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Stay home and garden...with the kids


Build a Bug Hotel

Re-use your waste to make a hotel for wildlife. You may have lots of this lying around in the garden. Recycle what you can.  At any given time, your garden might contain over 2,000 species of insects. Many are beneficial insects, the kind you want to attract because they work with you to control pests and pollinate flowers.

Beneficial insects support biodiversity, the foundation for the world’s ecological balance. An insect hotel in your garden will attract these beneficial insects, offering them a space where they can propagate and hunker down and hangout. Encouraging biodiversity in the garden helps to increase ecosystem productivity.

Placing an insect hotel in the garden increases the chances that beneficial insects will naturally visit your garden. In addition to their decorative qualities, they help supplement the increasing loss of natural habitats.


Some things you might have lying around that you can use for your structure: an old drawer, a biscuit tin, a wooden crate or box, a deep picture frame, pallets 

1. Pile up your pallets (or whatever you’re using to make the floors of your hotel) on top of each other. Make sure there’s space between each floor – you can use house bricks for creating space between the floors of your hotel if you need to. 

2. As you pile up your layers get a grown up to make sure each layer of the hotel is stable. 

3. Fill some of the gaps between your pallets with bamboo canes or twigs. Line up the canes or sticks so the ends face out of your hotel; that way your insect guests can crawl  in easily. 

4. Stuff the other spaces between the floors of your hotel with the different materials you have. 

5. For your hotel’s green roof, nail or fix some wood about three centimetres high all the way around the edge of the top of your hotel.

6. Next, line your roof with the weed control fabric or membrane. You should now be in a position to ‘fill up’ your roof with compost without any spilling out or falling through into your insect hotel. 

7. Cover the fabric or membrane with a layer of multipurpose compost that comes nearly up to the top of the wood edging of your roof. 

8. Plant the compost layer with your turf, moss or succulent plants. You’ve now got a green roof for your five star  bug hotel!


To fill in the layers of your hotel: • Bamboo canes • Paving slabs • Stones • Sticks, twigs, branches and leaves, fir cones • Broken non-plastic plant pots • House bricks

For your hotel’s green roof: • Wooden strips for edging the roof about 3 centimetres wide • Galvanised nails • Weed control fabric or membrane • Multipurpose compost • Plants (turf, moss or succulent plants are great)




Scavenger Hunt

Although the garden provides many opportunities for exploration, sometimes it helps if kids have some direction to begin their observations. A scavenger hunt can provide a little bit of structure while still offering the flexibility for individual discovery.


• List of items to find (see overleaf)

• Clipboard

• Pencil

Approximate Time to Complete: 15 minutes +

Location: Outdoor 

Ages: 4-10


1. Create a list of items commonly seen in the garden and nature such as leaves, birds, insects, rocks, etc. Theolder the  children participating in the hunt, the more specific your list can be. For example, instead of asking them to find a bird, ask them to find a cardinal.  To adapt the activity for younger children, use pictures to make your list (hand drawn or cut from a magazine). 

2. Place your completed list on a clipboard; then grab a pencil (or crayon) and visit your garden, a park, nature trail or some other type of a community green space.

3. There are many ways to adapt this activity. Here are a few ideas:

• Make a nature bracelet. If playing in a public space it is best to hunt with your eyes, but if you are in your own yard or another location where collection is acceptable, kids can make bracelets from masking tape (sticky side out). As your child finds the (non-living) items on the list, have him/her stick the items to the bracelet. At the end of the game, kids will have a fun keepsake to show off.

• Rather than basing your hunt on visual characteristics, you could also develop a sound, texture, or smell, hunt (or an edible hunt if you have a vegetable or herb garden and your child is old enough to understand not to eat unknown items).

• If your child or children are highly competitive, keep track of the time it takes to find all the items, trying to beat your previous times, or add prizes! 




As schools shut down to stave off the spread of the coronavirus, you might be wondering what to do with your children home all day. Gardening is a great way to combine learning and offers valuable life skills.Responsibility.Teaching your children the importance of responsibility and looking after their plants will set them in good stead for all of their life.

