Archive for Children

Another Delicious New Arrival

Here is another new arrival, delicious but not edible! This is our 8th granddaughter-Lucy…arrived 2 November.

So by the end of 2013 we have 9 grandchildren…8 granddaughters and 1 grandson…and the 9th granddaughter is on her way…due Spring next year!

Lucy 02.11.2013


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Food Price Rises In UK

Food Prices

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Supermarket Foods containing pestiside residues nearly doubles in decade in UK

I thought this was worth checking out and being aware of…Link is also below. This refers to the UK, but you may like to do your own investigation depending on which country you live in….

‘A massive proportion of our  everyday  food is contaminated with pesticide – with up to 98 per cent  of some  fruits carrying traces of the chemicals.

Almost half of all fresh produce is affected  by increasingly heavy use of the substances, a study of official figures has  revealed.

Overall, the proportion of supermarket foods  with pesticide residues has almost doubled in a decade.

Some 46 per cent of fresh fruit and  vegetables, such as grapes and apples, contained residues, up from 25 per cent  in 2003.

In terms of processed food, residues were  found in almost 97 per cent of flour and 73.6 per cent of bread.

In most cases the traces were below  internationally recognised safety levels, however critics argue many of the  substances are a known risk to human health and warn that the cumulative  ‘cocktail effect’ of even very low levels may be harmful.’ CLIP

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Growing Food From Your Scraps

There is nothing like fresh veggies from your own personal garden!Obviously, we all know about the normal ways to grow plants – from seeds.  But, did you know that there are a ton of plants that you can grow from scraps?  Plants, that will in turn, produce more food. Let’s count them out – from 1 to 15…

1, 2, 3, & 4.  Spring Onions, Leeks, Scallions, & Fennel These are the ones I regrow the very most, I always have a mason jar of green onions regrowing above my kitchen sink. The technique is quite simple.  Once you are done with them (any of the above four), simply place the root end in a jar of water & it will begin to regrow within just a few days.  Just make sure to replace the water with fresh as need be.

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5. Lemongrass You can regrow lemongrass the same way you regrow the green onions.  Simply place the root ends in a glass of water, refreshing the water as needed. You will want to wait to harvest your lemongrass until it is about 12 inches tall.


6.  Ginger Plant a small chunk off of your piece of ginger in potting soil with the newest buds facing up. Ginger enjoys non-direct sunlight in a warm moist environment. Before long, it will begin to regrow shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, including the roots. Remove a piece of the ginger, and re-plant it to repeat the growing process.

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7. Potatoes  Pick a potato that has a lot of good formed eyes, and cut it into 2-3 inch pieces, taking care to be sure that each piece has at least 1-2 eyes on it. Leave the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two, which allows the cut areas to dry. Potato plants thrive on a high-nutrient environment, so it is best to flip compost into your soil before you plant. Plant your potato pieces about 8 inches deep with the eye facing up.  Cover it with 4 inches of soil, leaving the other 4 inches empty. As your plant begins to grow and more roots appear, add more soil.

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8. Sweet Potatoes You will need sweet potatoes with good formed eyes, just as you would want with a regular potato. You can bury the entire potato or use pieces under a thin layer of topsoil in a moist place with plenty of sun. When the shoots begin to reach a height of four inches you will need to replant the sweet potatoes, allowing them about 12 inches between each another. It takes about 4-6 months to grow sweet potatoes this way.

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9, 10, 11, & 12.  Romaine Lettuce, Celery, Bok Choy, & Cabbage These all are regrown by placing the roots in a dish of water. Cut the leaves or stalks off to about an inch above the roots.  Place the root end in a dish of water.  Make sure that the roots are inside of the water, but do not submerge the rest of the plant.  Place in a sunny window & spray with water 1-2 times a week to keep the top of the plant moist.

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13.  Onions Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to regrow from scraps. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a 1’2  inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny location in your garden and cover the top with soil. Make sure to keep the soil moist by watering when needed. As you use your home-grown regenerated onions, keep replanting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never have to purchase onions at the store again.

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14.  Garlic You can re-grow a plant from a single clove.  Simply plant it with the root-end down. Sit the plant in a sunny window.  Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all it’s forces into producing a nice garlic bulb – full of flavor & capable of repelling sparkly vampires.  You can repeat this process with a clove from the new bulb you have just grown.

