Vegetable Growing Tips To Help Get Your Kids In The Garden

Tips to get your kids in the garden

The fun and adventure of gardening is something that appeals to people of all ages. To children especially and they can learn from us, the buzz of exploring around the garden for the first time and getting their hands dirty can be a magical experience that leaves them engaged for hours on end. Knowing the right way to introduce your kids to the world of gardening however, can leave many parents scratching their heads, the first thing is to ensure you’re garden is child proof.

The to-do list of tasks needed to keep a garden in prime condition throughout the year can be tedious and the prospect of your little ones helping you get the lawn mower out or deadhead your plants is a non-starter altogether, they’ll be fascinated by scissors, shears, or secateurs. But far from being a dangerous experience, introducing your children to gardening doesn’t have to be dull or diluted.

One of the most interesting and creative ways to get the kids gardening is to attract birds into the garden. You could try making a nice bird feeder. Talking of birds, slightly bigger ones(chickens) keep kids interested for hours everyday. Once we put up our chicken coop my son religiously dug for worms everyday of the last summer. Be warned though, chickens come with some downsides.

Growing vegetables is a fantastic way of showing children the wonders of the natural environment and with such a wide range of options available, the fun never has to stop! It can start early in the season with a propagator and some plant trays.

Keeping kids interested

One of the biggest plus points of vegetable growing is the relatively quick amount of time it takes for them to harvest. Getting children to buy into an activity which gives very little back during the start of the growing process can be difficult.

But with many of the more popular garden favourites, children can see the results for themselves after a matter of weeks, instead of several months. As well as proving a rewarding experience for all involved, it’s also a relatively hassle free one. Most vegetables are extremely versatile plants that are simple to sow and generally low maintenance, great for a frugal gardener, meaning that parents of all gardening backgrounds can help their kids join in the fun,


Choosing the right vegetable

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and begin growing vegetables, it’s important to pick the right option for you. While you want to grow something that’s quick, easy and relatively low maintenance, it’s also important to try and find a vegetable that your children will want to eat. We’ve accumulated some of the garden favourites along with an easy-to-follow set of guidelines laying out the timescale for harvest.


Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables with children and they’re a great way to get kids involved with the garden. you only need a few garden hand tools to get going. For early starters, carrots can be grown in a seed tray from around February indoors, before being transported outside come April. The best method is to water the roots regularly and be sure to snip excess seedlings off at soil level to keep them growing properly.


  • When do I plant them? Early May time
  • Harvest time? Around 12 weeks
  • What am I sowing? Plants
  • When’s the latest I can plant them? April

Delicious, easy to eat and even easier to grow, tomatoes are the perfect choice to get your child into gardening. While you can grow from seed, growing from plant is a lot easier and it also allows your child to visibly see the plant develop. When using a grow bag, ensure that you put a growing bag frame over the bag and insert a cane next to each plant to help assist its development, tying the tomato to the cane every 10cm.


  • When do I plant them? Early Spring
  • Harvest time? Around 10 weeks
  • What am I sowing? Either seeds or plants
  • When’s the latest I can plant them? June

Courgettes are fantastic vegetables that help satisfy the more impatient child gardeners! When growing from seeds, start two seeds in a pot on a window sill before moving them to a permanent spot outside after a month. When you do this, make sure they’re at least a meter away in the ground and that they’re watered daily. A prolific vegetable, you’ll be able to pick courgettes up till around September after your first harvest.

Regardless of whatever vegetable you opt to grow, the process of planting it, nurturing it and then eventually eating it, is a great way of helping children get involved with the garden and understand more about how food is grown as well as getting them excited about eating healthier food.

Vegetables aren’t the only option, herbs grow really quickly in a trough on the window sill inside the house.

Growing vegetables is a low cost way of keeping children engaged and the educational benefits are a fantastic added plus of the process. So whether you fancy letting your kids grow their own tomatoes to put into their lunchboxes or harvest a few carrots for a Sunday roast, get to your online garden centre today and help kick-start the growing revolution!

The Leaves on My Plants Have Brown Edges and Tips

“Help! – The Leaves on My Plants Have Brown Edges and Tips”

Checking your plants routinely for any changes is a fantastic method to catch diseases and other problems early on. Making time to walk around your garden and observe is truly worth it; good garden care relies on it. You’ll also be able to see your plants develop much more closely and you’ll also be able to identify problematic areas of the garden as well as individual plants. Not just that, a healthy garden will attracts bird and wildlife in general.

