Wednesday, 1 December 2021

You're not going out in that ?


On Monday the snow lay thick on the ground at Cheetham CE Primary. But we got our wellies on and went out. 

There were numerous animal tracks to follow: birds, cats and, we think, a fox.  We picked snow-topped  green apples. We made snow sculptures.  We threw snowballs at empty plants pots for a snowy fairground game.  Then the children repurposed the pots as buckets to make snowcastles. One even decorated hers with leaves to make a snow tree. 

Needless to say, the children loved it.  Several said they had never played in snow before. 

A forest in the inner city


At Heald Place Primary in Rusholme, there is a lovely wooded area in the far corner of the field. It's full of hazel, sycamore and silver birch.  I've started taking small groups out to our "forest school". We've been hunting for minibeasts, flying "helicopters" (sycamore seeds), making small houses for the "forest people", but the favourite has been making shelters using tarps and bungee cords.   It howled it down today for 15 minutes but our shelter stood firm. 

Friday, 1 October 2021

A city centre harvest


A group of families came down to the Great Northern community garden for a real harvest festival. They dug up potatoes, picked runner beans and ate sorrel.  Everyone should have a go at digging up potatoes. 

You hear a lot about mindfulness these days. This is what mindfulness looks like:

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Sunflowers and beans in the city centre


The planting at The Great Northern in central Manchester has gone well. Sunflowers are lighting up the amphitheatre where we also have potatoes coming on nicely. 

It has been difficult due al the restrictions to get the community side going but we are planning a harvest event in September. The runner beans are looking good. 

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

An orchard in the city centre


I've recently started work at The Great Northern in Manchester as Community Growing Coordinator. We're aiming to get people who live, work or visit the city centre to get involved in gardening. An old water fountain has been filled in with soil and we've planted a range of fruit trees including apple, pear and plum.  I'm hoping they will fruit next year. 

The beds are quite small so we've chosen small, dwarf varieties. If you want to plant to plant a mini orchard, look out for trees on M27 rootstock which will produce fruit on a small tree less than 2m high provided you prune them every year. 

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Flower pressing

I've been back in school, working with children of key workers at Heald Place doing a variety of gardening and outdoor learning.

One thing that went well was to dry and press flowers and then to use them to make a card to take home. We picked the flowers and put them between a folded piece of kitchen roll. Then we left them under a heavy book for a week in the classroom.

When we got them out they had dried really well. The flatter, thinner flowers worked best. We then used PVA to glue them to a card and children wrote messages to someone at home.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

The most popular plant in the garden


It is by far the most popular plant I've helped people to grow. All children love it. OK I'm exaggerating, but only slightly. If you've never tasted sorrel it has a sharp, citrus tang to the leaves and children love eating it straight off the plant. 

It's also really tough, grows back every year and you can easily take cuttings from it by slicing off a part of the root using a sharp spade. This is best done in early spring. Simply replant the part you cut off and in a few weeks you'll have new leaves growing.