Four steps to managing your garden pests

Sharing your garden with nature is part of gardening and even in the best managed fruit and veg gardens, natural pests and predators will present themselves, but they needn’t be a problem.

Follow Capital Growth’s four simple steps to manage your pests: Protect, Remove, Repel, Prevent.

pests-and-diseases1. PROTECT your plants using cut plastic bottles around the seedling to prevent pests from reaching the plant.

2. REMOVE the pest by manually taking off those you can see.

By taking off the top of broad beans if they’re covered in aphids (greenfly, blackfly, plant lice) the plant has a chance to grow and produce beans.

Take a look at the RHS advice on Aphids.

Create a ‘slug and snail hunt’ and re-locate the culprits outside your garden- at least a few 100 yards away. Check out Garden Organic’s information on how to prevent and remove slugs, along with fascinating facts. Who knew there are over 100 different species of slugs and snails in the UK!.

Scare away birds by hanging fabric or CDs near your plants – we’ve found some bird control methods here.

Make your own owl sun catcher to scare the birds
Make your own owl sun catcher to scare the birds

3. REPEL using natural methods

Garlic spray is great for all aphids (and safe to use, just watch your eyes) and easy to prepare; put one crushed garlic clove with the skin left on into 1 litre of boiling water. Cool and strain and you have a very effective spray.

Get rid of pests with garlic

Got a problem with the fast-growing fungus that is mildew? Powdery mildews attack a wide range of plants, causing a white, dusty coating on leaves, stems and flowers.

Use milk to prevent powdery mildew

4. PREVENT any more pests from coming in.

Limit pest habitats like planks of wet wood on the ground which harbour slugs and snails and promote pests by offering them habitats. Have a hedgehog house, a bat and a bird box nearby, make solitary bee boxes and leave an untidy patch to attract more beneficial insects.

Avoid pesticides, encourage wildlife

Get more great advice from Green Gardener and our friends at the RHS, who have a helpful A-Z of pests and solutions. And join a Capital Growth training session.

Access Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project exclusively through Food for Life

We’re delighted to let you know that Food for Life has formally teamed up with Jamie Oliver’s Kitchen Garden Project to give all Food for Life schools and nurseries EXCLUSIVE ACCESS to their beautiful food education and growing resources.

Get involved: Jamie Oliver and Food For Life's Kitchen Garden Project
Get involved: Jamie Oliver and Food For Life’s Kitchen Garden Project

The partnership means that the Kitchen Garden Project digital resources will be available to all schools who sign up to the Food for Life Membership or Awards Packages.

The resources include delicious Jamie Oliver recipes for children, lesson plans, helpful teaching notes, growing units, curriculum-linked activities and nutrition information, all tailored to primary school-level cooking lessons and activities for garden-based learning.

A single subscription to both food education programmes means that you will have even more flexibility and support around practical cooking, growing and food-based learning.  Schools who have already been working with Food for Life and the Kitchen Garden Project have told us how well the resources complement each other.  We hope you think so too!

Find out more and see a sample of the resources

Reap what you sow: Tips from Chris Collins

Chris Top tips resizedWe’re delighted to be able to share some top tips from FGSL resident expert Chris Collins, to help you get the most from your food growing efforts this year.

“This is the busiest point in the garden and time to get cracking if you want a bountiful summer. Sowing seeds is currently the order of the day for me. This year I’m growing many heritage varieties that I got from Garden Organic, but use whatever you can get your hands on!”

For schools, there’s always the challenge of the timing of terms, particularly growing ‘tender’ crops such as tomatoes, runner beans or pumpkins. These are no lovers of any cold weather and need to be protected until mid-May before planting out. This leaves only a small amount of time for harvesting in the school garden before the summer break begins.

To get around this dilemma we need to sow these plants NOW, so here are some handy tips:

  1. Invest in a few propagators (mini Greenhouses) like these.

Whilst they do require initial expenditure, they’ll last many seasons if cared for. If this is not an option, a pot with a perforated sandwich bag held in place by canes and a rubber band over it will suffice. This video might help!

  1. Sow plants using a seed compost

Don’t skimp on compost, it’s important! But you can save money by producing your own compost by collecting leaves, raw food waste, such as fruit and veg peelings, and adding them to a compost heap in your garden.

How to make your own compost

  1. Re-pot plants

In its incubation chamber, our propagator will soon germinate our seeds. Once this happens they should be taken out, potted into bigger pots if necessary and placed on a bright school window ledge, preferably out of long periods of direct sunshine which may bleach the leaves.

