Gardening: Why it's never too early to get your children into growing things
It's National Gardening Week and it's the ideal time to kick-start an interest in growing, even if you don't have a garden.
It was launched seven years ago by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and this year’s campaign is about sharing your passion for plants.
You don’t have to be the world’s greatest gardener – anyone can take part, with gardens, charities, retailers, culture and heritage organisations doing their bit.
There are plenty of things you can do yourself or with your family, from growing tomatoes on your windowsill to sprucing up your driveway.
Here are some easy gardening projects to do with the family – you’ll find instructions on how to do each one plus many more ideas online at the website www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk
* Build a bee hotel: Red mason bees need nesting sites as well as birds.
* Build a compost cafe: Compost heaps are one of the most positive things anyone with a garden can do to reduce landfill and enrich the soil, plus feed wildlife.
* Build a mini stone wall or log shelter: Both are great habitats for wildlife.
* Plant a night-scented garden: Flowers that release their scent in the evening are a big draw for moths.
* Plant a tree: Mature trees in a garden are the best predictor of the overall diversity of creatures in a garden.
* Put in a pond: At a time when ponds have all but disappeared from farmland, it’s a hugely helpful thing for wildlife.
* Allotment – getting started: Simple steps a productive plot.
* Choosing mini vegetables: Vegetables that produce small and tasty produce are ideal for small gardens and growing in pots.
* Containers: Pots can brighten up a corner of the garden, provide herbs by the kitchen or make the entrance look welcoming.
* Gardening for pollinators: Create the perfect environment for butterflies, bees, dragonflies and moths.
* Planting a green roof: Improving the environment for people and wildlife.
National Gardening week runs until Sunday – show your support of by sharing stories and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
To find out more, visit www.nationalgardeningweek.org.uk
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JOBS TO DO OVER THE BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND
Remove faded wallflowers and spring bedding, to make space for summer plantings.
Harden off tender plants by leaving them outside for increasing periods of time, building up to overnight exposure for a fortnight, then plant in permanent places when the risk of frost has passed.
Thin out direct sowings of hardy annuals and vegetables, in two or three stages at fortnightly intervals.
Divide clumps of herbaceous perennials. Bamboo and clumps of bulbs or rhizomes can be divided the same way.
Cutting back clumps of spring-flowering perennials such as Pulmonaria and Doronicum can encourage a fresh flush of foliage.
Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils after flowering. Deadhead tulips and daffodils. Apply a liquid fertiliser to bulbs after they have flowered, to encourage a good show next year. Allow foliage to die down naturally.
Inspect lilies for red lily beetles – they’re extremely destructive and active now.
Protect carrots with insect-proof mesh to prevent carrot root fly.
Liquid feed fruit trees growing in pots with a balanced feed every fortnight.
Tall-growing plants such as Delphinium, Lupin and monkshood need a framework of canes and string around then to help prevent them being damaged by winds. Do this now so the supports become unobtrusive as the plants grow through them.
Give shrubs, trees, and borders a mulch of compost, to preserve water and smother any weed seedlings.
Keep nipping off the dead flower heads of late-flowering daffodils and let the foliage die down naturally.