Being able to diagnose these problems properly is one of the key ways in which you can help them have a long and healthy life. However, many people usually mistake one problem for another and end up treating the plant in the wrong way. This means the original issue doesn’t get addressed and more often than not, further damage will be caused as a result. The initial reaction might be to pull out the shears or secateurs and simply remove these problems.

One problem which we continually see to be incorrectly diagnosed is brown tips and edges on leaves. We’ll run through this now to highlight just how important a correct diagnosis is.

A Common Misconception

When gardeners see parts of the plant’s leaves turning brown, they automatically jump to a conclusion; diseases or pests(pest control is probably more dangerous to conclude if you prefer the use of chemicals).. Now, whilst this may be in true in some cases, it’s not always that straight forward.

Take a second to really evaluate the problem. For example, an entire leaf that has turned brown is a completely different problem to the edges or tips turning brown. If the whole leaf is brown, then you’ll have to do far more research because there are dozens of reasons that could cause that. However, when just the tips or edges of the leaves are browning, this points to a single problem – stress, much different to burnt leaves which can be read about here.

Yes, plants can become stressed, they’re no different to us, it could honestly be as simple as you’ve used the hose pipe or watering can too much . And just like you and me, we feel stress in different ways and guess what? So do plants. This makes narrowing down a cause a bit harder since there are several possible reasons as to what has elevated a plant’s stress levels.

Analysing the Cause of the Problem

This is where you analyse the possible reasons and see which one is most likely given the situation. Brown edging or tips on leaves are most commonly caused by a lack of water which results in stress. The following reasons for this condition are as follows:

  • Lack of rainfall – If there isn’t enough natural water getting to the plants; this could be one of the causes. This problem will be extremely obvious in dry spells. Here’s a great article on how to help plants through a drought. Supplement rainwater manually with a watering can from a water butt or tap water if need be. A plant pot saucer will certainly help conserve water. You should also consider taking a look on our article of how to help wildlife through a drought, it’ll also help you with the garden overall.
  • Constricted roots – There’s a common problem with plants that have been grown in small plant pots where the roots have hit the edge and not been able to grow any further. Consider larger pots and directly planting. The same problem is also apparent where soil conditions are heavy and clay-like. Water more to ensure roots get the water they need or consider replanting somewhere which offers more room for the roots to grow. Alternatively, use a self watering trough to attempt to regulate the water better
  • Damaged roots – This is likely to be caused by flooding or not enough breathing room in the soil. When roots become damaged they struggle to pick up water efficiently leading to a lack of water. To correct this problem, address the issue with the roots and at the same time cut back some of the plant so it has lower water requirements until it has fully recovered. One problem I actually had was using an automatic watering system whilst on holiday I caused my own problems. Unfortunately we had a wet couple of weeks and this pushed my plants to the limit. Luckily, easing off the watering did resolve most issues, though I did lost a couple of hanging baskets that weren’t looking too happy.
  • Poor soil – Some soils struggle to maintain moisture (known as sandy soils)  and symptoms of potassium deficiency include the ‘scorching’ of leaf edges. Try these steps and methods to improve the quality of the soil; until then, water regularly to ensure the roots get what they need.

It should become apparent which is the reason behind the problem, but when unsure, work from the most common to the least common. The above solutions should rid your plant’s leaves from any brown edging or tips! Be sure to catch the dead leaves with our quality leaf collector or blower.

What to do in your Garden in August

Even though the garden may seem to stop growing at particular times of the year, the work never ends and there’s always something to do. So, let’s take a look at the tasks that you can perform in August after enjoying the summer months and many barbecues with family and friends. Let’s have a look at how to make the most of your outdoor area.

Flower Garden Care

The end of summer is a busy time in the flower area of the garden – here are some of the things that need doing:

  • Ensure your patio pot plants (and trough plants) are well watered as well as also sufficiently fed. Things don’t really slow down completely until November.
  • If you have tall flowers like lilies or dahlias then these need to be staked to prevent the wind blowing them over.
  • Get some decent garden wire and then any old strong slender wood will do.
  • It’s never a bad time to take a look at the condition of your hanging baskets.
  • Trim lavender to prevent them becoming too large and cumbersome. Good sharp secateurs are a must.

