Gardening During Lockdown – Week 4

Can you believe that’s been 4 weeks of lockdown? A whole month? It’s a long time in gardening and with all the sunny weather things are growing at a pace and we are being tempted into our gardens all the more. What have you been tackling? Here’s what what has been happening at Vialii Towers in Gardening During Lockdown – Week 4…

Sowing veg

We had sown several seeds indoors during the first week of lockdown so our focus this week we turned our attention to the seeds which can be sown directly outdoors. Lulu and Tilda took over this task and armed with seeds and trowels set forth creating drills to fill with seeds. They have sown:

The girls sowed all the veg in our garden

The girls sowed all the veg in our garden

They also planted two types of onion sets and two varieties of seed potatoes and left space for our broccoli to be transplanted as it gets bigger and stronger. The finishing touches were the painted stones they created last week. Click here to find out how make your own plant labels.

Weeding and Tidying

Life is so much easier if you just weed and tidy as you go. Our rule is never walk past a weed you have spotted. Always stop and pick it out. Then you never have a jungle to tackle which takes hours and makes you dislike gardening. A quick weed, run the lawnmower over the grass or the odd prune here and there and you will easily keep on top of your gardening.

The Vialii rule - never walk past a weed. Stop and pick it out.

The Vialii rule – never walk past a weed. Stop and pick it out.

Encourage wildlife into your garden

Wildlife are enjoying this lockdown period more than ever. From tiny ladybirds and hedgehogs to long-tailed tits and partridges, wildlife are venturing into our gardens more and more. Encourage this by considering your planting, leaving some wild areas in your garden, creating hedgehog houses, putting out bird food, building bug hotels – it all makes such a difference. And all those animals and insects do amazing things for our gardens and eco-systems so we’re all winners.

This little ladybug is in our front garden

This little ladybug is in our front garden

Relax and enjoy the spring sunshine

We have been having the MOST amazing spell of weather recently which is helping keeping us sane. So, in between all the garden jobs, sit back and enjoy your garden, your outdoor space, the lovely view, the beautiful planting, whatever is around you. There is a lot we can be grateful for so take some time to relax and enjoy it.

Relax and enjoy your garden and being outdoors

Relax and enjoy your garden and being outdoors

Other jobs to tackle this week:

I wonder what Week 5 will have in store for us – we still have lots to tackle on our to-do list. How about you?

Vialii

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 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

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. 

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

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

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

Lulu’s Review of 2016

Now that Santa’s been and we are almost in 2017, it’s time to have a quick look back at what’s been happening in 2016. What was your favourite thing in 2016? Here are a few of my top picks, from best books and products to best places I visited…

Review of 2016

Having fun outdoors was the most important part of 2016!

Garden of the Year

The winner of this accolade simply has to be Jupiter Artland this year. We had a wonderful day there this summer with the very talented photographer Julie Howden who took some lovely photos of me and Tilda. It’s such a fun place to hang out. Our favourite is the land-forms by Charles Jencks which we ran around for hours! It’s packed full of amazing sculptures and bits to explore.

Jupiter Artland

Hide and seek is the best fun at Jupiter Artland

Event of the Year

The winner of this award is the Fairy Trail at the Woodland Experience in Balfron. It was such good fun we went there twice and I am already planning on going back again when they re-open next Spring. There are LOTS of fairy doors to find, a wishing chair, worry tree and LOTS more.

Fairy Trail Fun

Fairy Trail Fun

Product of the Year

This was a hard choice and we have reviewed lots of amazing things this year. My pick is not cheap but it’s worth the money as it’s such great quality, very practical and we will use it for years. It’s the Twigz wheelbarrow! It’s so sturdy that it makes wheeling Tilda about super easy!

The Twigz wheelbarrow

The Twigz wheelbarrow is great quality

Craft Project of the Year

We LOVE a craft project at Vialii Towers so we had plenty to consider for this award. My choice is this super cute glittery acorn.

Glittery acorns - gorgeous!

Glittery acorns – gorgeous!

