mini gardeners

inspiring gardening projects for children


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We are moving

It’s been a whole lot of fun here but the time has come to move on.

So we’re packing up and moving to a self-hosted* blog at www.minigardenersblog.com.

There will be no more posts on this blog; all future posts will appear on the new blog and most of the content has already been copied over.

In the next few days I’ll be attempting to transfer subscribers to the new blog. So if you currently receive emails about new posts, you should continue to do so. HOWEVER, if you haven’t heard from me in the next week or so, it’s nothing personal. It just means my technical skills are not quite as good as I’d thought and the transfer hasn’t worked. In which case it might be a good idea to head over to the new blog and press the “follow” button 🙂

See you in our new home!

* I’ve spent the past year paying a subscription to wordpress to avoid having 3rd party adverts appearing on my blog. Which I don’t begrudge at all as it’s a small price to pay for such user-friendly, top-of-the-range blogging software. But I’ve decided that the money would be better spent on a self-hosted wordpress blog and all the additional flexibility that brings. And nobody will be able to post 3rd party adverts on my blog while I’m not looking.

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A Little Bit of Biological Control

ladybird as biological control

Temperatures must be rising because the ladybirds are waking up. We spotted a couple at the allotment yesterday and we have a few marching up the walls in the kitchen. They must have been overwintering indoors but I’m not sure exactly where.

We had good intentions to round them up and place them outside so they could find some food.

But then we noticed that our avocado plant was suffering from an aphid attack. So we popped four ladybirds onto the leaves and have been fascinated watching them ever since. 24 hours later and the plant is looking almost aphid-free.

One of the ladybirds has quite faded spots which we’ve never seen before. A quick spot of googling suggested that ladybird spots can fade with age so maybe it’s a pensioner. But a bit more googling stated this is a common myth, so who knows? Whatever the reason for the faded spots, it doesn’t seem to have affected the appetite for aphids.

And I’m not a ladybird expert but I think this one is a harlequin:

harlequin ladybird on an avocado plant

The identification was made mainly on the grounds that it’s significantly larger than the other ladybirds since harlequins can have huge variations in colour and spot patterns.

There’s a short but informative video from Bill Oddie on the dangers that harlequin ladybirds pose to our native UK ladybirds. You’ll be relieved to hear I’m putting my daughters on 24 hour watch to make sure the suspected harlequin doesn’t eat the other ladybirds when the aphids run out.


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TLC for Family Lawns

family lawn in autumn

If, like us, you have a lawn in your family garden, chances are it will have suffered this summer. Drout, football, picnics, running races, water slides, tennis, bbqs, swingball and the list goes on.

This was our lawn a week ago.  Slightly wild and in need of cutting, but it doesn’t look too bad on the whole. From a distance. But look closer and all sorts of horrors lurk beneath. Continue reading

Time for a haircut

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topiary rabbittopiary rabbit

You know how it is……. things get busy , you don’t have your hair cut for a while. Then you can’t do a thing with it and every day becomes a Bad Hair Day.

After a quick trim this afternoon our topiary rabbit can now hold his head up high and Bad Hair Days are a thing of the past.

We also gave him a long overdue feed. He’s about 3 years old and the plant inside the frame – box (Buxus sempervirens) – is filling out nicely.

A lot less trouble than a real rabbit 🙂

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Farewell January, hello February

painted ladybird pebblesSo January is finally over, the bleakest month of the year apparently.

But we quite like January. It has its highlights; snow, sunny days with clear blue skies and the fact that you can hibernate without guilt after 4pm because it’s getting dark.

In fact the only problem I have with January is finding indoor activities for school gardening club when we can’t go outside because a) snow is covering the ground, or b) it’s raining, or c) it’s icy.

The “emergency indoor gardening list” has gradually expanded over the years and includes

And the latest addition to the list is turning pebbles into ladybirds to use as decorations for the garden.  If you’re crafty you can even sneak in some educational bits without anyone realising – ladybird anatomy and the useful role of ladybirds in the garden.

Read on for step-by-step instructions. Continue reading


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Blue Christmas

blue hyacinth

Every year I gaze longingly at Christmas trees that have been decorated stylishly, usually those gracing the covers of house magaines.  And every year I set out with the intention of having an uber-stylish tree with a single colour scheme for ornaments and no tinsel (on the grounds that it must be a bit naff as it doesn’t seem to feature much in the magazine photos).

And then my daughters take over and the tree becomes a riot of colour and tinsel, and home to oddly matched decorations, most of which are placed at child height with the rest of the tree remaining bare.

So not that our house needs any more colour this Christmas, oh no, but we couldn’t resist buying some hyacinths at the local shops.  Of course we could have gone for the more festive white flowered hyacinths if we’d had a snowy theme going on.  But for a house that has a Christmas tree decorated with more colours than a rainbow, blue seemed quite fitting.

blue hyacinth

Hyacinths don’t usually flower until spring but you can buy specially prepared bulbs (known as “forced” bulbs) to flower inside over Christmas.

If, like us, you weren’t organised enough to buy and plant hyacinth bulbs a couple of months ago, you can now buy bulbs that are already growing.

If you buy these before they flower (see photos below), repotting into nice containers is a great holiday job for children.  And they should flower within a week or so of repotting – speedy gardening results for little people with short attention spans.

Plus they make great gifts.  Handy to have a few at home for those awkward moments when you realise you need an emergency gift at short notice.  Or is that just us?

Read on for instructions……

Continue reading


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Top Christmas Gifts for Mini Gardeners

Not finished your Christmas shopping yet and short on inspiration?  Try some of these gift ideas for your mini gardeners.

Burgon & Ball Children’s Hand Fork and Trowel

Top quality child-sized gardening tools made in the UK, £7.95 each.  We’ve tried and tested these and they’re the best children’s hand tools we’ve come across.  Rough age guide: 5 to adult (have to confess to using these myself when the girls aren’t looking).

A Packet of Seeds

The Kew Collection for Kids has a range of interesting seeds for children.  The perfect stocking filler at just £1.69.

Scarecrow Kit

Searching for something for the child who has everything?  Try one of these kits containing all you need to build your very own scarecrow.  £25 from Hen and Hammock.

Elephant Watering Can

Hard to resist a smile when watering plants with these.  Or soaking your brother/sister /friend in the garden/bath.  At £5 each will you be able to stop at just one?

Santa’s Grotto Kit

Another great stocking filler at just £3.95.  A beautifully designed little kit from Another Studio – construct your own Santa’s Grotto and plant the cress seeds to grow a mini forest garden.  We love it!

A Children’s Vegetable Garden

Fancy growing your own but not quite sure where to start?  For £34.99 Rocket Gardens will send your child 92 baby vegetable plants between May and August, suitable for filling 8 square metres of ground, raised beds or patio pots.

Paper Potter

Have endless fun making your own plant pots from recycled newspaper with one of these wooden gadgets.  £12.99 from Crocus.