Thursday, 15 November 2018

Leaf mould

At Lark Hill in Salford they have a lot of large mature trees in the grounds.  A great job in the autumn is to collect leaves to make leaf mould.  This doesn't sound pleasant but the leaves will, after a year or so, rot down to produce a lovely fine compost that is great for adding to your growing areas. It doesn't have a lot of nutrients but it will improve the soil.

We used a lot of large sticks that had fallen from trees or were left over from a woodworking project to construct two leaf bins. We simply pushed larger sticks into the ground and wove willow branches between them.

Children love collecting leaves and it is a nice lesson in reusing what is naturally around us.

If you have large trees, don't install planters or a growing area near them. The tree roots take over, the beds get shaded and covered in leaves and sticks during the autumn and winter.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Glorious herbs

Herbs are great to grow for many different reasons. They look magnificent, they offer a sensory aspect to the garden with their taste, feel and smell and children can take them home either to eat or to grow their own.

Here at St Chrysostom's we have bay leaves, oregano, mint, chives and sorrel.  Must get some lavender.. oh and sage ...

It's easy to buy a small plant in a garden centre or even supermarket. Just plant them and most are pretty tough and will come back year after year.  They just need a bit of a trim in the late summer.

Producing new plants is easy in most cases. Just slice a piece of root off and plant it.

Sorrel is a children's favourite, they love nibbling the tangy citrus leaves.

Friday, 18 May 2018

But we haven't got a garden

Many schools lack green space to use for gardening and may be reluctant to give over what there is for growing.  However, you can still do a lot in by using a variety of planters and pots.

The ground here at Armitage was largely rubble and hardcore with a little poor quality soil.  The school laid weed suppressing fabric over it and then added a layer of chipbark several years ago.  We used a mixture of old wooden planters, conventional garden pots, an old water butt that had leaks cut in half and some pallets stacked up to make an insect hotel. It needs more watering and compost adding than planting into the ground would, but it works well.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Shock news: school cooking that is not Corn Flakes cakes

At Armitage I run a cooking club after school where we make healthy, affordable food (and the children do the washing up). This term we made, for example, hummous, tzatziki, French bread pizza and omelettes. The children invite their parents in at the end to sample what they made which is a nice oppportunity for the cooks to show off and for everyone to sit down and share some food.  Too much school cooking is focused on sugary cakes, a shame when we have a growing health crisis and cheap, healthy food is easy to make.