Top Tip of the Year

We are always looking for cheap and easy ways to have fun outdoors. We had lots of fun playing noughts and crosses with some twigs and pebbles on an old tree stump.Free fun is the best!

Free fun! 

Free fun!

Book of the Year

Our final award, for the best book, goes to the The Children’s Garden. A brilliant book packed with loads of great ideas to do outdoors throughout the seasons.

My book of the year

My book of the year

So that’s my review of 2016. I hope you had as much fun as me. Here’s to getting outdoors and having a ball in 2017!

Happy New Year from me, Tilda and all at Vialii.

Lulu xx

Flower Power

I was recently sent a lovely flower pressing kit by my buddies at BigJigs to review. As an expert flower grower I had plenty of choice of pretty flowers to pick in the garden and see how they looked once they pressed. Read on to see what I thought of the flower press and what you can make from your pressed flowers…

A pressed cirsium looks like a funny moustache!

A pressed cirsium looks like a funny moustache!

The kit from BigJigs is made of a lovely wood with some pretty flowers and bugs painted on the front of it. It comes with some cardboard pieces inside to help you do your flower pressing, just add some parchment paper in between the cardboard and the flowers.

The BigJigs flower press kit

The BigJigs flower press kit

First you need to cut some flowers. You may need to ask a grown up to help you with bit, partly because they may not want you cutting off their prized roses but also because scissors and secateurs can be dangerous if you are not an expert like me!

Be careful with those snippy snips!

Be careful with those snippy snips!

Once you have chosen a selection of flowers, lay them out on your cardboard pieces ready to be pressed.

Lay your flowers out in your flower press

Lay your flowers out in your flower press

Next you need to tighten the screws really tightly and leave them to flatten – I left them overnight.

Tighten those screws really really tight!

Tighten those screws really really tight!

The next morning I had some really pretty, really flat flowers to see!

Opening the kit the next morning was really exciting!

Opening the kit the next morning was really exciting!

I decided I would like to make them into a bookmark so I chose a piece of card and then glued my flowers on to them.

My squished flowers looked really pretty!

My squished flowers looked really pretty!

Other ideas include making cards, decorate the front of a notebook, make pretty gift tags or just make a lovely picture.

 I made a pretty bookmark with my pressed flowers


I made a pretty bookmark with my pressed flowers

It was a lovely thing to do during the summer holidays and a great way to preserve your pretty flowers. You can of course just use a large, heavy book to do your flower pressing but the kit is really handy, can be used again and again and is not expensive.

The flower pressing kit is available from BigJigs for £5.49.*

Happy pressing!

Lulu x

*Price correct at time of publication

“The Children’s Garden” – a book review by Lulu Burt

Hey y’all. I am always on the look-out for new ideas for things to do outside in the garden. You may have read my recent blog which had 19 Great Ideas for Summer Fun In The Garden. Well, now I have even more ideas to share with you thanks to a great new book called “The Children’s Garden” by Matthew Appleby.

 

 I am so excited about my new book I can't open my eyes!


I am so excited about my new book I can’t open my eyes!

There are a whopping 52 projects packed into this book and they are done in a very engaging way. There are LOTS of lovely colour photos as well as plenty of tips and facts within each section. The book is split into the different seasons so that there are always plenty of ideas to choose from whatever time of year it may be. Everything is done on a really low budget and most projects use things which you already have lying about the house. Here are a few of my favourites:

Fun With Potatoes

Potato stamping is an old favourite and perfect for this time of year as we harvest our home grown tatties. There are always a few potatoes which aren’t quite up to my high standards so what better than to use them to do some potato stamping!

Potato stamping made me starry eyed!

Potato stamping made me starry eyed!

Wet Work & Play

There are lots of water fun ideas in this chapter. One that I loved doing was really simple. Mummy gave me a bowl filled with soapy suds and I set about washing all my dolly’s clothes. My clothes ended up drying on the washing line too but it was great fun!

 

 Doing the washing is fun - Mummy says I can always do it!


Doing the washing is fun – Mummy says I can always do it!