  • If you have other herbs, cut them back now as well. This will likely mean you will have new leaves to harvest before cold weather sets in
  • Prune rambling roses, again secateurs or sharp shears if you don’t want to, or can’t get close enough.
  • Collect seeds that are ripened and keep them. You’ll be able to plant free again next year.
  • If you have a wildflower meadow, then now is the time to cut it as the seeds will scatter. The use of a strimmer makes sense if there’s a big area to cover.
  • If you are going to propagate your tender perennials then now is the time to take cuttings
  • Spray around perennial weeds with a weed killer or perhaps get on your knees and use a weeder if you’re feeling like the exercise and don’t like chemicals.
  • Dead head perennials and plants in beds.
  • Prune wisteria and summer flowering bushes
  • It’s never a bad time to look at the ground quality. Here’s some handy soil tips.

Lawn Care

The lawn also needs some car in august – here are some of the things you should do:

  • If it’s brown, don’t worry, there’ll soon be plenty of rain just give it a little feed and it’ll be fine – growth will be damaged by the colder weather so don’t cut too much.
  • Raise the height you cut with your lawn mower as the growth will now be slower than at the beginning of the summer. This helps encourage healthy grass throughout the winter. Use garden tools such as scarifiers or aerators to help improve lawn health.
  • Those who are going to lay a new lawn should prepare now. The area will take time to settle and weeds will need to be killed.
  • Lawn edges can be cleaned and cut. Where would I be without a handy edging tool?
  • If you have ants, clean their nests, it’s a good time to look at ant pest control.

Green House Care

The green house also needs care at this time of year – here are just some of the activities to perform in August:

  • Water plants if soil is too dry. I find it’s really handy to setup and automatic watering system over the summer months just for when I have to go away.
  • Increase humidity on dry days.
  • Avoid overheating with blinds on very warm days.
  • Use sticky traps to prevent flying pests causing damage.
  • Clean fallen leaves up, a leaf collector would be a really handy gadget to have at this time of year.

Fruit Care

August Garden Prep – What you Need to Do

Fruit is arriving lush at this time of year and there are a number of things to do now that will help you reap rewards:

  • Feed plants with a high potash feed.
  • If you have citrus plants feed them with an apt fertiliser.
  • Net berries to prevent animal problems.
  • Harvest fruit trees such as plums, apricots and cherries.
  • If you have loads of berries why not freeze them – they will keep for the whole winter.
  • Tidy up strawberry plants to improve ventilation.
  • Plant out rooted runners if you have strawberries to prepare for 12 months’ time.

Vegetable Care

Vegetables also need plenty of looking after now:

  • Water vegetable plants daily.
  • When fruits on the vegetable plants start to form, feed them with tomato feed.
  • Remove the top of tomato plants to concentrate growth. Do the same for runner beans if they are at the top of their canes.
  • Thin parsley to ensure the roots are strong for the cold weather. Snow at this time would be a disaster.
  • Harvest second potatoes if they’re ready.
  • Remove onions and shallots if the foliage is dying back.
  • Take cuttings of herbs and dry.
  • Be wary of potato and tomato blight and also butterfly eggs on cabbage.
  • Clear the dead foliage away from vegetables.
  • Be aware of leaves, if you’re not careful you’ll have a run of insects but I suppose you’ll attract the birds then too so not all bad!

If you follow these tips you should find that your garden is completely under control for the month of August. If you’re good with August, why not take a look at our November gardening ideas too.

Aside from care to the garden, it’s worth thinking about what else is affected. Making your garden toddler proof is another big feat, if you are lucky enough to have one that is! My biggest success this year was the wildlife, when there’s a drought I have some really handy tips for helping the wildlife through a drought in this article. As we say goodbye to summer winter is coming before long! If you’re not looking forward to the gloom of winter I have 5 brilliant plants that bloom in winter. They are sure to take the blues away.

Get more plants for next year – absolutely free!

Now that you’ve done most of the repairs in your garden that you’d been meaning to do over the summer months but had never quite got round to, the raised flower beds are tidier than they’ve been all year – not to mention nicely spread with mulch – it’s time to focus on the seeds. Hopefully you grabbed plenty of free seeds last year too!

