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School garden


 
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stanlea
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 24 Apr 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:09 am    Post subject: School garden Reply with quote

Hi all,
I am starting an after school gardening club with some of the children I teach. We have a polytunnel and a small bed outside. I've read some previous posts on what may be good to plant. as a novice, I just wanted to check what some of you thought about my selection, and if you could recommend any quick growing fruit/veg so they might see some results before we break up at the end of June. I had been thinking of buying some strawberry plugs (I'm guessing I'm too late for anything from seed now), some herbs and lettuce leaves and maybe turnip, potatoes....? I appreciate any other recommendations or tips. I'll also be around over the summer to water/upkeep, so anything ready in September would be great too. It's in a new school so were starting from scratch, I was thinking of a few mini projects like making a scarecrow, a minibeast area, bird tables, bee/butterfly area...? Any thoughts? Thanks
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john1412
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree


Joined: 25 Feb 2013
Posts: 48

PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well considering you will be around over the summer, you could plant some winter harvesting crops so that they will be harvested around November or December, that's prob the best to suit the school year unless you get them in over the summer which I can't imagine your students doing lol
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tippben
Rank attained: Vegetable garden tender


Joined: 15 Jan 2011
Posts: 898
Location: north tipperary

PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Think about what kids like to eat. Also, will the interested kids/parents have access to the garden, if they want to, in summer? Is there an available local kitchen?

Beetroot: kids don't like it generally, but you can make beetroot chocolate brownies.
Carrots could be used in the autumn to make carrot cake.
Raspberries: varieties like Autumn Bliss can be picked until december sometimes.
Pumpkins: not necessarily giant ones, but you can get lots of small ones by leaving all the flowers on, and have child sized ones for Hallowe'en.
Mangetout and Sugar Snap peas. The local kids in our village LOVE eating these straight from the plant.
A giant sunflower growing contest.
Each child could get a pot, which they could decorate in art class, and some spring bulbs, or flowers propagated in your tunnel and overwintered, as a mother's day gift for next spring.
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tippben
Rank attained: Vegetable garden tender


Joined: 15 Jan 2011
Posts: 898
Location: north tipperary

PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, given that you have a tunnel, you have the option of doing things like growing "tumbler" varieties of cherry tomato from seed, in hanging baskets, which can be taken home at the end of term. Strawberries also work well this way. Most kids also like scallions, even if only mixed into colcannon. Lots of herbs (oregano, chives, various mints (including chocolate mint and pineapple mint) can be propagated by cuttings or division, and if liked, taken home to grow in their own garden, or in a pot.

A nice idea would be to do a tree identification walk, then go out in the autumn and grow a tree from scratch. Oak, Horse Chestnut and Sweet Chestnut, as well as Ash and Sycamore are easily grown from seed. Any willow except Sallow (Salix caprea) are foolproof to grow from a cutting. Hazel will also grow from a cutting. These could be grown on in pots, potting up as necessary, until the child leaves school, when it can be planted somewhere suitable, and they can keep returning to it as both of them grow.

With a bit of organization, you could do a "garden club" summer barbeque. Salads are great, but many green leaves can be wrapped in tinfoil with a little olive oil, and placed on the grill for a few minutes. Whole onions, courgettes, etc can be treated the same way. Herbs like bay, rosemary, thyme and fennel are excellent thrown on the coals to flavour meat or fish with scented smoke, and of course rosemary stems can be used to create little kebabs.
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tippben
Rank attained: Vegetable garden tender


Joined: 15 Jan 2011
Posts: 898
Location: north tipperary

PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the Wildlife front. I'm a conservation/wildlife ranger by training (habitat management), so I may be able to help here.

Minibeasts: Create a log pile in a semi shade area, and also a pile of stone. You can get "pooters" to collect insects with: they're like a little water pipe for smoking with! You have a flared end going into a clear container, then a straw with a mesh over the end. You hover the collecting end over your bug, then suck really hard. The creature ends up in your collecting jar, but not in your mouth, and because you haven't touched it, it is unharmed. It can then be examined with a magnifying glass, identified, and released unharmed. If there is a normal school microscope, you can collect bits of soil, put them on a light box (wooden frame lit from underneath, with opaque plastic, or thin white card on top) and examine the mad world of the miniscule things like springtails, which live in the soil.

Birds. A big, complex bird feeder is what you need, plus probably a bird bath/water point. Try to include as many different types of food as possible, but keep the feeding stations really clean. Birds generally like it situated in the open, but close to trees or dense cover, so if a possible predator approaches, like a sparrowhawk, they can flee to safety. Binoculars in the classrooms near it, plus a good bird book will be fine for observation.
You can put bird boxes up on sheltered southish facing positions. Each species requires different designs and sizes of hole.

Bees/Butterflies. They want flowers with many sources of nectar for one trip. Bees, for example, love dandelions! Try growing Scabious, Agastache, Phacelia (also a green manure), and of course Buddleija. For less common butterflies, try leaving an area of grass to grow really long, and only cut it in August. Also try to make sure that there is a good patch of nettles and brambles nearby, as they are the sole food source for the larvae of several large, colourful species, like the Peacock. Again, the main problem here is that butterflies mainly fly in the summer months, and bees sting, so it's difficult to risk kids getting close enough to determine the species without an adult present to catch it.

Bats: Grow night scented flowers, like Nicotiana, and night scented stock, which attract night flying insects. Make bat boxes. Get a "Bat detector", available via google, and brilliant fun.

A Pond. This is almost a must! Health and safety issues can be fixed by the use of wire mesh, the same as they use for reinforced concrete on building sites. If installed well, it can be unobtrusive, but be lifted for pond dipping activities. If it's installed 1-2" below water level, it won't impede wildlife, but is strong enough that no child could drown.

If you'd like help with any of these kind of things, feel free to email me on benwill07@hotmail.com
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stanlea
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 24 Apr 2013
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much for those great ideas. Tippben, I really like the idea of tumbler fruit/veg so the kids can take them home in June -they'd love that. There are some great ideas there too for the projects, and we have a few pooters and microscopes available too so that'll be great. I'm not sure about access for the children over the summer because of insurance, but I'll have a chat to the principal. I was going to set up a twitter account for the club and take some progression photos so parents can see what we're up too. It'll be nice for the young'ns to see how things are growing over the summer too I think.
Very excited about getting going with things now. thanks for all the detailed advice and speedy responses. No doubt ill be back on soon with 101 more questions.
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tippben
Rank attained: Vegetable garden tender


Joined: 15 Jan 2011
Posts: 898
Location: north tipperary

PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2013 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're very welcome! We had my nieces (5 and 10) staying with us last week. I made a treasure hunt of clues around the house and garden. The treasure at the end, apart from chocolate coins, were "magic beans" (runners). They now have two old buckets, planted up with long strings for the beans to climb up, and another challenge. A prize for whose bean grows the tallest, and another prize for who manages to grow the longest bean, and the biggest weight of bean. I suspect a little bit of sibling sabotage might occur along the way!
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