Tie-Dyeing with Vegetable Dye - Perfect for Harvest

Have you ever tried colouring fabric with natural dye? Inspired by the colourful veggies recently harvested from our allotment we gave it a try. The results were beautiful & the whole process was far easier than I initially thought.


We've had a good crop of veggies from the garden this year & I'm always struck by their vivid colours, especially the beetroots & red cabbage. The other week we had a couple of beetroots that were past their best so we thought we'd use them to create some dye. Alongside the beetroot we used half a red cabbage, & the golden skins from 3 large onions. Now this may not sound like the most delicious selection, but the colours they produce are amazing.

To make the vegetable dye we used 3 saucepans (1 for each vegetable) & some cold water.
That's it, it really was so simple. 

We added our roughly chopped vegetables to the pans & then covered with water. For every cup of veg you'll need to add double the amount of cold water. Bring the pan to the boil, then simmer for an hour or so. Allow the liquid to cool slightly, then strain your dye into a container using a sieve or muslin.

And that's it, you've made your own natural dye!


Before dyeing any fabric you'll need to prepare it with a colour fixative first. This again is super simple!

To fix the vegetable dyes you'll need to make a colour fixative using 4 parts cold water & 1 part vinegar. 

Add the water & vinegar to a saucepan along with the fabric you wish to colour & simmer for an hour. After an hour carefully remove the fabric & rinse well under cold water. Remember to keep the fabric damp until you're ready to dye it otherwise the dyeing process won't work so well.


If you wish to create a tie dye pattern this is the time to get creative! You could use string to create your patterns, but we found rubber bands were much easier for little fingers to manipulate. 


We wrapped each band over & over itself to create the 'tie' effect & continued to add more along the length of the fabric. When we'd finished with the bands we were ready to tie-dye! 


We poured the vegetable dyes into separate clean saucepans, added the strips of material & simmered for approx 1 hour. 


The longer you leave the fabric immersed in the dye then the darker the final colour will be. 


We used tongs to remove our fabric & placed it straight into a bucket of cold water. This removed any excess dye & cooled the fabric making it easier for us to remove the rubber bands. You may wish to rinse larger lengths of fabric under a cold tap, but as our strips of cloth were so small we just rinsed them in the bucket. 


Now for the most exciting part of the process! The tie-dye patterns were finally ready to be revealed & we could discover if our vegetable dye had worked. To our delight it had, & the colours were glorious! 


The homemade beetroot dye created a pretty soft shade of pink. 


This fabulous golden amber was created from the onion dye.


But our favourite colour had to be the purple produced from Red Cabbage dye.
It highlighted the tie-dye patterns just perfectly.


After drying our tie-dye strips we decided to use them as bookmarks. Now every time we pick up a favourite book we're reminded of all the fruits & veggies we've harvested this year, as well as all the amazing colours that nature has to offer. 


This is a great little project to explore with kids & a neat way to use up any veggie peelings or fruit/veg that is going past its best. Why not celebrate Harvest with a splash of natural colour this year.


Helping the Bees - Wildflower Rainbows & Bee Pebble Planters

We've had a busy Summer enjoying lots of time outside in the beautiful warm weather. While outdoors we noticed the different insects that were around our garden, especially the many different varieties of bees that had been attracted to our wildflower rainbow garden which we planted last year. As we observed the bees buzzing around it made us realise the value of this 'wild' space & we started to plan where we could plant another rainbow ready for next year. 


Then we began to think about how we could plant more rainbows to help even more insects & my mini gardener came up with a plan! We could share some 'bee friendly plant seeds' with friends so they could plant Wildflower Rainbows in their gardens! The more rainbow gardens = the more bees that would be helped! 


We used packets of bee friendly seeds along with packets of mixed seeds (wildflower garden mix). We also added some of the dry seeds which we collected from our garden after the plants had flowered including; poppy, foxglove, nigella, marigold, & sunflower seeds.


If you're unsure which seeds to plant to attract bees & butterflies check out this perfect for pollinators list from the RHS, or look for packets of wildflower seeds that have a label indicating they attract wildlife.

To transport our seed mix we used brightly coloured envelopes & added 2-4 teaspoons of seeds to each one, along with this little note: Sow these wildflower seeds in your garden in September & next year you'll have a selection of beautiful flowers that the bees will love!


The week before we had been enjoying painting pebbles together & had created a family of bees, so along with the seeds we thought we could add a bee pebble to act as a plant marker to remind folk where they'd planted the bee friendly seeds. Genius! 

To create our bee pebbles we used sharpie paint markers which meant each design was bold & bright & because the ink is permanent & waterproof the pebbles can be left out in the garden throughout the year.



We thought we'd give each bee a name (my favourite was Buzz!) & soon we had a family of bees ready to fly off to different friends along with the wildflower seeds to create more mini rainbow gardens.


