Wednesday, 7 October 2015


We tried growing corn at Ravensbury and a lot of it didn't ripen due to the poor summer. Still we got some really nice cobs. We put them in the microwave for 8 minutes and had corn on the cob. Growing corn is perfectly feasible in northern England but this was a big surprise for a lot of people in school!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Collecting sunflower seeds

A great autumn activity is to collect seeds from plants that have finished growing. Here is part of a sunflower head we grew at Armitage. You can also do this with peas, beans, rocket, radish and many flowers. The trick is to leave the seeds to dry on the plant and only take them when the frosts are about to start.

Picking the seeds out is a really nice, quiet, therapeutic activity. A colleague at Armitage thinks it should be reserved for the adults in the school!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The back to school harvest

Always an interesting time to see what has grown over the summer and what hasn't. Not a bad crop at all at Ravensbury, enough for a good soup I'd say. Those carrots are miles better than anything we ever get on our allotment.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Grapes in Longsight?????

St Johns has a large lean-to greenhouse which has an ancient looking grape vine. This year I did some research about how to prune it properly and we got a couple of bunches of grapes which were there waiting for us when we got back after the school holiday. They were really sweet and the children loved them.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Strawberry season is here

I like things that are easy to grow, cost a lot in the shops and taste better than you ones you buy. Strawberries tick every box. Plus each plant makes 4-5 new plants every year so you can give them away to children and parents.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Beautiful peas

This was just the perfect pea pod we picked today at Armitage. Peas are a lovely thing to grow in schools, easy and reliable and virtually all children will eat them. Mange tout are also easy to do and you can get all kinds of interesting varieties, we've got some purple podded peas on the go at Armitage. At the end of the growing year let a few pods stay on the plant to dry out and you've got next year's seeds plus a real life illustration of the plant life cycle.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

First of the radishes

First radishes of the year at Ravesnbury. They are great for school gardening, easy to grow in decent soil and children like them, most of the time anyway! 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Last of the parsnips

We forgot about a few parsnips that had been in the ground for over 12 months at St Johns. After a titanic battle, we eventually pulled them out. They were a bit rough around the edges but we didn't care. No supermarket cosmetic standards here.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Multilingual carrots in Clayton

A Polish girl, a Chinese girl and a Saudi boy walk into a garden with a packet of carrot seeds. Sounds like a Bernard Manning joke but this is a group I'm working with at Ravensbury. We planted the carrots and then started talking about how to say "carrot" in their home language. So we decided it would be nice to write some labels in different languages so we could see the different types of writing they use and they can show off their writing skills.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

'Allo Vera

At St John's, there are several pot plants that have been sitting in the greenhouse for years. We noticed that an Aloe Vera had got a bit overcrowded in its pot and that several little babies were fighting for space. 

So we took it out of its pot, separated the different plants and re-potted them. The roots on these things are amazing, up to 5 feet long, wrapped round and round the pot, I can see how they survive in the desert. Let's just hope they'll survive the re-potting.