Flowers To Pick & Press

I have been sent a flower press to try out (I’ll blog all about that soon!) so combining that with this book was the perfect opportunity to try it out. I loved picking lots of pretty flowers then seeing how different they looked once pressed. I then made a pretty bookmark using them.

A pressed cirsium looks like a funny moustache!

A pressed cirsium looks like a funny moustache!

Feed The Birds

This was a great project and all we needed was an old water bottle, a couple of pencils and some bird seed. My bird feeder looks great hanging in the garden.

The bird feeder I made out of an old water bottle

The bird feeder I made out of an old water bottle

And here are some of the ones which I am desperate to try which I haven’t yet…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Children’s Garden” and would definitely recommend it for all children.

I give it a Lulu rating of:

Five out of five, woohoo!

Five out of five, woohoo!

 

Available on hardback, RRP 14.99 *

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx

*Price correct at time of publication

19 Great Ideas for Summer Fun in the Garden

The summer holidays are stretching hazily out far in front of us. There’s no school (nursery) for weeks and weeks. There will be late nights and long lies. Playing with friends. Days out. Picnics. Now, I don’t want to be hearing any murmurs of “Muuuuuuuuum, I’m bored”. The garden is your oyster and I have loads of cool things for you to do outdoors this summer….

Have fun in the garden this summer

Have fun in the garden this summer

Stargaze at night…

With no school to get up for the next morning you have the perfect excuse to stay up late and look at stars on a clear night. You could maybe persuade an adult to camp in the garden with you one night too…

Quoit a lot of fun…

Grab this game of Quoits for a summer full of fun. It’s great quality so will withstand having the whole neighbourhood over for a Quoits Championship this summer. £17.99*
Quoit a lot of fun!

Quoit a lot of fun!

Garden treasure hunt…

This is a great game you can ask a grown up to make so that you and your friends can play at being detectives in the garden. They just need to take photos of some plants and features in the garden and print them on some paper so you can see if you can find them. See if you can remember the plant names too.

Set up your own garden band

You can use all sorts of things from around the garden to make musical instruments – an old pot as a drum, a bamboo cane as a flute, old seedheads as shakers. Tilda loves these maracas (£5.49*) and castanets (£3.99*) too with a lovely ladybird finish to tie in with the garden theme.
Shake, rattle and roll!

Shake, rattle and roll!

Open air theatre

Try some open air theatre… Drag the dressing up box outside and put on a show. Who knows, next summer you could be putting on a Fringe show at the Edinburgh Festival!

Have a Snail Race…

You can find plenty of snails in most gardens (or we will give you plenty for free!) Chalk a race course, choose your snail and off you go!
We have plenty of snails which we can race!

We have plenty of snails which we can race!

Make a miniature garden…

Mini gardens are sooooo cute. You can have whatever theme you want. Introduce some of your toys to the garden like Lego or playdough. Just get an old shoe box or cake tin and start designing your own garden with plants, grass, maybe even a little washing line!

Find some fairy gifts…

There are fairies in all our gardens and it’s nice to leave them gifts sometimes. From beds and blankets made from furry leaves to daisy chain necklaces and petal dresses all you need is a little imagination.

Anyone for croquet…

You don’t need a perfect lawn to play this game, just put on your most pleading face (and remember to say pretty please) and persuade your big people to buy you this fab croquet set from BigJigs. (£22.99) You will have years of fun playing it.
Anyone for croquet?

Anyone for croquet?

Make magic potions…

Make the mixtures as magic as you like with all the things you can find in the garden. Fill a bucket or jar with water then add the “magic” – petals, sand, twigs, soil, worms. Don’t forget to say your magic spell to make it work…

Blow bubbles…

Whatever age you are, everyone loves bubbles. So get outside and start blowing and popping!

