Thursday, 17 November 2011

Compost corner

After the insect hotel, we've branched out now at Armitage into making compost bays from old pallets.  To get to this point took just over an hour working with two pupils who had a great time learning to use a saw, hammer, sandpaper as well as discussing what compost is and how we can make it.

We're planning to line it with chicken wire to give it more stability and keep the compost in, then it'll need some kind of front section. We'll start adding material to one bin for the rest of the year and then move to the other side next year. Around March/April, the first lot should be ready to use.

Next step will be to set up a composting group who'll gather fruit, veg, tea bags and so on.  If you're going to compost at school make sure you add an equal amount of torn up cardboard, newspaper or shredded paper every time you add to the pile. Simply piling on uneaten fruit will give you a fruit fly infested slime. 

We may start to use it in teaching next week with Year 6 doing something on micro-organisms in Science.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Metal into willow

We've been trying to think of ways to hide the view of the bins at Armitage. So we've experimented with weaving willow through the fence.  Seems to work and most people think ti looks good. We have a willow walk that needs a trim and two old enormous willow trees on the site to use. This will be a nice job for a group of older pupils to crack on with.  Then we can grow some climbers on it for added coverage.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

All the leaves are brown

Well, brown, gold, yellow, red...
But what to do with them all?  Simple. Gather them up, put them in a bag or compost bin and leave them. After a year you'll have reasonable mulch and soil improver.  After two years you'll have a beautiful crumbly mixture.  At Armitage it took us just one lunch and break to fill two big bins.  Pupils loved it, especially jumping in the bag to flatten them down.  

Nice learning opportunities about trees and seasons too.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Planting in October? In Manchester?

Oh yes!  Here is the rocket planted by one of the Reception classes at Armitage, two weeks in.  It's been in the greenhouse but could easily have been put indoors by a window. You could grow this all year round and it's an easy one to save the seed from. Just let a few go to seed and dry out. You'll see the seed pods and will get loads from just a few plants.

Children love the fact it's called rocket and that it grows so fast. Some even like the taste which is already strong, even in small seedlings.

And here are some of the onions the Gardening Club at St John's planted in early October. The ones that survived being in the Nursery playground!

Here and at St John's we've put in some winter pansies and other bedding plants in for some outdoor colour.  Even younger children can do this. They're cheap and should flower through the late autumn and early spring. Fingers crossed!