On the front of each envelope we added this little rhyme:

 Help us look after the bees
by planting these bee friendly seeds


Having seen the variety of insects & bees that our mini Wildflower Rainbow has attracted over the Summer we're looking forward to hearing about the new bee friendly gardens that will be popping up next Spring/Summer. Hopefully they'll be attracting as many insects & bees as we've seen too.


We hope you've bee-n inspired by this post & are keen to share a little love for these amazing insects which do so much for our ecosystem. Why not pledge to make a couple of these beautiful bee pebbles & share them with friends or family along with some wildflower seeds, You'll 'bee' making a big difference to help these amazing creatures! 

We'd love to see the bee pebbles you create, why not share them on our
Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. 

12 Ways to Play in the Mud - Day 1 of 30 Days Wild

Today marks the first of our wild outdoor adventures for this year's 30 Days Wild.
The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild is encouraging everyone, regardless of age, to explore their outdoor environment & experience all that nature has to offer for the next 30 days.

Due to the heavy rain we had last night we're planning lots of mud play & exploration today!
Mud play is one of those magical childhood experiences offering so many natural discoveries, often alongside plenty of giggles. 


Here are 12 of our favourite ways to explore the mud in our outdoor space.

1. Build with it & create  mud castles 


2. Sculpt with it & create a mud work of art on a tree or outdoor wall 


3. Help the birds make a nest with it


4. Give yourself a mud high five & make a mud hand print


5. Stick things to the wall with it & discover just how sticky & strong mud is.


6. Splat it with your hands & feet & discover the amazing sounds it makes.


7. Sink your feet into it & feel how cool it is. Can you feel its suction too?


8. Search for worms in it. You could add them to a homemade wormery


9. Dig in it & create a mud hole or cave, who might live in there?


10. Make 'mud' cakes with it, there are so many recipes you could create. We love to add dandelion petals to the tops of ours. 


11. Paint with it. Just add a little water & you can create your own cave style paintings. 


12. Paint yourself with it! Mud was made for body painting! This has to be one of our favourites, what a great way to express yourself & truly explore the natural qualities of mud! 



If you're exploring mud today, I hope you'll have as much fun as we have with it.



Exploring Bugs & Rosemary Beetles with a Sheet & Shrub Shake!

We love going on bug hunts around our neighbourhood & discovering the variety of insects hidden nearby. After a conversation the other day about the bugs around our garden Minnie was keen to see if any were living in the large rosemary bush near our door.

30 Nature Activities for Kids Celebrating 30 Days Wild

There aren't many days of the year when we're not outdoors (hence the name of our blog) whether we're bug hunting, mud making, tree climbing, cloud watching, or splashing in puddles, our outdoor environment always offers us something new to explore, & we're looking forward to more adventures next month with 30 Days Wild.

To celebrate the return of The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild we've collected 30 of our favourite nature activities ideal for children & families to share this June.




2 Make a scented nature hanging to display indoors or outside.


3 Make your own Elderflower Cordial using wildflowers.


4 Play in the rain & discover which creatures love it too.


5 Let nature leave a lasting impression with these beautiful clay print hangings.


6 Plant a wildflower rainbow perfect for bees & butterflies.


7 Make some nature wind chimes with beach shells. 


9 Experience a beach at sunset & go rockpooling.


10 Go on a hunt for Fairy Paper in the Forest.

 

11 Explore ladybirds with a DIY Mirror Discovery Box, ideal for exploring other nature finds too.


12 Make a Garden Chalkboard to record bug hunt discoveries.





14 Make a nature bracelet.



15 Build a Hedgehog House.


16 Make space for toads & frogs in your garden.


17 Build a den with a friend.


18 Transform yourself into a giant butterfly with this outdoor weaving frame.


19 Climb a tree & enjoy the colours & patterns of its leafy canopy.




21 Create a mini wild meadow for the bees & bugs in your neighbourhood.


22 Enjoy a story outdoors surrounded by nature.



23 Make your own Giant Bubbles with string & sticks. Great for exploring in an open wild space.



24 Set up an outdoor role play area (Garden Tea Rooms) with natural ingredients to explore.


25 Make a magical nature wand with natural treasures collected on a walk.







28 Track minibeasts around your garden with a set of bug spotter sticks.


29 Grow your own flower salad.
A number of garden flowers can be added to salads to create a tasty colourful dish.
We enjoy using homegrown:Nasturtiums, Chive blossom, Violets, Runner bean flowers, Pansy petals, Calendula/marigold petals, Cornflower petals, Rose petals
& Courgette flowers. (Always double check flowers are edible before sampling them!)


30 Write with nature! Turn a feather into a quill pen.


Whatever outdoor adventures you enjoy this June I hope you'll have fun discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary & all that nature has to offer you & your family.


If you're looking for more outdoor activities for the summer you might like our
50 Outdoor Activities for Kids this Summer.









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