Flower pressing…

Pressed flowers look really pretty. You can use some big heavy books to press the flowers but we couldn’t resist this adorable flower press kit (£5.49*). Use your pressed flowers to make a card to welcome a friend home from holiday, a pretty bookmark for a special gift or just make pretty pictures. Read our blog on pressed flowers here.
Flower pressing is great fun

Flower pressing is great fun

Make a sand pit…

Get a giant tractor tyre (farms will often give these away for free when they are finished with them) and fill it with play sand to make a brilliant sand pit with comfy sides to sit on. You could even take it a step further and make a teepee over it by adding bamboo canes and an old sheet as a cover.

Play a game of skittles…

You could play this with plastic bottles or tin cans but how can you resist this super cute duck set, perfect for all the family (£13.49*).
Cute skittles are great fun

Cute skittles are great fun

Start a garden journal…

What a wonderful way to record the summer holidays. Add in what you see, some of your pressed flowers, stick in leaves, draw some bugs, write down what you are growing, do some bark rubbings… At the end of the holidays you will have some wonderful memories to look back on.

Make a garden crown…

I love the garden and crafty projects so this is the perfect combination! Take some corrugated cardboard and make a circle to fit your head. Decorate it by painting or sticking on things you find around the garden. Then collect some leaves and stick them in the holes around the top and voila, you have a crown!
Chief Lulu and her magic crown!

Chief Lulu and her magic crown!

We’re going on a bear hunt…

I’m not scared! Well I’m definitely not scared of the cute bears we look for in our bear hunt anyway! Ask a grown up to hide a selection of your toy bears all around the garden so that you and your friends can hunt for them. Watch out for the thick oozy mud!

Make a den

Make a den from a clothes line, pegs and sheet and set up your own camp site. Make sure you set strict rules as to who can enter your den of course!

Crazy about golf

You don’t need to have a lawn like a fairway to enjoy some golf at home. Tilda and I love this crazy golf set for hours of fun in the garden! (£24.99*)

You don't have to be crazy to play crazy golf. But it helps!

You don’t have to be crazy to play crazy golf. But it helps!

So there’s absolutely no excuse to be bored now these school holidays. Now, get outside and build a den…

Happy holidays!
Lulu xx
*Prices correct at time of publication

Strawberry Fields Forever

I had a lovely weekend playing at farm parks with my friends. I had two favourite parts – one was horse-riding for the first time with my friend Georgia; the other was strawberry picking with my BFF Euan. Here’s a little story about it along with some strawberry facts, an awesome tip from my clever Mummy to make your strawbs’ last longer and a strawberry craft idea for the summer holidays…

I've only got eyes for yummy strawberries!

I’ve only got eyes for yummy strawberries!

Briarlands Farm

We visited the wonderful Briarlands Farm on Saturday which is one of my favourite places to hang out. There is always plenty to do there from the bouncy pillows to go-karting, petting the animals to going on tractor rides (and we did ALL of that!) At this time of year Briarlands is extra special as you can pick your own strawberries too. So, Euan, Tilda and I went off to the polytunnels to get picking. All of the strawberries at Briarlands are raised up which makes them easy for us to pick. Tilda and I picked a whole punnet each (and may have popped one or two in our mouths along the way, just to make sure they tasted OK, oh and yes they did! But ssshhh, don’t tell anyone!)

 

Euan and I had a great time strawberry picking!

Euan and I had a great time strawberry picking!

Strawberry Facts

So, I thought that seeing as strawberries are in season, that I would share some amazing strawb’ facts with you. Did you know that…

We had lots of punnets full of yummy strawberries to take home!

We had lots of punnets full of yummy strawberries to take home!

And one last fact from my super clever mummy. If you are buying LOTS of strawberries like we did at Briarlands, which might take (even strawberry lovers like me and Tilda) a few days to eat, here’s how to make them last longer. Mix 4 cups of water with 1/2 cup of any type of vinegar. Sit the strawberries in the mixture for 2-3 minutes, give them a swirl round then rinse off with some water. Leave them to air dry. Use the vinegar mixture to clean out your punnets so there are no spores left in there. Your strawberries will last longer (if you don’t eat them all first!) and don’t worry, they definitely don’t taste of vinegar.