Collect the seeds from your tomato plant for a bumper harvest next year
Collect the seeds from your tomato plant for a bumper harvest next year

Yes, the seeds, and we mean the seeds from plants in your garden such as poppies and hollyhocks, bulbs and even hazelnuts and shrubs. By cleaning and preserving the seeds from your favourite plants you’ll be able to grow more next year or, better still, swap them with a neighbour or fellow gardening enthusiast to allow you to grow new plants you’ve never introduced to the garden before.

But the best bit about collecting, drying and sowing dry seeds (especially on a comfy workbench with nice trays) is that it allows you to grow more plants next year at absolutely no cost whatsoever to yourself (which is not a bad thing in these recessionary times, we’re sure you’ll agree).

After cutting the seeds from the plant wash them under the tap and dry with several sheets of kitchen paper. Use decent secateurs or a sharp knife.  Make sure the seeds are thoroughly dry before storing to ensure no mould accumulates. The best place to store them is in an envelope (which allows you to write the name of the seeds and the date cleaned) then put them in a little-used corner of the fridge for germination and where they will survive for several years (if your other half doesn’t throw them out by mistake!).

Tips on collecting gardening seeds

  • Do it in autumn – on a day where there is very little wind (you don’t want your carefully collected little piles to blow away). This is a job I would try to get done in October, mainly because there’s so much to do in November preparing the garden for spring and summer next year.
  • Disease-free plants only should be used – cut off the plant’s head, turn it upside down and shake into a paper bag until the seeds fall off
  • Drying off – it’s important to remember that some seeds, such as walnuts and magnolias shouldn’t be allowed to dry out otherwise they won’t germinate. These seeds should instead be stored in a moist bag of sand and damp vermiculite for a few months. It’s generally not worth buying a whole sandbag unless you have a serious garden or many many seeds. Instead borrow a little from the neighbour, taking a handful from the beach would technically not be right to do!
  • Disappointment – try not to be overly-optimistic. Not all plants will produce seeds and it’s a sure bet that not every single seed will survive. The more you store and germinate in tray the following year, the better chances you have. Remember the condition of the compost will also factor in the germination process. Have you checked your compost bin lately?

Tomatoes in particular are a good plant for seeding, simply because it’s so easy to do. To prepare, cut open a ripened tomato by slicing it in the middle into two clean pieces. Squeeze out the juice and seeds onto a plate or bowl.

Next, pour in half as much water and keep covered for a few days, stirring the mixture occasionally until mould begins to form on the top.

Now double the mixture and stir. The seeds you want to use are the ones which fall to the bottom of the bowl. Get a strainer or sieve and pour the mixture through so that only the seeds remain. Wash them and dry with a paper towel then place on a saucer and leave them to dry. Place in your envelope and store until next year, you’ll be ready for planting in no time.

There you have it, free seeds, and if you’re part of a community simply swap to share the enjoyment and diversity.

Growing used to daylight

Like humans, plants prefer to operate in daylight rather than fumbling around in the dark. And that’s why many flowering species refuse to grow without the necessary 10 hours of daylight to encourage them (onions insist on a lengthier 14 hours).

As a result, don’t expect much growth during November to February. There’s plenty of things to do in November anyway. If you’re growing indoors in a greenhouse or a propagator then you’ll need additional lighting as well as having to pump in more heat (what utility bill increase?!). Incidentally high pressure sodium lighting is believed to be better at encouraging plants to grow indoors than standard fluorescent lights.

Having said that, many gardeners say that it is the length of the darker (night time) periods rather than day light which control the growth of a plant. Well, here in the UK we are currently a month from the Winter Solstice (or shortest day) on December 21. Talking of December and winter, there is also another big problem we face as gardeners in the winter, that doesn’t come from the sunlight hours, however, it’s the winter snow and icy winds.

The more sunlight available to a plant the longer it will potentially grow for. All bulbs used for creating ‘artificial sunlight’ for plant growth have reflective light fittings to derive maximum effect.

The strength of the bulb is measured in kelvins with 5,600 kelvins equivalent to natural day light. A light with a blue tinge indicates a high kelvin rate while red does the opposite.

Different types of lights for plant growing

Fluorescent grow lights. Standard or high output, these tubes come in both cold and warm varieties. The standard lasts for around 10 hours while the high output will go on for double that length of time.

