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