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15. Pineapple To re-grow pineapples, you will need to remove the green leafy part at the top and take care that no fruit remains attached. Either hold the crown firmly by the leaves and twist the stalk out, or you can cut the top off the pineapple and remove the remaining fruit flesh with a knife. If you do not remove all the fruit parts, it will rot after planting and will likely kill your plant. Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the bottom of the crown until you see root buds (the small circles on the flat base of the stalk). Remove the bottom few layers of leaves leaving about an inch worth of them at the bottom of the stalk.  Plant your pineapple crown in a warm and well drained environment. Water your plant regularly at first. Once the plant is established, you can cut down to about once a week. You will see growth in the first few months but it will take about 2-3 years before you are able to harvest.

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Click on link below to see short documentary trailer.

We have a responsibility for our planet.

It is  the only we have.

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A Polish Secret : Raspberry Cordial

I once worked with a lovely Polish lady called Maya. She grew up and lived in Poland under what was then the Russian state control, and her story of growing up and living in that system was fascinating. Many things that we take for granted with our supermarket and shop cultures today were unavailable to them then, and one particular thing she told me about stuck with me.

She was a great advocate of raspberry syrup, which they made themselves as a home-made medicine for a fantastic range of ailments. It was probably THE thing to have at all times at home in the  family”medicine chest”. I know that it is still renowned by the Polish because even the local supermarkets like Tesco here stock it on their Polish foods shelves. But it is easy to make and quite fun too and has a shelf life of two years, so below I shall put the recipe. You will need bottles with proper stoppers to seal it, these can be bought in various sizes from mail order companies supplying home cookware. Here in the UK I use a company called Lakeland for pretty much all my requirements. Of course being glass, they are reusable. I know that raspberry leaves are also used in traditional medicines but since my knowledge of this is very limited, I do intend to cover that here. Any search of the internet will soon yield results if that interests you. The raspberry syrup can be diluted for a refreshing drink, as can the blackcurrant which I also will give details for. We all know how high the vitamin C content in blackcurrant is. Later in the year [Autumn], I will give detail as to how to make rosehip syrup, so high in Vitamin C that children during the war were given days of school where they were expected to harvest rosehips for the nation’s health. Now they still grow in the hedgerows and are a much unused and under-valued free commodity.  Certainly as a child we were given a spoonful of rosehip syrup daily as our vitamin C boost [along with cod liver oil and malt extract before going to school]. I have made rosehip syrup for the past few years as I believe it, combined with vitamin D to be a very effective barrier to these horrid flu’s that pass round the world. Who knows…but its served me well so far anyway!

Before you start always remember that you bottles must be sterilised before use, either a quick cycle in the dishwasher or a hot wash and dry them in a low oven will do it. [Same is true for jam jars, preserving jars…]

Raspberry Syrup.

Raspberry syrup

You will need:

1 kg raspberries

75 ml water

Preserving or granulated sugar.

Put the raspberries and water in your bowl and mash well. Set over a pan of boiling water for 1 hour, mashing occasionally.

Pour into a sterilized jelly bag and leave for a few hours until the dripping has ceased. Squeeze the bag and then filter the juice through a double layer of muslin.

Measure your juice and allow 400 grams of sugar for every 500 ml of juice. Now put juice and sugar into pan and boil stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Skim off any froth and boil hard for 4-5 minutes. Do not overcook though as mixture will start to set!

Pour into hot sterilized bottle and cork, or place stopper in. Leave to cool and cover cork with wax if you wish.

This amount will give about 750 ml of syrup. It can be diluted to drink, or poured over ice cream, and deserts.

Blackcurrant Syrup.

Blackcurrant syrup

You will need:

1 kg ripe blackcurrants

Preserving or granulated sugar.

Puree the blackcurrants in a food processor or liquidiser. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and leave for 24 hours.

Pour the puree into sterilised jelly bag and leave for a few hours until dripping ceases. Squeeze the bag, then filter juice through double layer of muslin.

Measure juice and add 400 grams sugar for every 500 grams of juice. Stir well until sugar has dissolved.

