Several sessions of Gardening Club have been held now and I have to say that the children are phenomenal. The youngest of the members is only 4 years old and yet he handles the seedlings like a pro, showing a level of care and tenderness belying his age. However, what is really good to see, is that those children who have been members for the last couple of years or so, are helping the newbies, showing them how to do things, guiding them without taking over and these simple actions have helped chase away the last of the doubts I had after the disappointment and disheartening events of last Autumn. Here, in my small group of children, I have learned that whatever else happens in terms of not being able to get people to take and use the harvest, the vegetable patch has brought out the best in these young people, encouraging them to be tolerant, have patience and to help others, even, as was the case with one of my 6 year old gardeners on Wednesday, if by doing so, you miss out on the fun task of planting your own plant that session (she ran out of time).
Five new children have started at the school in the last few weeks and every one of them has gardening parents who grow vegetables, a past time they evidently share with their children, all of whom have signed up for Gardening Club, so the number of children on the rota now, has risen to 21. I did wonder about how this would work in terms of the split over two weekly sessions but so far the signs are good, as the new children have slotted in successfully and are gardening happily alongside the established members.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have done lots of planting and at the end of last week we received a donation of some 19 aubergine/eggplant seedlings. Of these 11 have gone into the main garden, 2 are waiting to be planted into the Foundation Area planters and the remaining 6 have been bought by a parent for their garden. I’ve never grown Aubergine before and so the children and I will be learning about these plants together. I’m not entirely sure how successful we will be because the only space we had for most of the ones in the main area was in the triangular bed which, as you can see in the photo, spends most of the summer in the shade of the Oak tree. We have, however, planted another 3 into the half barrel which is in the centre of the garden, in full sun and the Foundation Area planter is also in the sun, although it does get partial shade late on in the afternoon.
Peas, mange tout and some beans have also been planted into the raised beds as have some of the many spare tomato plants we have, along with the last of the butternut squash seedlings. I noticed this afternoon that the first flower for the purple podded beans is about to open and a bit further along, the mange tout are ready to flower as well which is great news as these were a firm favourite in terms of snack items, amongst the children last year.
Hidden from view under protective netting, the first of the carrots are through in the rectangular bed and another two rows of carrot seed were sown yesterday, to ensure a successive supply of fresh carrots. There are gaps in the rows of carrot seedlings which are through but more seeds will be used to fill these gaps in a week or so.
The philosophy of Gardening Club is that as well as the fun stuff, the children also have to do the not so fun bits, such as weeding and after spending their previous session planting out, yesterday saw the children enthusiastically weeding the beds, with the older children guiding the younger ones, to ensure that potato stems and squash plants weren’t inadvertently pulled out, along with the numerous interlopers. All in all, the garden is progressing nicely, if a little slowly and with the help of my band of gardeners, we may well have a good harvest as the year progresses.