Make sure your strawberries are left to dry before putting them away

Make sure your strawberries are left to dry before putting them away

Strawberry craft project

And one way to make your strawberries last forever is with a lovely craft project for the summer holidays. You just need some pebbles and some paint and you can make your very own strawberry patch!

Happy strawberry picking everyone!

Lulu x

Chalkboard Planter: The Perfect Gift for Your Teacher

As school holidays beckon, it’s time to say thank you to our wonderful teachers for all their help and care over the last year. But are you fed up with the same old gifts for teachers? Are you feeling crafty and want something special and personal to give. Well, here is my step by step guide to making a chalkboard planter which combines crafts and plants, my favourite things!

A unique chalkboard planter for my lovely teacher Mrs Sneddon

A unique chalkboard planter for my lovely teacher Mrs Sneddon

I am going to show you how to make a chalkboard planter where you can write your own special message…

What you need:

How to make it:

1. Paint the top rim of your plant pot white (I gave it a couple of coats)

Chalkboard planter

Paint the top ridge of your terracotta pot white

2. Paint the bottom section with blackboard paint (allow 2-3 coats)

Add your blackboard paint

Add your blackboard paint

3. Once dry, draw on your measuring tape around the top using your black marker pen

Draw on your measuring tape marks

Draw on your measuring tape marks

4. Add your message in chalk. I wrote “Thanks for helping me grow” on one side and “Lulu x” on the other but you could draw/write whatever you want.

5. Plant your plant, being careful not to smudge your artwork.

Carefully add compost and your plant

Carefully add compost and your plant

And there you have it, a wonderful, unique gift for your lovely teacher.

A BIG thank you to my clever Auntie Nicola Simm who inspired me to make this gift.

A HUGE thank you to Mrs Sneddon for being my wonderful teacher this year!

Finished chalkboard planter

The finished chalkboard planter

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx

 

Love Local Mag

We share some brilliant tips on how to keep children entertained outdoors throughout the summer holidays.

love-local-summer-16

The Foody: Time to Plant

Back in February, we introduced you to the Foody, a revolutionary new way to allow you to plant a wide range of fruit and veg in the tiniest of spaces. In February it was only warm enough to build it and get used to how it worked and make plans for what we would plant in it one sunny day. Well, that sunny day has finally arrived so here is how the Foody looks planted up and what we think of it so far…

Our Foody, all planted up and looking great!

Our Foody, all planted up and looking great!

As we explained in our previous blog, the Foody is a vertical growing system which only needs a fraction of the water and space of traditional growing methods. You can choose different numbers of tiers depending on how tall you want to go. We are trialling the Foody 5, the daddy of the Foody world! So, what did we do?…

Well, we had already built the Foody when it arrived back in February so we were raring to go. We just needed to add our growing medium (compost, coir, whatever you prefer) and decide on what plants/seeds we were going to grow.

 First you need to fill up your Foody with some compost


First you need to fill up your Foody with some compost

As we have the Foody 5, we had a whopping 39 spaces to fill! That’s a lot of different types of fruit and veg. We have gone for a yummy selection of things which we love to eat including:

We have all of these things growing in traditional methods around the garden too so we can compare how well the Foody works to them.

We needed lots of plants and seeds to fill our Foody!

We needed lots of plants and seeds to fill our Foody!

The Foody looks really stylish and makes a real statement in the garden. It is also well made and looks like it will last well. It was great fun planting up the Foody as it’s such an unusual way to garden. To be able to fit all of this fruit and veg into such a tiny corner of our garden is amazing and we think it would be a wonderful solution for those with little space or who want to try “grow your own” without giving up too much garden space. The whole Foody spins easily so you can turn it around and make sure all areas get good sunlight as well as making it easy to water.

 

Our Foody, all planted up and looking great!

Gently plant your fruit and veg into the different pods (or
you could plant flowers to make an amazing floral sculpture!)

