Garden · Giveaway

Help Your Schools to Get Out and Grow!

Here at Mum’s the Word, we’ve been long-time supporters of the Get Out and Grow campaign, pioneered by Sudocrem, in association with Greenfingers charity and Cliffton Nurseries, with the goal of getting children out of the house and into the garden. They sent us some facts which are, quite frankly, a little bit sad..

Despite the fact that 87% of British households have a garden, over half of British children between 4 and 8 are unable to name 5 vegetables or fruits grown in them and 95% were unable to name 3 herbs. Many of those couldn’t identify gardening tools, with only 8% able to identify a trowel, 80% never having seen a rake before and, worrying, 79% believing worms are bad for plants. 

73% of those asked said they had never grown a sunflower, while only 8% had ever picked an apple, which perhaps explains why they’re unable to name even one. Less than 10% had dug up a vegetable and only 6% had ever eaten a fresh pea from the pod. Based on this evidence, it is perhaps unsurprising that only 20% have ever eaten a vegetable they’ve grown themselves.

Sudocrem is now expanding the initiative to include schools, based on the figures that 90% of children said that they would like a garden at school and at one primary school in Lincolnshire, a school garden made all the difference when it came to pupil’s behaviour.

The Benjamin Adlard Primary School, run by headmaster Sam Coy, was previously rated by Ofsted as one of Britain’s worst schools. Four years and one school garden later, and the Gainsborough school has won the national Pearson award for School of the Year: Making a Difference.

Headmaster Coy insists: “The children absolutely love den-building, just generally getting dirty and nature hunts. One child recently told me that he loves going to the forest school on a Tuesday afternoon so much as it helps him to behave all week as he never wants to not be able to go.”

We’re absolutely delighted that Sudocrem is offering people the chance to nominate schools which they think could benefit from their very own gardening kits, and they’ve asked Mum’s the Word to be an ambassador for the project.

All you need to do is comment below the name of the school you wish to nominate and why you think they deserve one of the kits, comprising of gloves, spades, wheelbarrow and much more to get the school’s garden into full bloom. The kits are worth £160, but having the tools to get outside could be worth SO much more to the kids of the school you nominate.

Leave your comment by Sunday 9th of June and we could have the kit sent to the winning school before the summer holiday begin.

(Winner will be chosen by me, prizes will be provided by Satellite PR and sent straight to the winning school, no monetary alternative will be offered, all decisions are final)
Garden

Making Sure Your Lawn Stays Lush

Lawn-envy is a terrible thing, especially if you have vast expanses of flat, emerald green on either side of your browned, pitted and sparse wasteland… There’s no need to despair, though, as you can transform your tatty patch of land into an even, lush green carpet if you make the effort.

It starts with the soil

You can’t expect luxuriant green grass to grow out of nothing, so it’s important that you tend to the soil before you order your seeds from The Grass People. Using the right fertiliser is vital – if it’s later in the year then you need a fertiliser with phosphates in to provide long-term nutrition over the winter.

Make a schedule

This can be as simple as putting notes on a wall calendar or using a gardening app on your smartphone to remind you to buy the right type of fertiliser for the right season.

When it comes to fertilisers, there are two phases. Autumn and winter is for potassium and phosphate mixes, which strengthen the grass and help it to cope with the cold temperatures over winter. These mixes need to go down in October, November and December.

Once it’s spring, then it’s nitrogen time! Nitrogen mixes get used up faster, so you’ll need to apply them every six weeks from March through to August.

It’s important to control weeds and moss

Weeds and moss rob your grass of the vital nutrition it needs to grow healthily. Therefore, they must be eliminated! It’s a good job, then, that you can buy treatments that feed your grass and kill off weeds and moss at the same time. September is the best time to lay this treatment on your lawn because the weeds and mosses are still active so they’ll absorb the compounds. Trees which shed leave and twigs all over your lawn will also be detrimental,. so we’d suggest contacting New Smyrna Beach tree maintenance services for an expert opinion on how to manage your overhanging branches.

