The summer holidays are often a tricky time for the school garden. After all the fun and toil of the Gardening Club during the spring and summer term, everyone skips off for their summer holidays and the much loved and enjoyed school garden can fall a little into neglect.
Without any attention during the holiday season, weeds can take over, plants may die through lack of water and previously tended crops may become over ripe and go to waste.
This can all be a little disheartening for children and adults alike on the return to school in September, but with a little planning all this is avoidable.
So based on our own gardening experiences, we have come up with our top 10 Tips for caring for the school garden during the summer holidays.
1. Harvest everything you can in the last few days before the school holidays begin
2. Get out your tools and have a few good weeding sessions in the run up to the end of term. Have a look at our Apprentice range of Garden Tools for a good selection. Unchecked weeds will take nutrients and water from the crops you are growing
3. Consider using a mulch such as old hay or straw, green waste or composted bark. This can be placed on the soil around summer crops. Mulch helps to conserve water in the soil and also suppresses weeds. Make sure you water the soil well before applying the mulch, for maximum benefit. Our clever no spill, no waste, no mess Watering Can is great for little helpers. If you want a ready supply of recycled rainwater take a look at our Rainmate Water Butt.
4. Take a walk around the school garden and make a list of essential tasks for the holidays. Things to remember include watering, harvesting and keeping the weeds at bay. If you are making use of helpers who are not normally involved with the school garden, it might be worth providing written instructions, and information on where to find the watering can etc. If you have fruit bushes to harvest over the coming weeks our cleverly designed Berry Picker is easy to use and makes fruit picker so much easier and quicker.
5. Put together a rota. Depending on your garden, a visit every other day or twice a week may be adequate to keep things ticking over. It may also depend on how many willing volunteers you are able to find
6. Circulate your rota amongst pupils, parents, teachers, neighbours, and any local interested groups such as for example the local allotment society. Also speak to the school holiday club, if you have one, as they may be willing to include gardening into their daily activities
7. Keep things flexible, to encourage people to take part. Even if someone can only manage one visit during the holiday season, take their help and find a slot in the rota for them
8. Offer helpers the fruit and vegetables they harvest, as a reward for their efforts
9. Make sure access arrangements to the school grounds are in place, and helpers are aware of these procedures
10. Ask participants to make notes in a communal journal or diary, so the school children can find out about what’s been going on in the school garden during their absence. This sort of record may also assist helpers to see where things are up to when they take over to do their stint
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