It has been a busy week in the school garden, with seedlings to pot on, more seeds to sow in propagators, netting to wash ready for use over the root vegetable beds and then, finally, carrots, parsnips and beetroot seed to sow.
The washing of the netting was my biggest headache, as the pieces had originally been cut not only to fit the across the length and breadth of the beds but also to allow for growing room for the crops themselves. Now, filthy and covered in green algae from a year of use in extremely wet weather they needed to be washed.
But how? The netting we have is a very fine mesh which is capable of stopping everything from butterflies to carrot root fly, not to mention preventing the army of local pigeons from enjoying a free feast. It is light enough for the emerging seedlings and then young plants to push it up and out of the way, as they grow, although I tend to use canes to help keep the netting free of the plants. So it wasn’t the weight of the netting that was the issue, merely the size of each piece: 3m x 3m in some cases, and nothing smaller than 1.75m x 1.75m.
Somehow I didn’t think Mud would be impressed if I tried to use our Bosch washing machine but then I’ve never been over keen on the idea of washing Land Rover parts on the delicates wash, so I guess that makes us even.
The solution I came up with was to soak the nets in a warm bath for an hour, using a laundry capsule to help get the worst of the grime off. Then to soak them for another hour in a mild bleach solution to help kill off any bugs or diseases which might be lurking. Next, using some old metal tent pegs, I pinned them out on the lawn, one at a time, tipped a bucket of water over them and then used our stiff bristle brush to give them a good scrubbing. Finally I pegged one side to our rotary washing line and left them to dry in the sun.
Although they are not completely pristine white anymore, I think you will agree that there is a marked improvement to both and I can now use them to cover the beds without fear of embarrassing the school. I have one more to do but that can wait until it’s needed. The school also has some which haven’t actually been used yet but I’d like to try and keep them until they are absolutely needed later in the year.
Down in the polytunnel the children and I have also been busy potting on the seedlings from the first round of sowing and planting more seeds to replace the seedlings that failed, as well as seed for varieties we hadn’t sown yet and so to add to the list of varieties grown we have:
- Replacement planting: Cabbage, Golden Acre; Cucumber, Marketmore; Kale, Scarlet; Lettuce, Greenheart Mix; and Sweetcorn.
- Additional varieties: Broccoli, Autumn Spear; Broccoli, Romanesca (or Croccoli as we call it – well it does look like a cross between a broccoli and a cauliflower); Carrot, Chanteny; Carrot, Permex; Kohl Rabi, Azur; Parsnip, Gladiator; Pea, Petit Pois; Pea, Purple Podded; Pole Bean, Rattlesnake; Pumpkins, Hundredweight; Runner Bean, Scarlet Emperor; and Winter Squash, a mix.
With seedlings still waiting to be potted on and an onslaught of weeds, thanks to the good weather we’ve had recently, there is still plenty to do next week …… although the thought of weeding didn’t go down too well with some of the children but they need to take part in all aspects of gardening to be able to get a rounded knowledge, understanding and experience.
Mind you, I’m sure, that once they realise that weeding entails digging in the dirt, they’ll be a bit more enthusiastic …….. whether the parents agree or not will, I suspect, depend on just how much fun they have digging and how much of that ‘fun’ will be on the uniforms at the end of the day.