Seventeen children signed up for Gardening Club this time around, split over two sessions per week but as they are mostly from the younger classes, each session is only 15 to 20 minutes long, depending on what needs to be done. Within the two groups we have two children responsible for watering and weeding the plants in the Foundation Area and another two older children, watering the plants in the poly tunnel.
The first session for each group was a Health and Safety one, in which I went through the do’s and don’ts of working in the garden and I was a little concerned that, by its’ very nature, this would cause a drop off in the second sessions but it had to be done, especially as quite a few of my gardeners this year haven’t been in Gardening Club before. As it happened all the children were happy to discuss the rules and why we had them and, though disappointed that the fun stuff wasn’t happening that day, they all seemed to understand the importance of making sure everyone knew the rules.
When the second sessions were held the following week, all the children turned up and planting out began (weeding as they went).
So currently we have potatoes, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes in the big round bed. Parsnips and Leaf Beet are through in the shallow octagonal bed – the beds are build directly onto the soil with no barrier between the topsoil/compost and the earth beneath, so the parsnips should be able to reach down and keep on going. Carrot seeds have been sown in the rectangular bed, with space for subsequent successional sowings and the onions planted by Little Mudlet are, for the most part, growing nicely in the octagonal bed.
This year the Foundation Area planters are home to onions, Maskotka tomatoes and a cucumber (long planter) and potatoes (shorter planter and two plastic ‘urns’) and more trailing tomatoes and a winter squash will be joining them shortly.
Over the years the inner Courtyard has been a bit of a headache in terms of planting up, wholly due to the lack of access over the longer holidays. Inability to water and harvest the produce has resulted in a lack of productivity and it is frustrating not to be able to get in there and sort things out. This year the Courtyard has, for the most part, been planted up with flowers but a couple of beans, cucumber, tomato and courgette plants have also been added in, alongside some strawberry plants. The herb bed is looking better than it has for a while but there are still gaps that need to be plugged. The Courtyard is to be a peaceful, sensory space for the children and staff and this year there is one major change which will make all the difference to the success of this space – the new caretaker is a gardener and is willing to water and harvest over the holidays, as and when necessary!!!! This is a huge relief.
The poly tunnel is home to a variety of plants at the moment, including the excess tomatoes but there are also some mange tout, beans and butternut squashes waiting to be planted out. Some of the tomatoes will also be living outside this year and we’ll see how they do. There are also 4 sweet pepper plants which will, it is hoped, provide an unusual snack item for the classes in a few months and 20 or so chilli plants and the plan for these is to grow them on and then sell them as fruiting plants later in the summer.
So there you have it, the growing season is finally fully underway at the school and even the fruit trees are getting in on the act: the pear tree has an abundance of tiny, embryonic fruit on its’ branches, with the plum and apple tree not far behind …… and out in the playground, the wildflowers are starting to show, drawing in the pollinators needed for a successful harvest.