We are also very interested to see if it means our courgettes can escape being ravaged by slugs and snails or if they will make the journey up high! As our garden is a little windy and as we have the super-tall Foody 5, Daddy has had to build a collar for the Foody so that it doesn’t fall over in the wind. It would be good if the taller Foodies came with something to help stabilise them. Or if you live in a windy area then just choose one of the two shorter Foodies which will solve this issue.

Once planted, water your Foody. The clever reservoir in the bottom holds the water so you use much less water.

Once planted, water your Foody. The clever reservoir
in the bottom holds the water so you use much less water.

We will keep you posted as the season goes on but we are certainly loving our Foody adventure so far. For more information on the Foody visit LIFE.

Lulu x

Grass-ias

We all want the perfect lawn in our gardens. A lovely, flat, weed-free, green space for playing and lounging on. But it isn’t very easy to achieve with all the weeds flying about and our wet weather and heavy soils. But, to help you get closer to that dream, I have collated my top tips for a lovely lawn this summer..

Lulu loves lounging on a lovely lawn!

Lulu loves lounging on a lovely lawn!

Scarify your lawn

You can add a moss killer to your lawn but you don’t need to. Just use your muscles and a good garden rake to get the moss out of your lawn. I used my Twigz rake which was perfect for the job (£8.99*)

You need good muscles to rake up your moss

You need good muscles to rake up your moss

You can put the moss into your compost bin. My Twigz wheelbarrow is incredibly sturdy and perfect for this job (£49.99*)

Collect your moss and put it on your compost bin

Collect your moss and put it on your compost bin

Weed Your Lawn

Lawn weeds can be a real pain. You can buy weedkiller to put on the lawn or you can use old fashioned muscle and dig up the offenders! Regular weeding is key so they don’t take over and leave no space for the grass to grow.

Tackle those weeds using a trowel and some muscles

Tackle those weeds using a trowel and some muscles

Aerate your soil

If you have a heavy soil and a compacted lawn it makes it hard for the grass to grow well and thatch starts to build up. You can buy special tools to aerate your lawn or you can just use a garden fork to create the holes.

Tilda is an expert at aerating lawns!

Tilda is an expert at aerating lawns!

Add a top dressing

You can add sand if you have clay soil or just a lawn improver to your lawn which will go into the holes you have made and improve the soil making the grass grow better. Use a brush like the Twigz garden broom (£8.99*) to spread the lawn improver around. You can add some grass seed to bare areas while you do this and some fertiliser too to give your grass a wee helping hand.

Brush your top dressing into the holes 

Brush your top dressing into the holes

Cut your grass

It’s always tempting to cut your grass very short to make it nice and neat but it’s not good for your lawn. Raise the level of your lawnmower and just give it a gentle trim or it will look bare and weeds will thrive instead of the grass. Little and often is the secret. How cute is this Flying Bee Lawnmower from Bigjigs? I love using it on my lawn and Tilda loves the bee which flies off into the air. (£32.99*)

Don't set your lawn mower too low when you cut your grass

Don’t set your lawn mower too low when you cut your grass

Grass-ias! If all that seems like a bit too much hard work and you would rather just lie back and enjoy your garden while others did the work for you then contact us to arrange a quote for us to do your lawn treatments and grass cutting for you!

Lulu xx

*Prices correct at time of publication

Sow Sow Yummy!

The sun is shining (or at least it was when I wrote this, it is probably snowing now knowing Scotland!) so it’s the perfect time to sow vegetables in the garden. Don’t know what to do? Well, lucky I am here to show you how and to tell you about some wonderful tools I used along the way…

Soon you could have a barrow full of amazing leeks just like mine!

Soon you could have a barrow full of amazing leeks just like mine!

WEED YOUR VEG PATCH

It’s important that you have a weed free veg patch and that you have good quality soil. Add some new compost or fertiliser if you need to.

Weed your veg beds before you start sowing your seeds

Weed your veg beds before you start sowing your seeds

PREPARE YOUR BED

Once you are weed free, take a few minutes to make sure your veg beds are nice and flat and even. It’s a bit like making your bed in the morning, you have to make it nice and neat and ready for bedtime! I used my Twigz rake, perfect for this job. Maybe not so much in your real bed though!

