Tuesday, 15 December 2015

What Actually Is Frankincense and Myrrh??

Hey everyone, I am in the school nursery nativity this week! I'm a sheep and my friend Ben is a Wise Man! But have you ever wondered what Frankincense and Myrrh actually are? Well, we have the answer to that (and to be honest, I wouldn't have been impressed if I was baby Jesus!) as well as some more totes interesting facts on Christmas plants (like why we kiss under the mistletoe) right here...

The Three Wise Men

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Jack Frost Nipping At Your Rose!

Hey, it's the 1st of December! Did you all remember to open your advent calendars this morning? Me too, it's fun isn't it! December doesn't just mean advent calendars and Christmas wish lists though. The cold weather is upon us and we have to remember and look after our plants. Here are a few jobs to do over the next few days...

It's advent calendar time so watch out for frost too!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

How To Have Fun With A Baby In The Garden...

Hello everyone! Well, it's a pretty momentous week here at Vialii Towers as my baby sister is about to turn 1!! Yes, can you believe it has been a whole year since I became a big sister? Well, I have learnt a LOT about babies in the last year and I have taken that knowledge along with my gardening expertise to give all you new parents the best list ever of how to entertain your bubba in the garden...

Me and my lovely sister Tilda 

Monday, 26 October 2015

Halloween Leaf Ghosts!

It's Halloween this weekend and I am sure some of you will be hosting Halloween parties or are just decorating your homes to be ghoulish and gruesome. Instead of spending a fortune on decorations from the shop, why not save money and have some fun by creating these amazing decorations using autumn leaves. It couldn't be easier...

My leaf ghosts

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A is for Apple Day!

Did you know that today, 21st of October, is National Apple Day? I am glad that the Apple has it's own special day as they are so yummy and super easy to grow. I should know as I have two apple trees which I can keep a close eye on from my playhouse which nestles cosily in between them. As an apple expert, here are my top tips on the best apples to grow in Scotland...

My playhouse nestles in between two apples trees

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Plants & Their Amazing Uses!

Like me, I bet you mainly grow plants in your garden to look pretty or to taste yummy. But did you know plants can have lots of other uses? Read on to find out just what else they can be used for... 
Plants are used for a lot more than just food or being pretty

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

How Old Are Yew?

It is National Seed Gathering Season from 23 September until 23rd October.  The Tree council want us to get involved and gather seeds, fruits and nuts to grow the trees of the future. The idea of helping grow the trees from seed made me think about the trees that are already really, really big. How old is an old tree, and why are they important?

Photographer Beth Moon's Diamond Nights 
series shows some amazing ancient trees

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Garden Playhouses, The Vialii Way!

If you are an avid follower of our blogs (and why wouldn't you be?!) then you will be aware that we love a wee upcycling project at Vialii. And these projects are my VERY favourites that we have ever tackled. Welcome to the Vialii Playhouse Makeover!

I LOVE my new playhouse!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Waste Not Want Not, Compost Style

The nights are getting darker earlier (not that I would know as I'm already asleep way before it gets dark) so it must be getting towards the end of the growing season. So, what do you do with your compost in containers and grow bags once your plants have stopped producing? Read on for my top tips...

We always have around 100 tomato plants 
in containers, so have heaps of old compost

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Is there such a thing as a free lunch?

It's been a mixed year for us in our veg garden. Potatoes have done well but tomatoes needed more sun. But did you know that if your attempts to grow your own have not gone well, or even if you've not got your own garden, you can still get free yummy produce? You just do something called foraging (which sounds like porridge so it must be yummy!) 

We're going on a bramble hunt, we're gonna find a big one!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Wild at heart

We all know that wildlife such as bees and butterflies are struggling in the UK. So all we need to do is scatter some wildflower seeds about and that will solve the problem, won't it? Nope, it can even cause more problems! Read on to find out what the experts say we should do.
No it's not poop! Read on to find out what Euan's holding!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Cluck, cluck, buh-cawk!!!

A certain grandpa pig in a cartoon I like has lots of problems with chickens eating his plants in his garden.  But chickens can actually be great garden helpers. I've been finding out about the good things they can do.

Claude Ponti's fab topiary isn't the only reason you should have chickens in your garden

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

There's a worm at the bottom my garden

Actually there are loads of worms in my garden and I've called them all Wiggly Woo, it is pretty hard to tell them apart so I though the smart thing to do was give them all the same name. Mummy says that worms in our soil means the ground is good for growing things. But why is that? What do worms do? I've been finding out....

Just what am I up to?....

Monday, 27 July 2015

A Garden of Fairy Tales

I recently went on an amazing holiday with my BFF Euan to Northumberland. As well as having fun playing on the beach, I took Mummy & Daddy to Alnwick Gardens as I had heard that they had a fairytale treasure hunt for us kids to take part in. As an expert on gardens AND fairytales, I knew I I had better go help Beauty escape the Wicked Queen. Read on to find out more...