Get the hose out

The UK doesn’t really droughts, so there’s no need for a built-in sprinkler system. However, you do need a decent hose that can reach all the parts of your lawn and you also need to know which soil type you have. Sandy soil doesn’t retain water so well, so it’s more prone to drying out. Clay or loamy soil holds onto water a bit better, so you can water less frequently.

If you tend to water your lawn a little bit every day, then you should stop doing this. If you water frequently, the grass roots only ever need to “look” for water near the soil surface. Leaving it a few days for the water to sink down further without adding more encourages the roots to travel deeper down in search of moisture and nutrients. This makes the roots stronger and in the long-term helps the roots to access more nutrients.

Do some over-seeding to fill in bare spots

If your lawn is plagued by bare patches where grass just doesn’t seem to thrive, then try some over-seeding. This is sprinkling extra seeds in the area so that it gets a few more blades in the end. Be careful, though, because using too many seeds will back-fire as the seeds will be competing for an insufficient amount of food and none will grow properly.

DIY · Garden

Making Your Garden Surfaces Kid Friendly

It might seem utterly bonkers to say that grass could be ‘out of fashion’, but there’s been a definite shift in recent years away from the traditional lawn and towards more modern solutions which can be used all year round.

Grass is great in many ways, but is probably the single-most high maintenance flooring for a garden as it needs to be mowed (here is a list of lawn mowers that are less than 300 dollars), edged, fed, watered and weeded on a regular basis. Also, if you have pets it can be hard to clean up after them if their main toilet area is grass. Today, I thought I’d show you some really great alternatives to a grass lawn so that you can be inspired for your own lawn makeover.

Rubber Mulch Play Area

You know those squidgy rubber floors that you see in play parks, usually beneath apparatus like swings and slides? Well, it’s possible to use those on a more domestic level, too. It’s clean, safe, easy to maintain and will give your kids a safe area for playing on. It also comes in different colours and textures; find yourself a rubber mulch play area specialist and they’ll be able to advise you on all the options available.

Astroturf

Astroturf or fake grass is a great option if you still want to maintain the LOOK of a lawn, without all the maintenance. It’s a little on the expensive side but we know several people who’ve replaced their lawns with fake grass and they feel like it’s one of the best decor decisions they’ve ever made.

Bark Chips

Bark flooring is also something you see a lot in parks and playgrounds and it can be a great option at home as it’s largely something that you can buy and lay all by yourself. It can be expensive if you have a large area to cover and you’ll probably need to top it up every now and again to account for chips which get washed away in wind or rain, but it can look really nice and give the area a rustic feel, if you aren’t a fan of the super-modern.

Shingle

Shingle is a great choice if you are trying to cover a large area on a budget, but it’s not so great for play areas of if you have pets. It’s good for people who just want to make a relatively under-used area look a bit smarter and is easy to top up with an extra bag every now and again, making it a popular choice for people who are trying to sell a house and smarten up the exterior.

Slate Chips

Slate chips are really popular at the moment because they are usually grey, a colour which has soared in popularity for decoration and masonry in recent years. Slate gives a really premium look to a driveway or patio area and although it’s not cheap it doesn’t need to be topped up as often because each chips is heavier and doesn’t get brushed away as easily.

Garden · Home

Common Garden Problems

I’ve blogged about our garden a few times in the past; it’s a really decent size with a large lawn and a patio area and it’s one of my favourite things about this house. There’s more than enough space for a massive trampoline, the girls’ paddling pool in the summer and various other slides/tents/swingball-type things, without ever feeling cluttered. However, although it might seem like a big blank space would be easy to manage, we still find various common garden issues which make it harder to maintain. We’re not afraid to get stuck in and get our hands dirty to sort things out ourselves, but sometimes you have to admit that you’re beyond your level of expertise and pass the job to someone who knows exactly what they’re doing. Here’s a few of the things we’ve struggled with:

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese knotweed is probably one of THE most common problems here in UK gardens and although it might seem tricky to deal with for the average gardener, there are companies out there who have the expertise to deal with japanese knotweed eradication with relative ease. Knotweed can look unsightly but if it’s left to go wild, it can even cause structural issues with your buildings, so asking the professionals to deal with it is a really good idea!