Rake out your veg beds and make the nice and even

Rake out your veg beds and make the nice and even

MAKE A DRILL

Not the tool kind silly! It’s a little line in the soil where you can sow your seeds into. Use a cane to help make sure your row is nice and straight.

Make a row to sow your seeds into

Make a row to sow your seeds into

SOW YOUR SEEDS

Carefully pour some seeds into your hand and sprinkle them into your row, making sure they are evenly sown. Gently cover them over and water them in. If you are sowing seed potatoes or onion sets, gently push them into the soil to the depth stated on the instructions.

This ickle onion will grow nice & big, just like me!

This ickle onion will grow nice & big, just like me!


KNOW YOUR ONIONS

It’s important to remember what you have planted where – you don’t want to be making chips out of your shallots – so make sure you carefully write your vegetable names on a plant marker. I like to draw a picture too – here’s my rocket!!

Zoom zoom, a rocket!

Zoom zoom, a rocket!

Now you just need to sit back and watch your seedlings pop up. You will need to “thin them” which means removing some of the smaller seedlings and give some bigger ones space to grow. Keep your seedlings water and weed free and before you know it you will be picking fresh veg straight from your garden.

TOOLS

Good tools are the back bone of any good gardener and I have found some wonderful ones to use in my garden. To do all of the above I used:

Twigz do a wonderful range of garden tools for children

Twigz do a wonderful range of garden tools for children

I thoroughly recommend the Twigz range of gardening tools for kids. They are great quality and can even last the rigours of a professional like me! They are a little pricier than some alternatives but the quality and durability makes it worth it. They get a big green thumbs up from me!

Love Lulu xx

*Price correct at time of publication

National Gardening Week 2016

Today is the start of the 2016 National Gardening Week and to celebrate I have collated my eight favourite things I recommend that you do this week…

Get outside and have fun this National Gardening Week

Get outside and have fun this National Gardening Week

Get Painting

I love all kinds of painting and this is the perfect time of year to get your garden looking spick and span. From fences and veg beds to playhouses and sand-pits, get outdoors and not only make everything look nice but keep it protected for another year.

My playhouse is lovely and fresh ready for a summer of play

My playhouse is lovely and fresh ready for a summer of play

Top dress your borders & pots

Like us, plants need nutrients to keep them healthy and growing strong. To do this we need to add compost to the garden and guess what else? Poo! Yes, actual poo! Not ours of course, farm manure. Well, I am going to leave that part to daddy! Poooeeeeee!!

Go visit a new garden

It’s always great to go visit a new garden and there are some amazing ones all over the UK. If you’re in London, go visit the new Magic Garden at Hampton Court. The RHS gardens and the Botanic Gardens are always worth a visit. More locally the maze at Scone Palace is a-maze-ing! And in a few weeks it will be the annual open day at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. To read M&D’s list of their favourite gardens to visit, click here.

The gardens at Levens Hall in the Lake District are well worth a visit

The gardens at Levens Hall in the Lake District are well worth a visit


Plant a new veg

You don’t need much space to grow veg. Why not try growing a courgette in a pot on your back door step. Or some tumbler tomatoes in a window box. It’s cool to watch them growing and yummy to eat. Go on, try one this year and see how it goes…

Spike your lawn

Spiking your lawn is a great way of getting air into a compacted lawn and letting the grass grow better (rather than just moss, thatch and weeds!) Try that as well as some lawn feeds and scarifying to get your grass in tip top condition for the summer.

Tilda helps spike our lawn

Tilda helps spike our lawn

Sow wildflowers

There are always organisations giving out free packets of wildflowers to take advantage of. Use them in a quiet corner of your garden or see if you can find a piece of local wasteland which you can cheer up this summer.

Play a garden game

We are lucky to have a wonderful range of garden games from BigJigs which we will be featuring soon in one of my blogs. From crazy golf and skittles to quoits and croquet, there is  a great range of fun games to invite your friends round to play. Or, of course, the old favourites of hide ‘n’ seek and tag are fun garden games and don’t cost a penny.

