The Good Effect of Gardening on Children

A Telegraph article has been celebrating the effect of gardening on children, encouraging them to eat healthier and develop a nurturing mentality.

“Astonishing things have been happening in and around our fridge in recent weeks. Crumpled plastic sandwich bags crammed with curly lettuce leaves, rocket or radishes have been appearing on the top shelf and, within a matter of hours, disappearing again.”

The author states that although there is no mystery- these home grown vegetables have been eaten – what is extraordinary is that they have been eaten by her 10-year-old daughter who never normally likes salad. And she is not alone; her entire school class is getting into gardening and enjoying the produce of their labour.

The effect of gardening on children

Gardening has been shown to have a good effect on children.

Britain has always been a nation which is mad about gardening, but as the gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh recently stated, the government needs to do more to convince children and parents that gardening is a serious and valuable career.

Other high-profile campaigners for gardening are the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the ex-wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie, Jo Wood, and of course Prince Charles. Gardening is also being championed by big business in the form of The Sun newspaper, Asda, Honda and Waitrose.

Paul Clarke, professor of education at St Mary’s University College, London, was quoted by the Telegraph as saying. “40% of children who leave primary school have no idea where even the most basic fruit and vegetables come from; what’s grown in the UK and what is imported.”

“Gardening gives children an understanding of, and a connectedness with, the natural environment and the cycles of nature. Growing things also gives them an insight into managing resources, especially water, much more thoughtfully and efficiently.”

At Park Garden Centres we strongly agree with this sentiment. That is why
Almondsbury Garden Centre
recently provided £200 worth of plants for grounds development and rented an allotment for the Almondsbury C of E Primary School.

To make the school garden project even more exciting we got television gardener Charlie Dimmock and builder Tommy Walsh to cut the ribbon in a surprise visit, and also invited these celebrity gardeners to share their wealth of knowledge with our gardening club. If you would like more advice about how to get your children into gardening, pop into our garden centres today.

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The National Gardening Show

It may have been a wet summer so far, but there is much for budding gardeners to look forward to at the National Gardening Show.

Cheddar Garden Centres are delighted to confirm our involvement as the main sponsor of the show which runs from August 31 – September 2.

The National Gardening Show makes a cracking day out for gardening enthusiasts, whether they are amateurs or experienced green fingers. There is a varied audience here for sure – Chelsea Flower Show winners regularly attend, as well as budding entrepreneurs who are eager to make a name for themselves in the world of gardening.

National gardening show

Cheddar garden Centres is sponsoring the National gardening show

All can learn from expert advice about how to grow your own vegetables and plants, and watch demonstrations on getting the most from your garden in autumn.

One memorable spectacle is the National Dahlia Society Show which is the oldest of its kind and celebrates the cultivation of these unique flowers. And if you are interested in rearing your own hens or hatching your own eggs, the new poultry show will take your fancy.

This year’s highlights include a vertical show garden and a garden built by a school. And there is a chance to enter the New Instant Garden Challenge where plants are provided by Cheddar Garden Centre. Garden clubs will be pitting their wits against each other every day against the clock to design a garden in just two hours.

In fact there is no end to the fun things to see at the National Gardening Show including the Edible Bus Stop team which are giving you the chance to makeover your local Bus Stop.

And the Giant Vegetable competition is always memorable especially as last year there was a 8.3lb potato which is now in the Guinness Book of World Records.

And there is something for food enthusiasts too with the ‘best of the west’ Food Halls which offer local specialities such as pasties, cheese, chutneys, fudges and cider.

To find out more like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Eat Drink Bristol Fashion Event

Bristol is famous for its gastronomic delights and a new festival will make even the most exclusive food easily accessible to the public.

Queens Square is a grand and central location for the Eat Drink Bristol Fashion event. The festival will allow visitors to sample foods from a selection of renowned pubs and restaurants in the West Country.

Among those displaying their superlative cooking are the Bird in Hand at Long Ashton, Hotwells pub The Pumphouse and Casamia, the Michelin starred restaurant in Westbury-on-Trym. With the Pony and Trap restaurant also having a Michelin star, there is a fantastic array of food, from excellent gastro pub food to tasting menus recognised by the foremost food critics.

The food will be served in giant wigwams starting from Wednesday, April 25, until Monday, May 7. While coffee, cakes and sandwiches are offered during the day, the tents will be transformed every night into a new restaurant with a new menu.

Bristol food event

Tipis make an atmospheric setting for the Eat Drink Bristol Fashion Event

The wigwams, or tipis, are being provided by Luke Hasell of Tipi Events, who has teamed up with Josh Eggleton of gastro pub Pony and Trap to create this unique event.

Up to 1,000 people can be seated for an atmospheric dinner in this magnificent square.

To add to an informal atmosphere where tapas will be served by the Pony and Trap team, live music will be playing amidst various art installations.

To celebrate Bristol foodie culture, either personally or in a business capacity, visit for tickets and more information.

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James’ Greenhouse Diary – Strange Fruit and Vegetables

To kick-start I have finally had some success growing onions out of the eight onion sets that I planted. All eight have produced a good sized onion, once the outer layer had started to dry.

I was advised to take the green growth about an inch from the onion and fold it over towards the other row then do the same to the other side so that they overlap. This will cause the green growth to start dying. In the space of three weeks the potatoes have already come along really well being halfway up the bags now. I have continued to cover them up each time to hopefully produce a good crop of potatoes. The potatoes are meant to be ready for Christmas.

Strange vegetables

Three Fingered Carrot

The first lot of chillies is finally starting to ripen so it won’t be long now before we can start trying them.

