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Posts Tagged ‘setting up a school garden’

We have got just the thing…

hot out of our warehouse this Spring is our new range of

Thrifty Raised Beds

Budget Raised FSC Wooden Beds

At the Recycleworks we have been thinking about how to Grow your Own vegetables and fruit as easily and economically as possible whilst still getting the maximum yield from a wide range of crops, so we have developed a range of budget Raised Beds which will appeal to everyone:

  • Families – the family budget is being pinched, now is the time to Grow your Own and reap the benefits
  • The first time gardener – perfect starter beds and entry into Grow Your Own
  • The accomplished gardener – a great product to extend your growing area
  • Schools – affordable and well within the budget
  • Community Groups – great for getting people involved in gardening, socialising and working together.

The beds are available in 3 sizes:

  1. The Thrifty Classic – 80cm x 80cm
  2. The Thrifty Long – 80cm x 105cm
  3. The Thrifty Big Square – 105cm x 105cm

with a choice of three heights for each size: 14cm, 28cm, and 42cm and a choice of two colours : Chestnut or Green.

Assembly instructions are supplied with each Raised Bed.

To help you grow the maximum yield and to remove the guesswork if you are new to Grow Your Own each raised bed also comes with a growing/planting guide including ideas and tips on suggested crops, planting, positioning, watering and feeding.

To warm up the soil before planting why not add a Compost Duvet or a Raised Bed Watering Kit to make watering easier and more economical in the long summer months.

Prices start from £15.55 making them very affordable to everyone.

You will surprised at how much you can grow in such a small space – you can’t beat the taste, texture and smell of freshly picked produce.

Gill

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If you still have some spare growing space in your garden, May is the perfect time to grow a runner bean wigwam.   It makes an exciting space for imaginative play and is also cool and shady.

If you fancy giving it a go, take 8 garden canes, each around 2 m long and put into the ground in a semi circle.  Adjust the position of the canes to allow for a play space inside and a gap for the doorway.

Angle the canes inwards, and tie securly to form a tepee shape. 

Take some runner bean or sweet pea plants and sow two or three next to each cane.

Water regularly, and as the plants grow gently train them around the canes.

One tepee is big enough for two children to play in, so if you have the space and lots of children why not grow several.  And as the summer progresses the play den will produce lots of lovely flowers or beans as the plants grow!

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Harvesting the first crop of new potatoes was one of the most exciting gardening activities in our school garden last summer.  The children were so excited as we dug through the soil to find a wonderful crop of creamy new potatoes underneath.

For a delicious, early crop of your own get your potato bags established this week.  Here are all the details of what you need and how to get started.

How to Grow Potatoes in a Potato Bag

Equipment

Potato Bag
5 Seed Potatoes
Trowel
40L Good quality multi purpose compost
Watering Can

 
What to do

1. Take the potato bag and place a layer of drainage material such as small stones on the bottom of the bag

2. Next add approximately 15 cm of good quality potting compost

3. On top of this layer place 2 or 3 seed potatoes, equally spaced out and around 15cm from the edge of the bag

4. Add another 10 cm layer of good quality potting compost

5. Place another 2 or 3 seed potatoes on top of this layer

6. Cover with another 10 cm of compost
 
Hints & Tips

• Place the potato bag in sheltered sunny spot

• Always ensure there is a good covering of soil on the top of growing tubers, as daylight turns the potatoes green, and they are then poisonous

• If you want your potatoes to have enough space to grow to a decent size don’t plant more than 5 potatoes per bag

• On cold nights cover the bag with some protective fleece to prevent frost damage

• Water well – around a gallon of water per plant per day is recommended

• When the tops of the plants begin to grow, use canes to support them

• When flower buds begin to appear take heart – it’s a sign that the tubers are starting to grow.

• Harvest after around 10 – 12 weeks

• Watch out for potato blight. Signs include black or brown patches appearing on the leaves. The plants then die off and the tubers will also be affected.