Anyone for a game of croquet?

Anyone for a game of croquet?

Make mud soup

This is currently my favourite garden activity. Anything can be added to mud soup (herbs, sand, water, stones, you name it) but the base ingredient is, of course, mud! Mummy recommends rainsuits and wellies for this game!

Hopefully you will do at least ONE of these activities during this year’s National Gardening Week, but wherever you are and whatever you do I hope you really do love your garden.

For more information on National Gardening Week please click here.

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx

10 Super Easy Spring Veg To Grow

Saturday 19th March is the Spring Equinox and officially the first day of Spring yippee. That means sunnier days, lighter evenings and most importantly more time to play in the garden! It also means it’s time for me to get busy growing veg again so to help you along, here are my TEN easiest Spring veg to get growing…

Here we grow!

Here we grow!

Before you start to grow any veg, take a minute to remove any weeds or large stones from your veg beds and give them a wee hoe over. If you haven’t already added a soil improver over winter now is a great time to add some nutrients to help your veg grow big and strong (just like me!). Done? OK, let’s go…

1. BEETROOT

This is one of my favourite root vegetables to grow as it is super-duper easy. Beetroot prefer a well drained soil so add some sand if yours is a bit sticky. Now, just sprinkle some seeds in a long row and gently cover. As the seedlings come through thin them out to allow big juicy beetroot to grow.

2. SALAD

Now under the heading of “Salad” I am covering lettuce leaves, rocket and spinach as they are all equally easy to grow. I especially love the “cut and come again” salad leaves as they just keep on growing the more you eat them. Wowsers!

3. RADISH

You have got your salad growing so you will need some radish growing with it. The best thing about radish is how quick it grows. Within a few days you will see it popping up. Sow successional rows so you always have radish to eat.

Prep your soil then sow your seeds in a nice neat row

Prep your soil then sow your seeds in a nice neat row

4. PEAS

Another easy-peasy (ha, see what I did there?!) veg to grow and yummy to eat (it’s one of Tilda’s favourites!) If you don’t want to train big tall ones up lines then opt for a dwarf bush variety. I love popping the peas out of their pods!

5. POTATOES

An absolute staple in our garden and super easy to grow. Buy some seeds potatoes and let them chit on your window sill for a couple of weeks before burying them deep in your veg patch. Cover over the leaves as they pop through (this is called “earthing up”) and you will have a yummy batch of tatties come summer!

6. ONIONS

Another easy one, just buy onion “sets” which are teeny weeny onions and plant them in your veg area. They will soon grow into much bigger onions for you to pick.

Teeny weeny onion sets!

Teeny weeny onion sets!

7. SWISS CHARD

Not only is swiss chard super healthy (it is full of vitamins and minerals) but it is also soooooo pretty. As well as growing it in your veg patch you can grow it in your flower beds where its colourful stalks will be a lovely addition to the garden.

8. TOMATOES

If you are an expert like me then you can grow a wide variety of tomatoes in your greenhouse. But here’s a secret tip, choose a “tumbler” or “bush” variety and they will be super happy growing in a pot in a sunny corner of your garden. The bonus is you don’t have to “pinch out” this type of tomato or tie them up as they grow. And they will give you the most delicious cherry tomatoes you have ever tasted! And much easier than going to the supermarket to buy them!

9. COURGETTES

This year I am growing both green and yellow courgettes. I have planted the seeds in little trays in the house and when they are a LOT bigger I will plant them outside in big pots where they will give me lovely courgettes all summer long. I’ll need to be fast though to beat the cheeky snails who love them too!

Here I am checking for courgettes

Here I am checking for courgettes

10. SPRING ONIONS

Well it wouldn’t be a Spring veg blog without a Spring Onion would it? Like beetroot, just sprinkle some seeds in a line and thin out the seedlings as they come through. Couldn’t be easier!

Happy growing readers!

Hugs & kisses,

Lulu xx