Creativity - Gardening is a great way to stimulate your little ones' imaginations and encourage them to exercise their creativity.

Nutrition. Growing fresh food and learning where food comes from and how it is grown will help your children make better nutritional choices in the future.

Health and Fitness. Encouraging children to get outdoors will improve their sensory and physical development

Discovery. From observing how the sunshine affects the growth of plants, through to watching insects play in the garden, children will be able to gain an appreciation for nature and the circle of life

Self Confidence. Gardening can help boost self-esteem, stimulate independent thought, and increase engagement levels

A lot of us are parents here at Groves. And while the coronavirus is new to all of us, we have a bunch of ideas for how to keep our kids busy, entertained, and learning while they're home. It’s a great excuse to get outside into the fresh air and relax.

Even if you haven’t got a garden you can still start growing indoors in pots or on a patio or balcony. Make use of what you have lying about. Old cans or egg boxes make great containers from which to start seedlings growing.

Firstly you need to get some compost or growing medium. If you are not sure which one to get just ask us. We have a team of plant experts in house to help. As long as there is light and water – away you go!

We hope these projects helps ease the burden of this confusing time.  Hang in there. One day at a time… and keep your garden growing (and your kids learning).

Here are a few projects to get started on.


Great to hang in your garden or balcony to attract birds to your garden.

Shopping list (we can home deliver)

  • Wild bird seed (to help them fly)
  • Dried mealworms (a favourite treat)
  • Suet (vegetarian/vegan options available)
  • Dried berries (yum yum)
  • Peanuts (to give them energy)
  • String


Find somewhere to hang your Bird Ball from. For example, a tree, or a windowsill…

In a bowl, mix the bird seed, meal worms and peanuts together.

Put 1 cup of suet and 2 cups of the seed into a bowl and mix.

Put the mixture into a saucepan and heat until the suet has melted (medium heat), stirring the mixture continuously.

Leave to cool for a couple of minutes.

Cut each bit of string to 30cm long and tie one end into a tight knot 3 times.

Take a handful of the mixture from the bowl, place the knotted end of the string into the middle of the mixture, and create a ball around the string using your hands.

Stick the dried berries around the Bird Ball to attract the birds.

Place the Bird Ball in the fridge and leave to cool overnight.

Once the mixture has cooled/set, hang the Bird Ball up for the birds to eat!




Re-use and recycle with this garden for a small space!

Shopping list (we can home deliver)

Some weed control fabric or membrane

Some multi-purpose compost

Scented garden herbs like oregano, marjoram, thyme or basil

Some bedding plants like petunia or lobelia (ideally picktrailing plants – you can usually see if it’s trailing by looking at the plantlabels)

Galvanised nails or tacks

Of course you’ll also need a wooden pallet, try asking Groves if they have any spare that might be going to waste - we often have some.



Lay your pallet flat on the ground with the gaps in the pallet you’re going to grow your plants out of facing down to the floor.

Cover the back and sides of the pallet (e.g. the face that’snow facing up, and the edges of your pallet) with a double thickness of weed control membrane or fabric, nailing or tacking the fabric into place. You should end up with the back and all sides of the pallet sealed with the fabric.For extra strength, you can re-inforce the fabric with chicken wire if you want to.

Turn your pallet over so the gaps you’re going to plant in are now facing upwards. Fill the pallet up with compost by tipping the compost through the gaps.

Give the pallet a good watering; if you need to, top it up with compost.

Plant your plants into the gaps in the pallet. Make sure you leave some space between the plants as they’ll grow to fill out the space. Tryand mix up your herbs and flowers.

When you’ve finished planting, gently lean your pallet up against a wall. It will be heavy, so get a grown up to help.

Keep the pallet watered from the top so


Grow tasty, tumbling food for your family

Shopping list (we can home deliver)

A wire hanging basket

Sphagnum moss planter liner, or sisal

Multipurpose compost

Plant food or fertiliser

A hook or wall bracket and screws to hang your basket

Plants: choose from: tumbling cherry tomatoes, strawberry plants, chives, basil, or parsley, lettuce, and trailing nasturtiums



Line your basket with the sphagnum moss or sisal.