 

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We are always on the look out for great books and this week we have some that are perfect resources for gardening in school. 

Gardening in School Book

Gardening in School All Year Round offers a complete programme for gardening in schools.  It includes activities for each month with detailed, visual instructions for carrying out gardening tasks with children.  There are also practical considerations such as maintenance, health and safety and how to set up a gardening club.  Click here to find out more.

Edible Gardens Book

Edible Gardens in Schools is a growing guide for schools to grow their own food.  The book and CD contain clear information about the practical aspects of gardening in school and include lesson plans, activities, games and worksheets to broaden pupils knowledge.  The fifteen seasonal topics include companion planting, seed saving, nutrition and local food.  Click here to find out more.

   

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We are now at the peak time for planning the vegetable garden for the growing season ahead.  With all those seed catalogues to sift through the options can seem endless. 

If you use a crop rotation system you may also be thinking about which crops to grow where for the best results.  If you are new to crop rotation take a look at our simple and free Essential Guide to Crop Rotation.  Crop rotation not only avoids the build up of pests and diseases in the soil, it can also improve soil structure and fertility.

If you are planning the school or nursery garden, it is important to think about crops which can be harvested during term time, and likewise if you are going away for a summer holiday.  To make our planning easier we use this very clever Vegetable Planning Chart and the Vegetable Growing Guide.

Vegetable Planning Chart The Vegetable Growing Guide

The bar charts on the Vegetable Planning Chart provide a visual guide for timing the sowing and planting, growing and harvesting of a large range of vegetable crops. 

The chart also includes suggestions for simple garden layout, planning and ground preparation and successful crop rotation for three years, along with tips for successful organic gardening and soil fertility.

The beautiful full colour Vegetable Growing Guide provides vital information in an easy and quick reference format for use by organic gardeners throughout the year.  There is information on how and when to sow, plant, space, feed, harvest and store 50 different vegetable crops.

Both charts are designed to be displayed on the wall for easy and quick reference.

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A bright and blustery autumn day is the perfect time to go outside and plant bulbs with children.  …And once the fun

of planting them is over, the wonderful thing about bulbs is that they are completely forgotten about until the depths of winter or early spring when they begin to come to life.

…And you don’t even need a container or specially cultivated area to plant them.  Bulbs will do well in lawns, under trees and at the bottom of hedges.

 

When sowing, adults can use the handy Bulb Planter to create the holes.  Simply by pushing the planter into the soil and twisting, this clever invention makes a hole that is ideal for planting bulbs in.  The little hands can then follow behind popping the bulbs in. 

 

The Bulb Planter then releases the plug of soil you have just removed – ready for placing on top of the newly planted bulbs.

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Here at Gardening With Children we are always inspired to hear about your school and community projects.  From starting up a gardening club to creating a community wildlife garden or even developing a school farm.

And for any project to succeed it seems to need a little bit of vision, heaps of enthusiasm and also very often some financial help. 

That is why we have been working hard to find out about the funding that is out there for your school projects. 

There are many, many places to go for funding  and we have details of some of the main providers here so please do take a look.

When deciding on which funds to apply for, its important to check that your project fits well with the fund providers aims and objectives, as this way your chances of success will be so much better.

 This week we are focusing on the Ernest Cook Trust. 

The Trust is one of the Uk’s leading educational charities and has a strong ethos of learning from the land.  It has a rolling programme of grant aid which falls into either the large grants programme for projects costing over £4,000 and the small programme for projects costing up to £4,000. 

Some of the projects supported to date have provided garden starter kits, school weather stations, school chicken runs and chickens, wildlife goodies, arts workshops and much more.

For all the details on how to apply for a grant visit http://www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk/index.html.

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We recently received an email from Georgina asking for advice on setting up her school garden.  This is something we are often asked about so we though you might find it useful too.  Here is her question along with our advice…

I am just starting a gardening club at my primary school.  Do you have any tips/advise?  It will be during the school day so it can be available to as many children as possible.  Just ironing out running eg. which year group etc.

