. It’s gotta be simple, I’m only 5 right!

Lulu growing potatoes

Lulu growing potatoes

How to grow potatoes…

  1. Buy some seed potatoes
  2. Chit your potatoes on a window sill as soon as you buy them. Chitting just means letting the wee “eyes” grow a bit longer which gives them a head start for when you pop them in the ground.
  3. Plant them in the ground about 20cm deep and about 30cm apart.
  4. “Earth up” your potatoes as soon as shoots start to appear, raking up the soil around them and covering them back up, protecting them from the sunlight. You will need to do this 2-3 times in the growing season.
  5. Feed your potatoes every week, they will grow big and strong, just like me.
  6. Early varieties will be ready in 8 weeks, main crops in the summer. Gently move soil aside to pick your potatoes, you don’t need to pick them all at once and they taste best freshly picked.

 

Our potato crop

Our potato crop

Top tips:

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu x

8 Best Apple Trees to Grow in Scotland

Our latest blog is short (like Tilda!) and sweet (like me!) If you don’t already have an apple tree in your garden then pop along to your nearest garden centre and make sure you have one fruiting away in your garden this summer. If, like us, you live in Scotland, you want to choose a variety perfect for our climate. Here are my favourite 8 apple trees to grow in Scotland…

Lulu eating an apple

A teeny Lulu munching a home grown apple

Egremont Russet

The Egremont Russet is a cultivar of dessert apple, of the russet type. It has a rich, nutty flavour and crisp, firm and fairly juicy flesh.

Discovery

Discovery is best known because it produces some of the earliest apples in the UK. The cropping time is mid to late August and lasts for about a month into September.

Discovery apples

Discovery apples

Fiesta

Fiesta is a modern cultivar of domesticated apple which is often marketed as Red Pippin.

James Grieve

The multi-tasking James Grieve fulfils every apple expectation: it juices beautifully, cooks perfectly and is so refreshing to eat.

James Grieve

James Grieve

Katy

Katy is a great choice for newcomers to growing apple trees because disease resistance is high and it requires only minimal pruning. It grows well all over the UK but is especially valuable in cooler parts where it shrugs off late frosts with ease.

Laxtons Superb

‘Laxton’s Superb’ is a heavy-cropping, late-season, dessert apple with a sweet flavour and firm flesh.

Spartan

Attractive, crunchy, sweet, easy to grow, and with the characteristic delicate wine- like flavour of the McIntosh family of apples (or so mummy says!)

Spartan apples

Spartan apples

Sunset

Sunset is a popular Cox-style apple, recommended as one of the best alternatives to Cox’s Orange Pippin as it is much easier to grow.

So there you go, there’s no excuse not be crunching on your very own home-grown apples this autumn!

Lulu & Tilda xx

Archerfield Willow Walk & Fairy Garden

We were recently in East Lothian for a long weekend so popped into Archerfield Walled Garden on the recommendation of a friend. Whilst the walled garden was getting a lot of work done so there wasn’t a lot to see, we had a lovely walk round the Archerfield willow walk & fairy garden. Here are some of our highlights and why it’s worth a visit…

Tilda on a toadstool

 

In the beautiful grounds outside Archerfield House, there are some wonderful views to enjoy. There are even picture frames highlighting some of the best views!

Picture frames of the views

 

We followed the Willow Walk first and found some amazing structures on the way including this dome…

Archerfield Willow Walk & Fairy Garden

 

A willow yurt…

Willow yurt

 

A willow viewing area with benches…

Willow viewing area

 

And a wishing tree where you could make a wish and leave a ribbon…

Wishing tree

 

In the Fairy Garden we could go through the Big gate or the Little gate!

Fairy door for little people

There were toadstools which were great for sitting and balancing!…

Tilda balancing on a toadstool

 

And there was quiz which took you all around the fairy garden, searching for doors…

Lulu finds a fairy door

…and finding the clues…

Tilda finds a clue
We were tired out once we had done that so we went to their lovely cafe to re-fuel. We then had a play outside in the adventure playground whilst Mummy had a look round their lovely shop.

Pop along, it’s well worth a visit.

Lulu & Tilda xx

 

5 Reasons To Grow Your Own Fruit & Veg

Sometimes people ask “Why bother to grow your own fruit and veg? It’s more hassle. Sometimes crops fail. Why not just pop along to the supermarket and get your ready picked, washed, convenient produce?” Well, there are lots of reasons but we’ve freshly picked our top five, just for you…

Cracking courgettes

Cracking courgettes!

IT’S CHEAPER

In the current economic climate, more and more people are struggling to make ends meet. Growing your own fruit and veg is a lot cheaper than buying it fresh in the supermarket. Lots of us have our own garden or space for a few pots or there are lots of allotments available which are cheap to rent. Packets of seeds don’t cost much and if you keep your eyes peeled they are often being given away for free!

 

Lovely leeks!

Lovely leeks!

IT’S HEALTHIER

Eating fruit and veg is a great way of keeping healthy. And when we grow it ourselves it’s even healthier as it couldn’t be any fresher. Plus we can grow it organically and know there hasn’t been any yucky pesticides sprayed all over it. Also, gardening is a great form of exercise so there’s another tick in the healthy box!

Super salad!

Super salad!

IT’S TASTIER

It’s genuinely true that what we grow ourselves tastes better. The tomatoes that we grow in our own garden couldn’t survive in a supermarket as they have such fine skins and are bursting with juiciness. Fruit and veg starts to deteriorate as soon as it’s picked so the quicker you can get it into your tummies the better. Raspberries don’t even make it to the house in our garden, they are in our tummies within two seconds of being picked!

Awesome onions!

Awesome onions!

IT’S BETTER FOR THE PLANET

By not relying on supermarkets as much, we are reducing carbon emissions by requiring less trucks which have to transport fruit and veg many miles to get from the grower to the supermarket and then to our homes. There’s also no packaging required to get your potatoes or carrots from your veg patch to your house. And no chemicals required to grow them if you grow organically.

Perfect Potatoes!

Perfect potatoes!

IT’S FUN!

We all know that being outdoors and getting dirty is a lot of fun! Doctor’s are even prescribing gardening as therapy these days. So get outdoors, dig over a section of your garden and see how much fun it is to see fruit and veg growing from teeny tiny seeds which eventually are big enough for us to eat. Amazing!

Mucky fun!

Mucky fun!

So why not choose at least one new vegetable or fruit to try growing this year and see what you think…

Lulu & Tilda xx