Pour juice into sterilised bottles, filling them to within 5 cm of the top. Cork. Wrap in cloth and stand on metal rack at base of large lidded pan. Pour in enough water to cover cork by 2.5 cm. Cover, bring to the boil and allow to boil for 25 minutes if using a 500 ml bottle. Remove from pan with tongs, leave to cool completely. Wax if desired.

As the blackcurrant syrup requires heat processing, it may pay you to make up several batches of this at same time, so they can all be popped into hot bath at same time for processing.

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Grandads Garden: June

As I have been a bit late on the last two months posts, I decided to get in early this month instead, especially since I shall be away and it might be late otherwise again…so here are the jobs for June.

It is the month of June, The month of leaves and roses, when pleasant sights salute the eyes and pleasant scents the noses.”

To the poet “June rose by May dew impearled” may have been among the possible best things in the world; but in these strictly utilitarian times we gardeners and allotment holders may feel that the sight of our vegetable plot coming along nicely with a variety of crops is not only a distinctly pleasant sight but a solid insurance premium against that threatened world food shortage which has now become a reality.

The Minister of Food has told us that this will be the tightest of the war years so far as food supplies are concerned, so readers of this Guide, who are undoubtedly the “wise virgins” of the parable, will be patting themselves on the back that they did not rest on their spades, but continued to “Dig for Victory”––not only victory in the fighting war, but victory in the economic struggle for existence that will be the aftermath of war.

Taking Stock

June is the gardener’s sort of halfway house––a time for taking stock and finding out where we stand. So after patting ourselves on the back, let’s survey our plots, and assess our progress to date and the extent to which we may be a bit backward and consider what needs to be done if we are not to be caught napping this coming winter. In the first five issues of this guide we emphasised the need for planning ahead, getting our needs in good time, getting things done in good time. But gardening on paper is too easy––and it’s not so easy to put paper advice into practice when the weather or lack of spare time just puts paid to the best laid plans issued by a government department or the gardening papers.

What we gardeners have to bear in mind always is that lean period from about February until the end of May. Anyone can grow vegetables in summer––and get gluts of them; but it is those winter vegetables that need more thought and attention.

If you have been following this monthly “Guide”––with such alterations as your family’s likes and dislikes have dictated––you should have little cause to worry; but if you have so far been happy- go-lucky in your choice of crops, you still have time in June to do something to put matters right. The crops you want for next winter––assuming your family likes them all––are the green crops– –Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli, kale, savoys; the roots––parsnips, carrots, turnips and swedes; onions and leeks; dried peas and bean; potatoes.

It is too late to do anything about potatoes, onions and parsnips, if they are not already growing on your plot. While it is too late to sow seeds of Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli, kale and savoys, you can order some plants of the last three from your usual nursery or shop. Kale and sprouting broccoli should be put out about mid-July, savoys later in that month or in early August. Though it is rather late to plant Brussels, there is just the chance that you may get a fair crop if put in the plants at once.

Crops for the lean period

During July, too, you could sow a row of spinach beet that, given favourable conditions, should give you a crop of excellent green leaves next winter and right on through the spring. If you like leeks and have not sown seeds in the seedbed, you can get some plants and put them out in July.

As to root crops, main crop carrots can be sown in June to early July, swedes at the end of June, turnips in July.

The experts tell us that we need some of that precious body-building stuff––protein––in our diet. Now dried peas and beans are a valuable source of protein, and it is worth while saving some of our crops for the purpose, as well as to provide seeds for sowing next year––always assuming that we save our own seeds, a subject which will be dealt with in a later Guide. Do your saving systematically, however. Don’t just leave a few late pods on each plant, but reserve a number of plants at each end of the row.

Having looked ahead and made sure – at least in our minds – that we are not going to be caught napping in the few months from next February, let us come back to the present for a bit and concentrate on essential jobs of the month. First, thinning––and no apology is made for returning once more to this important operation. And don’t forget to keep that hoe going regularly.


This needs to be done now practically every week. Beet, carrots, parsnips, lettuce and spinach have all to be thinned as they become large enough. Thinning was dealt with in the May “Guide” and all that it is necessary to add now is that it is a good time to apply a little fertilizer after the plants have been thinned and are beginning to grow strongly. A dressing of 1⁄8 oz. of sulphate of ammonia can be hoed in per yard of row.