Throughout the weeks I have also been noticing some strange fruit and vegetables, in particular the carrots one of which had three carrots coming from one seed. I have been taking pictures off these as I have been going. Check out our blog next week to see the strange fruit and vegetable photos.


Lechlade Planteria

If you are interested in Allotment diaries, photographs and advice about growing vegetables you can also look at  Allotment Vegetable Growing.

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Name That Chicken!

Cheddar Garden Centre needs your help to name their three new pet Pekin Bantams, one boy a cuckoo-coloured cockerel and two girls, black frizzle hens.

The cockerel is quite a little character and can be seen entertaining the crowds with his strutting about and Flamenco dancing.  The two hens can be best described as looking like a couple of animated feather dusters!  Now is your opportunity to help Cheddar Garden Centre out by naming their new pets.

“Our Pekins have been an excellent addition to the garden centre, however we haven’t named them yet and we want our customers to help us name them,” said Adam Ballard, Pet and Aquatics Manager at Cheddar Garden Centre

Customers young and old are invited to email, facebook, tweet or pick up an entry form instore with their name suggestions for the 3 Pekins with the winning entries each receiving a £10 gift voucher to spend at one of our three stores.

Click here to go to our facebook page now

“We will announce the winners of the competition on the 25th August at our Cheddar Store.  Whether you can think of one name or three, a prize is on offer for each name”! added Adam.

Pekin Bantams are available to buy at Cheddar Garden Centre and poultry at its sister sites in Almondsbury and Lechlade.  They make entertaining and endearing pets, and are a gardeners friend as they can help control garden pests – and of course they will reward you with fresh eggs!

For more information on buying and caring for your Pekin Bantams please enquire at our Pets Department on 01934 745200 or to enter our competition visit the Park Garden Centres Facebook page or email your suggestions to

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Potatoes fresh from the Garden this Christmas!

Plant Your Potatoes in Late August

Plant Your Potatoes in Late August

Had a good crop of potatoes this summer?  Why not surprise Friends and Family this Christmas by having the freshest potatoes, picked that morning and on the table in time for lunch.  It doesn’t get better than that!  Second cropping potatoes can be one of the most rewarding crops you can grow.

When should I plant my autumn potatoes?

Timing is really important with your autumn tubers.  The best time for planting is in late August, any later and you are unlikely to make that perfect Christmas crop. So buying your tubers in plenty of time is important.  Late July and Early August is ideal and will give you time to chit, with planting at the end of the month.  If you do get them late, then chitting may not be needed.

Which varieties are suitable for a Christmas Harvest?

The autumn planting seed potatoes are not specially bred variants, but exactly the same tubers as early in the year. They have been stored in perfect conditions which is why they are slightly more expensive.

Most early and second early varieties are suitable potato varieties for late growing.  Instore we have Charlotte tubers, which are a waxy salad potato, and they make great new potatoes with Christmas lunch and or a beautiful potato salad for the Boxing Day buffet. Also instock we have Maris Peer and Duke of York, which make excellent Roast potatoes for your Christmas Dinner.

How do I plant out my second crop?

In exactly the same way as you have your first crop. Your soil will be nice and warm so they should get off to a good start, but make sure you water them!!!

Try and avoid planting your crop in the same place as your normal crop.  If you can’t avoid it then you use a balanced potato fertiliser like Chempack Organic Potato Fertiliser.  The soil will be lacking in nutrients so adding nutrients back is a must.

Potatoes are a thirsty crop and a potato fertiliser is a must wherever you plant out anyway.  Try something like Vitax Q4 and avoid areas recently limed, Potatoes like a slightly acidic soil.

If you don’t have much space, you could grow potatoes in bags.  We think this is a better way especially if it starts getting too cold.  Simply fill the bags with good quality multi-purpose compost or something like Westland organic vegetable compost and your potato fertiliser. Make sure you add the recommended application.

There are a couple of advantages to bag-growing your tubers. Firstly, your potato skins will look very attractive as they will be unmarked.  And Secondly as mentioned earlier if the weather gets really bad, you move them into the greenhouse to protect them.

What problems might I encounter with my late crop potatoes?

Due to the change in seasons the main problems will be frost and blight. Frost will kill the foliage and this will mean the tubers cannot develop. Using a fleece to cover the area will help and if it does get too cold double up on the fleece.  Try to make sure that the fleece is not touching the foliage as well will help.

Blight’s last danger month is September however it can be a problem right through to November.  You can use a spray, but your fleece is a great defense for this. Preventing the spores from landing on the leaves will help prevent blight from taking hold.

For more information, pop instore and check out our range of Christmas Tubers available now.

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James’ Greenhouse Diary – July Update

Bhut Jolokia

Bhut Jolokia

I thought this week i would start off talking about the chilli plants as I haven’t mentioned them in a while, unfortunately most of the seed grown chillis – Bhut Jolokia, Naga Morich and Habeneros have not really developed much, where as the rest seem to be doing really well and starting to flower, so there will still be a big selection for us to try.

My carrots also have come along really nicely having been able to crop them I can now see some big differences between the two different types, the sure start carrots have developed much faster producing much bigger carrots, where as the normal seeds which have also come along well are not as big or developed as the sure start ones.

I noticed this week that some of my tomatoes as they start ripening they were splitting, this is due to inconsistant watering as it is getting very hot in there I need to keep a better eye on them, they are however producing a lot of fruit.

My cape gooseberrys are also doing well still had no fruit but there are plenty forming. The asparagus peas however haven’t done very well – but are still growing.


Lechlade Planteria


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