Tag Archive | Ephemeral weeds

Half-Term Kids Activities and Weed Week – ‘Groundsel’

As it’s half term for the children here in Leicestershire this week, I thought I’d do something a little bit different.  Each day I will be looking at a different activity to do with children.  The activity will be fun and obviously cheap.

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Firstly though, I will continue with ‘Weed week – know your enemy’The more you know about a weed, the more likely you are to stop it taking hold in your garden.

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 Today’s Weed Is ….Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) – An Ephemeral Weed

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Groundsel is a common garden weed, found on all types of soil, though it favours heavier, moist soils.

It has yellow daisy like flowers with fluffy seed heads.  It can grow all year round.

It is part of the asteracea plant family and it is also sometimes known as ‘Old-man-in-the-spring’.

Groundsel is an ephemeral weed (a plant which germinates, grows, flowers and sets seed several times in one growing season).  In fact it can complete its life cycle in just 5-6 weeks.

 The flowers are self-fertile and an individual plant produces approximately 1200 seeds.  Because of this and the fact that it is a fast growing plant, it can smother younger crops around it.

The seeds are dispersed by wind.  Seeds have been found in bird droppings and found in cow manure too.

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Groundsel acts as a host for Cinerara leaf rust and the fungus that causes black root rot in peas.

Groundsel is a good food source for the caterpillars, butterflies and moths and is one of only two plant species that provide food for the cinnabar moth caterpillars.

You can find details of the cinnabar moth here.

How To Control Groundsel:

I find it’s best to just hoe the seedlings while they are small, before they set seed, or just pull them out by hand.  If you do decide to use a chemical weed killer, you need to do it early in the plants life, otherwise the weed killer may not kill the plant.

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Today’s Half-Term Activity – Gingerbread Men

Today I thought I would write about an activity that I regularly did with my children when they were smaller…Ginger Bread Men.  They are really easy to make and kids love to get their fingers into the mixture and play with the dough.

They can be decorated with raisins, cherries or anything you have available.

While my daughters were eating them, I would tell them the  ‘Gingerbread Man’ story.

If you don’t know the story, you can all watch it together here.  My daughters would pretend that their gingerbread men were running, as I chanted the words from the story:

“Run run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m a gingerbread man”

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Ginger Bread Men

400 grams self raising flour

3 teaspoons ground ginger

100g caster sugar

50 grams margarine

3 tablespoons golden syrup

4 tablespoons of milk

currants, glace cherries to decorate

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Preheat your oven Gas mark 3 / 160C / 325F.

Put the flour and ginger into a bowl.

Melt the margarine, sugar and syrup in a pan over a low heat.

Add the margarine mix, to the flour and ginger.  Mix well.

Add the milk and mix to a firm consistency.  Knead lightly with your hands.

Roll the dough thinly, using more flour to stop it from sticking.

Use a cutter to make the gingerbread man shapes and place them on a greased baking sheet.

Cut the cherries for the mouths and use the raisins for eyes and buttons.

Cook for approximately 10 minutes.

Allow them to cool slightly before transferring them to a cooling wire rack.

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I managed to make seventeen gingerbread men with the mixture, but I suppose it depends on how big your cutter is and how thin you roll the dough.

The gingerbread men cost me just 63p to make, plus the cherries and currants to decorate, but you can use what you have handy in your cupboards to decorate them.

It’s another cheap and fun activity to do with your children.

I hope you find todays blog helpful.

 

 

 

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Half-Term Kids Activities and Weeds ‘Know Your Enemy’

As it’s half term for the children here in Leicestershire this week, I thought I’d do something a little bit different. Each day I will be looking at a different activity to do with children. The activity will be fun and obviously cheap.

Firstly though, I will start with my ‘Weed week – know your enemy’. The more you know about a weed, the more likely you are to stop it from taking hold in your garden.

So this week I will be looking at a different common weed each day.

Weeds are fascinating.  The more I read about them, the more interested in them I become.  After all, a weed is just a plant in the wrong place.

Times I hear people say that they wish their vegetables grew as quickly as the weeds.  The problem is that most weeds are native to this country and have been around for a very long time, whereas most vegetables haven’t been around quite such a long time and a lot of them have been brought in from different countries over the years.  So weeds really have an advantage.

However, some weeds can be useful too.  Parts of them can be used to eat, for herbal remedies, to make wine or drinks, to dye clothes and to feed and shelter beneficial insects. Also, some weeds can be dug into your ground and act like a green manure e.g. chickweed.

So they can be useful too, if you just look at them in a different way.

There are different types of weeds too:

Annual Weeds

Annuals complete their lifecycle in just one year:

Germinate – Grow – Flower – Set Seed – Die.

E.g. Groundsel, Cleavers

 

Ephemeral Weeds

A plant that completes many lifecycles in the same year:

Germinate – Grow – Flower – Set Seed – Die.

They are very short-lived plants and this cycle happens many times over the year.

E.g. Groundsel

Biennial Weeds

Biennials complete their lifecycle in two years:

Year 1 – They germinate and grow

Year 2 – They flower and set seed

E.g. Shepherds purse

 

Perennial Weeds

A perennial weed lives for more than two years and most will reproduce many times.  They reproduce either by seed and / or vegetatively.

E.g. couch grass, creeping buttercup.

If you know their lifecycle, you can eradicate the weed before it reproduces.  Remember the old saying:

“One year’s seeding means seven years weeding”

Over the next four days I will look at four common weeds and their lifecycles, in the hope we can fight the battle of ‘The Weeds’.

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Today’s Half-Term Activity – Play Dough

An easy thing to make is ‘Play dough’.  Over the years, my daughters have had hours of fun making shapes and cutting models out.  I kept my eyes open for cutters and things in charity shops and school fairs and I managed to get quite a collection.

Play dough can be made in any colour.  I used to make batches of three colours. It’s safe for the kids to play with as there are no chemicals and it won’t harm them if they put it in their mouths (though it will taste foul if they do).

 It lasts for a few days if you pop it in the fridge after the kids have finished with it.  Put it in a box or a bag, to stop it from drying out.

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Play dough Recipe:

1 Cup of water

1 Cup Plain flour

½ Cup of salt

1 Tablespoon cooking oil

Few drops of food colouring

 

Put the ingredients into a pan and heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture comes together in one large ball.

Don’t be alarmed at the state of your pan after cooking.  Soak the pan for a while and the play dough will  wash off easily.

Leave the play dough to cool on a plate for a few minutes.

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It’s as easy as that.

Play dough ‘hair’

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I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today