Don't worry Beauty, Princess Lulu
 is coming to the rescue!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Butterflies- self propelled flowers

Butterflies are indeed pretty as flowers plus they help pollinate plants whilst they feed on the nectar. Most species of butterflies don't have caterpillars that eat our crops so we should be encouraging these pretty pollinators in our gardens. As the Big Butterfly Count has just started, I thought I'd find out just what we can do.

If Brainy Mr Attenbourgh says we should help butterflies, I believe him (despite him looking silly!)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The plight of the bumblebee

Hopefully all the yummy crops in your garden are growing well and you can start to see berries, fruit and veg appearing on your plants.  If you can, it is likely that pollinating insects like bumblebees have been out and about in your garden.  Bumblebees look really cute and with big bodies and tiny wings don't look like they should able to fly. Like me they aren't happy being told what they can't do so they do fly just to spite the mathematician boffins! I thought I'd find out a bit more about them and how they help in our gardens and what we can do to help them in return.

Read on to find out what I'm making.....

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Let's fight that blight!

If you're growing potatoes and tomatoes you'll want to avoid a horrid sounding disease called late blight.

It's cased by the fungus Phytophthora infestans (now that's hard to say!) The fungus normally appears in the UK from July or August and loves to grow in wet, humid conditions.
Read on to find out how to identify it, what to do if you get it and what you can do to try to prevent it.

Not a hint of blight in sight!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

North Kelvin Meadows-a dear green place for all?

Recently I went along to a fab family fun day themed around fruit and veg in Glasgow.  I did runner bean races, apple and spoon races and danced to fruit and veg themed songs. It was on a wild green space 
called the North Kelvin Meadows in the really cool West End. But the bad news is that it might not be there for much longer as some people want to build houses on it, so loads of other children could miss out on being active and healthy there.

Me enjoying the Children's wood area

Read on to see what small thing you could do to help give loads and loads of other children the chance to have fun in this wild space.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

If you're not fast you're last- in my garden anyway

If you've not yet started growing any seeds in your veg patch this year but would still love to have some yummy home grown goodies on your table this summer, don't worry. It's not too late as you can either buy small veg plants from garden centres or you can save money by growing heaps of different speedy veg from seed. Some are fab for little 'uns like me to do all on my own but others were a bit more fiddly so I let Mummy feel all important and give me a hand.

I find sticking your tongue out helps you be a better gardener!

Let's see the contenders in the race to be the fastest thing growing in my garden this June...

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Ladybird, Ladybird Fly Away Home

Ladybirds are a gardener's friend as they love to eat the greenfly that try to eat our crops. The 46 resident types of British ladybirds are under threat from the invading harlequin ladybird that arrived in Britain in 2004. Read on to find out a bit more about ladybirds, how you can help smart scientists do research into British ladybirds and discover some ladybird inspired crafts you can do at home.

I bet ladybirds on flowers don't look as pretty to aphids!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Growing Red, White and Blue (Yes Blue) Tomatoes

Mummy, Daddy and I were really upset when we found out that 4 out of every 5 tomatoes that we eat in the UK are imported from other countries.  May 18th-24th is British Tomato Week so I'm going to try to persuade you to have a go at growing your own (or at least eating British) this year.

I'll be eating British tomatoes this week but can't wait till our own are ripe

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Prickly Pals

It's British Hedgehog Awareness Week from May 3rd- 9th. This year the event focuses on us gardeners and just what we can do to help our spiky friends. In return they help will gobble up the slugs in your garden before they can eat all your crops.

Have a look at what you gardeners can do to help us hedgehogs out....

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Alpine Loveliness

The Alpine region is renowned for its prettiness as well as its skiing. I have brought a little bit of the Alps to my own garden. Read on to see whether it involves slaloms and ski lifts...

Me and my lovely collection of alpines in troughs, pots and even boots!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Feathered friends

Birds are very pretty, they sound nice and they help us gardeners control pests and weeds. Did you know that more than 140 different types have been spotted in our gardens during surveys like the Big Garden Birdwatch and that 30 different types are found very often?

Colourful birds like these could make a nest in your house

At this time of year the birds are very busy singing and making nests so it's a great time to help them out. I've got some wise words to help you do that and a fun craft project for you to make your own colourful birds.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Do You Know Your Onions?

I love onions, I especially love them in my Mummy's stovies.
We always grow loads of them in our garden and now is the perfect time for planting them. So rather than feeling all smug I thought I'd help you grow loads too.

Look how teeny tiny this shallot is!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

National Gardening Week 2015 is almost here

Every year the Royal Horticultural Society runs National Gardening week. It's a celebration of all things gardening.  This year it will be taking place from 13th until 19th April.  And for the first time ever there is a National Open Gardens Day when many gardens that we can't normally normally get to peek inside will open for free.