Incandescent growing lights Incandescent grow lights heat up so much they can actually cause the plant to burn if not checked regularly. However, they are excellent for use on a single plan such as a bonsai tree, provided they are at least 24 inches away from the plant.

High Pressure Sodium Grow Lights The most popular type of lighting is the high pressure sodium (HPS) grow light. You’ll find it in both domestic greenhouses and commercial growing industries. It’s also the most energy efficient bulb available on the market at the moment which again, will appeal to plenty of gardeners.

High Pressure Sodium Grow Lights

Metal Halide HID Grow Lights More like natural sunlight than any of the other available bulbs, the metal halide (MH) high density discharge grow lights provide bright white light of up to 5,500 Kelvin degrees. You’ll normally find these in supermarkets and other large stores. Those used in gardening are on the warm (red) side of the spectrum and last up to 20,000 hours. You can replicate an incredibly similar to summer rig in your conservatory. Simply get a decent planting setup, quality soil (hopefully partially from the compost and garden bin. You can even setup an automatic watering system in case it’s too cold to go outside.

Potting your Amaryllis

It is, of course, the season for the flowering Amaryllis and we couldn’t go without giving you a few potting tips for this most lovely and fast-growing of plants. The time to pot these bulbs is right now(we use a bulb planter and a few other plant pot accessories including self watering troughs and a quality workbench) and the way to do is to fill a jar with water and leave the bulb in overnight so that by morning some of the water will have soaked through. Next, take the bulb and simply pot it in some dirt and compost, ensuring a third of the bulb is still visible. Now just sit back and watch the flowering magic show…

Top Tips For Gardeners In November

Autumn spreads colour across our countryside when it arrives, turning trees into magnificent scenes of reds, oranges and ambers that light up the crisp days. While winter may be about to swoop down and keep us from our beloved gardens with frosts and snow, fear not because in November there’s still plenty of gardening time left to enjoy – and time to tick-off a number of key tasks from your list too.

Leaf mould

Gather the fallen leaves and bag them for mulch. Now is the perfect time of year for making mulch which you can add to your soil next year – and the fallen leaves are everywhere right now. Mulch is the perfect material to prevent droughts being a problem for your garden, essentially November is about preparing for next summer and spring!

Be especially quick at collecting the leaves on your lawn as they damage the grass beneath them if left too long, the decaying leaves sets in and does the same to the grass. There’s two ways to deal with these leaves properly; one is to rake them up; the other is to vacuum them.

When you have a bagged the leaves, make a couple of holes in the bag as the bacteria that makes leaf mould need air to work their magic.

It’s advisable to keep leaf mould separate to your compost bin, and leave the bag somewhere for about a year before adding it to your soil.

Spring bulbs

It’s not too late to plant your spring bulbs at this time of year, it’s with looking into a bulb planter, it’s neat and tidy which saves plenty of time in the end, a great little gardener’s digging tool. You then await the wonderful bloom of colour in a few months. While some spring flowering bulbs should ideally be planted in September/October time, early November should be fine for daffodils and hyacinths, and is the right time for tulips.

There is still just about time to plant summer flowering bulbs like Alliums, Crocosmia and Lilies in the early part of this month too.

You can plant these bulbs in borders or troughs, depending on your preference. Some even prefer plant pots.

Bird feeders

Don’t forget to replenish your bird feeders with nuts and seeds to sustain the birds during the oncoming winter. Make sure your bird feeder is squirrel proof though, as you don’t want to encourage squirrels into your garden because they will munch on your bulbs too. The bird feeder will really help the wildlife in your garden if the next summer is a drought.

Lawn care

As a result of the mild weather we’ve been having recently, your lawn may need a final mow. Once done, it’s a good idea to put all your gardening tools and equipment into the garage or shed, to keep them protected from the elements during winter. I normally store my lawn mower and strimmers, along with chainsaw and hedge trimmer at the back of the shed as they won’t be coming out. I keep my garden hand tools and leaf blower at the front because I am likely to play in the conservatory or greenhouse.

Move plants

The sensitive plants should be moved into the shelter of your greenhouse or garage, so that the frosts and snow can’t damage them. This is why it’s always worth planting in pots if you think a plant isn’t going to be hardy enough to withstand a rough winter(even though they’ve been mild of late).