Slugs

Last year, I thought I’d have a go at growing some tomatoes, strawberries and a few herbs. They were all doing really well, until a bunch of slugs came along and made a very quick meal of them! I don’t like using strong chemicals, but my mother in law swears by putting crushed eggshells around her seedlings as the slugs don’t like to crawl across them, and so will leave your plants alone.

Ivy

Our next door neighbours seem to have a love affair with ivy – it grows over almost their whole property and they seem to be quite happy to let it do so. This was fine, until the burgeoning growth started to push one of our fences down. The trouble with ivy is that it’s seriously hardy and even harsh chemicals don’t always kill it off. Ivy needs to be attacked from the root and some people advocate using a mixture of boiling water, white vinegar and salt to kill it without using pesticides.

Mosquitoes

Living by a body of water, as we do, means that we have mosquitoes buzzing around for about 9 months of the year, and only the super cold weather kills them off. Lots of people use citronella but the sheer amount of them here would never be put off by a candle. We also don’t like spraying DEET on the kids because it’s such a harsh chemical and they’d need to be showered in it on a daily basis to have a decent effect here. We’ve invested in an electric fly killer, which sits in the hallways and also deals with other flying beasties, and it’s the first summer where we’ve had a moment’s peace!

Wildlife

Living in the countryside means that as well as the usual cats and foxes that everyone has to deal with, we also regularly encounter moles, voles, badgers, bats, egrets, herons and many more animals on a daily basis! We love them usually, but they do sometimes bring problems. Largely we let them go about their business, but it does get annoying keeping our lawn in good order only to wake up to a dozen molehills over the grass! We haven’t come up with a kind solution to this yet, so for now we’re just trying to live peacefully with them.

Garden

Common Garden Problems

I’ve blogged about our garden a few times in the past; it’s a really decent size with a large lawn and a patio area and it’s one of my favourite things about this house. There’s more than enough space for a massive trampoline, the girls paddling pool in the summer and various other slides/tents/swingball-type things, without ever feeling cluttered. However, although it might seem like a big blank space would be easy to manage, we still find various common garden issues which make it harder to maintain. Here’s a few of the things we’ve struggled with:

Japanese Knotweed

 Japanese knotweed is probably one of THE most common problems here in UK gardens and although it might seem tricky to deal with for the average gardener, there are companies out there who have the expertise to deal with japanese knotweed eradication with relative ease. Knotweed can look unsightly but if it’s left to go wild, it can even cause structural issues with your buildings to asking the professionals to deal with it is a really good idea!

Slugs

Last year, I thought I’d have a go at growing some tomatoes, strawberries and a few herbs. They were all doing really well, until a bunch of slugs came along and made a very quick meal of them! I don’t like using strong chemicals, but my mother in law swears by putting crushed eggshells around her seedlings as the slungs don’t like to crawl across is and will leave your plants alone.

Ivy

Our next door neighbours seem to have a love-affair with ivy – it grows over almost their whole property and they sem to be quite happy to let it do so. This was fine, until the burgeoning growth started to push one of our fences down. The trouble with ivy is that it’s seriously hardy and even harsh chemicals don’t always kill it off. Ive needs to be attacked from the root and some people advocate using a mixture of boiling water, white vinegar and salt to kill it without using pesticides.

Mosquitoes

Living by a body of water, as we do, means that we have mosquitoes buzzing around for about 9 months of the year, and only the super cold weather ever kills them off. Lots of people use citronella but the sheer amount of them here would never be put off by a candle! We’ve invested in an electric fly killer which also deals with other flying beasties and it’s the first summer where we’ve had a moments peace!

Wildlife

Living in the countryside means that as well as the usual cats and foxes that everyone has to deal with, we also regularly encounter moles, voles, badgers, bats, egrets, herons and many more animals on a daily basis! We love them usually, but they do sometimes bring problems. Largely we let them go about their business, but it does get annoying keeping our lawn in good order only to wake up to a dozen molehills over the grass! We haven’t come up with a kind solution to this yet, so for now we’re just trying to live peacefully with them.