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.

Dry shade flowers

Astrantia Beauty

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One of the gardens I work in has a really long border made up of really really dry shade. It gets at most 30 minutes of direct sunshine a day when the sun peeps through the buildings it is surrounded by. Over the last two years I have read lots of shady space books and scoured the internet for dry shade loving plants that are not too dangerous to be in an area with lots of small children. I have replanted it with a variety of plants at least four times; of course once was because of careless builders dumping scaffolding boards on a month old planting scheme.
My latest attempt was put in, last spring with Hellebores, Heucheras and this gorgeous Astrantia ‘Buckland’. Nothing much happened with it the first year, a few flowers but not the greatest show. I didn’t divide it because it wasn’t looking hugely strong but it has more than made up for it this year. It’s been flowering fantastically for a while and the children simply love it.

Offering and eating fruit and vegetables

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I think there is a lot that can be done simply by offering kids fresh fruit and veg repeatedly. I find most will try if there is at least one known winner on the table. In general; strawberries, raspberries or blueberries are a huge favourite


...an emerging social science


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