Having ignored the school garden for most of the autumn/winter, the last couple of weeks before the Easter break proved quite challenging, with my dedicated little gardeners regularly asking when Gardening Club was starting again. To be honest, up until then I had still been in two minds whether or not I wanted to invest more of my time in a project that seemed to be lacking support in almost all quarters. However, over the last couple of weeks, I have begun to feel that my band of gardeners deserve to have their enthusiasm recognised and so on Wednesday, Little Mudlet and I went to the garden and set about weeding the beds I needed for onions, potatoes and parsnips …… preparing for Gardening Club.
Armed with gardening gloves, onion sets, seed potatoes and parsnip seeds, we set off for the school. Walking onto the playground we were surprised to see workmen replacing one of the main doors and then a little voice piped up “What you doing Miss?” It seemed that two members of the pre-school staff were also on site preparing for the new term and they had brought their children with them.
As well as the bed preparation and planting that I planned to do, I also had two preloved composters that had been donated to the school, to set up and before long we had both situated in the vegetable garden area, ready for use. We now have five composters in total but two of them are missing their little access hatches and the contents can’t be used because rat poison was applied to them a few years ago. The grounds maintenance gardening team are supposed to be emptying them and disposing of their contents but I’m not holding my breath. With the third composter already full to bursting, it was a huge relief to receive the newly donated ones which, incidentally, are a much better quality than the two defunct ones we have.
Little Mudlet donned her gloves and set about clearing and weeding the beds we needed for immediate planting. She happily tipped the detritus from her efforts into the new bin and whilst she was on with her task, I began clearing out the poly tunnel. Although I had composted the old cucumber plants before Christmas, my lethargy had resulted in the old tomato plants and Inca Berry plants having been left to fade back in complete peace. These followed Little Mudlets’ evictees into the new composter, as did the spent compost from the growbags in which they were planted.
With the requisite beds now cleared, Little Mudlet asked for further instruction and so I showed her how to plant the onion sets, using my soon to be patented (not) onion spacing tools (two twigs). She’s a bright little thing and quickly got into her stride. By this time two of the other children had asked if they could help and after clearing it with their mothers, they joined us in the garden and set about digging the holes for the seed potatoes.
The youngest of my helpers, who is only 3 years old, soon tired of digging holes, as the ground is pretty solid but she still wanted to help and so began trying to dig the weeds out of one of the other beds. Unfortunately, this ultimately proved to be as tiring for her as the hole digging and so we hit on a compromise. The older girl would dig the holes and the tiny tot would plant them, well most of them at least because I felt it wasn’t very fair if the person who had done all the digging didn’t get to plant a few as well.
By the time they had finished planting a dozen potatoes, Little Mudlet had finished the setting of the onions. We’d been about two hours at this point and so I sent the two other children back to their mothers with a heartfelt thank you, and set about tidying everything away and covering the newly planted onion sets with netting to keep the birds off them until they were more established. Little Mudlet was given the task of watering both beds and as a last job we cleared the last of the tired looking carrots, parsnips and beetroots from the square bed – I dug them out, Little Mudlet put them into the compost bin.
We didn’t get time to sow the parsnip seed or the carrots but my little girl is keen to help me sow them either today or on Sunday. She was thoroughly worn out by her efforts and slept well on Wednesday night and I feel happy to have started work on the garden again and devoutly hope that we can persuade the parents to partake of this seasons’ harvests, when they start in a couple of months time.