Hi Georgina Many thanks for your enquiry. It sounds like you have an exciting project on your hands.

Our advice would be to start fairly simply. Using raised beds saves lots of effort fighting weeds and digging over heavy soil.   For a good selection of easy-to-assemble options take a look here.

Also don’t forget you can grow lots of vegetables, salads and flowers in containers and on windowsills – more ideas on the options available can be found by following this link.

If the school garden is going to be used through the school day you can think creatively about how gardening can be linked into the national curriculum. Take a look here for ideas on how to do that.

We have written lots of information on setting up a school garden here with useful links to getting started including articles on gardening in raised beds, composting and lots more.

For ideas of gardening jobs to do in autumn take a look here  and for information on seeds to sow for a winter harvest you might find this link useful. 

Best of luck with your plans and do let us know how you get along.

From Charlotte and the Gardening With Children Team

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This week we received an enquiry from Debra about composting fruit waste in schools, and we thought a few of you might find our advice useful….

For an excellent range of well designed compost bins visit http://www.recycleworks.co.uk.

School fruit waste is suitable to put in a compost bin, and if included with other green waste and then mixed with  50% brown waste such as thin cardboard or shredded paper, it will make compost that is suitable for use in the school garden. 
 
However the general advice is it’s often not achievable to compost all of the fruit waste generated in school, due to the quantities involved. 
 
As a general guide if the school is generating large volumes of fruit waste it is better to compost only what you can and have a well balanced compost bin that is working well.  That way everyone has a positive experience of composting, the children find it a useful learning exercise and everyone involved is then more likely to begin composting at home. 
 
Some people also worry about the fruit flies associated with this type of waste, but if the lid is left off the compost bin on a windy day, they will disperse quite easily. 
 
It’s also worth bearing in mind that because fruit waste is acidic it is particularly important to balance it with the shredded cardboard and maintain a good air circulation. 
 
The soil around a compost bin can be affected by the contents of the bin.  For example, the grass may grow quicker and be greener due to the leaching out of nutrients. 
 
For more information on composting take a look at our fact sheet – How to Make Compost.

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We recently had an enquiry from Paula in Yorkshire.  Here is her question along with our advice.

“I have got to take a class of Key Stage 4 pupils with learning difficulties for a modular allotment session each week during the first half of the autumn term.  What can I grow in that limited time?”

Hi Paula,
 
 It’s always tricky planning gardening activities with children when you have only a few weeks to see the results. 
 
Bulbs
There are the obvious things to plant such as bulbs.  Outdoor varieties can be planted straight into the ground and provide a nice surprise in early spring when the rest of the garden is still dormant.  The children can also plant their own bulb in a pot to take home.  Indoor varieties of hyacinths, narcissi and crocus are nice.  Always choose good quality bulbs and ones particularly suited to being forced indoors – the labels will tell you.
 
 
Then take a pot, place a few bits of broken crocks or small stones at the bottom for drainage, half fill with moist compost and then position the bulbs so that the top of the bulb reaches the rim of the container.  Water thoroughly from the top.
 
Then put in a cool dark place such as an unheated garage.  Keep the soil moist and in 12 to 16 weeks when the shoots are 2 to 3 inches above the pot move the pots to an unheated space and place in indirect light.  Don’t allow them to dry out.  In a week or two the pots can then be given to the children to take home where they can put them on a sunny window sill and enjoy the flowers.
 
Growing Herbs on Window Sills
Pots of herbs can be sown in  moist compost and cultivated indoors.  Parsley and Sweet Fennel in particular are successful in autumn.  This herb pot holds 4 herbs and has its own self watering systems which is handy. 
 
Sowing Winter Salads
Our selection of winter salad seeds can be planted now and will grow all through winter months.
 
Making Leaf Mould Compost
Kids always love raking leaves.  You can collect them into one of these leaf mould composters and next year you will have a great soil improver for your raised beds
 
 
Good luck with your half term of gardening

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