Fill the basket you’ve lined with the compost

Put your plants into the compost in your basket. You can do this in the basket, and by poking holes through the sides of the basket and planting your plants through these holes. Make sure you take your plants out of any little pots or packaging they were sold in before you plant them in your basket.

Water your basket well and make sure the plants are firmly in place.

Hang the basket from your hook or wall bracket. Make sure you get an adult to put up the hook or wall bracket for you.

Check your basket every day. Make sure the compost stays wet and give it some plant food about once a week.

As your basket grows treat it like a pet – feed it and water it well and it’ll give you lots of tasty food over the summer!



Grow your own pizza toppings


Shopping list (we can home deliver)

Seeds or very young plants for the pizza toppings you want to grow

Multi-purpose compost

Plant food

A spade or trowel

A watering can

Stones or bricks to mark out your pizza wheel



Make a circle on the ground where you want your pizza wheel to go. Use your stones or bricks. Or you could use a big container instead.

Dig up the ground in your circle really well and mix in your compost. Rake it over so it’s level.

Give the soil a good stamp down to get rid of any air bubbles in it, and then rake it over again.

Divide your circle into four or five pizza slices using more of your stones or bricks.

Pick a pizza topping you want to grow in each of your pizza slices. Some good ones are basil, rocket, spinach, rainbow chard, tomatoes or peppers.

Sow the seeds or plant your very young plants in your pizza wheel and water them.

If it’s cold, try sowing the seeds in a pot with some compost. Keep the pot indoors and water it until the plants start to grow. When the plants are about as big as your thumb try planting them out into your pizza wheel.

In a few weeks you should start to see them come up and you can then start putting your plants on your pizzas!



Grow a den made of bean plants


Shopping list (we can home deliver)

Some bamboo canes

Some garden string

Runner bean seeds or young plants

A trowel

Multipurpose compost

Watering can



Find a spot in the garden where you want to grow your tipi.

Mark out a circle (it can help to use sand). This is where you want the edge of your tipi to be.

Push the bamboo canes into the soil leaving about 10 to 20cm between each cane. Leave a 50 cm gap between two of the canes for the way in to your tipi.

Tie the canes together using the garden string at the top.You might need a tall grown up to help!

Near the bottom of each cane, dig a little planting hole and fill it with some compost.

Plant a runner bean seed or young plant in each of the planting holes. There are lots of types of bean so have fun choosing. If you are using seeds, use two in each planting hole in case one doesn’t sprout.

When you’re done, give them a good water. Runner beans like water so give them plenty as they grow.

Your beans will grow over your canes and make a tipi. You can use it as a den, and pick, cook and eat the beans that grow.




Grow edible plants into a work of art.


Shopping list for your local garden centre:

A mixture of big, medium and small edible plants with different coloured leaves, flowers or fruit
Multi-purpose compost

Horticultural sharp sand

Plant food

A spade or trowel

A watering can

Tip – Plants like lettuce, basil, rocket, swiss chard and salads can be good for background colours of your painting. Bigger plants like chillis, tomatoes, peppers and courgettes can be good for main parts of your painting.



Pick an area that gets good sunlight for your canvas in which to grow your picture.

Dig some compost into the area that makes up your canvas,then rake the soil so it’s nice and fine.

Divide your canvas into sections using your sand. Go wild with the patterns you ‘draw’, or mark out a picture.

Plant different types of edible plant into the different sections of your canvas. Try using contrasting colours of leaves, fruit and flowers for the different sections. When the plants grow, they’ll be the ‘colouring in’ of the sections of your picture.

Give the plants a good watering, and make sure they don’t dry out.

Over a few weeks you should start to see your picture come to life. Better still, you’ll be able to pick your picture and eat it!



From old junk to an incredible garden display!


