The Land Rover Owners Wife

The Garden Share Collective: August 2014

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The Garden Share CollectiveWith the children 1 week into their summer break, comes the reminder from Lizzie of Strayedtable, that it is almost time for the next Garden Share Collective and as I contemplate what to write, it dawns on me that this is my twelfth contribution to this brilliant project. Twelve whole months of gardening/garden maintenance has sped past in a blink of an eye and already my thoughts are turning to Autumn/Winter jobs for both the school and my own garden. For now, however, I will concentrate on the monthly update for the school garden and once you have read this, why not pop over to Lizzies’ blog and catch up with the other gardens in the Collective from the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The tomatoes in the container garden are ripening

The tomatoes in the container garden are ripening

Harvesting

Harvesting is picking up pace somewhat and whilst the strawberries have finished, the Mangetout is still producing although it is dying back now and Rattlesnake Pole Beans and Courgettes, are in full production mode. The first of the tomatoes have been picked, as have the cucumbers and it won’t be long before the Inca Berries and carrots join the mix.

What have we been doing in the garden this month?

Over the last couple of weeks or so, we’ve had a quite a run of mostly dry and very humid weather, broken very, very occasionally by impressive and loud thunderstorms and so we’ve had to do a lot of watering both in the poly tunnel and out in the beds and tubs. Thankfully my year 5 girls have continued to undertake the majority of the watering which has been a huge help, as it has meant I could concentrate on other things.

The poly tunnel plants are flourishing

The poly tunnel plants are flourishing

The last few gardening club sessions were quite hectic but my band of intrepid gardeners managed to plant out the last of the mixed brassicas and some leeks. The leek planting was a bit of a godsend actually, as one of my keenest gardeners had broken her elbow in a freak accident a few weeks earlier, resulting in being fitted with an enormous cast and had been restricted to what she could do in terms of planting out: she dug the holes and two of her friends did the actual planting. I know she found the whole process frustrating and so with the leek planting she was delighted to discover she could do the whole thing herself, with the exception of removing the leeks from their tubs and trimming their roots which I did for her. Make a hole, pop a leek in and water! What could be simpler.

Foundation Area planter sporting it's new frame and mesh cover

Foundation Area planter sporting it’s new frame and mesh cover

More carrots and beetroots were also sown to prolong the harvest later in the year, as were Mangetout seeds, Rattlesnake Pole beans and Grandpas Runner beans.

With a final bout of weeding, Gardening Club ended the school year with a healthy and productive garden and the maintenance over the summer is my responsibility.

Carrots, lettuce and beetroot in the Foundation Area

Carrots, lettuce and beetroot in the Foundation Area

Meanwhile, the Foundation Area planters are fully operational and the large planter now has its’ smart new micromesh cover and frame in place, offering vital and much need protection to the beetroot, carrot and lettuces which are growing in abundance within its’ confines. The cover itself is fabulous, sporting an all round zip, over the centre of the mesh which affords easy access for watering and harvesting.

In addition to the edible crops we also have a number of flower seedlings growing on in the poly tunnel which will be used in the various pots, tubs and beds around the grounds and will help brighten the place up next year, as all the varieties sown were perennials.

Jobs that need to be done over the next month:

School Garden

We have pumpkins!

The old stand of mangetout needs to be ripped out and replaced, as the plants have started to die back already. To be honest and as I covered in my post on Friday, the mangetout has been a bit of a disappointment this year, as it hasn’t proved as prolific as the variety I normally grow ‘Oregon Sugar Pod‘. That said the children have enjoyed the sweeter, yellow pods of the ‘Golden Sweet’ and so I do plan to grow these with the Gardening Club next year but alongside the ‘Oregon Sugar Pods‘. As for the ‘Bijou‘ pods, in my opinion these have been a resounding failure across both gardens and I won’t be growing them again. To be fair though, I suspect it’s a preference thing, as we are used to tender, crisp pods and we found that the ‘Bijou‘ pods were tougher than the norm, especially if you allowed them to grow larger than 4 inches or so, but I suspect these would work well for growers who prefer a sugar snap pea.

So following on from that first point, once the mangetout plants have been removed, I will plant the runner bean seedlings which are growing on in the poly tunnel, against the soon to be vacant bamboo pyramid. There are also a few more Rattlesnake Pole bean seedlings to plant out and they will be mixed in with the existing Pole bean plants to provide a successional crop.

During the summer break, I will continue to harvest the vegetables as and when necessary but unfortunately we weren’t able to arrange for the church to deliver them to the pensioners this year and so I will be dropping vegetables off to families from the school, who live locally.