  1. Grow, then plant out

These plants can then be grown until the safety of mid-May, at which point they can be planted out as nice sturdy specimens, giving them a great head start on the season.

“This will all be worth the extra effort. Tomatoes, beans and pumpkins are the fastest growing and fastest yielding of the edible crops, making them a real joy for the children to see them grow.”

Also check out this advice on sowing indoors from The RHS and the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Happy Growing!

 

Introducing: our lovely School Engagement Officers!

FGSL Support in your boroughMy name is Paul. I’m a School and Community Engagement Officer for the Food Growing Schools: London partnership. There are three of us – Paul, Lisa and Julie* – working across the 33 boroughs of London.

What do Engagement Officers do?

Being a FGSL Engagement Officer can be quite a diverse role. We do a lot of work ‘sign-posting’ or pointing schools in the right direction when they are starting out on their food growing journey. It’s always a joy to hear the enthusiasm from a member of school staff or a parent wanting our help to develop a new school garden. Our advice ranges from sharing information and resources about how to set up your garden and the best plants to grow, to promoting school growing activities (e.g. Spring into Growing 2017), and wider support available to schools (e.g. FGSL partners and local organisations). We also love to visit schools and meet staff, volunteers and pupils face to face. We encourage schools to get started on their food growing journey by completing our FGSL survey to tell us what support they need.

Who works in your London borough?

I feel quite lucky to have 11 boroughs that are all very enthusiastic and engaged in promoting food growing in their schools. They run from the northern outer boroughs of Harrow, Barnet and Enfield through Camden and Islington, and down into the southern ‘Flagship’ boroughs of Lambeth and Croydon where I have tended to spend quite a lot of my time supporting their work. Below is a list of where our FGSL Engagement Officers work. Email us* to find out how we can support you:

FGSL Engagement Officers

 FGSL are working with Borough Councils to help schools grow

 According to the Good Food for London 2016 report 30 out of 33 London boroughs are doing more to improve the food available to their residents, workers and school pupils compared to 2015. We are also proud to be working directly with borough councils to help schools grow food through our Food Growing Schools: London programme.

Swapping seeds, plants and knowledge at Borough Forums

One of my favourite activities is running a ‘Forum’ or networking event within a borough. These are always held at a local school who are growing food and happy to show off what they are doing to others. The Forums are an opportunity for anyone who is running or wanting to set up a school food growing project to gain some informal training, share what they are doing with others and gain some inspiration from the host school. We try to run a seasonal food growing activity and encourage those who turn up to bring spare seeds, plants and even an educational resource which they can share or swap with others. It a fun and informative meeting giving the chance for everyone to network and go away with a little more confidence and enthusiasm to help them on their food growing adventures.

Would you like support to get growing, or to host a Borough Forum in your school?

If you would like to host a Borough Forum in your school, or would like support for your school to get growing please get in touch. See the blue poster above for which Engagement Officer works in your borough:

Paul Sadler – psadler@gardenorganic.org.uk

Lisa Grant – lgrant@gardenorganic.org.uk


*Please note: Julie Henley-Wilkinson is finishing with FGSL in December 2016. Please contact FGSL Project Manager, Kate Groves, if your school is based in one of her boroughs and you would like support: kgroves@gardenorganic.org.uk

Get your FREE Food Growing Assembly booked this term!

Looking at seed packets. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic
Looking at seed packets. Photo: Jane Baker/Garden Organic

If you’re not currently growing food, or just getting started on your food growing journey, our new school assembly programme could be just for you.

Over the summer, the Food Growing Schools: London team have been beavering away to get a fun, engaging and informative assembly ready to be delivered in schools this autumn term. The idea is that the assembly is taken into schools that are yet to enjoy all the benefits of food growing, so that we can inspire teachers and pupils and make it even easier to get started.

The short assembly is linked to the curriculum, suitable for all ages and can be tailored for the needs of your school. It will get your pupils thinking about where our food comes from, why food growing is important and what can be grown within the school gates. Team the assembly with our free tips and resources and we’ll have you growing your own in no time at all!

Interested? Book your free school assembly – and receive:

  • A free visit from the FGSL team
  • An invitation to our Celebration Event at City Hall to learn more about food growing– 13 October 2016
  • An invitation to join the FGSL Growathon – and 54,000 pupils in London already growing food!
  • School staff and volunteer training
  • Free food growing resources – growing cards, activity sheets and more!

*To book, simply complete this very short survey

and we’ll do our best to get an assembly arranged for you or will add you to our waiting list for later in the team when the team may have more availability,

Here’s to food growing this term!

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