Shopping list (we can home deliver)

Multipurpose compost

Seeds or plants (choose flowering ones that say on the label, pot or pack that they are good for containers)

Plant food



Find some old junk around the home that’s going to go to waste. It might be an old pair of wellies, some old furniture, or anything that you can put some compost into. Make sure you check with an adult that it’s OK to use first though.

Make a few small holes in the bottom of the junk you want to grow your plants in. This is so that water can drain out of the bottom and your plants don’t drown. Fill up your junk with compost.

Plant the seeds or plants into the compost and give it a good water. Feed them about once a week with the plant food.

Arrange all your junk into a funky display on your balcony or in your garden, and watch plants grow out of it!




Colour in our wildlife and plants of the UK colouring sheet.


This easy peasy recipe will make a delicious pizza base. Just add all those lovely plants that you have grown in your garden on top!


Warm water: There are no eggs or milk in pizza dough, just water!

Yeast: I tested both instant (rapid rise) and active dry yeast here. Instant yeast gave the best results, but active dry yeast does a decent job if that’s all you have (it just may need a little more time to rise).

Sugar: Sugar is important to help activate the yeast and keep the dough tender.

Salt: A healthy spoonful of salt is essential for flavoring the pizza dough.

Olive oil: Not only will olive oil help tenderize and flavor the dough, we’ll brush it on top to create a golden crust.

Flour: All-purpose white flour is perfect for homemade pizza dough. You can also use bread flour for a chewier texture, or Caputo Tipo 00 for a thin crust pizza.


Step 1: Proof the yeast
Combine warm water (about 105 degrees F) with yeast and sugar. This is going to activate the yeast while also helping you to see if the yeast is alive. After 5 to 10 minutes, the mixture should be frothy. Mix in the salt and olive oil.

Step 2: Mix in the flour
Now it’s time to get messy. Mix the wet mixture into the flour. The dough will become difficult to mix with a spoon and eventually form a loose ball. Transfer the dough ball onto a lightly floured surface.

Step 3: Knead
Knead by hand (8 minutes) or with the bread hook of a standing mixer (5 minutes), adding additional flour a tablespoon at a time if dough is really sticking to the surface. Pizza dough has been kneaded enough when it is smooth and passes the finger poke test (when you poke it with your finger, the dough should slowly spring back).

How do you hand- knead dough? Work the dough into a ball, then press down and slightly forward with the heels of your hands. Fold the dough in half, then repeat. Kneading should be rhythmic and quick, and result in a smooth dough ball

Why do you knead dough? Kneading develops the gluten proteins in the flour, which give it a soft interior and a crunchy exterior. Without kneading, less gluten develops and will result in a flat, dense dough.

Step 4: Rise
After you’ve kneaded the dough and your forearms are ready to fall off, place the ball in a lightly greased bowl, then cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and let rise for 1 to 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.

Pro tip: to help you dough rise faster, heat your oven for just a few minutes to get it warm. Turn it off then set your dough inside the oven. The warm (but not hot!) temperature will help the pizza dough rise more quickly!

Step 5: Divide
Divide the dough into two equal balls, then cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. If you don’t plan on making 2 pizzas, you can freeze one of the balls now.

Step 6: Roll
Time to form that classic pizza circle! You can either roll it out on a floured surface with a rolling pin (easiest) or stretch it by hand (most likely to make your Italian grandmother proud). Pizza should be about 12 inches wide (go wider for thin crust).

I like to roll my pizza crust directly on parchment paper. It prevents the pizza from sticking to the surface and I can easily transfer it to the baking sheet!

Step 7: Bake
Preheat your oven with the pizza pan in it. Cooking your pizza on an already-hot pan will produce a crispy bottom and evenly cooked crust!

If you rolled the pizza dough on parchment paper, simply transfer the pizza and paper to your baking sheet. Otherwise, dust the baking sheet with cornmeal or grease the baking sheet before laying on the dough.

Brush dough with a touch of olive oil, then top with your favorite ingredients! Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is golden.

Angie Porter Posted by Angie Porter

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