“The Garden Share Collective:
Is a group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills. Creating a monthly community to navigate through any garden troubles and to rival in the success of a good harvest we will nurture any beginner gardener to flourish. Each month we set ourselves a few tasks to complete by the next month giving us a little push to getting closer to picking and harvesting. The long term goal of the Garden Share Collective is to get more and more people gardening and growing clean food organically and sustainable”
As this post goes ‘live’, the 28 children (aged from 4 – 10 years) who make up the Gardening Club are preparing to go back to school after the summer break and for most of them, this will give them their first sight of the garden since July. In their absence the Mudlets and I have been watering, feeding, tidying and harvesting from the garden and it is looking pretty good.
There are a couple of surprises waiting for the children when they get back and have chance to look around their garden, namely in the shape of pumpkins, 3 of them to be exact and let’s not forget the cauliflowers which have shown their faces over the last couple of weeks (although I suspect the cauli’s won’t get the same reception as the pumpkins).
Background to the Vegetable Patch:
For those of you who haven’t come across our school garden before, the main growing area comprises 6 large raised beds, three large half barrel planters, a polytunnel, a section of waste ground in front of the garage that we have commandeered and which is currently home to the potatoes. There is also a Courtyard in the very centre of the school buildings which is home to planters and a seventh raised bed and this is generally where we grow the peas and beans we intend to save seed from for next year.
There are also three fruit trees, several smaller planters dotted about and the flower beds, the latter of which the Gardening Club is not responsible for.
What are we harvesting at the moment?
For the second year running, over the summer holidays, the produce from the school garden has been harvested and then handed over to the Church Warden for distribution amongst the village pensioners.
Over the last four weeks, Rattlesnake Pole beans, Grandpas Runner beans, 3 varieties of pea including the Purple Podded heritage ones grown in the Courtyard, beetroot, round and normal carrots, round and normal courgettes, onions, Kohl Rabi, curly kale, cabbage and cauliflower, have all featured in the vegetable boxes handed over to the Church – but not all at once.
Sadly the Pole beans are about at an end now, as are the pea but we have left some Rattlesnake pods and Purple Pea pods on the plants to dry out for saving for next years crops. Self saving seed where possible is something I have come to believe is really very important, as each successive generation of seed should become more adjusted to the specific soil and weather conditions of a specific area and/or plot. Also, with funding for school gardens hard to come by, the more seed we can save then the less money will need to be spent on replacement seeds each year.
This next season we will need to source a load more seed, as most of the seed the school had for this year was already near to or passed its’ sell by date. It’s hoped that we will be able to acquire a large portion of our replacement seed from a saved seed bank this year, thereby increasing our potential for saving our own seed next year. Unfortunately the ‘one size fits all’ seeds readily available via garden centres and other outlets, generally isn’t suitable for saving yourself.
What are we planting now?
This year, as well as the usual onion sets, we plan to try growing a couple of crops in a winter garden. Usually the only things growing over the winter are the Parsnips and Leeks which haven’t been harvest yet and the onion sets, planted around October and left to over winter for the following summer. Last year we also sowed Broad Beans to use as a green manure.
The idea of a winter garden is a new one to me and was suggested by another parent, who is new to the school but who is a grower. Between us we hope to be able to grow cabbage and cauliflower this year, under a protective home made mini-polytunnel, in one of the shallower raised beds. As the brassicas grown over the spring and summer have done remarkably well, under a protective covering of very fine mesh netting, it will be an interesting exercise in how the plants behave over winter and how successful they will be.
Obviously I will update you on their development as the project moves forward but cabbage and cauliflower seedlings are already through in my greenhouse.
Jobs to do over the next month.
As autumn approaches, there are a host of jobs that will need to be done in the garden, to prepare it for next year and these include:
- Continuing to harvest produce as it becomes available;
- Feeding the plants that are still producing;
- Clearing away depleted plants and composting them;
- Collecting and storing the bean and pea seeds;
- Clearing and cleaning out the shed and polytunnel ready for winter;
- Digging organic soil enhancers into the beds; and
- Cleaning the pots and propagators and storing them neatly.
I’m sure there will be more jobs to do as we work our way through the list – there always is but we will endeavour to complete the tasks in the time allocated to Gardening Club.
So there you have it, my first post for the Garden Share Collective. I hope you have found it interesting and please feel free to leave comments or questions if you have any.