Summer Term: Growing Tips from Chris Collins

As our spirits are lifted by the longer days and some welcome sunshine (or glimpses, at least!), this is one of the most exciting times of the year for school gardening.

It’s the perfect time for growing with your pupils and all the elbow work that you put into your garden will pay off later this term.

What shall we grow?

Quick crops

Try quick crops like rocket, radish, Cut & Come Again salad leaves and even something exotic like Asian leaves are great to get going this time of year.

How long until we can crop?

You’ll be able to crop them in six to eight weeks. Cut and Come Again Salad leaves are great because they can be cropped all year.

How to grow quick crops:

  • Sow these seeds in straight lines in shallow trenches called drills;
  • Cover and firm the soil;
  • Put a string line down before sowing, to make sure you have them in a straight line. This way you’ll be able to tell your crops from the weeds;
  • Take care when you water, make sure you have a watering can that has a rose attachment at its spout. Turn this upside down and tilt the can away from the sown seeds before moving over them. This way you will not wash out your seeds.

Make it fun!

You can have a bit of fun with drill sowing. Why not make a pizza shaped bed or crops in different circles? As long as you have ordered lines you will be able to tell your new seedlings from any weeds that emerge.

Top Tips for Schools from Chris

  • Keen growers? Got a School Gardening Club? Grow as much as your space will allow! Get a watering rota together to make sure everyone’s involved;
  • Assign some ‘Compost Monitors’ and task them with recycling the bits of left over pack lunches into the compost bin;
  • Request a free Garden Organic School Planner to get advice on what to grow throughout the school year; simply email us with your name and school address and we’ll send planners on a first come, first serve basis (whilst stock lasts!);
  • Plant some wildflowers to help out our friends, the bees and the butterflies – they are hugely important pollinators. (With a little research, you should be able to find some Wildlife organisations that give seeds away for free);
  • Planting fennel for example, can help with your runner beans, as it attracts the Hoverfly – a small wasp-like insect that gobbles up Aphids that like runner beans!

Finally, remember that gardening is above all, great fun. So how about making some flowering clothes?! Use an old pair of jeans (or better still, several old pairs) and tie the bottom of the legs into knots. Next, put two bamboo canes down each leg to keep the jeans legs straight. Fill them right up to the top with compost and plant summer flowers like Petunias and Geraniums into the waist of the jeans and water. Very simple but great fun throughout the summer!

If you have any questions for me, or the team at Garden Organic, please get in touch.

Happy gardening everyone! Chris Collins, Head of Organic Horticulture. Garden Organic.

 

Things to do this Summer Term

As well as being a fantastic time of year to bring your school garden to life, the summer term is the perfect opportunity to celebrate getting outdoors and being healthy. Here are just four of the many great national initiatives that help you do just that.

23 May 2019 – Outdoor Classroom Day

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On the day, thousands of schools around the world take lessons outdoors and prioritise playtime. In 2018, over 3.5 million children worldwide took part and more than half a million of those were in the UK and Ireland.

Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature. Play not only teaches critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork and creativity, but is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood.

Taking part is easy – simply sign your school up on the Outdoor Classroom Day website and take a look at all the free lessons plans, inspiring stories and resources available on the site.

Get involved

1-2 June 2019 – The Big Lunch

The Big Lunch is about millions of people getting together to share food, have fun and get to know each other better. This June, people around the UK will stop what they’re doing and get together in a nationwide act of community and friendship.

Schools, at the centre of community life, are perfectly positioned to host a Big Lunch; which can be anything from a small gathering of students and parents within the school grounds, to a full-blown community party with food, music and decoration. It’s the perfect time to show off your school garden and school-grown produce too!

The official dates for this year’s Big Lunch are the 1-2 June 2019, but you can hold one any time that works for your school.

Big Lunch tips and resources for schools

3rd – 14 June 2019 – Farming Fortnight

The aim of Farming Fortnight is for primary and secondary schools across the UK to have a fortnight’s focus on British Farming and Food Production. With young people often being disconnected from the origins of their food and the people behind the story of their food, the fortnight has been developed for students and their teachers to engage with and understand farming and food production.

The initiative has been developed by LEAF in partnership with Brockhill Park Performing Arts College and is supported by Countryside Classroom. There are several themes that schools are invited to look at over the fortnight, covering all aspects of farming and food production.

Download Farming Fortnight resources and videos

10-14 June 2019 – Healthy Eating Week

The British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) Healthy Eating Week is a dedicated week in the year to encourage organisations, universities and schools across the UK to focus on healthy eating and drinking, physical activity and celebrate healthy living.

At the heart of BNF Healthy Eating Week are five health challenges:

  1. Have breakfast
  2. Have 5 A DAY
  3. Drink plenty
  4. Get active
  5. Sleep well – NEW for 2019

Schools participating in BNF Healthy Eating Week usually focus on one of the challenges each day, but it’s up to you to decide what your organisation will do and when. Some organisations focus on just one challenge throughout the week whereas others take on all five!

Find out more