Insulate your greenhouse

Line the inside of your greenhouse with bubblewrap to help reduce heat loss through the winter months. The layer of bubblewrap will reduce the draughts and prevent the inside getting too cold as the outside temperature plummets. Choose bubblewrap with bigger bubbles as this is more effective at providing protection from the elements.

Harvest vegetables

Pick all the parsnips, carrots, cauliflowers and cabbages from your garden – and enjoy a delicious vegetable feast over the next few weeks.

Plant your garlic gloves, broad beans, peas and onions too for spring.

Christmas joy

With Nature braced for the onslaught of winter, now is the ideal time to gather items for use as Christmas decorations. Collect pinecones, seed heads and berries, ready for sprucing up your house for the festive season. We say bye bye summer, hello winter!

4 Steps For Improving Your Soil

Mid-November means now’s the time to improve your soil, ready for planting or sowing. Digging the soil ensures it is fertile and enriched, improving the texture so plants can grow and thrive – and making it ready for planting your bulbs. Quite a few things need doing in November, take a look at this tips on November gardening resource.

Winter bulbs need good soil to give them the best conditions and the best chance of flourishing next Spring. By adding organic matter and digging the soil, the earth holds more nutrients to feed the plants and drainage is better also. Consider buying yourself a bulb planter, they really make light work of an arduous task and a decent garden fork. It’s the hardest job in the garden, why skimp?

Depending on the condition of your garden or planting area, there are around four simple steps you can take to improve your soil. You may need to weed the ground first, removing any old shrubs from the roots from the soil before you start the digging process, and it’s always advisable to warm up before you begin. Good exercise and a full compost bin, all for free from your very own back garden!

Gardening can be physically demanding, and soil improvement is an especially strenuous task. So make sure you do some stretches first, and pace yourself, aiming to dig your garden or outside space gradually to ensure you don’t injure yourself.

1. Get digging

You’re nicely warmed up and any weeding work has been completed, and it’s time to start digging! The aim is a crumbly textured soil and this requires thorough digging to break up any clods and loosen the earth. Use a rake to finish up; breaking clumps of dirt as fine as possible.

If the soil hasn’t been dug before, it’s a good idea to use a spade instead of a fork as a garden fork works best on ground that has been cultivated previously. There’s a whole host of garden digging tools for the job.

Key to this step: If you do spot any weeds, be sure to remove these.

2. Add compost

When the ground has been dug, add your organic matter to the soil. Cover the surface to a depth of at least 5cm before digging it in using your fork or spade.

The organic matter improves the structure of the soil by helping to break down any large clods or clumps and releasing tiny bursts of nutrients into the ground. It’ll leave the ground aerated and perfect for worms to further decompose nutrients.

You can use your own garden compost, made from kitchen and garden waste, or leaf mould that you bagged in November. If you collected fallen leaves from your garden and bagged it up, with a few holes for letting air in, last winter the mulch should be ripe for your soil this winter. Alternatively, you can use horse manure, but make sure it is mature manure – it needs at least six months time to rot down sufficiently. Or you could buy bags of composted bark from a garden centre. This is where a shredder really pays, assuming you have the wood available to chip up.

All these variants of compost are nutrient rich and boost the soil’s richness.

3. Dig again

Back to it: keep digging until the soil and organic matter are nicely mixed. This ensures the soil is broken up and the small amounts of released nutrients are evenly spread across the area. This time a handy tip would be to use a garden hoe. The brilliant thing about this process is the wildlife in your garden will really pickup. As the insects multiply, so it’ll bring the birds too.

4. Rake over

When you’ve mixed the organic matter into your soil, smooth the soil over and break up any remaining lumps in the soil. Then add the relevant amount of fertiliser on top and rake it in. This preparation is going to go along way toward helping with droughts next summer.

Make sure the improved soil has an even surface, perfect for adding your plants to.

About Shelly Smith

Gardening gives something different to each and everyone one of us, be it a hobby, a love of beautiful flowers, or our profession, we all share the love of a garden so join me; understand what a garden means to me. You’ll find thousands of useful tips in my website to save money whilst gardening; I love to write about what I do in the garden. I’m a devoted mother and a passionate home gardener for over twenty years.

Yours Sincerely Shelly

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