The May “Guide” dealt with the planting of tomatoes. To get the best results keep each plant to the main stem, pinching out the side-shoots that come in the corners formed by the leaf stalks and the main stem. Keep the plants well watered and feed them regularly with a good complete fertilizer. There are a number of proprietary brands of tomato fertilizer that should be used according to the suppliers’ instruction. Or you can use “National Growmore.” A good working rule is to apply a teaspoon per plant as each truss of fruit sets.

When watering, remember that it is useless just to damp the soil surface, for this merely encourages surface rooting. You must water well, giving about half-a-gallon to each plant. Tomato fruits are often split when the plants are given a heavy watering after having been dry. That is because the skin gets hard and inelastic and cannot expand when the fruit swells after a good watering, so it splits or cracks. So don’t let the plants get dry.

“Blight” is the chief disease likely to affect tomatoes in the open. It may attack only the fruit, but the stem and leaves may be affected as well. Intense brown or black blotches are the signs, and infected fruits often fall off the plant. The discoloured areas are edged with a downy white growth. It’s the same blight that attacks potatoes. To control it, spray your plants with a copper spray (see next section).

Take care of your POTATOES

Potatoes are growing strongly now. In most places they have been earthed up. Remember, when earthing, not to draw the soil up to a greater height than about 6 in. and do not leave a flat top or trough to the ridge. Finish it off to as sharp a point as possible. This prevents spores of potato blight from being washed down by rain to infect the tubers. Don’t try to earth up when the soil is wet.

To a large extent the danger of blight attack depends on the weather; if dry, only local attacks are likely and will not cause serious damage; given frequent spells of warm, moist weather, the tops may be completely killed by the end of July or in August. The effect on the crop would be serious if the tops were badly affected. The weight of crop would be greatly reduced; and if the disease spreads to the tubers themselves, they may rot in the ground or after you have stored them.


If you live within 10 or 12 miles of a large industrial centre, where the air is laden with fumes and smoke, do not spray, but seek advice locally: the secretary of your local allotment society, the horticultural committee of the council or the park superintendent should be able to help you. Gardeners who are not in areas likely to be affected by fumes from factories should, as a form of insurance against blight, spray their potato foliage with one of the copper-containing sprays recommended for the purpose. Perhaps the simplest course is to buy one of the ready-made Bordeaux powders or pastes and apply it according to the maker’s instructions. Usually you have only to mix it with water and it is less trouble to prepare than a home-made mixture. If you have a hand-dusting machine, you could apply one of the powders made for the purpose – copper-lime or Bordeaux dust. Dust needs to be applied more often than sprays, however – four or five applications should be given, allowing a fortnight each.

When to Spray

The right time for the first dusting or spraying usually happens at the end of June or early in July. Don’t wait until you see blight spots on the leaves – if you do find any, spray at once. If dusts are used, further applications are needed every fortnight; with the spray, a second application after three weeks should be sufficient. But if the blight attack is severe, a third spraying may be needed in August.

Points to Remember

You can use a stirrup pump, if you obtain a fine spray nozzle for it. > A misty spray is best, as it wets the foliage easily. > If you have no sprayer, you can use a watering can with a fine rose. > Make certain that both sides of the foliage as well as the stems are thoroughly wetted. > Choose a fine day so that the spray has time to dry before the next fall of rain. > It is much easier if you can co-operate with some friends or neighbours and spray several batches of potatoes on the same day.

Earthing up CELERY

Before you earth-up, tie the celery plants loosely just below the leaflets and remove any side growths. When the plants are about 15 in. high, earth-up slightly, but see that the ground is thoroughly moist before you begin. The second and third earthings––at three weekly intervals– can be more thorough, until finally the soil should cover the plants right up to the leaves and should slope away neatly. Don’t let any soil fall into the heart of the plant.

Are you watching out for those Pests?

Any signs of black fly yet? Some gardeners think that this pest is encouraged by broad beans, but there is no foundation for this. You may quite likely find it on your “runners.” Wherever you come across it, take the measures recommended in the April Guide. And if you are growing broad beans, remove the growing tips when the plants are in full flower. If the winds are high and the plants look like being broken, put in a few stout stakes and run some stout string around the rows.

