Garden Journals and End of Term

Most of my gardening clubs/classes run all year round or March-October, however each year for some children it is time to move on to secondary and say goodbye to the garden they have helped build.

It always feels a little sad but gives me a good chance to reflect on the work we have done and update worksheets and lesson plans. It also means a last look at the Garden Journals we use.

I don’t mind that its my totally biased opinion, I love these journals.

Broad Beans again

I’m quite fond of broadies, they are great for younger children with less manual dexterity and having something to sow in September. We planted these a couple of weeks before half term and as the weather was very nice we had some pop up so they were there for the children to find after the break.

2017-05-04 13.21.12Now they look like this and the children can see the lovely multi coloured flowers designed to provide a landing pad and a guidance system for the pollinators to get to the nectar. We looked at how bees see colour, the fact they don’t see red and talked about plants and flowers that were multiple colours to help bees and other pollinators to see where they are going.

As they are year two we didn’t get too technical but it did remind me to pick up some coloured plastic so that children could see how a bee sees. For those who do want to get a little more technical, there’s lot’s of research on Bees and colour.

Purple Podded Peas

Adventures with Peas

This year for the first time we grew purple podded peas in three of my schools. They were from the lovely Mark Diacono and Otter Farm . After some serious sowing sessions we had a great germination rate and the seedlings all grew beautifully, when we transplanted them, they went into a traditional style raised bed with bamboo poles, they went into pots with sticks, in a trough and up onto the trellis up the side of the pagoda, anywhere we could fit them in. My favourite setting were these growing up the football field fence.

The first batch were ready just in time for the Year One’s at one school to harvest on their last session before the holidays. Huge excitement at the act of picking as some children had never picked something from a plant. Then the thrill of opening the pod and seeing the gorgeous green peas nestling inside, the crunch of peas, the conversations about who had the most in their pod. It was a fabulous session and reinforces to me why I do this job.

And it wasn’t just the Year One’s. At a different school I repeated the process with some Year Five’s, again some had never picked something from a plant and eaten it directly. The third school with these had planted them much later and we are still awaiting flowers so hopefully they will be ready in September.

Most of the children had never harvested something and eaten it straight from a plant. Can you imagine that?

For me, picking and harvesting was just something else you did. One of my first regular chores was making the mint sauce, for the lamb my uncle had given us, this meant simply picking some fresh leaves from the plant in mums garden. It never occurred to me that I was harvesting natural organic local produce, to use on fresh free range produce from a trusted local supplier, it was just what I did on some sunday mornings.

Planting out

Bamboo and Twine

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Gloriously, all the beans and peas the children have planted have become little seedlings and as all the forecasts are pretty sure we’re safe from frost it’s time to plant them out.

I showed them a very simple bamboo pyramid and then gave each child in year three a piece of twine and a cane to make the tepees with. We now have the most gorgeous structure with organically random twine patterns all over the place for our veg to grow up.
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Not particularly tidy and definitely quite wonky but the children were pleased with the effort and I’m sure the veg won’t care

The hidden harvest

Potatoes and Tiddlers

One of my favourite times of the week is working with the tiddlies at a nursery school. They are so open and accepting of what we do in the garden and gloriously thrilled by flowers to see and things to smell. We always plant potatoes, with limited success. Most times we do a potato session the children  focus very hard on what the eyes are and making sure they get covered up to sleep.

After the first year of no harvest, when the children dug the potatoes up almost weekly and sometimes daily to check on them I learnt a valuable lesson about working with this age group. After they’ve gone indoors muddy and happy I dig most of the chitted potatoes up again and hide them somewhere else in the garden. It’s so important to have tiddlies get used to putting their hands in the dirt but equally important to hide anything you actually want to grow.

A potato

A potato on some soil


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by Jack Monroe, bestselling author of 'A Girl Called Jack'