I'm watering my tomtato but it's the flower on my head that growing!

I've had a look to see what is on all around Scotland and I have some super ideas to get you all excited about gardening.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Lulu's Easter Fun 2015

It's almost Easter so that means there will be loads of bunny rabbits, daffodils and maybe even chocolate about very, very soon.
It also means we can get outside and take part in lots of fun activities such as dying and rolling eggs. Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh is a really popular place to roll your egg. But not as popular as a big White House in America where the President of the USA shows 35,000 people what to do!!

Look into my eyes, and you will be hypnotised into having a brilliant Easter!

I've got loads of ideas for fun Easter activities and places to go. Keep reading to find out more and to learn what on earth my BFF Euan is up to with this red wool and cardboard!

Monday, 23 March 2015

How to Hanami

People in Japan must love Blossom as much as my BFF Lulu does.  They have a special word that means looking at blossom- Hanami.  It just means "flower viewing" but mainly they mean looking at cherry blossom.  They even have huge parties to celebrate the blossom and get up really, really early to lay out their picnic rugs to keep the best places even though the parties don't start until after work! Special news bulletins on tv and radio tell them when to get ready!
I've already spotted the first blossoms in gardens here.  If you'd like to hanami too I can tell you which trees make the best blossom, where to go to see some pretty blossom displays and I'll share a fun blossom craft project for you to make.

These Japanese cherry blossoms remind me of snow! 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Mother's Day Fun 2015

It's almost time to show our Mummies how wonderful they are. This Sunday is Mother's Day in the UK. I've come up with some plant and garden related fun activities you can do with your Mummy, some places to take her and treats you can make to show her just how special she is.
Maybe a hug is all your 
mummy needs to feel special

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Crazy for Cauliflower

What's white,  looks like a cloud and is tipped as a top yummy food to eat in 2015?  

....... a cauliflower!
No, it's not one of my Mummy's rubbish jokes, cauliflowers are big this year so why not join me in trying to grow some?

Wow, who knew cauliflower came in so many colours?

As well as growing them I've got a tasty family friendly cauliflower recipe that you can help make and everyone can enjoy.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Growing a wee bit of the Americas in Scotland

We've got snowdrops and crocuses peeking through in our garden, our pretty Camellia is in bloom and on Sunday Mummy managed to hang out some washing to dry.  That must mean it's almost Spring and it's time to start thinking about sowing your seeds for this year.  Inspired by my treks in the Jungle (slightly overgrown border to Mummy and Daddy) in our garden, this year we are growing some more unusual plants that should still thrive in the UK.  

Abracadabra! Now these seeds will grow as big as Jack's beanstalk!

And I've also been trying out some of the gear that Lulu suggested as fab Christmas gifts for gardening kids.

How to sow your seeds

Last Spring Lulu did a really helpful blog on expert seed sowing.
She explained all about getting ready, what stuff you needed (either home made or bought) and how to do it.
So I'll be following her advice this year.  As we don't have a heated propagator either we are starting some of our seeds off now.

To make my seed trays look lovely and bright even before the plants grow, I'm using some super colourful labels from Wells & Winter.

Wow, look at my rainbow of colours 

What I'm growing this year

Some of you will already know that we grew 148 tomato plants last year! I'm trying to beat that record this year.
I love having slightly unsual tomatoes.  Last year the Ildi plants produced heaps of yummy wee sweet tear dropped yellow tomatoes.  So we are growing more of them again this year.  We are also repeating the red cherry tomato Balconi Red which we grew in pots on our patio.

A new variety we've not tried before is a black cherry variety called Black opal.

How weird do these black tomatoes look?

A little bit similar to a tomato and used in scrummy Mexican food is the tomatillo. They also have a very posh name,  Physalis ixocarpa Cisineros.  Maybe they get called that when they've been naughty?  They taste like a tangy lemon and grow inside their own jackets, so should stay nice and warm in our Scottish garden.

I've got a coat the same colour as the Tomatillo's jacket!

Another experiment from Central America is the cute sounding Cucamelon. These are grape sized bitter cucumbers (Melothria scabra) that taste like cucumber with a bit of a lime zest thrown in, mmm mmmm.

They are supposed to be easy to grow as they're resistant to pests and any toddlers who forget to water them!

Cute Cucamelons

Leaving Central America, let's carry on down into South America as I'm having a go at growing Oca (Oxalis Tuberosa) this year. These are a bit like potatoes but don't get that yucky disease called blight and pests don't worry them either. Plus they fix something called Nitrogen in the soil (I didn't know it was broken!) We have red ones to grow.

These are our cute wee Ocas

And we are growing yellow and red Ulluco tubers too (Ullucus Tuberosus).  These have an earthy taste and remind me of beetroot when I'm eating them in stews.  Slugs like them though so I'm going to make sure my plants are nice and leafy before planting out.