Other Garden News:

Inca Berry lanterns

Inca Berry lanterns

Over in the pumpkin bed we have a couple of fruits now growing and one is already the size of a small football. Sadly, one pumpkin fell victim to the grounds maintenance crew. The vine had grown over the edge of the bed and had settled on the grass, a fruit had set and had grown to a respectable large grapefruit size when the grass cutting team arrived …… and went through the vine and pumpkin with a strimmer!!! Frustrating really, as it isn’t that difficult to spot a pumpkin vine really, I mean the leaves are huge! But that’s life and there is still plenty of time for the plant to set another fruit and I am now taking care to make sure the vines are confined to the beds themselves.

And a few more for good measure.

And a few more for good measure.

Meanwhile, in the poly tunnel, alongside the tomatoes and cucumbers, the Inca Berries are flourishing and we have dozens of little green lanterns across the three plants residing there. I have no idea how long these fruit take to ripen but I’m hopeful that there will be plenty for the children to try come September.

So there you have it. All is well with the garden and we look set for a bumper harvest this year and there will hopefully be one or two surprises waiting for the children when they come back after the summer break which will bea round the time of the next Garden Share Collective, so please pop back and see how the garden is doing as we approach autumn. In the meantime, don’t forget to go have a look at the other gardens in the Collective and find out what’s happening where they are.

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18 thoughts on “The Garden Share Collective: August 2014

  1. I think having a growing gardens in schools is such a great idea, it is so relatively easy to grow your own produce (with the odd pitfalls such as groundsmen!) It was only a couple of generations back that it was commonplace to grow your own, it does seem that there is a new revival towards those ways again. I often drive past the kindergardens here and they all seem to have raised beds and things growing in them, it needs to be continued on throughout the other levels too. Great gardens you have there

    • Thanks for your kind comment Sue. We’re a rural school and yet even we struggle to get the parents to appreciate the fresh produce when it’s offered to them. Thankfully the Gardening Club children have enough enthusiasm for everyone and most of them manage to persuade (or should that be ‘guilt’) parents into taking some produce or buying surplus veg plants 😉

  2. What a great school garden! I love it. It is a wonderful thing to add into the curriculum and school activities.

  3. Lots happening in your garden. Gosh I had no idea that Cape Gooseberries were also called Inca Berries. Easy to guess where they originated 🙂 I think I have poly tunnel envy!

  4. It’ a lovely school garden. Here in Australia we have the Stephanie Alexander garden program which is a wonderful initiative http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/ I have visited a number of these school gardens and they are terrific!

    • Thank you.

      As always, the UK is a little slow when it comes to initiatives for things such as school gardens. There are various privately owned schemes about but kitchen gardens in schools are still, for the large part, regarded as a hobby, or a school club, rather than a viable part of the curriculum!

  5. The school garden looks amazing, all your hard work has paid off. Glad to hear that the little girl with the broken arm got to keep gardening, even if it was just planting the leeks. Sounds like you are going to have a busy summer holiday with delivering veggies. I do love the poly tunnel with the huge cucabit growing. Shows what is possible.

  6. Where did you acquire that cover with zips for your foundation garden?

  7. I’m really impressed with your school garden. Is it part of a larger school garden scheme, like the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden scheme is Australia, or is it all your own initiative?

    • Hi Kate,

      No, the garden isn’t part of a wider scheme. Over in the UK school vegetable gardens are considered nice to haves but there isn’t really anything set in stone, so to speak and each school has to raise the funding etc to develop their own patch. There are award schemes around, such as the RHS Campaing for School Gardens which award bronze, silver and gold awards for gardens that achieve and maintain certain criteria (we have bronze) and politicians occasionally like to talk about how fabulous school vegetable patches are but that’s about it.

      Our garden was initially built after we secured a £10k National Lottery Grant and with the exception of the £862 grant from Tesco Community Grants which bought the Foundation Planters, covers, compost etc, all other running costs have been met from funds raised from plant sales, produce or simply asking for freebies. I inherited the garden the month after the raised beds were constructed, when it became clear that if someone didn’t step up to the mark and take matters in hand, the garden would sit pretty much unused.

  8. Your school garden is looking great. DO any of the students come in to help during the holidays?

    • Hi Tracey, thank you for your kind comment. Unfortunately insurance restrictions and H&S mean that the students aren’t able to come help. Obviously my own girls are able to help if they want because as their parent I can take responsibility for them.

  9. Sounds like you’ve been very busy in both gardens. School gardens are fabulous for everyone aren’t they. My daughter is starting at a primary school in January (we’re in Australia) which has a fabulous school garden, chickens and goats as well as an indigenous garden with bush tucker plants growing.

    • Hello Barbara,

      Thank you for commenting 🙂

      The garden at your daughters school sounds fab. We don’t have the room for livestock unfortunately but the garden itself is a nice feature to have, in my opinion….. but then I am a little biased 😉

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