While the April Guide deals with other garden pests that may be a nuisance in June (slugs on your lettuce, cabbage root fly and carrot fly), it may not cover some pests that may trouble you. Celery fly for instance. Brown blisters may appear on the leaves. Watch the seedlings carefully for blistered leaves, and destroy them or crush them with your fingers. Dust the plants weekly with soot to prevent egg laying. If the attack is serious, spray the leaves (both sides) with a nicotine and soap wash.

Then onion fly may also cause trouble, especially on dry soils. As a precaution dust the soil along each side of the rows with 4 per cent Calomel when the plants are about an inch high.

Feed your CROPS

Beet, carrots, parsnips and onions benefit by a dressing of sulphate of ammonia after thinning – 1⁄8 ounce to the yard run. If your carrots and onions are attacked by the fly, a similar dressing will help them considerably.


Don’t forget to sow a short row of seed every fortnight to ensure a succession. And if you transplant the thinning’s from earlier rows, see that you give them a good start. Don’t put them on lumpy ground and don’t water them late on a cold evening or leave them without water at all. If the plot reserved for lettuce is lumpy and not easy to break down to a fine tilth, sift some fine soil over the surface, see that the seedlings are firmly planted and watered well at the right time until they are firmly established.


Although marrows are usually sown in the open towards the end of May, it’s not too late to sow in June. In a sunny corner dig in some well-rotted manure or compost and set a few groups of seed––four or five seeds to each group––about 6 in. apart and 1 in. deep. Later, thin each group to two plants, 12 to 15 in. apart. Marrows need a lot of water. Make sure they get it, particularly in dry weather.

Couple of Tips

First, as to cabbages: when you cut one, make two nicks crosswise on the top of the stump, and within a month or six weeks it will sprout again and give you a crop of tender greens. Second, if you have any grass left in your garden and are not using the mowings to feed stock or make compost, give your runner beans a mulch of 2 or 3 inches. This will help to conserve the moisture and benefit the beans considerably.

More Root Crops

The main root crops may be sown in June or early July––beet (earthly June), maincrop carrots (June or early July) and swedes (mid-June). The sowing of beet and carrots was dealt with in the April Guide, so the details will not be repeated here.

Bear in mind, too, that the above times for sowing are merely general reminders, and that gardeners must have regard to local conditions and advice from the experienced. For instance, as to carrots, in the midlands and the north, mid-June is regarded as the latest date to sow with an assurance of a good crop; while in the south and west, sowings may often be made with safety up to mid-July. Another point is that late-sown carrots are less liable to attacks by the “fly” than those sown earlier in the year.


Swedes are a safer crop in some districts than turnips. They can stand the cold better and can be left in the ground until after Christmas. Though there are garden varieties of swedes, the field sorts such as “Best of All” and “Eclipse” are really the best to grow.

Swedes are usually sown in mid-June (earlier in the north) in drills 15 in. apart and 1 in. deep. The Ministry’s plan provides for two rows, but don’t grow them if you don’t like them. The seedlings of field sorts should be thinned to 9 in. apart.

For those who like to try out unusual vegetables, Kohl Rabi is a useful crop to grow on very light soils where turnips are risky owing to drought or flea beetle attacks. You can still sow it in June in the seedbed, transplanting to rows 15 in. apart with 8 in. between plants. It is better, however, to drill in the ordinary way, like swedes and turnips, and thin out. Kohl Rabi should not be stored for any length of time, but should be eaten soon after lifting.

A word about Gathering Crops

Before the full spate of summer vegetables begins, a few words about gathering crops may not be out of place. Gather in the morning or evening, when they are fresh and not limp from the sun; handle them carefully, so that they come into the kitchen fresh and tempting. More important, however, is to gather crops before they are past their prime. It is a mistake to leave batches of cabbages, lettuces, peas and other vegetables until the whole crop is ready for use. So often the gardener cannot bring himself to gather his vegetables before they are fully matured, with the result that when they are ready, he is unable to cope with them all at once and many go to waste. Use your vegetables on the young side; they are more tasty, and the scientists tell us they do you more good than when they are old and tending to be tough. On the other hand, of course, don’t be extravagant about it. There is no sense in picking them so young that a whole crop is used up in a meal or two.

Man digging garden

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