The Oca and Ulluco are treated like potatoes.  In March I'll leave them in sunlight so the funny sprouts called chits start to grow.  I'll plant them in potato bags filled with compost once Jack Frost has stopped coming.
I have to be very patient as the Oca isn't ready until the pretty clover like flowers and foliage has all died in November/December.
It will be fab having something tasty to dig up and eat in Winter though.

Another really weird tuber I'm go into grow with Mummy is the bumpy white Chinese artichoke (Stachys Affinisthat I think looks like a big white caterpillar.

The Chinese artichokes look like something from the Hungry Caterpillar!

This is another one I'm going have to wait AGES for as well as they won't be ready until December.   They can be cooked and used as per Jerusalem artichokes or used in Asian style cooking.

Purple mangetout & yellow courgettes complete my more unusual growing rainbow.

I can even colour co-ordinate my labels with the colour of the plants I'm growing!!

Phew, that's lots of new veg to try, but what about some flowers?  I saw this pretty packet of seeds with a butterfly on it and asked Mummy if I could grow some butterflies too.  She told it me it didn't contain actual butterfly seeds but a flower called Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) that butterflies, bees and other wildlife really like.  I'm in charge of growing those.  

No butterflies but hopefully lot of lovey purple flowers from these seeds

The other flower I'm super excited about is the electric daisy (Acmella oleracea). It's a top trend for getting kids to start growing food in 2015.  I'm going to see what those taste like (and I might just slip some into Daddy's salad when he's not looking to see what happens!!)  

These little flowers are edible but have an interesting effect in the mouth!

So that's most of what I've been starting off indoors for moving to garden later.  I also had a go at growing some plants in a wellie boot a few weeks ago.  Ok, it wasn't a real wellie boot. On a wet afternoon I used my "rainy day planting kit" Lulu mentioned in her Christmas Gifts blog.

It contains a totally cute ceramic wellie boot for growing, the compost and seeds and really easy to follow instructions. My one was for growing mint. 

How cute is this (the kit, not me!)?

Just add water to the compost

Then add the teeny-tiny mint seeds and cover with a little bit of compost

Keep your wellie watered and in a sunny place 

It was really easy for me to do and I will be able to re-use the wellie to grow other plants once the mint grows big and strong.

I'll let you know how we get on with all that growing.  But with electric daisies, oca & ulluco all from South America, it sounds like a really fun and tasty place to explore.  So I'm off to look at a map and see how I can get to it before nap time.

I'd love to hear if you're going to try out any new produce this year.

Big hugs,

Euan xx

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Magic Transformations

This week is Go Green Week.  But don't worry, you don't have to paint yourself green or anything!  It is an annual event where clever people try to raise awareness within schools, colleges and universities of our effects on climate change. 

You all know how my Mummy and Daddy and I love to up-cycle items in our garden.

My sandpit and our back gate are made from old pallets and our bird table and lots of our planters are items that would otherwise have gone into landfill.

So let's see what other fun and cool up-cycling projects us little-uns can get involved in to do our bit to stop climate change.... and find out what my silly BFF Euan is doing in this picture:
Peanut butter and toilet roll tube, mmmm, what can it be?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Bramley Apple Week

Did you know that February 2nd until 8th is Bramley Apple week?
I thought I'd celebrate by sharing some Bramley facts and my Granny's recipe for apple pie (which is just about my Daddy's favourite thing to eat in the whole world, so I don't often get any!)

Can I please have a bit of apple pie that's this big?!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Getting Gardens and Parents organised

Did you know that Scotland (where I live) is officially a sun deprived country :-( . That means we need to take every opportunity we can to top up our Vitamin D levels over winter. After some really wet and windy weather then big snow falls I'm looking forward to getting outdoors, topping up my Vitamin D and helping get the garden ready for the year ahead.  
What jobs can you help your parents do around the garden at this time of year?

Whose said Scotland was sun deprived?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The "Lulu Burt Best of 2014 Awards"

Mummy says we've started a New Year called 2015 and it will be the year of the Sheep in the Chinese calendar.  That's fab as both me and my BFF Euan LOVE our toy sheep (both called Baa Baa!).  
I had an amazing time in 2014 so am hoping 2015 will be just as exciting.  Here are my favourite things from 2014, otherwise known as the "Lulu Burt Best of 2014 Awards".

It's the year of the Sheep!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Big Fun with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Regular readers know how much I love birds. I love all the different colours of their feathers, the songs they sing, how they eat weed seeds (saving Mummy and Daddy from having to pick so many), and how they keep pest insects like aphids under control in the garden. So I'm super excited that the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is happening this month.

Clever Daddy took this photo of a Thrush whilst he relaxed in a garden (the Thrush, not Daddy!)